IN THE END, I made it with just a matter of hours to spare: Like many an old Leftie, I managed to visit Castro’s Cuba while the Old Revolutionary was still alive and before the US ‘screwed the country up’.
i awoke from a jet-lagged sleep back home in Godzone to hear the BBC’s Today programme announcing the death several hours earlier of the historic El Commandante.
To my returned fellow travellers (I use the phrase in full knowledge of its Cold War meaning!) I send condolences and congratulations: we all had been fascinated enough by that Caribbean communist country’s thorn-in-the-flesh position seventy miles south of its mighty capitalist neighbour to visit the island ‘before the USA screwed it up’.
We had also, despite domestic political differences, been fascinated by the still-looming presence (despite retirement from his dictatorial position of power) of Fidel, the Cold War warrior who, with Che Guevara and brother Raoul Castro, freed the isle of slaves and sugar from the two-nations Batista regime back in 1959.
We made it there and back with just hours to spare
At the astonishingly-timed announcement of the death of one who is surely the last of the Cold War combatants, I realised that one of this journalist’s long-cherished ambitions had been fulfilled in the nick of time; fellow trippers Paul and Pauline, Tony and June, Tob and Del and Pat and Joan – just a few of the intrepid dozen-and-a-half on our tour group – will share my astonishment at our ‘good fortune’, however inappropriate the phrase under the circumstances.
A chapter closes with the passing of an extraordinary statesman. Let history be his judge.