Missing Dictator Special
Friday, 28th November 2008 by Ian Brown
“He’s not dead, he’s, he’s … resting!” Apologies for the Monty Python reference, but it rings true for a couple of Communism’s stalwarts.
Up to a million local residents were ‘encouraged’ to stay for the entire duration of ‘inspirational’ speeches lasting many, many hours, standing in the shadow of the memorial to José Martí, Cuba’s national hero for his role in the battle for independence from Spain.
Lining the square are imposing buildings such as the National Library and the Ministry of the Interior, adorned with an ironwork image of another national hero, Che Guevara, and the text Hasta la Victoria Siempre (Forever Onwards Towards Victory).
With Fidel’s withdrawal from public life, brother Raúl has taken on the role of President, with some apparent easing of restrictions on personal freedoms.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the North Korean government has been rather less open about the plan for succession should rumours of Kim Jong-il’s ill-health actually prove to be true.
While some observers believe he died as long ago as 2003, there’s no denying that he missed more recent events such as the parade for the country’s 60th anniversary in September 2008, in which the usual collections of military muscle marched through the city with landmarks such as Kim Il-sung Square – named for his father whose statue was previously featured here – and the Arch of Triumph, which was specifically built to be slightly larger than the one in Paris, just to prove a point.
Rumours of Kim Jong-il’s health weren’t helped by the release of apparently doctored photographs of him. Perhaps he’s hiding out in the Ryugyong hotel, which we’ve previously featured on Google Sightseeing.