14ymedio, Havana, 4 August 2016 — Five images taken over a span of six decades form the official billboard to celebrate the 90th birthday of former president Fidel Castro. The first two capture the young lawyer who assaulted a military fortress and the guerrilla commander who led a rebel army in the mountains of eastern Cuba. There is hardly a difference of five years between them.
Among the last three there is only a decade. In the first, an out-of-focus sea of flags evokes the era of open grandstands beginning of this century; in the microphone in the second appears an element inseparable from his biography: a microphone. That last catches the occasion when, already sick and retired, he appeared before the cameras with an inexplicable metal star fixed to his olive-green cap.
Forty years of his iconography, absent in the composition, they have shown him in his most intense moments, when he dictated laws, orders the construction of schools in the countryside, gave away sugar mills to other countries, directed a war on the other side of the world, and signed orders for executions. Also lacking are the most recent images, those of his extreme old age: his sagging lower lip, scraggly beard, the spots on his skin and the Adidas sportswear he dresses in.
It could be debated whether or not Fidel Castro was the Cuban who has managed to summon more followers in a square, the most loved and the most hated, but certainly he has the merit of being the most photographed of all time.