True Blue

Oh to be young, handsome, educated, and to win the crown like a changeling prince returning from thralldom in a company of friends to claim his due. They descended from a yacht – a yacht! – one December morning, sixty years ago, and a dozen survivors took refuge in the woody mountains of the East, like a stranded party of geologists.

Many a bearded intellectual on both sides of the iron curtain has dreamed of roaming that saw-blade – all the way to bliss. Prince Bluebeard was charming like no other revolutionary, like no reactionary, no independence fighter of the century. If he was truly a purebred Spanish provincial, the grandson of Galician peasants, then his victory was a reversal of Franco’s – twenty years later, across the Atlantic. Don’t ask for whom the bells are tintinnabulating.

How else can I try to explain Fidel Castro’s lasting hold on the imagination of people of diverse backgrounds and origins? Today is the 60th anniversary of the day when the Granma insurgents, who had landed three days earlier, were attacked by government troops. Survivors soon reached Sierra Maestra, guerrillas’ ideal terrain.

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