Chavez’ visit

Raul had invited him. He replied he didn’t want to come see me so I wouldn’t catch the flu he had. That was nothing but a pretext to avoid the torture of my habitual questions. “What am I taking vitamin C for?” I told him in a message. Should we expect all the heads of State who attended the Rio Group’s warm and successful last meeting to get sick? He was content, euphoric about that battle for peace and his role in it – recognized by international cables – made him happy. He was serene, persuasive, thoughtful and with an excellent sense of humor. Even Bolivar, who was never wholly satisfied with anything, would have been pleased at that moment.

At the end, he sang “Quisqueya.” The meeting had proven fruitful and, flu and all, his musical voice and ear could finally take the floor.

He remarked that oil prices had gone up 5 dollars. He asked to be excused by Leonel who, in a reflex-reaction, overcome with joy, had begun to cough.

Many of the countries who had gathered there export coffee and cocoa to the US market, in addition to all kinds of vegetables and fruits. I am not up to date as regards the latter’s prices, but the price of coffee and cocoa is about what it was 50 years ago, when the dollar had a few dozen times the purchasing power it has today.

Simple trade, increasingly unequal, is crushing the economies of many Latin American countries. Some African countries are oil producers. Others produce coffee and cocoa. Some attract transnational capital like bees around a honey pot. Others attract debt and its steep interests. And all suffer the scourge of rising food prices.

Today, Saturday, I had a long conversation with Chavez. We are like brothers. The decision to publish what we discussed is not mine to make, as it has never been and will never be. Venezuela is not Brazil. I will publish only what he authorizes in my memoirs.

All I can say is that the meeting was excellent. And I have yet to feel any flu symptoms.

Fidel Castro Ruz
March 8, 2008