Today will be recorded in history, and in this blog, as the day we woke up to hear news of the passing of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. He was 90 years old and ruled Cuba from 1959 until a debilitating illness forced his retirement from leadership in 2008. He survived several US-directed and inspired assassination attempts. Castro had an overall positive image in two countries where I served, Guinea-Bissau and Angola, though his image in the country of my birth was decidedly mixed. Love him or hate him, he was a world figure during some turbulent times, and he managed to transcend his immediate surroundings, his tiny island nation.Some might even say he reached that final stage of Maslow’s hierarchy, self-transcendence. I don’t know. Heck.
When I was an IR-theory graduate student at SOAS in London, we had fascinating discussions about the Washington Consensus and what we postulated as the post-Washington Consensus moment we were approaching (this was the mid-90’s) wherein countries east and west, north and south, were spinning out of cold war hegemonic control. Somewhere I have an unfinished paper on string theory and international relations. Might be time to dust that thing off…
Long and short of it, I ain’t mad at Fidel, but you probably already figured that out. I get why the US had to dog him, same reason why the French had to dog Toussaint L’Overture, because both represented threats to an established world order. And by extension, my country puts Cuba under a curse, just like France put Haiti under a curse, a voodoo curse if you will, for their obvious misbehavior and insubordination.
Anyway, let’s end on two positive notes. Donald Fagen (half of Steely Dan). I.G.Y. 1982. And Sonnet #44, 2013.
I was a runner in my hapless youth:
two times, four times, eight times around the track;
running to things, running from things, always
in a haste, never taking time to smell
the fragrance of the roses, know the truth.
In time, life slowed me down. I changed my tack.
I learned to walk, to circumspect, unfazed
by every shiny thing my eyes beheld.
But then the boundless sea became my Muse:
Her hidden wonders and her ways seduced
my every thought. Yet she was just a phase,
a short poetic phrase and a malaise.
This sonnet owns no ending, just a star,
to capture our attention from afar.
R.D. Maxwell ©2013