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    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Cuba 40 years on

    An obscure Cuban legend, based on the reported vision of a Spanish priest 150 years ago that tells of a bearded leader who rules with an iron fist and dies in his bed in the fourth decade of his reign, has gained fresh currency with the recent illness of Cuba's dictator, Fidel Castro.


    According to a strong oral and written tradition preserved by the Catholic congregation of Santiago de Cuba, a Spanish priest, sent to the city to be it's archbishop in the 1850s, had a vision of Cuba's patron saint, La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, in which she told him of a coming Cuban leader who bears an uncanny resemblance to Castro.

    According to the legend, she spoke of a "very bold young person" who would arise from those very mountains – armed, bearded and triumphant. He would be accompanied by other bearded men with long hair.

    They would arrive wearing the medal of the virgin around their necks, but soon would deny their belief in it.

    The young leader would be acclaimed by all because of many popular reforms, but little by little, he would seize all the power, weighing down the Cuban people with an iron dictatorship that would last 40 years. During his 4 decades in power, Cuba would undergo numerous calamities and shortages. The bearded leader, the prophecy said, would die in his bed.

    A short period of instability, conflict and bloodshed, would follow his death, but "soon" Cuba would rise little by little to an outstanding position among the nations


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