Since Fidel Castro left power, there have been no pictures taken of him. Cuba and the Cubans were accustomed to his daily presence in person, in photos, on television, and through articles in the newspaper Gramma or messages over the radio. In the national collective imagination – and beyond – Cuba is Fidel and Fidel is Cuba. His retirement from public life has meant that all that is left of his presence is archive footage. Archive photos portray him heroically as President, freedom fighter and revolutionary, at the peak of his power and of his duties. Not providing us with any further images and thus depriving us of a look into his retirement has freeze-framed Fidel in everyone’s memories. These images of the past have been crystallised, effectively extracting Fidel from the passage of time.
Like his peers of the generation born in 1926, the Lider Maximo is struggling with his ultimate destiny and legacy, in private, away from the historic, institutional and social milieus in which he moved throughout his career. He has, in essence, let go of the firm grasp he held on politics and the media for 50 years.