"Time, distance and space were reduced to zero. It seemed unreal. There has never been a dialogue like that between heads of state and government, representing, almost in their totality, countries sacked for centuries by colonialism and imperialism. No other incident could have been more enlightning. Saturday, November 12, 2007 will go down in the history of Our America as the day of truth. This ideological Waterloo occurred when the King of Spain asked Chávez abruptly, "Why don't you shut up?" In that instant the hearts of all Latin Americans quivered. The Venezuelan people, who on December 2 will answer "yes" or "no" [to Chávez's constitutional reforms that would allow him to remain in power indefinitely], was profoundly moved to realize that they were living anew the glorious days of Bolívar. The betrayals and low blows which our bosom friend receives on a daily basis will not change the feelings of his Bolivarian people towards him.
On his return to the airport in Caracas, from Chile, having been told from his very lips of his plans to mix freely with his people, as he has done so many times before, I understood with absolute clarity that, given the present circumstances and the far-reaching ideological victory obtained by him [at the Ibero-American Summit], a paid assassin of the Empire, a debased oligarch influenced by the Empire's propaganda machinery, or a mentally disturbed person, might try to put an end to Chavez's life. It is impossible to dismiss the impression that the Empire and the oligarchy have led Chávez up a blind alley putting him well within the reach of a bullet.
In Venezuela's case, victory will not be turned into a terrible setback but into an even greater victory, in order to prevent imperialism from leading us to the suicide of our species. We must continue fighting and running risks but not playing Russian roulette every day nor heads or tails. No one can escape mathematical calculations [of probability].
Under such circumstances it would have been preferable to use modern means of communications to transmit to the world live and direct the debates of the Summit." — Fidel Castro Ruz, "Reflections" of the Comandante," November 12, 2007
I am willing to bet my last dime that Fidel Castro actually wrote this "reflection." Either that or they have finally found a ghostwriter who can mimic him to perfection. What is more remarkable, however, is that this imitation, if in fact it is one, is not of the addled Fidel, which would be easy enough to parody, but of Fidel at the height of his powers of deception, bombast and Machiavellianism. There are so many concealed barbs in these few paragraphs, the points of which are barely visible to the eye, so much concentrated hypocrisy and dissimulation, that never was the maxim "the style is the man" more applicable.
Castro is concerned, foremost, in turning his ally's monumental embarrassment at the Ibero-American Summit into a victory. But, of course, that is not enough for Fidel. It must be a transcendental victory of the most transcendental kind; one that, literally, causes the world to pause in its revolutions, or, as Castro puts it, "reduces time, distance and space to zero." It is, moreover, the most instructive political exchange in history; an ideological Waterloo or ultimate defeat for the forces of imperialism; and it revives the glorious days of Bolivar's triumphs against colonialism. And here we thought that all that had happened of note at the Ibero-America Summit was the well-deserved desplante which the impolitic and impolite Chávez received from King Juan Carlos. It is obvious that Chávez was profoundly humiliated at the summit and he has gone from trying to dismiss the incident as irrelevant, to making fun of it, to exploiting it for political gain, to fuming at the arrogance of kings, to demanding an apology from Spain, and, finally, to threatening to nationalize Spanish banks in Venezuela. Fidel assures Chavez, however, that this was his finest hour and "the hour of truth" for all Latin America. More interesting still, Castro predicts that this may possibly be Chávez's final hour. This epoch-making victory has made him the Empire's "Public Enemy #1." Yes, he has displaced Castro himself as a target for assassination. That mantle, too, Castro is graciously ceding to his Venezuelan counterpart even before the first bullet has been fired.
Here is where the concealed barbs to which I previously alluded become more conspicuous to the trained eye. Fidel's praise is mockery. He knows his subject well enough to assume that the last person in the world who could ever see through his cynicism would be Chávez himself. And not only mockery, but payback.
Since Castro fell ill and even before, the heir presumptive has been predicting Castro's imminent demise. First, it was in the form of funereal praise: Castro could never die, Chávez said, because he is part of the earth, the air, the water, in short, elemental and eternal. To many that sounded like a eulogy in the absence of a corpse: Castro will live forever but only allegorically. Lately, Chávez has become less poetical. While transmitting his tv program "Alo Presidente" from Santa Clara, Cuba for the 40th anniversary of "Che" Guevara's death, Chávez spoke of his lastest meeting with Castro as possibly his last. The Cuban ministers of state in attendance at the live show turned redder than the red tee-shirts they were all wearing in homage to Chávez. Castro himself called the show to castigate his overeager disciple for his pessimism (optimism?). Still, one can't blame Chávez for being a little impatient. He's been paying the bills for a long time and expects some kind of return for his investment. Fidel's mantle is not good enough anymore. Hugo wants him in a shroud and soon. He certainly doesn't have the patience of Prince Charles, nor is Fidel his mother.
In these few paragraphs Castro warns Chávez against unduly exposing his life by mixing freely with the populace, which he compares to playing Russian roulette. The odds, he says, are definitely against Chávez and one can beat anything except the odds. Implicit in this is the admonition that one has to be Fidel Castro to beat the odds as he did, and that Hugo Chávez is no Fidel Castro. In fact, it is certainly possible that Fidel could outlive his replacement if that "imperialist bullet" finds Hugo Chávez and this "reflection" is Castro's way of reminding him.
Castro may be dying and senile. But his personality, at least, is unaffected.