|Castro criticises Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for anti-Semitism in a new interview. [EPA]|
Fidel Castro has said that Cuba’s economic model no longer works, a US-based journalist reports after interviews with the former president last week.
The Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg blogged about the interview on Tuesday and Wednesday, which revealed a surprising look at Castro’s frame of mind.
When Goldberg asked Castro, 84, if Cuba’s model of Soviet-style communism was still worth exporting to other countries, he replied: “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”
The comment, delivered over a casual lunch of fish, salad, bread and red wine, appeared to reflect Castro’s agreement, which he also expressed in a column for Cuban media in April, with his younger brother and current president, Raul Castro, who has initiated modest reforms to stimulate Cuba’s troubled economy.
The following day, Castro invited Goldberg to the Havana Aquarium for a dolphin show, and seemed to have some fun at the reporter’s expense by inviting him to ask questions – about dolphins.
“‘Goldberg,’ Fidel said, ‘ask him questions about dolphins … ‘You’re a journalist, ask good questions’.”
They were accompanied to the aquarium by Adela Dworin, a local Jewish leader, who Castro kissed in front of the cameras in a possible message to Iranian leaders, Goldberg said in his Wednesday blog post. Goldberg described Castro as physically frail, but energetic and mentally acute.
The reporter also said that Julia Sweig, a Cuba expert at the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank in Washington who accompanied him to Havana, believed Castro’s words reflected an acknowledgement that “the state has too big a role in the economic life of the country”.
Such sentiment would help President Raul Castro, who took over from his brother in 2008, against those members of the ruling Communist Party who oppose his attempts to loosen the state’s hand, Sweig told Goldberg.
Goldberg wrote in an earlier blog post on Tuesday that Castro summoned him to Havana to discuss his recent article about the likelihood of conflict between Israel and Iran, with possible US involvement, over Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities.
He said Castro criticised Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, for anti-Semitism and denying the Holocaust. Castro, since emerging in July from four years of seclusion following intestinal surgery, has made comments against nuclear weapons and expressed concern about the future of the world. He fears that if the US and Israel try to enforce international sanctions against Iran for its nuclear activities, nuclear war will break out.
Castro also doubted his own actions during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when he urged the Soviet Union to launch nuclear weapons against the US, telling Goldberg that “knowing what I know now, it wasn’t worth it all”.