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Fidel Castro: The Passing Of An Icon

Former Cuban President, Fidel Castro. Photo credit: Agência Brasil.

Fidel Castro: The Passing Of An Icon

By Rupert Johnson
PRIDE Columnist

rupert johnson cmykThis is indeed a sad day for the Cuban people for their revered icon, Fidel Castro is dead—dead at the ripe old age of 90.

Castro has no doubt left an enduring legacy which started to take shape in 1959 when he liberated Cuba from the brutal jaws of that corrupt and oppressive dictator, Fulgencio Batista.

With the full backing of the United States, Batista established an unprecedented reign of terror for about 25 years.

Under his tyrannical rule the rich and powerful wallowed in the ever-increasing abundance of their wealth, while the burgeoning mass of the poor and powerless sank deeper and deeper into the cavernous abyss of abject poverty and utter despair.

While the rich and famous lived and reclined in palatial mansions, the wretched of the earth spent long agonizing hours in hut-like dwellings.

While the affluent and their offspring enjoyed the best educational facilities and health care services in Cuba, the impoverished masses were utterly deprived of these opportunities.

Indeed, Cuba was a society in decay, badly tarnished with overt prostitution, contaminated with criminal elements, and bedeviled with the deep-seated evils of casino gambling. In a nutshell, this was the type of decadent, failed society the Fidel Castro inherited.

After the overthrow of Batista, Castro wasted no time in reconstructing the socio-economic fabric of Cuba. It was a Herculean task of the greatest magnitude. And yet, Castro managed to clean up the “Augean Stables.” Thanks to the strong resolve of Castro and his cohorts, the refuse of prostitution and criminality have been contained.

The Cuban people may not enjoy all the trappings of middle class Americans and Canadians, but by all accounts the vast majority of the people are better housed, better educated and better off health-wise than ever before.

It is well documented that Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world because of its totally free and efficient educational policy. It is also well documented that Cuba has an ample supply of well-trained and qualified doctors and nurses, and a wide array of excellent health care services—all free of cost.

It is sad to say that in 1960 the American regime imposed a very punitive embargo system on Cuba designed to bring down the Castro government. It is also sad to say that although this punitive policy has failed it is still in place.

In spite of the democratic shortcomings of the Castro regime, it may be said that Fidel Castro and his government have the interest of the Cuban people at heart in providing them with a manifold of social services.

I hope the process of political normalization between Cuba and the U.S. (that was initiated by President Obama) will continue, and that this process will eventually lead to the end of the punitive embargo system.

Rupert Johnson can be reached at: r.b.johnson@sympatico.ca

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