At 90, Fidel Castro took his last breath. Although I’m positive it was the political situation of 2016 that killed him, I reserve that as an opinion. There are some facts, however, that I wish to shed light upon in the aftermath of his demise.
Fidel Castro – a villian, a hero. His death is mourned by millions, and is celebrated by millions more. The man who, according to many, was a charasmatic dictator, spreading his socialist propaganda, on the wrong side of history. He led a country that was cut off from the world, he led a generation or two of economically chained and ruined Cubans. It was a failure of human rights, of the right to live to one’s will and nothing else. But here was Fidel Castro, who demanded complete obidience from his people, who kept media on a short leash, who controlled every aspect of Cubans’ lives. And of course, his infamously long speeches.
Criticism of Castro extends beyond the man himself, and goes on to argue that socialism itself is a failed experiment. That socialism is cruel, it snatches human rights and it crushes dream. That socialism leads to death and misery, as it did in Cuba and former Soviet Union. A complete upheaveal and rebellion against the predominant system would do that. And there is proof for that – the death of millions, the utter chaos left all over. North Korea, being a stellar example of how devastatingly so-called socialism can play out. History text books all over the world have examples of the devastation socialism left behind in its wake, so I don’t see why I must repeat what seventh graders are brainwashed into believing.
But then, let’s not deny the inherent flaws of capitalism either, where leaders pushed millions to their deaths. Where famine hit areas were left without aid, very diplomatically and strategically, due to the promiment Malthusian theory. When world leaders and democratically elected politicans decided to let millions of underprivilded suffer so as to “not intervene in the market/economy”, they were never accussed of violation of Human Rights. After all, they were following a theory which had worked well for the economy. And that’s for capitalism as a broad worldview.
When it comes down to individual countries, United States, Britain, Portugal, Spain, France and Italy don’t get to criticise other countries. For once, though, Germany is earning this right through redemption (if I may say so, with Angela Merkel being the only leader making firm decisions).
The aforementioned European countries collectively established an Empire that brought most of the world to its knees, that committed atrocities for two centuries or more, and then refuse to acknowledge them. These countries have the audacity to not teach their students about their feats of colonisation and their shrewd methods. Instead, they’d rather take the credit and gratitude for blessing the world with “modernity” and “enlightenment”. Excuse me, dear countries. You didn’t make the world modern, you simply used the world for your own expansion and modernisation as people in your empires paid the highest taxes and enjoyed the least benefits. The concepts you swear by – those of freedom, liberty and equality – are simply fancy words you use in speeches at the UN, but remain applicable only to your White citizens. As the most affluent, you refuse to accept refugees, while you establish trade barriers against countries who don’t worship you.
United States, hello there. You aren’t far behind. Let’s not even talk about the utter joke that is your healthcare system, the screwed up funding for your education system, the new threat we face, courtesy of your electoral system. Let’s just talk about the impact you had on other countries that you “intervened in”, trying to salvage them, trying to save them from future destruction. How you killed 20 million people since WWII (and that’s being optimistic). Really, USA, do you expect people to believe the complete farce that is your justification for, if I may, a genocide in installments?
So, here we are. I understand the anger against Castro, he didn’t make the mark when it comes to effective and empathetic leadership. He didn’t lead to please his people, and he definitely didn’t lead to please Superpowers. He led with passion, he led with faith in what he believed was right. It may have backfired massively, and there is no denying the casualities that can be attributed to him.Statistically, Castro and his regime didn’t hurt humanity as much as other countries and leaders have, the ones we barely even think about. That doesn’t excuse his crimes, no.
While judging him, now or thousands of years later, we must proceed with caution. Only because Fidel Castro was in the losing, unpopular side of history, shouldn’t be the reason we demonise him and his actions. He is, like all people we will remember in our books for a long time to come, a grey figure.