EDITORIAL: Should we be grieving or be glad?
Final judgement of Castro is up to those who lived under his rule
The world was shaken when news of Cuban despot Fidel Castro’s death was announced. The former leader who ruled Cuba for decades died at the age of 90. Following his death, the nation of Cuba began a nine-day national mourning period for their fallen leader. However, not everyone in Cuba shared the same sentiments of grief upon hearing of his passing. In fact, reactions from around the world varied from sorrow to celebration.
Within Cuba itself, some people mourned the loss of a great leader who helped advance the nation in healthcare and education. These people created posters and cried outside of the University of Havana, where Castro attended law school. The President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, Raul Castro, Fidel Castro’s brother, declared that the flag of Cuba be raised only half-mast and clubs be silent.
Meanwhile, in Little Havana, a neighborhood in Miami, people were rejoicing. Castro’s reign, for them, symbolized a rule of suffering. People, including some sporting “Bay of Pigs Veteran” shirts, took to the streets to celebrate not the death of Castro himself, but the death of a symbol of oppression. They, along with their families, moved to Miami originally as exiles from Cuba due to their fear that they would forever be oppressed under Castro’s rule. Leaving behind loved ones to the cruel fate of Castro’s killings and iron-fisted tyranny was one of the markers of Castro’s rule that those celebrating kept in mind.
President-elect Donald Trump seemed to have shared in feelings of those celebrating as he took to Twitter to call Castro a “brutal dictator” whose death marked the possibility of “one day soon seeing a free Cuba.”
President Barack Obama’s comments were far from as critical as Trump’s. In what Florida GOP lawmakers called a “lukewarm” response, Obama remained somewhat neutral in his depiction of Castro, offering his family condolences but being extremely vague in his description of his rule. However, Obama’s approach of leaving the judgment of Castro up to history to decide may be what others must do as well.
No one is more affected by the news of Castro’s death than those who lived through his reign or saw family members who did. The decision of labeling Castro as a hero or an enemy to Cuba is dependent upon Cubans themselves. For some Cubans, Castro was “the only leader” they ever knew. This was accompanied by opinions of either misery or mirth, but were provided by Cuban people themselves, nonetheless.
In a situation like this, the U.S. and other nations should be cordial but should not overstep where they lack experience. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, the opinions of those directly affected by Castro’s regime should be the ones considered the most. In a situation where American-Cuban relations were being reconsidered, the intervention of American opinions would be called for. However, Castro himself has been out of the public eye for quite some time now, and as his brother Raul still remains in presidency, the death of Castro does relatively little to nothing for the actual relations between Cuba and other nations. So, considering that the conversation about Castro circulates around his legacy itself rather than the future of Cuba, this might have to be a conversation we have no dialogue in. Even if the verdict on Castro’s life and legacy is varied and unclear, the most we should do is support the families affected by Castro’s death, whether these effects were positive or negative.
As a Cuban-American said of Castro’s death, “For those who loved him he was the greatest … for those who hated him, there was no one worse.” And that should be enough for the rest of the world to consider.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 148th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.