The Return of Castro I / Iván García

One week before turning 84-years-old, and after one month of public appearances, Cubans were not surprised with his appearance before the National Assembly of Popular Power, in an extraordinary session that he himself called and that, in addition to the mass of deputies, was attended by his brother the president, General Raul Castro.

As his health recovered, people accustomed themselves to seeing him in photos and videos. First as a host with diverse guests, then as a visitor himself.

The population had already gotten used to his absence. And was grateful for it too, because television programs were no longer affected by some appearance or a long speech.

Now, in seeing him again before the parliament with an olive-green shirt, the same one worn on two previous occasions, a mix of fear and uncertainty has assaulted people. “It frightens me to think that he has recovered enough that every now and then we once again hear him speak,” comments Jose Luis, 51, a construction worker.

Elvira, 45, a primary school teacher, does not believe that Fidel will return to the political arena. “At least not like before, even though he still maintains an important position, First Secretary of the Party.”

These worries arise among older citizens. Meanwhile, the older they are, the more convinced they are that “the Maximum Leader has not only returned to the national political realm, but also to the international realm,” emphasizes Mario, 66, retired.

The ones who lose no sleep over his return, temporary or definitive, are the youth. To them, who had practically forgotten his voice and his gestures, what has called their attention is his “look.”

Yendri, 25, chef, saves various photos of ‘El Comandante‘ with Adidas, Nike, and Puma active wear, among other famous brands. “If only I had a collection like that,” he confesses.

On the streets, opinions are divided with respect to his clothing, which evokes laughter among some. In private, of course. “Sometimes, he wears a very bad combination and when they focus on his feet, he’s wearing outdated tennis shoes,” says Javier, 32, unemployed.

What everyone can agree on, young and old alike, is that no one in Cuba with the sense that God gave a mule is paying any attention to his latest rant: that of impending nuclear war and catastrophe.

Some account for this by saying that during his period of convalescence he read books about the end of the world and watched films like 2012. I personally believe that Fidel Castro is not interested in those subjects. These are just a pretext so as to retake the role of protagonist that he was obligated to leave when he was on the brink of death four years ago.

Iván García

Photo: EPA

August 11 2010