What the hell has gotten into Fidel? First, the long-time antagonist of Israeli foreign policy took a big whack at Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, demanding that he "stop slandering the Jews."
Now, in a new interview just published online, Fidel seems to flat out admit that the fruits of his revolution aren't exactly flowering in full these days. "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore," he says to The Atlantic Magazine's Jeffrey Goldberg. Say WHA?!!
First, a little back story. Both extraordinary Fidel stories come from Goldberg, who incredibly was called out of the blue a few weeks ago from the Cuban Interests Section in Washington with a simple and shocking message: Fidel read your last article and wants to meet you in Havana in a few days.
Goldberg -- presumably after picking his jaw up off the kitchen table -- hopped a flight out of Miami and was dining with el commandante en jefe a few hours later.
The results of Goldberg's Cuban trip -- a pair of blogs published today and yesterday -- reveal a very odd turn for the dictator-in-chief. Castro wasn't exactly in top physical shape, Goldberg writes, needing two bodyguards who "appeared to have been recruited from the Cuban national wrestling team" to prop him up at the elbows.
But Fidel also ate vigorously, drank red wine, and talked at length with a seemingly strong mind. He proposed last-minute trips to watch dolphin shows and joked about fighting with Khrushchev back in the day.
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In Goldberg's most recent post, Castro seems to admit that his vision of Cuban Socialism isn't working on the island nation anymore. Goldberg, as you might expect, had to make sure he'd heard el jefe correctly.
Julia Sweig, his friend from the Council on Foreign Relations, gave this take on the admission:"He wasn't rejecting the ideas of the Revolution. I took it to be an acknowledgment that under 'the Cuban model' the state has much too big a role in the economic life of the country."
And yet, at the same time Castro seems to be slowly taking back the power he ceded to younger bro Raul a few years ago after his devastating stomach illness. Just last weekend, he spoke to a huge crowd while wearing military fatigues for the first time in years.
So, we ask again: What the hell is going on in La Habana? This much is certain -- Fidel is less dead than ever.