BY GERARDO REYES
El Nuevo Herald
Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez agreed last year to carry
from Fidel Castro to Washington in exchange for some private accounts of the
Cuban president's life, including details of a conversation Castro had with Pope
John Paul II during the pontiff's visit to Cuba in January of that year.
Garcia Marquez did his part. But upon his return to Havana from
was told by Castro:
``Oh, I'll tell you later. In any case, it's not important the way you think.''
Garcia Marquez shrugged and is still waiting for an answer.
That episode is part of a profile of Garcia Marquez written by
Jon Lee Anderson in
the Sept. 27 issue of The New Yorker.
PRESTIGE IS HIGH
In a 14-page article, Anderson describes the 1982 Nobel laureate
extraordinarily sensitive man who has become a vital link in the peace process in
Colombia, a country that admires him and misses him when he is abroad.
``His prestige [in Latin America] is such that he has the trust
of both governments
and revolutionaries,'' Anderson wrote.
The article also is a portrait of a writer obsessed with the nearness
to power and
``Latin American presidents all want to be his friend, but he
also wants to be
theirs,'' said a friend of Garcia Marquez who asked not to be identified. ``As long
as I've known him, he's always had this desire to be around power.''
This fascination has allowed the writer to be close to Castro.
Gabo -- as he is
known in Colombia -- reportedly said that through his intervention, ``more than
2,000 people'' were allowed to leave Cuba.
``I sometimes go to Miami, although not often, and I have stayed
at the homes of
people I've helped get out,'' Garcia Marquez told Anderson. His hosts include
some ``really prominent gusanos'' -- worms, the word Castro uses to describe the
Miami exiles -- ``and they call up their friends and we have big parties. Their kids
ask me to sign books for them.''
SIGN OF DISHARMONY
According to Garcia Marquez, he was with Castro at Havana's Plaza
Revolucion in January 1998, during the Pope's visit. He said he had a feeling that,
despite the outward harmony, Castro and the Pope had a ``private disagreement.''
Garcia Marquez reportedly told Castro that he wouldn't write an
article he planned
to do about the Pope's visit until Castro ``confessed'' whatever it was that he and
the Pope had disagreed on.
Castro agreed to Garcia Marquez's request but under one condition:
writer carry some messages from him to the U.S. government. Once the task was
completed, however, Castro ``waved me off,'' Garcia Marquez said.
The writer said he has concluded that Castro will take that secret
and others to
``And you know why?'' Garcia Marquez said. ``Because Fidel isn't
like the rest of
us. He thinks he has all the time in the world. Death just isn't part of his plans.''
Copyright 1999 Miami Herald