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Fidel Castro: Expert on Baking Bread, Orthopedic Surgery, and Beer Distribution

Summary:
Jacobo Timmerman (1990): A Summer in the Revolution https://www.bradford-delong.com/2013/11/i-cannot-find-jacopo-timmermann-on-gabriel-garcia-marquez-on-fidel-castro.html: ': 'When I read one of Gabriel Carcia Marquez's essays on the [Cuban] Commandante [Fidel Castro], I was remind of paeans to Stalin—of the whole state of mind described by Arthur Koestler in Darkness at Noon. Garcia Marquez praises Fidel Castro for needing only six hours of sleep after a day's hard work—the same six hours that were often presented as proof of Josef Stalin's vitality, extolled in writings that also described his Kremlin window lit until the small hours of the night—and praises the wisdom of the Commandante in stating that "learning to rest is as important as learning to work". If the cumulative tasks

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Castro-khrushchev

Jacobo Timmerman (1990): A Summer in the Revolution https://www.bradford-delong.com/2013/11/i-cannot-find-jacopo-timmermann-on-gabriel-garcia-marquez-on-fidel-castro.html: ': 'When I read one of Gabriel Carcia Marquez's essays on the [Cuban] Commandante [Fidel Castro], I was remind of paeans to Stalin—of the whole state of mind described by Arthur Koestler in Darkness at Noon. Garcia Marquez praises Fidel Castro for needing only six hours of sleep after a day's hard work—the same six hours that were often presented as proof of Josef Stalin's vitality, extolled in writings that also described his Kremlin window lit until the small hours of the night—and praises the wisdom of the Commandante in stating that "learning to rest is as important as learning to work". If the cumulative tasks in Fidel Castro's workday as it is describe by Garcia Marquez are counted up, the Castro who emerges is a prodigy—someone who triumphs by supernatural intelligence:

His rarest virtue is the ability to foresee the evolution of an event to its farthest-reaching consequence...

and:

He has breakfast with no less than two hundred pages of news from the entire world...

(a long breakfast, surely), and:

He has to read fifty-odd documents [daily]...

And the list goes on:

No one can explain how he has the time or what method he employs to read so much and so fast.... A physician friend of his, out of courtesy, sent him his newly-published orthopedic treatise, without expecting him, of course, to read it, but one week later he received a letter from Castro with a long list of observations.... There is a vast bureaucratic incompetence affection almost every realm of daily life, especially domestic happiness, which has forced Fidel Castro himself, almost thirty years after victory, to involve himself personally in such extraordinary matters as how bread is made and the distribution of beer.... He has created a foreign policy of world-power dimensions.

Fidel Castro, then, has a secret method, unknown to the rest of mankind, for reading quickly, and he knows a lot about orthopedics, and yet thirty years after the Revolution he has not managed to organize a system for baking bread and distributing beer...

Bradford DeLong
J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was Deputy Assistant US Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administration, where he was heavily involved in budget and trade negotiations. His role in designing the bailout of Mexico during the 1994 peso crisis placed him at the forefront of Latin America’s transformation into a region of open economies, and cemented his stature as a leading voice in economic-policy debates.

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