Fidel Castro: Communist Columnist

Portia Siegelbaum is a CBS News producer based in Havana, Cuba

(STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Cuban President Fidel Castro could have a career as a syndicated columnist. Despite his renown as a lengthy speechmaker, the convalescing leader is turning out short and to-the-point editorials on a nearly daily basis in recent weeks.

His comments Tuesday evening focus on the upcoming G8 meeting in Germany. Once again he takes U.S. President George Bush to task, this time on the need to protect the environment and stop climate change.

He quotes the German Minister of the Environment as telling the AFP news agency it will be "very difficult" for the G8 summit to successfully confront global warming due to U.S. opposition.

Castro also takes a swipe at British Prime Minister Tony Blair for saying "he will persuade his friend George" on these issues. "The only sure thing," writes Castro, "is that [Blair] is adding another submarine to the three currently being built in Great Britain, which brings the spending on sophisticated weapons up by another $2.5 billion."

In a previous editorial Castro said Cuba could train 75,000 doctors or build 3,000 sophisticated medical clinics in poor countries for the amount the four nuclear-powered attack submarines are costing Britain.

Today Castro quips, "perhaps someone with one of Bill Gates' new computer programs could keep track of the resources for health, education and culture that this military spending denies humanity."

President Bush, who Castro refers to by his first name alone, "had better decide what he really thinks in the G8 meeting" on the dangers facing peace and the world's food supply. "Someone should ask him about it," writes the Cuban leader, concluding, "he should not try to get off with the advice of his friend Blair."

As has been their practice since President Castro began writing these pieces, the Cuban government sent an advance copy of the commentary dated 6:45 p.m. local time Tuesday, to the foreign press.

Practically all of the commentaries he has written have been signed and dated at the end of what would be the regular work day for most people, between 5 and 8 p.m. Observers say that the regularity of his output and their timing suggests that for the first time in his life, Castro is following a normal schedule.

If he is reading, writing and undergoing physical rehabilitation during the day and sleeping at night as they suggest, it represents a complete break with his previous pattern of working around the clock and only catching a few hours sleep mid-morning.

The 80-year-old Castro has undergone, according to his own account, several operations to stem intestinal bleeding since the end of last July. The exact nature of the illness that has kept him out of the public eye is still unknown although he is widely believed to have suffered from diverticulitis with inflammation and bleeding of the colon. His condition obliged him to step down, "temporarily" handing power over to his younger brother Defense Minister Raul Castro ten months ago.