La Leyenda de Fidel - Seeing Fidel Castro in Person
Perdone, no hablo mucho espanol (pero quiero!), entonces continuo en ingles.
I believe it was late spring of 1977 when I met Fidel Castro in Havana,Cuba.
It was on a rare occasion of an international exploratory business meeting, to which select U.S. companies were invited. Mexico was prominent, discussing VW manufacturing deals; I think there were Canadians, maybe some Europeans and at least one American company, Amex.
It was a memorable trip, in many ways, but Fidel made his appearance on only two occasions. He made a speech to the group, and later that day hosted a reception for the visitors.
The large auditorium was modern, arranged in a college lecture hall style. Fidel walked into the room in his full battle fatigue uniform, replete with guns. As he stepped onto the podium, he unbuckled the gun holster and set it aside. Then he started speaking…
The speech was in Spanish and very long. Simultaneous translation was provided via earphones for those who needed it.
Fidel spoke slowly, deliberately and emphatically, using picturesque images to illustrate his points. There were so many detours of thought that frankly, for quite some time it was a bit difficult to fathom where it was all going. Regardless, we were spell-bound and captivated. Then, the light started coming through - it ALL came together, made sense and in a very charismatic and logical way.
The charisma and charm were most evident when Fidel played host at the ensuing reception. Each guest was greeted personally upon entry to the function room. We shook hands. His penetrating, intense look straight into my eyes was rather unnerving. I don’t recall if the gun belt was back on; probably...
That was my extremely mini version of La Leyenda de Fidel, or more accurately, my seeing Fidel Castro in person a long time ago. As to the content of the speech, I do not recall much, except for one tremendously important concept regarding the embargo, but that’s a different subject.
Note: The image is from the cover of a Biscayne Times publication that appeared in the fall of 2015.