Fidel Castro is Dead!
Over the years, news of Fidel Castro’s demise circulated in the Hispanic media and was gossiped about in Miami’s Cuban community: Se murió Fidel was a comment often heard in Calle Ocho, the center of what is known in Miami as Little Havana–the announcement turned out to be a hoax every time.
Now the news had a different ring: The New York Times reported it, and a teary Raul Castro, Fidel’s younger brother, confirmed it on a televised segment especially recorded for the occasion: Fidel Castro Ruz, who had ruled Cuba for close to six decades, had died on November 24 in the evening. Raúl announced the body will be cremated the following day and after a mourning period of nine days, the ashes will be transported and interred in Santiago, birthplace of Fidel’s infamous revolution.
Immediately, Cubans took to the streets of Miami to celebrate the death of a tyrant who had separated their families, absconded with their properties, killed their friends and loved-ones, or sentenced them to long prison terms, many lasting over 20 years. These Cubans reveled in saying adios to el tirano; the man whose hands were tainted with the blood of thousands who opposed his regime; the dictator who had imported his revolution to countries in Africa and Latin America; the autocrat whose hubris had defied 10 U.S. Presidents; the man who had brought the world inches from nuclear war when two super powers, Russia and the United States, faced off over the existence of nuclear missiles in Cuba.
While this group rejoiced in Miami, the sight of women dressed in black and shedding tears in Cuba painted a different picture. How many of these women, or the rest of the Cuban population in the island, for that matter, were truly lamenting the loss of their leader, El Comandante? Were they just putting on a show for public consumption at the prompting of the revolution itself? This is hard to tell. What can’t be argued is that Fidel Castro had his sympathizers, among them famous literary figures such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Pulitzer-prize-winner author and some American celebrities.
Their feelings toward Fidel may difer, but what the haters and admirers of the man share is the question, “Now what?” What will happen in Cuba, now that the brain of the revolution is gone? Although the myth (of his own creation ); the larger-than-life figure is no longer of this earth, and many consider him to have been an inconsequential figure since he ceded the Presidency of the country to his brother Raúl ten years ago, his legacy is undeniable: a country left in ruins. How could that be changed? None of the measures taken to improve its economic situation, including the ease of relations between the United States and Cuba, have proven successful.
This is a delicate time for the island.
After the United Sates turned its back on Cuba, the country looked to Russia for support. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it found a new “sugar daddy” in Venezuela. However, Venezuela is now facing its own economic challenges and can no longer provide the same aid as it did in the past. Who will Cuba turn to next? The United States? Is this even a possibility?
Not only do we have a President-elect who has vowed to reverse President Obama’s policies toward Cuba, but Raúl himself has declared that he will step down from the Presidency in two years–He’s currently 85 years old. Raúl has tapped Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel as first in the line of succession but without being in control of the armed forces, where the real power exists, and the Communist Party, many feel Diaz-Canel will be ineffective. Will Cuba just drift off into a total economic collapse? Will Diaz-Canel accept the demands that this country might pose in exchange for economic support?
What is certain is the hope we harbor that a better future awaits a country that has experienced the grim side of life from sixty years of oppression under the cruelest dictatorship ever on record.
What that change, that future will look like is too early to predict. All we can do is pray, and wait and see!
What do you think is the likely future for Cuba?