Fidel Castro is not only still alive but also still cranky.
Earlier this month, false rumors of Castro's death spread like wildfire on the internet. The former Cuban leader hadn't been seen in more than a year, the argument went, and some dudes were cleaning a cemetery in Havana. So surely it was time for South Florida to celebrate El Comandante's demise.
Nope. The Cuban government dismissed the rumors. Now Granma, the state-run newspaper, has released Castro's first public statement in three months.
If anyone doubts that Fidel wrote the statement, it does appear to be true to his recent style: long and rambling and really weird.
The statement was written to commemorate Castro's enrollment in the University of Havana 70 years ago.
"I wasn't a laborer's son, nor did I lack any material or social resources required for a relatively comfortable existence," Castro wrote. "I can say that I miraculously escaped from wealth."
In a rather strange segue, the ex-president then slams Bill Gates for his recently professed faith that technology will soon end poverty.
"The richest and undoubtedly smartest North American, with almost $100 billion, said [on Thursday]... that the privileged system of production and distribution of the wealthy will, over generations, turn the poor into the rich," Castro wrote in an apparent reference to Gates.
Bill Gates is unlikely to applaud Castro's latest comments.
via Wikimedia Commons
Castro then obliquely compared Gates' utopian vision of ending poverty to ancient Greece, which was "a territory where slaves performed the most difficult jobs in the countryside and cities, while an oligarchy devoted itself to writing and philosophizing."
After name-dropping Marx, Lenin, and Mao, Castro ended his statement with a surprisingly sanguine assessment of U.S.-Cuba relations.
"I don't trust the policy of the United States nor have I had an exchange with them, but this does not mean... a rejection of a peaceful solution to conflicts or the dangers of war," the 88-year-old wrote.
The two countries are currently locked in historic, high-level talks.
"Any peaceful or negotiated solution to the problems between the United States and the peoples or any people of Latin America that doesn't imply force or the use of force should be treated in accordance with international norms and principles," Castro wrote.
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"We will always defend cooperation and friendship with all the peoples of the world, among them our political adversaries."