Fidel Castro is Dead!

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?

Who knows?

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?

7 thoughts on “Fidel Castro is Dead!

  1. Lorenzo, you were the first person I thought of when I heard the news. Because of your memoir, I have a more vivid understanding of how this man influenced the daily lives of the Cuban people. Thank you for writing this. I wish I had the answer to your question about Cuba’s future. I can only join you in hoping that this change will bring new life to Cuba. Sending my blessings.

  2. La tragedia cubana es algo que compete solamente a los cubanos y a mas nadie. Nos hemos pasado casi 60 anos buscando a un culpable y somo nosotros los responsables de nuestra historia y cuando alguien quiere buscar una no estamos de acuerdo.
    Ya despues de tantas decadas bajo esa sanguinaria dictadura se hace imposible una guerra ante la dictadura Castrista. Para mi es algo mas profundo y mas serio el cambio hacia la democracia.
    Murio el simbolo de la supuesta Revolucion Cubana, muere , desaparece una etapa del terror, pero la huella a tanto dolor esta ahi. Creo que el cambio debe ser pacificamente, usando estrategias . El exilio cubano se enardece ante el hecho inminente de la muerte del principal tirano, pero esto no se termina. Que pasara? ….. creo que mi pais esta ha sucumbido y toco fondo. Le teme al cambio, se acostumbro a vivir en el miedo. Perdio el norte, hay mucha carrona en el
    Medio, odio, venganza, desconcierto. Por eso pienso que el pueblo necesita la Fe perdida, necesita tener a Dios en el centro de sus vidas. Y a mi entender es la unica forma de que todo lo antes expresado pueda ir cediendo, La Fe Loren mueve montanas, hace al hombre centrarse en un camino. Buscar los valores de nuestra verdadera cultura.
    Yo se que mi criterio no es valido para la mayoria y hasta risible. Pero para mi Cuba no sera libre hasta que ese pueblo vuelva a tener una Fe verdadera y que solo la encontrara por medio del Evangelio. Solo asi se podra limar la pena el dolor , la rabia que se Lleva dentro.
    Gracias por darnos siempre la oportunidad de comentar en tu blog, que es serio y no se escuchan exposiciones hirientes.
    Cada cual expresa su punto de vista. Gracias amigo, Dios te bendiga y que sugas cosechando triunfos

  3. Gracias, Marielena. Estoy de acuerdo. Un cambio pacífico hacia la democracia es lo único que espero suceda. Cuba ya ha derramado demasiada sangre y el miedo al cambio que se ha promulgado por tantas décadas tiene que ser puesto a un llado si quiere avanzar y lograr un mejor futuro. Gracias de nuevo por tu acertado comentario.

  4. Thank you Lorenzo for the insightful article. As much as it pains me, I don’t foresee a bright future for my beloved native land in the near future. The vast majority of Cuban businesses and companies are controlled by the armed forces and they will do everything to remain in power and enjoy the fruits of their capitalist ways. When the communist system collapsed in the Soviet Union, those in the communist party put on their capitalist hats and controlled the economy. They became the new entrepreneurs and corporate leaders. Economic growth did raise the standard of living for many Russians. In Cuba it is different because the people have not benefited from economic reforms, the communists are the ones enriching themselves while the majority of Cubans struggle to make ends meet. It is a fact that under the Castro Bros Inc. rule the standard of living in Cuba has been stagnant at best, with some experts speculating that it has declined since 1959. This is precisely why so many educated, talented young Cubans flee the island, they just don’t see a promising tomorrow with the current government in power.

  5. Fernan, you’re so wise and so right. I wish I didn’t agree with you, but I do. History has proven that communists don’t disappear. They change hats and become the capitalists, the rulers of the new system. I’ve always been afraid that chaos would embrace Cuba after the communists were no longer in power. I pray it doesn’t happen, but all the predictions , based on facts, indicate otherwise. A country known for its beautiful sights, its music, its people has been brought to its knees by a cruel dictatorship, and it may never rise to its feet again. The thought brings tears to my eyes.

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