We discussed the Castro funeral and Dr. Eire’s Washington Post article about Cuba.……
— Silvio Canto, Jr. (@SCantojr) December 5, 2016
We read via Babalu that Cuban secret police detained Danilo Maldonado, i.e. El Sexto. His mother told the Diario de Cuba that her son had taken to the streets late Friday to celebrate the death of dictator Fidel Castro.
My guess is that he is not alone. There are probably other young people in the street celebrating Fidel Castro’s death.
The quiet street is primarily due to the nine-day state of mourning announced by the dictatorship. I just heard a radio report that Cubans are not sure how to react.
At the same time, I don’t think that Raul Castro wants people in the streets. I’m sure that dictators have good memories. Every dictator in the world remembers how people in the street and food shortages ended up overthrowing Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania.
Cuba is now entering a very dangerous and interesting period.
Raul Castro could go rogue and look for an exit in exchange for lifting the embargo. He could also get harsh and clamp down out of fear.
Time will tell but dangerous months are coming.
Two years, one month, and nine days after the day I was born, Fidel Castro Ruz, after the cowardly abdication of Fulgencio Batista, started on a tour that took him east to west to the Cuban capital of Havana. The adoring crowds in the towns and cities he passed welcomed him with open arms and with shouts of “Viva Fidel!” and “Fidel, this is your house!” Waving at these sickeningly adoring crowds, he knew he was weeks if not months away from becoming the new boss of Cuba — and he was definitely not the same as the old boss.
My family knew who Fidel really was: a charlatan, a liar, a criminal, a thug, a murderer, a seditionist, a traitor. Rivers of blood and waves of suffering would well up from our land. My great-grandmother, in her eighties, had a stroke after watching one of Fidel and Che Guevara’s revolutionary executions on television. Mercifully, she did not live past that evil overture of 1959 and 1960.
My family had started making plans to leave as far back as 1958. Fidel was almost certain to topple Batista and they knew that no good would come from this man. They knew he was a communist. It was not a secret, despite what anyone may tell you. Their thoughts were with us, the toddlers and youth, the innocents who were blissfully unaware of what had brought Cuba to its knees. They did not want us to suffer the pains of whatever lay ahead. Even knowing what they knew, I don’t think they could have predicted, on that first day of January in 1959, the depth of suffering Cuba would endure for almost six decades.
I’m very thankful for their decision.
Fidel Castro’s dark presence has haunted my entire life. Directly and indirectly, he has made me and so many others into what we are. We know the truth, the unvarnished truth. The truth we know from the tears of family members who lost everything, of friends who suffered imprisonment, of the executions of loved ones. Full of pain and suffering, longing and sadness. It never leaves us. We are exiles, after all, forced into it by him and his evil.
And it’s not just the pain of exile, it’s the slanders that we hear from the screeching left. We’re disaffected Batistianos, pissed off that the gravy train ended; we’re aching to repossess our property; we’re going to remake Cuba again into a Mafia prostíbulo; we’re “intransigent”; we’re “hard-liners.” we’re “right-wing wackos”; we’re not nuanced enough to understand the Cuban situation. Basically, we should just shut up and leave the real analysis to “Cuba experts” — who, of course, are not Cubans. It hurts even more when our own brothers and sisters, dragged into the pit of hate and envy Fidel created, join in on the verbal lynchings. Turning brother against brother is just another part of his legacy.
I regret there will be no Cuban Nuremberg.
Inexplicably, though, I’m also glad his demise as common as it was, having become feeble and decrepit, immobile, near the end, more than likely with a stomach tube feeding him and an artificial anus pumping his waste into a plastic bag. No heroics. No myth-making. No going out in a blaze of glory, like he so desperately dreamed of during the crisis days in October of 1962 when he urged Nikita Kruschev to press the nuclear button. Like so many other old men, he died in his bed, soiling himself, probably terrified about what was to come next. At the end of the game, as the old Spanish proverb goes, the king and the pawn go in the same box.
During the excruciating (for us, not him) nine-year long “recovery” from his illness he was certainly better treated than he treated others in his too-long, egomaniacal life. He was the first and only Fidelista, dedicated solely to himself, his needs, his ambitions, his desires, his goals, his wishes. Nothing else mattered. Not sons, not daughters, not family, not friends, not country. Nothing else mattered but him. His life was a testament to the basest qualities a human being can aspire to, devoid of goodness, and of God, without even the slightest hint of love.
