Latin America: Mourning a giant of the region
Thanks to Fidel Castro, Cuba now stands as an example to the world, said Sergio Alejandro Gómez in Granma(Cuba). Our great former leader, who died last week at age 90, gave this island global influence while making life incalculably better for our people. During his 47 years in power, Castro eliminated illiteracy and child malnutrition— two key markers of human worth that the U.S. still has not attained. Cuban doctors, well trained and dedicated, have been a godsend for other countries in the region and a humanitarian asset that can be deployed to any crisis zone. Most important, Castro stood against American aggression, refusing to accept that there should be one rule for the U.S. and another for everyone else. His voice “in support of the wretched of the world” inevitably spread “like a fine powder across the plains, jungles, and mountains of the continent.” Many Latin American leaders “had the good fortune of benefiting from his support,” from Chile’s Salvador Allende to Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez to Bolivia’s Evo Morales.
You have to admire Castro’s extraordinary diplomatic savvy, said Miguel Azpúrua in El Universal(Venezuela). “Like a wizard or snake charmer, Fidel knew how to dazzle Americans,” and he drew huge crowds on his 1960 visit to New York City. “Intelligent, Machiavellian, and daring, he provoked the wrath of U.S. politicians,” making them look ridiculous as they mounted fruitless attempts on his life. He allowed the Soviets to think Cuba was their satellite, but in fact “he used the Russians,” tricking them out of their money while maintaining his nation’s independence.
In fact, Castro was the Nelson Mandela of the Americas, said Patricio López in Radio.Uchile.cl. No other leader of the 20th century “contributed more to the battles against colonialism and imperialism.” Not only a fighter, but also an intellectual and a statesman, Castro based his ideology on a belief in Latin American unity. Yet he wasn’t satisfied with helping free our continent from U.S. imperialism: He also sent tens of thousands of Cuban soldiers to Africa, where they fought in Angola’s and Namibia’s wars of freedom against the forces of apartheid South Africa. “Mandela, so admired by the international press, and Castro, so vilified, considered each other comrades engaged in the same struggle.” True, Cuba under Castro lacked political freedom—but Castro considered free health care and quality education for all to be the most important human rights.
But look at the disaster that Castro left behind in Cuba, said Héctor Aguilar Camín in Milenio(Mexico). Cubans have health care, but their country is “a living ruin.” Havana, thriving before Castro’s revolution, is crumbling, its people housed in slums, its infrastructure decayed. Cubans spy on one another and suffer the whims of “bureaucratic cruelty.” Castro once famously said that history would absolve him. Instead it will show that he has left a legacy of “isolation, oppression, deprivation, and backwardness.”