What is Fidel Castro’s legacy and what’s the future of U.S./Cuba relations?

What is Fidel Castro’s legacy and what’s the future of U.S./Cuba relations?

There’s been much coverage of the life & death of Fidel Castro at age 90. Clearly one of the major figures of the last half of the 20th Century, here are several views on his legacy, contrasting the mainstream U.S. media with international recognition and some progressive alternative voices.

We will discuss this and our upcoming events locally at our next WI Cuba Coalition Monthly meeting on Tuesday Dec. 13, 7pm, Central UMC, 639 N. 25th St. Milwaukee, also including the new ideas for the Pastors for Peace Travel Challenge & Caravan to Cuba; our March 12, 2017 benefit concert;  and a possible showing of the film “All Guantanamo is Ours.”  All are welcome!

David & Goliath, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, Washington. Sunday, April 19, 1959 1

On his only visit to Washington D.C., Fidel Castro paid tribute to President Abraham Lincoln.

I.  Comments and actions from world leaders include very positive tributes and recognition from most of Latin America and Africa. (See e.g., this NYT OpEd on Cuba’s role in the independence of Namibia and “South Africa’s transition from white minority rule to democracy” and this video interview with South Africa’s former President Mbeki) and a range of condolences from Europe.  Here are the messages from the new young leader of Canada, and from the business-oriented Prime Minister of India reflecting Castro’s role as a leader of and voice for the Non-Aligned Movement and developing nations.


 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed a “deep sorrow” over Fidel Castro’s death. Trudeau called Castro “a legendary revolutionary and orator” and praised his “dedication and love for the Cuban people.” “We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader,” he said in his statement.

India’s Prime Minister demonetisation, black money, demonetisation technology, delhi demonetisation, bengaluru demonetisation, economic growth, social growth, demonetisation politics, technological transformation, technology, political economy, indian economy, narendra modi, delhi corruption, delhi blacl money, modern technology, indian express news, india news, indian express opinion
Narendra Modi ‏@narendramodi  Nov 25:
“Fidel Castro was one of the most iconic personalities of the 20th century. India mourns the loss of a great friend. I extend my deepest condolences to the Government & people of Cuba on the sad demise of Fidel Castro. May his soul rest in peace.  We stand in support with the Cuban Government and people in this tragic hour.”

II.  In the U.S., the New York Times reported that Fidel Castro’s obituary “cost us more man/woman hours over the years than any piece we’ve ever run” — by 16 writers, from 1959 to 2016.  Reflecting a view expressed by the mainstream centers of power in the U.S., it began as follows: “Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader, bedeviling 11 American presidents and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war, died on Friday. He was 90.”  It asserted that “He wielded power like a tyrant, controlling every aspect of the island’s existence.”  For more, click here.

In response to Fidel’s death and the portrayal of him by US and some western media, two experts with much exposure to Cuba presented
a different take.  Canadian journalism professor and author Stephen Kimber of compared western media coverage to a broader legacy of
Cuba under Castro.  U.S. political economist and advisor Mark Weisbrot, took on the opening line of the Time’s obituary, claiming to present
a short history of U.S. domination of Latin America from a less imperialist view.
III.  In Cuba, and among Cubans worldwide, there is a great deal of grief and passion.  U. S. media have shown street parties in Miami on a daily basis for a week, there were conflicting messages in Madrid.  For a different Cuban-American view, see FIDEL AND I, AND A NATION UNFORGIVEN,   To see other images from Cuba, see  http://myemail.constantcontact.com/Images-of-the-Cuban-People-Paying-Tribute-to-Fidel.html?soid=1102700155448&aid=Xw5fpF99VyM and at
 https://www.facebook.com/TheInternationalCommittee/.  In Cuba you can see the humble burial site for Fidel Castro, who asked that there not be buildings or monuments named for him. A Cuban American colleague who just returned from Cuba most of last week & visiting relatives there, advised that the widespread respect and mourning by the Cuban people was deep and clearly sincere.

IV.  If you’re interested in understanding Fidel Castro, the issues he faced and the decisions made in numerous historic situations from his perspective, the definitive and very readable work is Fidel Castro, My Life, A spoken Autobiography by Fidel Castro and Ignacio Ramonet (editor in chief of Le Monde diplomatique). It is available in Spanish and English editions, also as an audio book (the US English paperback is published by Scribner, 2009, 724 pages, $22 list price).

Another very good source, facts rather than opinion, but many of those have not been highlighted in the U.S. (nor recognized in the NY Times obituary for example) is Jane Franklin’s Cuba and the United States: A Chronological History (the full text of nearly 400pp is available free online up to 1995, at http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~hbf/Cuba_and_the_US_book.pdf);  the new 2016 edition is only $25, under the title: Cuba and the U.S. Empire: A Chronological History, with a foreward by Noam Chomsky.  All comments are welcome, and anyone who’d like to join a proposed listserv to respectfully and candidly discuss Fidel’s legacy, kindly reply/respond to that effect.

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