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BEREFT OF PATRONS, DESPERATE TO RESCUE HIS ECONOMY, FIDEL TURNS TO AN UNUSUAL SOLUTION: CAPITALISM

The hemisphere's last communist begins his evening with a martini. As he plucks the quintessentially American refreshment from the tray, Fidel Castro seems surprisingly muted. Or perhaps it is simply the mark of age: he is still a big man, trim and barrel-chested, but his 68 years are visible in the skin of his face, which is approaching the translucence of old parchment.

Taking his visitors on a slow walking tour of Havana's labyrinthine Palacio de la Revolucion, Castro gestures toward an enormous mosaic of birds, animals and flowers that dominates the reception hall and quietly begins a story. The...

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