This past week, the oldest and longest reigning political leader died at the age of 90. He held power for decades before passing the dictatorship of the state to his brother, Raul. Ever since then, there have been rumors every six months or so about his death in his failing health and old age, only to be dismissed by the regime.
But this time, the news was confirmed, as Raul made a brief speech calling for nine days of national mourning. Fidel is dead.
What do the Cubans think of this?
The short answer: We all know that Fidel's middle name is Ptu! Because you have to spit after you say the name of the devil.
According to studies, more millennials agree with communism than capitalism. That by itself could be an entire different article. However, this plus the disillusionment of misinformation means that some people are, somehow, mourning the death of what could be considered a revolutionary hero.
I'm not here to dispel any myths about communism or say that it is good or bad, but I will say that the was Castro pulled it off was not good for Cubans.
Here are just a few things that resulted from Fidel's rise to power and his reign over Cuba:
He exiled his own sister, Juana, for going against his regime, and she has called him a monster.
Around 3 million refugees, such as my abuela and her friends and family, had to flee the island in fear of persecution.
Those were the lucky ones. The ones that were captured were killed in front of a firing squad or held illegally as political prisoners
He made concentration camps, including an effeminate males, HIV positive testing people, or anyone LGBTQA to be "re-educated to correct deviations"
School children pray to him as a deity
He shut down all independent news companies, and only published "approved" news coverage. Anything else would land you in jail, no trial, no escape.
He tied the Cuban government very strongly to the ideals and economy of the Soviet Union in his communist reconstruction of the government and economy. So when the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, the Cuban economy took a nosedive that it still has not recovered from.
And these are just a few things! This is the tip of the iceberg in the long history of Fidel's rise to power and his tight grip of control over the island. Because of the long lasting effects of his power, millions of Cubans can never return to the home that they left behind. In many cases, their land and belongings were all left behind and seized by the government. Families abandoned their friends and homeland, their wealth and comfort, for fear of facing a firing range. Castro's regime has lead to decades of complicated international incidents and a complicated history with the US.
We believe that he is an incarnation of the devil, not a leader who brought us to a fair communist society. He was a dictator, and thousands are flooding the streets to dance to his death.