Journalist recounts her experience with Cuban leader Castro

Cuba

Among those who covered Fidel Castro and followed his career closely is American journalist and author Ann Louise Bardach. Bardach once obtained a rare, extended interview with the Cuban leader and managed to establish a bit of a rapport with him.

CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy spoke to Bardach about Fidel at her California home.
Follow Hendrik Sybrandy on Twitter @hsybrandy

Journalist recounts her experience with Cuban leader Castro

Ann Louise Bardach is one of very few Western journalists who spent time with Fidel Castro and saw him up close. She refers to Castro in the present tense although it's been years since they last met. CCTV's Hendrik Sybrandy spoke to Bardach about Fidel at her California home.

Ann Louise Bardach is one of very few Western journalists who spent time with Fidel Castro and saw him up close. She refers to Castro in the present tense although it’s been years since they last met.

Bardach was a reporter for the U.S. magazine Vanity Fair when she was sent to Havana to try to interview Fidel Castro, no easy task. It was 1993. Castro had been in power for 34 years.

She was surrounded by Castro’s security detail. They became angry over her tough questions, but Castro interrupted them to welcome her. 

What followed then was a rare, three-hour interview with the Cuban leader. Step into her office today and you’ll see a photo of that unforgettable encounter.

Bardach also reported on Castro’s 2006 intestinal surgery, which led him to step down as Cuba’s president. She said he ordered his surgeons to perform a shortcut. He nearly died.

She said Fidel believed in high stakes, that the winner takes all. And it is especially true when it came to international showdowns like the Cuban missile crisis and the way he ran Cuba itself. She doubts history will absolve Fidel Castro the way he guaranteed it would during a four-hour speech in 1953. But she said Cuban pride is a part of his legacy.

A leader who loved the limelight, Castro put himself and Cuba on the world stage. It’s a piece of history that Ann Louise Bardach watched up close through her unique window.