What does this day mean to me?
My grandfather prayed for this day and he didn’t live to see it. My grandmother prayed for this day and she didn’t live to see it. Two great aunts (my grandfather’s sisters), two great aunts and two great uncles (my grandmother’s siblings), their wives and husbands, they all prayed for this day and never lived to see it. The offspring of some of these these did not live to see it. So many lives, three generations, in one family, ruined by this one man. They are dead, bereft of country, stripped of their identity as Cubans. Multiply that by hundreds of thousands of families and you’ll understand why today is the day of reckoning for all of them. A quiet one, perhaps, but a reckoning nevertheless. The malevolent man that drove them out of their country has finally perished — not absolved by history.
Forgive us if we revel a bit.
I pray that the light of God shines on that sad island and inspires its dejected people to awaken that spirit inside them that made Cuba a great nation among nations in the past. I pray that what was once a vibrant culture, full of life and music, amidst the simple joys of family and friends, can reestablish itself. I pray that we remember the true legacy of Fidel Castro so that this 56-year long nightmare can finally have an ending that will be good for the Cuban people.
Editor’s note: This obituary has gone through many, many revisions and edits. I have tweaked it more than anything else I’ve ever written. When I originally wrote it in late 2007 — yes, 2007! — it came out of me in one cathartic sitting.
Since then, unfortunately, I’ve had way too much time to reflect on what I originally penned. My original final paragraph began thus:
This is not the time to look backward, however. it’s time to look forward. The future of Cuba begins today. Today is day one of year one of the new era, the era that will be the beginning of a new Cuba, free, finally, from one of the most ignominious monsters of modern history.
Nine years later, with a US President that has gleefully conspired against the Cuban people, with Fidel’s rat-faced brother firmly in control, and with the prospect of the embargo being lifted, granting billions of dollars in credit to the communists that run the island like a mafia family, I feel very pessimistic and dejected about the future of the island of my birth.
For all intents and purposes, Cuba is as dead as Fidel…
Postscript: My only change to the text would be this: President-Elect Trump, with his leadership and a team and that understands Cuba, may yet change my somber and pessimistic assessment. I certainly hope so…
Let’s do a quick before and after President Obama normalized relations with Cuba.
Before December 2014, there was a lot of repression in Cuba. Since then, there is still a lot of repression in Cuba. The only difference is the U.S. flag in an embassy in Havana.
We keep getting these reports from Cuba, as posted over at PanAm Post:
The Cuban police raided the national headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (Unpacu), a civil dissidence group in opposition to Raúl Castro’s administration.
Without giving explanation, security confiscated three computers, two cell phones, a hard drive, passports and other hardware and records.
Arcelio Molina, an activist and owner of the property, told the newspaper Martí Noticias that police also seized the luggage of the youth leader Carlos Amel Oliva Torres, who traveled from Santiago de Cuba to Havana to take a flight to Argentina.
According to Molina, Oliva can’t travel, and has since been arrested.
This is the fourth time this year that state security has raided and confiscated Unpacu’s equipment.
Molina added that what has transpired is a classic “trampling” of citizens’ rights in the country, “where there are no laws or respect for the constitution on the part of the authorities.”
It’s hard to believe that the normalization supporters thought that you could change Cuba by saving the Castro regime. Let’s look at some of the arguments for normalization:
1) Opening up Cuba will be good for the Cuban people. Really? Is that why they continue to leave? There are nowCubans in Colombia looking to travel to the U.S.
2) Allowing US businesses to operate in Cuba will bring prosperity to the island. The idea is that Cubans would get a taste of capitalism and demand more of it. Really? There is no evidence that the Castro regime is allowing Cubans to play the capitalism game.
So where are we? We are watching the consequences of bailing out a regime and demanding nothing from it.
We are where many of us feared that we’d be!
Rear my latest op-ed on this topic at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/racism-communist-cuba-pre-revolution-sin-jorge-ponce?trk=prof-post
Cuba became an independent country in 1902. You can divide the island’s history into two periods: the pre-Castro years and the current regime’s period in power since 1959.
