Cites Dictator’s emphasis on health, education throughout Latin America
Fidel Castro was a “giant” who saved Cuba from revolving door coups and counter coups declares New Zealander Bernard Diederich who was a close friend of Castro’s since his ascent to power.
Mr Diederich and his wife were on the invitation list for the 10th anniversary of the Cuba revolution.
Had it not been for Castro, emphasises Mr Diederich, Cuba would simply be another “poor and uneducated” Latin nation.
Mr Diederich cites Castro’s intense interest in science and religion as additional, and unrecognised, aspects to the personality of the dictator.
Mr Diederich also emphasises the way in which the Cuban leader deployed his technical people notably doctors throughout Latin America and to the benefit of the poor there.
For many year Mr Diederich ran Haiti's daily paper and was thus eyewitness to the various catastrophes in the region caused by human intervention.
Mr Diederich was for many years in charge of Time Life’s Central America coverage. He was awarded the National Press Club's Lifetime Achievement Award two years ago. He is pictured at the event in Martinborough where his New Zealand family is now based.
He hails from Wellington and is considered now to be New Zealand’s greatest living adventurer. His odyssey started early in World War 2 when he became a boy sailor on the Pamir, the square rigger seized from the Germans.
Considering this too safe, he went on to sail in tankers across the Atlantic.
After the war he hove-to in Port Au Prince, Haiti, where he started his newspaper and began a tortured relationship with the Duvalier dynasty.
Now a resident in Miami, Mr Diederich was to deal on personal terms with all the Central American dictators over the next half century and his books on them are considered standard reference works.
Early revolutionary days (top of page): Bernard Diederich, wearing tie, with Fidel Castro.
From the MSCNewsWire reporters' desk