by Pa Rock
Two Presidents of the United States died on the same day. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both expired on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence - a document authored by Jefferson and signed by himself and Mr. Adams. There are more than a few historians who feel that the two elderly statesmen held death at bay until the nation reached it's fiftieth birthday.
Another fiftieth anniversary of an important event will occur this January 1st, and another sickly old man seems to be hanging on just to celebrate the half-centennial of his greatest achievement. It was on January 1st, 1959, that Fidel Castro and his small band of patriots overthrew the corrupt Batista regime in Cuba.
For fifty years Cuba has been a constant military and political thorn in the side of the United States. From the humiliation of the ill-advised Bay of Pigs invasion, to the Cuban Missile Crisis, to Mariel Boat Lift, to military meddling in places as divergent as Bolivia and Angola, the should-be-insignificant Cuban leader has proven himself to be a viable and startlingly effective player on the world stage.
But Fidel is old, and he is ill. He resigned the Presidency of Cuba in February of 2008, and turned power over to his barely-younger brother, Raul. Since that time he has rarely been seen by the outside world - and always in the confines of his hospital room.
In yesterday's column about the Dead Pool I labeled Castro as low-hanging fruit because his death is imminent. If he didn't know that the Grim Reaper had him in his sights, the old revolutionary would have never stepped down as the political and military leader of the country that he created. He is holding on, only just holding on, awaiting the perfect moment for his last hurrah - the day that all Cubans and much of the world, will look back and remember that ragtag group of revolutionaries who spent two years in the mountain wilds slowly defeating a despot. It was his grandest moment, a moment destined to lift an insignificant island nation to the heady heights of international significance.
I predict that, like Jefferson and Adams, Cuba's remarkable el jefe will choose that day to set out on his next great adventure.
Somewhere Che Guevara is waiting.