Castro Jr looks beyond revolution
NEW DELHI: Though the world and his flowing beard have long changed
colours, the innings of Fidel Castro, the iconic Cuban leader, is far from
over. But another Fidel — it’s actually Castro Jr — has already come
out of the lengthening shadow of his legendary father, trying to adjust
his island to the new world and look beyond the concerns of the
generation of revolution.
Significantly, he has chosen India, the long-standing ally of his
beleaguered country, to unfold his agenda for the future.
Dr Fidel Castro Diaz Balart hopes relations between Cuba and the US
could improve ‘‘during my lifetime... provided American policies become
rational and less aggressive.’’
‘‘Nobody has a crystal ball,’’ he mused while speaking to The Times of
India on the sidelines of the international climate change conference
now underway here.
He smiled when asked if Cuba, nestled in the Caribbean a stone’s
throw away from Florida, has ‘‘absorbed and digested’’ the US
sanctions imposed for the past four decades. There was already
people-to- people contact. People from 35 of the 50 American states
have already been coming to Cuba as tourists.
‘‘What is Cuba’s future?’’ He was quick to reply: ‘‘It is not based on
relations with the US. The results of the last election have shown that
we have our own priorities and plans and decisions. We have survived
the (US) policy of blockade.’’
Castro speaks with pride of the rapid strides his country has made in
literacy from less than 40 per cent to near-cent per cent now. There are
62 universities and centres of higher learning in his country. Indeed, 6.3
per cent of the country’s population lives off education. ‘‘It is a
knowledge- based economy at work,’’ he says. ‘‘But that is the global
trend in the new millennium.’’
Fidel Jr is as tall and big as his father, but minus the battle fatigues.
Clad in a safari suit, he looks a benign bureaucrat.
India is part of the eternal search. ‘‘Christopher Columbus came to the
Caribbean looking for India. And now we come to India,’’ says Castro.
This present-day Columbus has been coming to India in search of
cultural ties, farming technology, to propagate biotechnology that his
country has made rapid strides in, and to see if Cuban pharmaceuticals
could find a market in India.
A nuclear scientist and scientific advisor to his President-father, Fidel
rues the non-completion of a prestigious nuclear power plant in Cuba,
thanks to American sanctions. He is still looking for ways to get it
going. Things became difficult after the disintegration of the Soviet
Union and the Eastern bloc. Cannot India help? The technology, he
points out, is different.
Asked about the Indian nuclear tests of 1998, he replies: ‘‘Well, I am
guest in your country and would not like to comment.’’ He pointed out
that Cuba has signed the NPT, the last country in the Western
hemisphere to do so.