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Castro minds – and mines – the Mindset List

August 22, 2010

In the same week that the New York Times was reporting that the White House plans to ease travel restrictions to Cuba, Fidel Castro used a recurring column in the Havana media to highlight a disturbing report that included “facts never seen before in the history of the United States and the world, associated to the knowledge and habits of American university students who will graduate in 2014.” Yes, Castro had discovered the Mindset List.

In an aptly-titled piece (“Reflections of Fidel: Am I Overdoing It?”), the former Cuban president seems to recast the lessons of the Mindset List as evidence of the American government’s manipulation of – or perhaps, disregard for – its young people.

“I was stunned to realize to what extent education could be distorted and prostituted in a country with more than 8,000 nuclear weapons and the most powerful means of war in the whole world,” he wrote in the August 19 editorial.

The editorial, which was first spotted by a friend of the college in Havana, proved a strange finale to a week where the Mindset mavens – Professor Tom McBride and emeritus public affairs director Ron Nief – were popping up everywhere from Good Morning America to the Chronicle of Higher Education, and doing interviews with journalists worldwide (including in Sydney and Johannesburg).