I was born in the last decade of pre-Castro Cuba. My story is so typical of the other kids born in the 1950s. We were the grandchildren of immigrants from Spain or elsewhere. Our ancestors came to Cuba because it was a prosperous island, an attractive place for Spaniards seeking a better life, for Jewish refugees from Europe, hard working Asians and others.
It is really sad to watch Cuba today. The young escape and look for a better life, preferably in the US. The old get stuck behind.
It is even more painful when you realize that pre-Castro Cuba attracted thousands of immigrants from all over the world, as our friend Dr Carlos Eire wrote:
• Between 1900 and 1930, the first three decades of Cuban independence, about one million immigrants flooded into the island, mostly European, and mostly northern Spaniards.
This population tsunami also included Asians, Levantines, and Jews.
These immigrants doubled the population of the island and changed its complexion, literally.
Tens of thousands of immigrants continued to flow into Cuba every year after that, up to 1958.
Immigration from the U.S. was comparatively slight, but in 1958 there were more Americans living in Cuba than Cubans in the U.S.A.
Emigration from Cuba was minimal during this half century.
• Rates of immigration as high as this and of emigration as low require a robust and growing economy, and a considerable degree of political stability.
To wither is to ose the freshness of youth. Cuba is indeed withering today.
We’ve seen here in the pages of Babalu that Raul Castro is in Paris.
We’ve also heard that France is very anxious to invest in Cuba.
So why doesn’t France invest in Cuba rather than call on the US to drop the embargo? Nobody is stopping France or any other country from going to Cuba and investing in the island.
Why call for an end to the embargo?
The answer is simple. France, like so many other countries, are not putting a dime in Cuba after having to restructure, or even forgive, debts.
France wants the US to end the embargo so that the Castro regime has credit lines to purchase French goods and services.
So what really happened in Paris?
Raul got a hug and the kind of military salute that his ego needs. However, “El Caballero de Paris” did not give him what Castro Inc desperately needs, i.e. dinero!
According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, a “missile” has been found in Cuba:
“For more than a year, amid a historic thawing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, American authorities have tried to get the Cuban government to return the missile, said people familiar with the matter.
At the same time, federal investigators have been tracing the paper trail of the wayward Hellfire to determine if its arrival in Cuba was the work of criminals or spies, or the result of a series of blunders, these people said.
Hellfires are air-to-ground missiles, often fired from helicopters.
They were first designed as antitank weapons decades ago, but have been modernized to become an important part of the U.S. government’s antiterrorism arsenal, often fired from Predator drones to carry out lethal attacks on targets in countries including Yemen and Pakistan, said people familiar with the technology.
This particular missile didn’t contain explosives, but U.S. officials worry that Cuba could share the sensors and targeting technology inside it with nations like China, North Korea or Russia, these people said.
Officials don’t suspect Cuba is likely to try to take apart the missile on its own and try to develop similar weapons technology, these people said. It is unclear whether a U.S. adversary has ever obtained such knowledge of a Hellfire.”
Well, so what happened? To be fair, we don’t know but there are some interesting possibilities:
First, the Cuban government didn’t know a thing and the whole darn affair was just a simple error. This is the Cuban version of “el perro se comio el cohete”!
Second, the Cuban government knew that they had the missile but the US negotiators did not insist on its return prior to any normalization. According to the story, the US discussed it with Cuba but nothing was resolved.
Third, and this is scary, Cuba was trying to sell it to North Korea or trade it with Russia or China. After all, didn’t some Russian ships show up in Cuba recently?
We don’t know for sure but I think that the Obama administration dropped the ball. They should have insisted on the return of the missile prior to any moralization.
Stay tuned because there is more coming from this story.
We’ve read several news accounts about Cubans in Central America or heading to the US.
It’s true that some want to get to the US before the Cuban act or law changes.
However, there is another reason. They want to leave Cuba period, as we read in this article at The Telegraph:
“Yenis Rojas should be a symbol of Cuba’s future. A doctor, she has worked all her life for the state, and is full of drive, energy and ambition.
And yet, despite the announcement a year ago that America and Cuba were re-establishing ties after half a century of hostilities, she sees no promise in her homeland and has fled.
“I had to get out,” she said, speaking from the Costa Rica, close to the border with Nicaragua, where she is camped out. “I couldn’t stand it any more.””
And that’s the story!
They want to leave because they “can’t stand it anymore”.