Ernesto Cardenal on Fidel:
He is Not a Simple Character
By Fernando Cardenal was a Nicaraguan poet and priest, one of the main exponents of Liberation Theology. Author of “Gethsemani Ky”, “Hora 0” and “Epigramas”.
August 13, 2009
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Taken from Juventud Rebelde
For those of us who have known Fidel Castro (and love and admire him) it is difficult to give a brief portrait of him. Because contrary to what those who only know him from the newspapers (often hostile to him) may think, he is not a simple character to define, but a highly complex one.
Above all, it must be said that he is a brilliant personality. But he is not only a genius, but many geniuses. He was first known as a guerrilla genius. Later he proved to be a genius as a statesman, too: one of the greatest statesmen of his time, standing out from them all for having ruled for so many years with great skill, or if you like with great success, facing the greatest power in the world under such unequal conditions.
We must also add that he is a great genius of oratory, I would say that he is not only one of the greatest orators of his time but of all history. It is amazing to see how he captivates the audience, in Cuba and in any other country, speaking for hours and hours, without having the speeches written as Demosthenes did, and sometimes without even having prepared them, completely improvised.
Unlike his rivals, the presidents of the United States, who, according to Gore Vidal, cannot write their own speeches if they do not have someone to write them for them, and sometimes they cannot even read them. He is also a genius with a great deal of knowledge. He is profound in agriculture, in medicine, in economics (perhaps the world’s greatest expert on foreign debt), in electronics, energy resources, and many other things.
Gabriel García Márquez told me about the success and depth with which he analyzed in the morning a novel of his that I had just read the night before. A few years ago he decided to study Liberation Theology, of which he knew nothing. Some theologians of this tendendy have told me how he had become an expert in it. I might also add that he is great in memory: I myself witnessed how an unfinished business he had discussed with me ten years ago was taken up again when he saw me again ten years later (there being so many people he sees). He is also famous for his ability to retain numbers and to do instant mathematical operations.
As someone who has treated him personally on occasion, I can attest that he is a fascinating personality: affectionate, very soft-spoken, polite, and even tender. He is familiar with anyone from the very first moment. He is witty, witty, and always makes you laugh… All this explains why he has been an indispensable character for the people of Cuba, why he has ruled for so long (not by force of arms, because he doesn’t rule by force of arms) and why he is so popular. And also that he has the enemies that he has.
Gallery: Fidel in the eyes of the artists
Selection of paintings made by great Cuban and international artists, dedicated to Fidel Castro. This exhibition is part of the collection of the National Museum of Fine Arts.
Gallery: Fidel Castro, photos by Liborio Noval
Selection of photos of Fidel Castro taken by Liborio Noval, one of the most recognized professional photographers in Cuba. Liborio is a National Prize of Journalism and a collaborator of Cubadebate.