Culture, Geopolitics, Socialization, Travel
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Death of Fidel Castro – End of an Era

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Havana, August 2015

As I tweeted on Friday night 11/25/16 when I found out, Fidel Castro’s death marks the end of an era. Champagne bottles are being popped in Little Havana, Miami, while his passing is being mourned on the walls of the Malecón in Havana, or by Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. President Obama summed up the feelings perfectly, diplomatically, “extending a hand” and reassuring the Cuban people that they have a “friend and partner” in the United States.

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.

For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.
Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.
President Barack Obama

What a perfect response. It humanizes Castro as a man who has just died and acknowledges the profound impact he has had on the lives of Cuban people, no matter what side of the coin you are on. As I mentioned in my chat about Cuba, several of the people I spoke to while in Havana are ready for a change, especially economically so. My guide even hinted that Raul Castro has “held back” on many economy advances out of “respect” for his brother’s original socialist vision. Unlike our party system, the Cuban government has always been portrayed as a monolith holding one opinion, one idea, one way of being. This can’t really be so…. I’m quite curious as to whether the death of Fidel will bring dissenting opinions and possibly even a party system. While there I also realized it’s not as cut and dry as a generational gap. I did see young people that idolized Cuban revolutionary figures, older people that were proud to have seen both capitalist and socialist Cuba. I saw black Cubans that felt Fidel gave them equal playing field. People that felt taken care of by their government, people that felt forgotten.

Here’s a great analysis of possibilities of a post-Fidel Cuba from Amherst College professor Javier Corrales: http://www.npr.org/2016/11/26/503446661/after-fidel-castros-death-whats-next-for-u-s-cuba-relationship

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Havana, August 2015

Trump, via Twitter, has also weighed in on U.S. policies regarding Cuba in the past, pledging to “reverse” the Obama-led efforts to normalize relations between the two countries. That’s probably until he realized some Trump Co. use for the beautifully fertile lands of the island, another golf course, maybe? So ‘N A Perfect Worlders, if you had any interest in visiting Cuba? I suggest you go, NOW! Cubans, Cuban-Americans, I would love to hear your opinions: what does Fidel Castro’s death mean to you? Leave a message below, inbox me, get in touch!

Here’s a wonderful, thought provoking post from a college friend on Facebook:

When people ask why I haven’t gone to Cuba, or when they book tickets for themselves to go and think I’ll be excited to talk to them about the subject, they wonder why I get uncomfortable, solemn, and politely annoyed. This man, his family, his friends (including ones whose faces we love glorifying on t-shirts or dorm room tapestries), and decades of pain he caused my family, and other Cubans, are the reasons why. 54 years ago, my grandparents, who were only in their early 20s, and my mother, who was only 4 (as well as numerous other relatives), were violently forced to leave Cuba and left to start their “second” lives in the complete unknown.
The news of his death feels bittersweet since my grandparents didn’t outlive the man who stole the lives they planned on having in the country they called home. I don’t know what’s next for Cuba but I do know this: Fidel, you were one of the worst. Hasta nunca. #cubasicastrono

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