Saturday, November 26, 2016

Obituary: Fidel Castro

As everybody in the world knows, and I knew last night as I was going to bed, one-time Cuban dictator, head of state, president, or whatever he was called Fidel Castro, 90, died. His brother, Raul, who is almost as ancient as his brother, announced the death yesterday.

Castro was considered a revolutionary, and, thanks the U.S. having screwed things up in the 1950s with its ties to the previous Batista regime, wound up being associated with the communists in what used to be called the Soviet Union. This was during the Cold War era, and Castro and Cuba played a major role in the freezing of relationships between the then-Soviet Union and the United States.

Castro took charge of the country in 1959, holding that position until 2006, when health concerns forced him to give up his rule. However, he decided to keep it in the family and turned power over to his brother Raul.

Castro did some good in the country with health care and with education, for example, but the country went through a lot of repression. The bad outweighed the good for this bearded, disheveled dictator.

Relationships between Cuba and the U.S. have been normalized in recent years.

That isn't the only relationship that has gotten cozier over the years.

Trump and Russia's president Vladimir Putin are now best buds even to the point of the Russians meddling with our election process.

We sure as hell are living in interesting times, to say the least.

Anyway, from the NYT obit:

To many, Fidel Castro was a self-obsessed zealot whose belief in his own destiny was unshakable, a chameleon whose economic and political colors were determined more by pragmatism than by doctrine. But in his chest beat the heart of a true rebel. “Fidel Castro,” said Dr. Henry M. Wriston, president of the Council on Foreign Relations in the 1950s and early ’60s, “was everything a revolutionary should be.”

Mr. Castro was perhaps the most important leader to emerge from Latin America since the wars of independence in the early 19th century. He was decidedly the most influential shaper of Cuban history since his own hero, José Martí, struggled for Cuban independence in the late 19th century. Mr. Castro’s revolution transformed Cuban society and had a longer-lasting impact throughout the region than that of any other 20th-century Latin American insurrection, with the possible exception of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

His legacy in Cuba and elsewhere has been a mixed record of social progress and abject poverty, of racial equality and political persecution, of medical advances and a degree of misery comparable to the conditions that existed in Cuba when he entered Havana as a victorious guerrilla commander in 1959.

He definitely was one of a kind.

On the other hand, maybe not, considering what is about to face the United States on January 20, 2017.

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