President Obama, on his recent trip to Cuba, met with Cuban President Raul Castro, he met with entrepreneurs, and he met with opposition leaders, but did NOT meet with the old President Fidel Castro (89), and it seems Fidel did not want to meet either.
It has been 54 years since John F Kennedy signed the embargo against Cuba, and ever since there has been incredible tension between these two neighbors.
Only 90 miles separate these two nations, but until now, they seemed to be on the opposite sides of the world. But, for the first time in nine decades, a sitting US president has visited Cuba on an official visit.
Fidel Castro, the former revolutionary who led the Cuban Revolution and became Prime Minister in 1959, and led the country until 2008. Fidel Castro and the United States have been enemies for a while, with his bodyguard Fabian Escalante claiming that there were 683 assassination attempts.
The former President Fidel Castro broke silence recently with his own thoughts on the visit by President Obama in a letter published by Granma which is the official news outlet for the communist party in Cuba:
- He reminded the President about the Bay of Pigs (a failed attempt to overthrow Castro in 1961) and the Cuban blockade, in response to Obama wanting to move forward “as friends, as family, as neighbors, together”.
- Obama should reflect, and avoid developing “theories” about Cuban politics.
- Cuba doesn’t need any gifts from the “empire”. He feels that Cuba is doing well on its own, and doesn’t need any help from outsiders.
A major theme in Fidel’s letter was tourism in Cuba, which he was very skeptical about, reminding us of his communist values. Tourism in Cuba is focused on beautiful landscapes, and he does not like the idea of foreign companies exploiting this for profit without sharing that profit with the people. This criticism came amid announcements of the Starwood Hotels signed a deal to to manage three Cuban hotels.
Fidel Castro’s letter reminds us that what seems to be ancient history was in fact not so long ago. The landscape in Cuba is changing, but there are still remnants of the past holding on tight. But if the past can teach us anything, it would be that the tighter your grip, the less you can hold on to.