HAVANA – In 1965, a Fidel Castro at the height of his power gave a long interview to U.S. photojournalist Lee Lockwood. Half a century later the text has been reedited and illustrated with some 200 previously unpublished photos in a book that shows both the public and personal life of the Cuban leader.
In the photos, Castro is seen speaking before thousands of people but also coming out of the water after scuba diving, doing exercises on the Isle of Pines, having dinner, playing with his dog Guardian, or just relaxing barefoot in a hammock.
Lockwood interviewed Castro during the seven days he spent with him and his nearest collaborators on the Isle of Pines, just six years after the victory of the Cuban Revolution and when the leader never imagined that the communist project could possibly fail.
The Spanish-language edition of “Castro’s Cuba. An American Journalist’s Inside Look at Cuba, 1959-1969” (Taschen), is now on the market 50 years after its first publication in English.
More than 50 years ago, Lee Lockwood launched his own campaign on behalf of a thaw, which took him from his arrival in Cuba in 1959 to the publication of “Castro’s Cuba, Cuba’s Fidel” in 1967, a work based on “one of the most extraordinary interviews in the entire 20th century of an active world leader,” in the words of the book’s editor, Nina Wiener.
Added to the 100 small black-and-white photos published at the time are 200 more pictures from Lockwood’s archives, to which Wiener had access before the photographer’s death in 2010.
During their long conversations, Lockwood and Castro discussed every possible subject, and today, 50 years later, some of the Cuban leader’s remarks seem surprising.
He said, for example, that he would be head of the Cuban Communist Party for just “a few more years.”
“If you want me to be perfectly honest, I want it to be the least time possible...I think we should all retire relatively young, and I don’t propose that as a duty but as something more: as a right.” But in fact he did not retire until 2006, when a grave illness forced him to step down.