By now, you’ve read contributing editor Jeffrey Goldberg’s dispatches from Cuba, where he was hosted by Fidel Castro (and if you haven’t, my God, what are you waiting for?). While the whole thing is massively entertaining (a dolphin show? Che’s daughter?), the most newsworthy tidbit was El Jefe’s candid admission, “The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”
Now, Castro is backtracking. “In reality,” he explained, “my answer meant exactly the opposite of what both American journalists interpreted regarding the Cuban model. My idea, as the whole world knows, is that the capitalist system no longer works for the United States or the world.” So he was misquoted? “He does not invent phrases, he transfers them and interprets them,” Castro said of his interlocutor. So, no, he was not misquoted. Okay then.
(By the way, Tablet Magazine Mideast columnist Lee Smith published an attempted corrective of Goldberg’s dispatch, which is worth considering.)
Meanwhile, perhaps the greatest good to come out of Goldberg’s jaunt—in addition to just the story of it—is that Castro’s endorsement of the Jewish people led Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez to echo his self-styled mentor: “We respect and love the Jewish people,” he affirmed upon hearing Castro’s quote. Now maybe Chávez will stop cozying up to Iran and tacitly endorsing anti-Semitism at home, hmm?
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.