Monday, October 22, 2012
Death of a rumor
For about 10 days, skittish editors around the world sent reporters to chase rumors of Castro’s death. From Caracas, one Nelson Bocaranda claimed that Fidel’s sister Juanita had been summoned to Havana, which she denied in an interview with Wilfredo Cancio at Café Fuerte. She said it is “irresponsible to circulate unfounded rumors” and added that she is “very busy with the campaign for the re-election of Obama, who is the candidate I like and seems to be the best for the country where I have lived for 48 years.”
The rumors became more intense and the editors more skittish last Thursday when the Miami Herald ran a bizarre story with details of Castro’s purportedly abysmal medical condition presented by a Venezuelan doctor who resides in Naples, Florida.
The front page of today’s Granma (pdf) has a photo of Fidel holding last Friday’s newspaper and a story with Fidel’s byline (“Fidel Castro is in agony”) denouncing news media “stupidities” incited by “the henhouse of imperialist propaganda.” More than the photo, that phrase proves he’s still kicking.
“I don’t even remember what a headache is,” Fidel wrote. He recalled the Cuban missile crisis, Cuba’s “ethically unimpeachable” conduct in it, and he noted that after half a century “we’re still here with our head held high.” He’s finished publishing his reflexiones, he says, because “surely it is not my role to occupy the pages of our press, which are dedicated to other tasks that our country requires.”
On Saturday, Wilfredo Cancio examined how this story, which has sprung up several times in recent years, took off last week in a new context where anyone can publish anything immediately and worldwide on social media. In fact, on the day that the story is true there will be no scoop, Cancio writes, because “it will be known when Cuba announces it officially.” I agree. I also agree that, as he writes, it will mark a turning point in Cuban history but “whenever it comes, it will be less and less transcendent for the course of the country.”
Fidel is still alive and his tongue is still sharp, but the post-Fidel era has been with us for some years now.
[Granma photo, credited to Alex Castro]