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The ‘New York Times of Germany’ Takes on Castro


This morning’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (the FAZ, as Germans call it) carries a story about the reemergence of Fidel Castro from a long convalescence. The news hook is the publication of the first volume of Castro’s memoirs (characteristically concise at a mere 900 pages), a copy of which was presented to the Chinese foreign minister on the occasion of his visit to the island.

What is remarkable about the story, at least to an American expatriate reader, is the language and the tone. Castro’s book is said to recount for the millionth time his struggle against that all-purpose baddie, the late Fulgencio Batista. But it then goes on to observe dryly that “there is no self-criticism in retrospect [regarding], for example, how a corrupt right-wing dictator was replaced by a left-wing one, and in the course of a half-century three generations of Cubans have been robbed of their life chances.”

The delicious coda:

Only the Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos still seems to believe that the Castro brothers are actually interested in pursuing a path of democratic and market-oriented reforms and will do so once the sanctions of the European community are lifted.

The truth is quite different. As long as the duo act solely in the interests of maintaining power and the graying “Comandante” restrains any political reforms, the Cubans can expect no serious changes. The only thing they can expect is the second volume of his memoirs.

The FAZ is often referred to as the New York Times of Germany. But when was the last time the Times referred to Fidel Castro as a “dictator” (as opposed to a “leader”)? Perhaps not surprisingly, unlike the Sulzberger family toy, the FAZ is not hemorrhaging readers or advertisers. This story suggests why that might be so.