This is November 28, 2016. It is a few days after the death of Fidel Castro on November 25, 2016. He died on what is in the United States of America — Thanksgiving Weekend. I am not in the least sure that both this weekend after the holiday is one lost on Cuban Americans who have had loved ones or at least cherished relatives in Cuba in their thoughts at every Thanksgiving. It must seem significant to them and I also feel that the fact that the memory of his passing will not be shaped by the fact that has died during the Trump transition period before the Electoral College votes. In America we are in the midst of the full carnival, struggle and at times debacle of a great and free electoral system in which people can vote for their leaders. He was a man who never instituted free elections. He held power without them and left a transition without them. he has been a feature on the world stage and across this hemishpere for all of my life. he was a very young man when he won his way to power and a very old man when he died with his brother having taken power but with himself still as a kind of supreme leader of the Communist Party and the State. He will be remembered by South African who saw his army make possible their defeat at the hands of Angolans and Namibians. He will be remembered by the people who were family members of those killed and dispossessed by the many guerrilla groups he supported around various parts of the globe. Castro’s economy and the US reaction to it affected my own home region because the largest market for Louisiana rice before the revolution was Cuba. He did build a very effective medical community and professional culture capable of operating in adverse conditions around the world. This was of real value to many people and brought in real money in a way that Cuba never generated real money. Cuban doctors and athletes, nurses and some educators sent home paychecks that supported the system that educated them. But he depended largely on subsidies from the Soviet Union and later from Chavez’s Venezuela to support his Caribbean Communist State. he did provide the USSR with sugar and much of the world with cigars. But it was his constant struggle against American interests that earned him and his continuing revolution that support. He gave some support to small scale religious and market liberalizations suggested by his brother –the current president, but only late in life.
Marco Rubio has expressed the meaning and sentiment of many Cuban Americans when he expressed sentiments reported here. He was a man who used the secret police, torture and a cult of personality to rule a country an intimidate countless of its institutions. He was a man who dispossessed many people who had property rights without due compensation. he confiscated the wealth of hardworking families of moderate means as well as of the rich, he persecuted the Church, dissenters and many other people in Cuba and abroad. He brought Soviet missiles with nuclear warhead to bear on cities of ordinary Americans, fomented violent revolution across America. Fidel Castro’s Cuba fought wars which as much as anything else remade the future and destiny of the Southern part of Africa. His own sister has long taken a dim view of her brother’s way of being and ruling but she now is very much aware that he was a human being. In Cuba for complicated reason, thousands and probably millions are mourning in earnest. he was a longstanding enemy of my country and the target of the agency in which I tried to serve. He was the survivor of many attempts by the CIA to end his life.
America is my country, I have rejoiced in its institutions and holidays and I have known the role Cuba under Castro has played in endangering this land and its people. he was often more popular than we are and have been and were. To be an American in Latin America was to be aware of Castro in some way — now he is gone. I am not sure what the future will bring. But I am sure that we must face the future remembering the strong man of Havana. His impact cannot be dismissed.
I voted yesterday. It was truly worth doing despite all of the problems associated with our system. There was a runoff for Congressional District and Senate and I had my voice. he never let his people participate in that great process. I see some complexity in his life and legacy. At one time Brazil alone brought in 11,000 Cuban doctors to work in the favelas and in isolated rural areas, where middle-class Brazilian doctors were rare. It’s a Cuban legacy a generation of poorer Brazilians is unlikely to forget. those he freed from the previous Cuban dictator did not all find themselves back in prisons and detention camps.
I hope that Americans will seek to be more relevant and more positive in their impact on the world because of any reason that comes to hand. One reason is because of the advantage that our greatest enemies take of our faults…