Expat impressions on the death of Castro
Two Ecuador expats with connections to Cuba, one a native of Argentina and the other from the U.S., share their thoughts on the death of Fidel Castro.
Fernando Pagés Ruiz:
In Latin America, we don’t call him Castro, or even Fidel Castro. He is simply Fidel. For my Cuban friends, Fidel’s passing represents a milestone in their own lives, as almost every Cuban was deeply impacted by the regime he created. I have never known a Cuban who did not have a profoundly moving story of hardship. So yesterday, with great interest, I read the emails form those friends reacting to news. These were a few of the comments:
“No siento alegría, pero tampoco dolor o tristeza. Solo espero que lo incineren, no vaya a ser que el muy carbón mínimo resucita el tercer día.” (I do not feel joy, but neither do I feel sorrow nor pain. I just hope they incinerate him well so the embers do not reignite and he rises on the third day.)
“Esta mañana, al despertar y enterarme, en lugar de café, me serví una Cubalibre.” (This morning, on waking up and finding out (about Castro’s death), instead of coffee, I had a Cuba Libre )
“Ironías de la vida, vivir tantos años de revolución socialista para morir en Black Friday.” (Ironies of life … living so many years of socialist revolution only to die on Black Friday)
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I visited Cuba twice in 2002 and 2004 to deliver suitcases of medicine to friends in Miller, a small town east of Santa Clara. Fidel Castro was a bigger-than-life fixture in the lives of the people there, beloved by few but respected by most. There was also a large minority who despised him and looked to escape to the U.S. One thing everyone agreed on, however, was that they were victims of an interminable and pointless battle between Castro and U.S. Why, they asked, did the U.S. maintain the trade and travel restrictions after so many years? Didn’t they understand that it hurt the common people more than Castro?
One day as I sat with three women picking small stones out of beans spread across the kitchen table, one of the women said that that Fidel had brought basic services to the poor people that they did not have in earlier generations. “We have doctors and education now and the poorest among us are taken care of,” she said. “We are thankful for this but all the joy of the early years of Castro is gone. It has become a revolution of old men and revolutions are for the young. Castro has become the monster to fight the monster and the results help no none.