A Letter to fidel

A letter to the Miami Herald written by Andy Gomez of the Institute of Cuba and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami and published in today’s Herald:

After reading Fidel Castro’s last “reflection,” I thought it was time that someone wrote him one and briefly analyze his revolution:

Since becoming ill in July 2006 and transferring power to your brother, Raúl, you have written more than 250 Reflections. They have varied from declarations, letters, eulogies or tirades, a clear demonstration that you cannot give up the power and influence you have had over 11.2 million Cubans for more than 50 years.

I was born in Cuba in 1954. I remember vividly your victorious entrance in Havana and how all the hopes and promises of changes you talked about excited the nation. However, it did not take long for many to realize that you were more interested in personal power and an alliance with communism. Given that Sunday is the anniversary of the attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, my “reflection” is about why you and the Cuban Revolution have failed.

The people on the island mock you for your ridiculous and erratic behavior. Cuba’s youth has now gone as far as contradicting the ideology with which you indoctrinated them from their early days in school. The economic conditions are as bad, or worse, than during the “Special Period” (1991-present). Even members of your inner circle such as Felipe Perez Roque and Carlos Lage were removed from their positions simply for criticizing you and your system of governing. Raúl has told you repeatedly that if your failed system is going to continue, basic economic reforms are needed. When will you realize that your days are quickly coming to an end and so is your power?

Winston Churchill described a practical test for the success of government: Does the government rest upon a free, constitutional basis? Is there a right to free expression of opinions, free advocacy and free criticism of the government? Are courts of justice free from interference by the executive branch and free from all association with political parties? Will the rights of individuals, subject to his or her duties to the state, be maintained, asserted and exalted? In short, does the government own the people or do the people own the government?

It is clear that your revolution has failed. More important, you have failed, as you are a prisoner in your own system. You have never established a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” as you have been Cuba’s sole dictator. Cuba is far from a classless society, as rising inequalities strain any credibility that the revolution may have left. Your “worker’s paradise” is far from a reality — millions of Cubans have fled when given the opportunity.

The sun is beginning to shine again over Cuba. Change has begun to take place, and you will not be able to stop it. You have not succeeded in destroying Cubans’ spirit and thirst for freedom.

Many innocent Cubans have died in your jails, and many remain in jails across the island because you see them as a threat to your power. Many have died in the ocean seeking freedom. All this has made the Cuban people stronger and has given them the will to end your tyranny.

Fidel, once you are gone everything will change. You once stated: “History will absolve me.” Let me assure you that once the last chapter of your failed revolution is written, history will not be kind to you. Your name shall not be uttered in the same sentence as Jose Marti and Father Felix Varela, who put our great country before themselves. You will simply be a dark asterisk in Cuba’s history.

It is time for you and Raúl to admit your mistakes. Step aside so that, perhaps, history will be kinder to you. Let the Cuban people be free.

ANDY GOMEZ, senior fellow, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables

18 thoughts on “A Letter to fidel”

  1. An open letter in the Miami Herald? Sadly, it’s more preaching to the choir. For a letter like that to be effective, it has to be published in a national newspaper like the New York Times or the Washington Post.

  2. “…how all the hopes and promises of changes you talked about excited the nation.” Thought he was talking about our last election there for a minute.

    I think it’s a small miracle that the Herald even published it.

  3. Robert Molledo,
    I didn’t mean that it needed four letter words. Heaven knows I don’t use them much.
    I meant that when we are talking about a tyrant and a murderer, I would find ways to tell the truth and be a bit more direct. I am polite to the cable company that is being slow to correct a problem. I feel no need to be courteous to a bastard.
    “It is clear your revolution has failed” and “time… to admit your mistakes.” Heavens. It is clear to any rational person that you have proven to be a murderer, tyrant and destroyer of worlds. Time for you to pray because soon you will face your maker and you know what He has in store for the likes of you might cut it better for me.

  4. Honey,

    With all due respect, Andy Gomez didn’t exactly call fidel castro a good man. Many innocent Cubans have died in your jails, and many remain in jails across the island because you see them as a threat to your power. Many have died in the ocean seeking freedom. All this has made the Cuban people stronger and has given them the will to end your tyranny. Doesn’t sound too soft to me.

    We have our hands full criticizing the real pro-castro idiots and those who idly stand by, yet somehow we also find the time to criticize the genuine comments of someone on our side who has a clear sense of morals just because it wasn’t scathing enough.

  5. Far be it from me to criticize one of the good guys.
    My problem is I’m too angry to be polite. Forgive my putting my own feelings in too deep here.
    I am always happy when anyone criticizes bad people. But my style is less delicate, I guess.

  6. Here’s the line that bothered me:

    “Step aside so that, perhaps, history will be kinder to you…”

    I’m sorry, but that’s wrong. They don’t deserve any “kindness”, no matter what they do.

    I’m with Honey and George.

  7. I also agree with Honey, and I certainly don’t think that reflecting on how best to get a message across is akin to demeaning criticism. The truth is, many of us are angry and we have been so for far too long. Our voices have not been heard for half a century and because of it the whole world is now deluded into following a lethal path, one with which we are all too familiar.
    The article is well written, however it does lack the aggressive punch that the times require in order to be truly effective. There is no reason to think that a message with impact has to include obscenities, the clever use of adrenaline is all that is needed. Furthermore, I also agree with Rayarena, that an appearance in the Herald is mostly preaching to the choir. This kind of message needs to get out to the people who are posed in our nation to take it down the same route as Cuba. We have a very small window of opportunity left, pray that we can use it wisely.

  8. John O’Sullivan’s clever assessment aside that the term compassionate conservativism is a redundancy, does this Molleda column not strike anyone as an example of an attempt at compassionate conservativism?

    And we know how far that got us, don’t we?

  9. The problem is that anyone swayed by this letter was already swayed. Sometimes I think the American public is broken down to:

    20 % anti-Castro
    20 % pro-Castro
    60 % don’t give a shit

    The problem is that the 20 % pro-Castro are those in the media and academia.

  10. Sadly, this discussion is mostly moot. At this late date, when it comes to the reality of Cuba, there’s no such thing as not knowing any better. There’s only not wanting to, for whatever reasons. The great majority of those who still seemingly “don’t get it” are highly unlikely to do so, no matter what we say and how we say it. We’ve only been screaming the truth at the top of our lungs for half a century, and the facts are clearly out there and accessible to those who wish to avail themselves of them. The worst offenders, who are the most powerful and influential, are completely out of reach to us. The more we try to get them to see and acknowledge the truth, the more they perversely enjoy not doing so. All we can count on is ourselves and our own efforts, such as they are or might be.

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