Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolutionary leader who built a communist state on the doorstep of the United States, died recently. Castro left behind a highly controversial legacy, sure to be debated for years to come. Castro, the leader of a mile wide island nation of 11 million people, was a titan during the international controversy of the cold war. Castro was resented by the United States and the free world, but was glorified by the far left revolutionaries of Latin America and Africa. One of the people Castro inspired was Nelson Mandela. Fidel Castro took power in a 1959 revolution and ruled Cuba for 49 years with a mix of charisma and iron will, creating a one-party state and becoming a central figure in the Cold War. The militant guerilla overtook the country just two years after being exiled from the country. In his first speech as leader, white doves were released to signal Cuba’s new peace, and the Cuban people embraced Castro has their new savior.
At that time in 1959, the Cuban people were not prepared for the plans Castro had for their country. Castro ruled Cuba with an iron fist, and he dominated the country with new strength and symbolism. Castro became a dictatorial tyrant controlling every aspect of Cuba. Castro initiated communism to the small island nation. Castro swept away capitalism and won support for bringing schools and hospitals to the poor. He also created legions of enemies and critics, concentrated among Cuban exiles in Miami who fled his rule and saw him as a ruthless tyrant.This resulted in the U.S. emplacing an embargo on Cuba that still remains strong today. This upset their large super- power neighbors in the U.S. He fended off a CIA-backed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961 and survived an additional 600 assassination attempts from the CIA. The most significant event of his legacy was in heavy involvement in the Cuban missile crisis. His alliance with Moscow helped trigger the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, a 13-day showdown with the US that brought the world the closest it has been to nuclear war.
Castro’s legacy will be his total defilement of the U.S. government. Castro transformed Cuba from a playground for rich Americans into a symbol of resistance to U.S. Castro outlasted nine US presidents during his tenure of ruling Cuba. Castro’s longevity is remarkable when you take in to account that the CIA operated over 600 missions to assassinate the Cuban leader: read more here.
Fidel Castro’s legacy will be debated throughout the rest of history. In 2012, "Time" named Castro one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century. Some of his supporters in Havanna will argue that he was as a tireless defender of the poor. His supporters would point out that under Castro’s rule the Cuban government produced tens of thousands of doctors and teachers and achieved some of the lowest infant mortality and illiteracy rates in the Western hemisphere. However, critics would say that Castro drove the country into economic ruin, denied basic freedoms to 11 million Cubans at home and forced more than a million others into exile. In addition, Castro’s relationship with the Soviets nearly brought the end the of the world. Castro will be remembered for his remarkable longevity that he achieved through his fearless totalitarian rule that driven by fear. A significant historical figure was lost last weekend, and the historical impact of his legacy needs to be discussed in the wake of his death.