1995 | Castro Visits a Word Factory (Ours)
President-elect Donald J. Trump is following in Fidel Castro’s footsteps.
候任总统唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)跟随着菲德尔·卡斯特罗(Fidel Castro)的足迹前进。
At least, as far as visiting the New York Times headquarters.
Mr. Castro came to New York in October 1995 for the celebration of the United Nations’ 50th anniversary. On the final day of his five-day trip, he spent more than two hours at The Times, which was then at 229 West 43rd Street.
Times executives and employees are well accustomed to V.I.P. visits, but they are usually given days — if not weeks — of advance notice. Jay McKillop, the company’s security director, had 14½ hours to prepare for Mr. Castro.
World leaders were not typically brought into The Times by its conspicuous main entrance, but through an adjoining truck bay, which was connected to the lobby by a path in the mail room. A tall partition would be installed in the lobby to block views of the elevators closest to the mail room door, allowing guests to be escorted upstairs in privacy.
Newspapers were still being printed at the headquarters building in 1995. On any day, The Times consumed so much newsprint that deliveries of fresh rolls were made every 10 or 20 minutes. But 43rd Street had to be closed to traffic during Mr. Castro’s visit. “Someone needed to figure out where we were going to stash a few hundred tons of newsprint,” Mr. McKillop said in a 1995 interview with the house organ, Times Talk.
And that was not the end of the logistical challenges that turned Mr. McKillop’s already gray hair even grayer. Bill Keller, the foreign editor, was supposed to be the official greeter. But as the Castro entourage pulled into the truck bay, there was no sign of him. “I was thinking, ‘What do we do if Bill Keller’s not there?’ ” Mr. McKillop said. “I knew the Cubans weren’t going to go for having Castro standing there waiting.”
让麦克基洛普已经花白的头发更添白发的后勤挑战，还不仅仅是这个。国际编辑比尔·凯勒(Bill Keller)理应是正式的迎接者。但当卡斯特罗的随从进入卡车场的时候，却看不到比尔·凯勒的人影。“我在想，如果比尔·凯勒不在，我们该怎么办？”麦克基洛普说。“我知道古巴人不会高兴让卡斯特罗站在那里等着。” 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com
With seconds left to avoid a diplomatic crisis, Mr. Keller materialized as Mr. Castro got out of his vehicle.
“It looked perfect,” Mr. McKillop said.
Mr. Castro was taken to the 14th-floor boardroom to meet with the publisher and several top editors. He had apparently left his fatigues at home, because he showed up in a charcoal-gray suit with peak lapels, a starched white shirt with French cuffs, and a subtly figured tie. (Red, of course.)
His attire, however, seemed to be the only accommodation he cared to make. “He showed no signs of bending his political will to suit others, defending his rule in Cuba as a form of democracy that enjoys deep public support,” Lizette Alvarez reported. Mr. Castro acknowledged that his government was holding about 600 political prisoners, but added that Mexico, Argentina and France were among other countries that jailed opponents of the state.
Mr. Castro also gave his listeners a sense of how cunningly he manipulated the press, even in his early 30s.
He recalled a famous interview in 1957 with Herbert L. Matthews of The Times at his hiding place in the Sierra Maestra, while he was an outlaw whom the world believed to be dead. Mr. Castro said he had ordered the same small bunch of rebels to march back and forth within eyeshot of The Times’s correspondent.
他回忆起1957年时，时报记者赫伯特·L·马修斯(Herbert L. Matthews)前往他在马埃斯特拉山的藏身处，对他所做的一次著名的采访。当时他是一个法外之徒，全世界都以为他已经死了。卡斯特罗说，他下令让人数不多的同一群叛军在马修斯面前反复走来走去。
“We tried to give Matthews the impression that there were more of us,” Mr. Castro said.
Unlike most V.I.P.s, he was not content to end his Times visit in the polished confines of the executive floor but asked to be shown the workers’ quarters. That meant the newsroom — a dark, claustrophobic, overcrowded, ill-ventilated, cheesily decorated and poorly maintained space.
“It looks as though you could use a union,” Mr. Castro said, through an interpreter, when he saw the space.
Deborah Sontag, a Times reporter who accompanied Mr. Castro with Ms. Alvarez, said the moment of his arrival in the newsroom “did feel surreal, but also very real and charged.”
“He seemed very attuned to his surroundings and interested,” she wrote in an email this week.
“There was a palpable awareness that this almost mythic figure had stepped out of history and into our gritty, rodent-infested newsroom,” Ms. Sontag wrote. “I was surprised by how star-struck our senior leaders were, editors and editorial board members. I had never seen anything like it, and have never seen anything comparable since.”
Tim Race, an editor, noticed the same thing. “I recall being put off by how many of my colleagues (or should I say Comrades) seemed to be falling over one another to have a chance to shake hands with the wily old despot,” he wrote in an email. “That said, I did think Fidel looked extremely dapper in his business suit. Sort of like the World’s Most Interesting Man. With a longer beard.”
Another editor, James Schembari, said Mr. Castro gave a little talk. (The idea that the long-winded leader was capable of brief remarks might have qualified as a news story in 1995.) “I don’t remember what he said, but by standing near his left shoulder, I was close enough to see that he had bad dandruff,” Mr. Schembari added. “That I haven’t forgotten.”
Joseph Lelyveld, who was then the executive editor, was asked this week whether he thought the day’s events had been surreal. No, he replied.
“I’d previously had a marathon dinner with Castro in Havana,” Mr. Lelyveld said. “That was December 1994 as I recall. Lasted five hours or so.”
“Now that was surreal.”