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Ed Driscoll

When Castro Became Groucho—Updated

September 13th, 2010 - 1:54 am

To paraphrase Groucho, quote one of the last of the Marxist brothers as saying he was misquoted:

Fidel Castro said Friday his recent comment that communist-led Cuba’s economic model does not work as badly understood and that what he really meant was that capitalism does not work.

Castro, speaking at the University of Havana, said his words had been misinterpreted by his interviewer, U.S. journalist Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic Monthly magazine, who quoted a U.S. analyst saying they indicated Castro now supports a smaller state role in the island’s Soviet-style economy.

Goldberg wrote in a blog on Wednesday that he asked Castro, 84, if Cuba’s model was still worth exporting to other countries.

“The Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore,” Castro told him.

Castro confirmed that he said those words “without bitterness or concern.” But, he said, “the reality is that my response means exactly the opposite.”

“My idea, as the whole world knows, is that the capitalist system now doesn’t work either for the United States or the world, driving it from crisis to crisis, which are each time more serious.”

At age 84, it’s only a matter of time before Castro borrows another riff from Groucho, and sings the chorus from “Hello, I Must Be Going.” As with all of the obits the New York Times writes when ancient communists shuffle off this mortal coil, the Gray Lady’s obituary for Castro is guaranteed to be a masterpiece of performance art worthy of Groucho himself — and likely almost as funny, albeit unintentionally so.

Update: To borrow another classic Groucho riff, “Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well, I have others.”

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