“And what does a Pope do?” That apparently was the question posed by octogenarian dictator Fidel Castro to the Pope on his recent visit to Cuba. The Pope, no doubt surprised, politely responded to Castro by talking of his ministry, his trips, and his service to the Church, so says the Vatican’s spokesman.
The Pope in his historic visit made a couple of vague digs at Marxism and spoke about the need for freedom, calling on both the USA and Cuba “to seek truth and choose the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity.” Nothing too threatening for his hosts.
What else came out of the visit? Christmas was reinstated by the Cuban regime as a courtesy to the Pontiff as was Good Friday. Hassle free concessions from one of the world’s nastier dictators.
The PR Verdict: “B” for Castro and his cronies for a clever PR move. He emerged as the “listening dictator” and by making a couple of smart moves, gave catholic minded Latin Americans something positive to talk about.
The Church and committed Marxists don’t usually get along. What better way to reboot a tempestuous relationship than by asking a question? Castro’s headline-making ice breaker startled not only for its genuine weirdness but because it changed the dynamic of the visit. Sounding more like a kid on a school excursion, Castro became the listening dictator not the dictator of famously long interminable monologues. Smart move.
What’s your PR verdict on Castro’s PR strategy?