How many more ruthless, brutal dictators are going to kick the authoritarian bucket this year before Calle Oche finally gets to hold that damn parade? Fidel Castro's rolodex of entrenched, old-timey leaders is getting dangerously thin.
Muammar Gaddafi: whacked. Ali Saleh: deposed. Zine Ben Ali: tossed from office. Hosni Mubarak: Facing criminal trial. And now, even Kim Jong Il -- the crazed, nuke-hoarding overlord of North Korea -- has called it a regime and died. Who will ring up Fidel on his birthday?
Jong Il apparently died of a heart attack on Saturday, but the state media didn't report the news until the wee hours of this morning in the Western Hemisphere. He'd spent 17-years making the paranoid, deprived state founded by his dad, Kim Il-sung, more paranoid and more deprived.
For sheer pathos -- and for Miamians, the vicarious thrill of imaging this scene playing out on state TV in Havana -- it's tough to top the weepy, strangled report that Il Jong had died that aired on his national propaganda network last night:
Combined with the Arab Spring that's toppled Gaddafi, Egypt's Mubarak, Yemen's Salah, Tunisia's Ben Ali, and left Syria's Bashar Al Asad teetering, Fidel's got to be feeling pretty lonely at the annual Entrenched Dictators Club chicken dinners.
Perk up, Fidel -- there are still some sympathetic ears out there on the world stage for you. (And no, we're not talking about that sycophant down in Venezuela -- that whippersnapper's way too young to recognize.)
There's Robert Mugabe, who's been grinding Zimbabwe to dust since 1980! He's 87, refuses to cede power and gets more violent every year.
Or his buddy to the east, Yoweri Museveni, the spry 72-year-old who's been persecuting political enemies in Uganda almost as long.
Isaias Afewerki is only 65 and has only been in power for two decades, but damn if his fist isn't so iron that he couldn't sympathize. He's been running Eritrea since the day it got independence, and most of his citizens can't even leave the country.
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But honestly, maybe Fidel's best bet is right down the hallway; Raul is 70, after all, and technically he runs the country now. Maybe it's time for the South Park crew to write Fidel a song about how lonely life at the top can be?