Monday, November 28, 2016

The Death of Fidel Castro

Cuba is in mourning these days after the death of their retired dictator, Fidel Castro. 

Love him or hate him, you can't dispute the fact that he was an important figure in 20th century politics here in the Western Hemisphere. 

I recall that before the revolution in Cuba, as a young Cuban revolutionary, Castro was looking for international recognition and support.  The United States, who supported the Batista dictatorship which Fidel was trying to overthrow, rejected him.  Fidel went looking for help elsewhere.  He found it in the U.S.S.R.! 

Then things between the U.S.A. and Cuba went from bad to worse!  You all remember reading about the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world within a hair of nuclear war.  The world, led by the U.S. put trade embargos and sanctions on Cuba.  Those barriers were up for about seven decades!

Over a million Cubans fled to the U.S., mostly to Florida.  Americans were forbidden to go to Cuba or buy Cuban exports.  It just got worse and worse! 

Then, President Obama changed all that.  He went to Cuba and started the thaw in relations, which continues today!  Fidel had long since retired, and his brother Raul now functions as dictator there.  Things are slowly changing in Cuba.  If the Americans can rein in Trump from undoing what President Obama started, those changes will continue, hopefully leading to a more democratic Cuba in the future.  I think Trump's threatened return to trade embargos and sanctions won't work now, any better than they did over the past seventy years!

It is no secret that Fidel was NOT a benevolent dictator!  He was ruthless and despotic!  Thousands of innocent Cubans died, simply because they were in opposition to his government!   Others were tortured and imprisoned.  Fidel hasn't run the country for about a decade, but his legacy still permeates Cuba.  He brought literacy and medical services to all in Cuba.  He purged Cuba of its American influence and brought a sense of forced nationalism to the population.

I felt sorry for our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - the Trudeaus lost a family friend with the death of Fidel.   I thought Trudeau's remarks about Castro's death were those of family friend and not of a statesman and in that context were quite inappropriate. 

I chalk that up to Justin's lack of knowledge of international political protocols.  He's on a steep learning curve here!  He'll learn that in these kind of situations he has to speak from the head and not the heart!

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