I can still remember my surprise as I, and the rest of Miami, was caught unaware by the news of Fidel Castro's transfer of power to Raul one year ago. How could anyone have imagined it, especially when that very day President Bush was having breakfast at Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana?
Looking back, this transfer of power was just procedural because President Bush himself transferred his powers to Vice-President Cheney this month when he went under general anesthesia for a colonoscopy. Its a right given to the President under the 25th Amendment.
Fidel Castro seems to be getting better now, but you couldn't have convince anyone of this a year ago.
Looking back at the local news coverage a year ago, many were convinced of something very dire. Sure, Fidel is old, but most of the news afterward painted a very grim picture. Remember the Negroponte quote from last December: "Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer... months, not years."
On July 31, one local news station had US Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart describing what some in Miami were thinking: "It's evident that Castro is either dead or dying."
Many were convinced that Fidel Castro was in fact dead. A Telemundo51 poll from August 2nd showed that 43% of viewers though Castro was dead, while 33% thought he was really ill.
On August 1, Maria Elvira Salazar hosted a special television program about the recent events. She surveyed her audience with an online poll and the results showed that 91% thought Fidel was dead. That's was based on viewers of MegaTV channel 22.
Many had made it clear: how could an ego-driven dictator relinquish power unless he is already dead? Any other alternative logic was suspended.
In my opinion, the phenomena that occurred in Miami that evening on July 31, 2006, only revealed the negative bias that still permeates this city on the Cuban issue. A simple transfer of power was immediately met with signs of death. Why would our thoughts expect anything else?
That's why I have great distrust in a lot of information that comes from Miami, especially when it is about Cuba. In Miami it is difficult to find a view that doesn't attribute the worst from a government that has no other face than that of a "perverse circus" as Lincoln Diaz-Balart once described it.
But, a year later, what have we learned?
- Phil Peters at the Cuban Triangle Blog has more thoughts.
- More Pics here at ViewImages.Com
[Photo by Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images]