Castro Outlives Them All

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MIAMI: Fidel Castro will sleep just a little bit easier tonight as Miami’s Cuban exile community mourns the death of his would-be nemesis, Jorge Mas Canosa. Indeed, says TIME correspondent and former Havana bureau chief Cathy Booth, “Castro is probably dancing all over Havana. He’s outlasted umpteen U.S. presidents, and now he’s outlasted the leader of his opposition in Miami.”

Mas Canosa, 58, a telecommunications tycoon, was the founding president of the Cuban American National Foundation, which transformed Cuban exile politics into a powerful mainstream lobby with sway over the White House. Mas Canosa died of lung cancer.

Like the man he hoped to topple, Mas Canosa led via a fierce personality cult and was accused of being intolerant of dissenting views and potential challengers. “He was part of the generation that remembers living in Cuba and feels very strongly about Castro,” says Booth. “Even though there’s some speculation that younger generation exile politicians will be more moderate, I don’t think there will be a fundamental shift in attitude.”

Castro, for his part, may be dancing, but he cannot be unaware of the implication for his own mortality of the death by natural causes of a man 20 years his junior.