by David Phinney
Thursday May 23rd 2024



Imelda: Giggles for Castro, Sighs for Saddam and Noriega

In the course of two days and some eight hours of conversation: Imelda Marcos talks about her husband, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his 7,500 tons of gold; her grandson’s jewelry line; exile in Hawaii; New York notoriety, the concept of “Imeldific” — and encounters with world leaders.
Yvette Ferreol of Bloomberg visited with the 77-year-old Imelda at her apartment on the 34th floor of a luxury high-rise in the Manila’s swanky Makati financial district. Ferreol writes in a finely crafted profile that photos of world leaders are everywhere in the home, including those of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Qaddafi and Mao Zedong prominently displayed on her piano. Fidel Castro sits in the driver’s seat of a car in one photo, with Marcos as his passenger.
Imelda shared her impressions of some of the most iron-fisted rulers of the past century while talking with Ferreol:
Fedel Castro: “Said in his whole life, he has only driven for two people: his mother and Imelda Marcos,” she says, giggling.

Mao Zedong:
“Look at this photo. It says, ‘Mao flirting with Imelda Marcos,'” she says, pointing to a photo of Mao kissing her hand.

Saddam Hussein:
“I don’t believe in the death sentence. Saddam was a friend of the Philippines. He was the first leader in the Arab world who welcomed Philippine labor…. When I was on trial, he sent his people to me in New York. If there was anything he could do for me, he was ready to help.”
Manuel Noriega: “When we were forced into exile in 1986, he was the one who was about to give us a place for asylum. Some time ago, he sent me his book and a letter. I was so touched because I could not do anything to help him.”
Most people recall Ferdinand Marcos as having been accused of massive human rights abuses as he oversaw the destruction of the country’s economy while the rest of Asia’s economies boomed. He was froced from power in 1986 in one of the world’s most peaceful revolutions and died in exile in Hawaii in 1989. Imelda Marcos returned to Manila in 1991 and has been involved in numerous court cases in the U.S. and the Philippines over allegations of corruption, amassing illegal wealth and illegally maintaining Swiss bank accounts holding more than $500 million.
Here’s the Bloomberg story.


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