Fidel Castro an immortal figure of modern history

EDITORIAL

The death of Fidel Castro, truly one of the great figures of modern history, will bring back memories of the greatest crisis of last century’s Cold War and the life of a man who transformed his country, was a darling of socialist revolutionaries everywhere but tarnished his image with ruthless suppression of his opponents.

The 1961 Cuban missile crisis saw John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev confront each other in a situation that had the world on edge before Khrushchev blinked and agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba. Those who lived through it will not forget when the whole world held its breath.

Castro’s story is an amazing one. The illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer, he became an ardent revolutionary and was imprisoned. Released, he fled to Mexico where he met Che Guevara then returned to Cuba in 1956 in a boat with just 81 followers.

After two years Castro emerged from the Sierra Madre mountains and entered Havana, forcing the US puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista to flee. It was a huge blow to the US, made worse in 1961 when a US-sponsored invasion, the infamous Bay of Pigs, turned into a military disaster. Castro at that point established himself as the man who had spat in the “Yanqui” eye. Attempts to assassinate Castro, including a ludicrous exploding cigar, did nothing to help relations.

But the US did hurt Cuba with an economic embargo, imposed after Castro nationalised businesses, that lasted until its 2014 removal by Barack Obama.

Cuba’s situation deteriorated in the 1980s when the Russians were unable to continue their economic support and the economy sank further.

Castro could point to some successes. Good medical care was made available and the infant mortality rate was brought up to first world standards.

Against that, Castro and his brother Raul (who succeeded him) showed absolutely no mercy to their enemies right from the summary execution of hundreds of Batista supporters after the revolution. But the man born Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz in 1926 is an immortal.

The death of Fidel Castro, truly one of the great figures of modern history, will bring back memories of the greatest crisis of last century’s Cold War and the life of a man who transformed his country, was a darling of socialist revolutionaries everywhere but tarnished his image with ruthless suppression of his opponents.

The 1961 Cuban missile crisis saw John F Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev confront each other in a situation that had the world on edge before Khrushchev blinked and agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba. Those who lived through it will not forget when the whole world held its breath.

Castro’s story is an amazing one. The illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer, he became an ardent revolutionary and was imprisoned. Released, he fled to Mexico where he met Che Guevara then returned to Cuba in 1956 in a boat with just 81 followers.

After two years Castro emerged from the Sierra Madre mountains and entered Havana, forcing the US puppet dictator Fulgencio Batista to flee. It was a huge blow to the US, made worse in 1961 when a US-sponsored invasion, the infamous Bay of Pigs, turned into a military disaster. Castro at that point established himself as the man who had spat in the “Yanqui” eye. Attempts to assassinate Castro, including a ludicrous exploding cigar, did nothing to help relations.

But the US did hurt Cuba with an economic embargo, imposed after Castro nationalised businesses, that lasted until its 2014 removal by Barack Obama.

Cuba’s situation deteriorated in the 1980s when the Russians were unable to continue their economic support and the economy sank further.

Castro could point to some successes. Good medical care was made available and the infant mortality rate was brought up to first world standards.

Against that, Castro and his brother Raul (who succeeded him) showed absolutely no mercy to their enemies right from the summary execution of hundreds of Batista supporters after the revolution. But the man born Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz in 1926 is an immortal.

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John Fricker - 2 years ago
No doubt you also think that Stalin's reign of terror "tarnished his image".

Peter Andrew - 2 years ago
Fidel Castro is definitely not a great figure of modern history. Anyone who kills and imprisons his opponents to stay in power is not a leader, he is just another bully with the most guns. He transformed his country alright, from one with an economy similar to Hong Kong's to one of abject poverty.

Thousands of Cubans celebrated in the streets when they heard he had finally done something useful and died and to hundreds of thousands of Cubans he will forever be remembered as the mongrel he really was!

n r mcgregor - 2 years ago
I do wonder when people claim immortality when they have proved mortality by dying, perhaps a different standard for despots.

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