Following the visits of the Rolling Stones and President Obama it seems fitting that Fidel Castro should bow out. It is the end of an era.
Fidel was a benevolent dictator. There were lots of good things about him and some bad.
He ran a left-wing, one-party State that was opposed by the USA who tried everything in their power to bring him down. They applied a stringent (and illegal?) trade embargo and attempted to undermine and disrupt his administration in much the same way that they had done in Chile, Argentina and Brazil. Unlike with those countries they did not succeed. Castro survived invasion and 8 assassination attempts.
On the positive side, despite the isolation, he ran a successful economy. He did not flout his position and live in luxury like a billionaire creaming off all the wealth. He lived modestly. The country had a superb health and education system and practiced equality. There was none of this huge differences between the poor and wealthy that you get in capitalist countries.
On the negative side he was a dictator running a one-party State. It was a repressive regime that stifled debate, imprisoned and beat opponents and publically humiliated people. It’s record on human rights was not good.
One wonders what that society might have been like if it had not been so opposed and undermined by America? America’s paranoia of communism and its economic empiricism has created a huge amount of instability and war. South America has had to endure vicious dictatorships and military juntas, with millions killed, tortured and disappeared, as direct results of CIA action. Perhaps Cuba had to repress human rights in order to survive?
Fidel Castro is gone. The Stones played to rapturous crowds. Obama has opened up a new chapter and heralded a new relationship. The hope is that Cuba will prosper – all that is good will continue and all that was bad will change to create a prosperous, happy country.
The fear is that American capitalism will move in and Cuba become another branch of Disneyland.