In the end, he died like most people do – i.e., old age. No CIA assassination. No overthrow. Just an old man probably connected to a bunch of machines staying alive.
For most of us Cubans, and the ones who grew up here like me, this is a moment when images fly in your head.
First, I recall the morning Batista fled and the expectations. My mother serving us breakfast and my father on the phone talking about the future of Cuba. The phone did not stop ringing. My mother kept bringing my father coffee and offering her opinions as well. The TV was on with constant reports of Cuba. The Voice of America in Spanish on my father’s short wave radio.
Most importantly, no one that morning had a clue of what would happen to Cuba in a few years.
Second, the Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis. As my mother would joke later: “¡Nosotros los primeros!” Or loosely translated, we would have been the first ones to go if the missiles were fired. Thankfully, the missiles were not fired, and my mother’s words did not come to pass.
Third, I will always remember the day we left and the look on my mother’s face when the plane took off.
Most of all, we remember how he destroyed Cuba. He came to power when Cuba was a very prosperous island with a growing middle class. It is not that country anymore, as Tim Worstall wrote:
Fidel Castro, the Communist Dictator of Cuba, has died at the age of 90. There have been those, over the decades, who have held him up as some paragon of a new world order, one in which people will not be subservient to either America nor capitalism. The truth is that he visited an economic disaster upon the island nation of Cuba. No, it was not the US, it was not any blockade or embargo, not anything external to Cuba that caused this, it was quite simply the idiocy of the economic policy followed, that socialism, which led to there being near no economic growth at all over the 55 years or so of his rule. What little that did occur happening when the strictest of his rules were relaxed.
It is polite, human and common to withhold criticism of the dead in the immediate aftermath of their demise. But leaving 11 million people grossly poorer than they ought to be in the name of a bankrupt ideology is not the stuff of which hagiographic obituaries are made
He promised elections but kept delaying them. They never happened.
He denied that he was communist and locked up people like my dad’s cousin for publicly saying so. A bit later, he declared himself a communist but did not release those who called him one.
In the end, he leaves a poor island with very little hope. He leaves political prisons, families crushed, and empty store shelves.
What happens now? This is a great opportunity for President-Elect Trump to demand some real concessions from the island’s leadership.
Fidel’s death is really the end of communism in Cuba. Raúl is also an old man and probably won’t be around in a few years, either.
Cuba is screaming for change. Let’s hear it and demand real concessions from Raúl Castro.
And please don’t insult the memory of so many by sending a big delegation to his funeral. Stay away and show your respect for the thousands executed by this regime.