Thursday, January 29, 2015

Fidel Castro in Good Health, Brazil’s Frei Betto Says


Q.) How do you konw when a communist dictator is dead?
A.) When they talk about him being alive non-stop (see Hugo Chavez)

HAVANA – Fidel Castro is in good health and feels “deep admiration” for Pope Francis, Brazilian intellectual Frei Betto said on Wednesday a day after meeting with Cuba’s former president.

He and Fidel discussed a wide range of subjects and the 88-year-old leader of the Cuban Revolution remains “very optimistic,” Betto told reporters in Havana.

“I have written an article for Brazil about my encounter with Fidel and I said that an axiom I always repeat is perfectly applicable to Fidel: we must leave pessimism for better days,” the Dominican monk said in comments broadcast on Cuban state television.

Betto, a founder of Liberation Theology, and Castro are old friends and the Brazilian is a frequent visitor to Havana, where he traveled this week to address a conference on education.

“(Castro) asked me about my meeting with Pope Francis. He has a deep admiration for Pope Francis,” the Brazilian said.

Fidel and Betto met a day after the former president’s first public statement about the planned restoration of diplomatic relations with Washington, made in the form of an open letter to students at the University of Havana.

Castro, who ruled Cuba until he was stricken with a grave illness in July 2006, said that while he does not trust U.S. policy, he does not oppose the “peaceful resolution” of conflicts or negotiations with Washington, as long as they take place within the framework of international norms.

Betto, whose books include “Fidel and Religion: Conversations with Friar Betto,” said Castro asked his opinion about Cuba’s budding rapprochement with the United States.

“I said I thought it is very good, very positive. But one side still speaks in FM and the other speaks in AM, getting on the same wavelength will take time,” the Brazilian recounted, adding that he emphasized the thaw between the long-time antagonists “is an important step for peace, a dialogue that has to take place.”

U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban counterpart Raul Castro – Fidel’s younger brother – announced the restoration of bilateral diplomatic links on Dec. 17 in simultaneous speeches.

The agreement followed 18 months of secret negotiations mediated by the Argentine pontiff and the Canadian government.

The first high-level talks between Havana and Washington to advance toward normalization were held Jan. 21-22 in the Cuban capital.


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