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On November 25, 2016 at 10:29 pm Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, better known as Fidel Castro or “ Fidel,",died. His death was greeted with cheers of joy by most of the Cuban community in exile, especially those in Miami’s Little Havana. In Cuba the mood was more somber and without any celebration.

La Historia lo Absolverá (History will absolve him)

After taking power in 1959 following the Cuban Revolution, Castro oversaw vast improvements in providing of basic services, such as health care and housing, as well as education and advances in literacy across the island. 

La Historia lo Condenará (History will condemn him) 

Despite these achievements in areas of social policy, Fidel Castro’s government was characterized by a ruthless suppression of freedom of expression, severe economic hardships and widespread suffering.  Over the years hundreds of people were arrested for peacefully exercising the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly. Repressive tactics used by the authorities have changed in the last years with fewer people sentenced to long-term prison for politically motivated reasons, but the control of the state over all the aspects of Cubans’ life remain a reality.

The Cuban  government continues to limit Internet use as a way of controlling access to information and freedom of expression, with just 25 percent of Cubans having access to the Internet and barely 5 percent of homes connected to the global computer network.

Initially, Fidel promised liberties to the Cuban people but ended up betraying them. He decimated one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America, destroyed the business class and pulverized the country’s productivity. Three generations and seventy percent of the people on the island today have never know any other leader but Fidel Castro. He improved the country’s education and health care systems but failed to provide the country’s healthy and educated  people with a means whereby they could be productive, have incentives, better their lives and be part of a middle class. 

During Castro’s forty-seven years in power he executed thousands of his adversaries and kept political dissidents and opponents in jail for many years. He harassed and even prosecuted people for listening to foreign music and for reading books and for even being homosexuals. Because of his policies twenty percent of the Cuban population ended up living in exile. 

Thousands of Cuban soldiers died as cannon fodder in foreign countries like Angola in an effort to spread the Cuba-style revolution and ideology to other countries. Castro was responsible for the rise of Latin American wannabes like Hugo Chavez, his successor Nicolás Maduro, and the likes of Daniel Ortega who has not done anything to improve Nicaragua  and keep it from being the second poorest country in the Americas after Haiti.

Now that the cloud and omnipresence of Fidel is no longer looming over Cuba there is hope that the country’s plight will improve in the not-too-distant future. Although Fidel officially retired in 2006 due to illness, his presence was always in the background. With his death the political system will eventually open up because Raul Castro should finally have the weight of Fidel off his shoulders. He will have more freedom and room to make changes without his older brother influence. However, Fidel’s death will surely lead to to many conflicts between Raúl and his political opponents as to what direction the country should take. But one really has to wait and see what happens after Raúl is expected to step down in 2018.

Published in News about Cuba
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