Cuban President Raul Castro (picture below) told the nation in a late night broadcast on state television that his brother Fidel Castro had died:
“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening -Towards victory, always!” he added, using the revolutionary slogan.
There is to be several days of national mourning on the island. He will be cremated today.
The end of a legend.
Who was this Máximo Lider Fidel Castro?
- He died aged 90.
- Born as the misbegotten son of a wealthy businessman and his cook, educated in a Jesuits College.
- With a nationalist-communist revolution he toppled the pro-American dictatorship of Batista in 1959 and established a communist dictatorship instead step by step, first flirting even with the idea to get along with Washington.
- He build up the ultimate Western position of communism in the Cold War every close to the US. What was Berlin in Europe for the US and the Free World, was Cuba for the USSR and all communists in the Western Hemisphere: A rusty nail in the flesh of the enemy.
- In 1962 Cuba missile crises lead the world to the edge of a nuclear war. The Russian withdrew their nuclear missiles from the island, the American dismantled later their nuclear Thor and Jupiter missiles from Turkey, aimed on the USSR, after a secret agreement reached by Bobby Kennedy.
- He survived several assassination plots and became the idol of the communists all over the world- a communist David in fight against capitalistic Uncle Sam Goliath.
- Many Cubans fled Castro’s communist paradise, a permanent brain drains like from the GDR to West Germany in Europe. Most of the 1,172 million Cuban exiles live in the United States, many in Florida.
- Cuba is a smaller country with just 11,3 million people.
- Castro never became a reformer, like President Michail Gorbatschov in the USSR starting in 1985. He was more old-style and a communist rock like Erich Honecker in the GDR, but stayed in power even after the collapse of the USSR.
- Castro transfered the power in two steps to his brother Raul (85) in 2008 as President and 2011 as First Secretary of the Communist Party, but remained the strong man in the background.
- He was a fan of casual clothing and favored Adidas.
Where is Cuba today?
- With the Popes visiting Cuba several times, it is a unique mixture of strong Catholicism and Communism, few economical freedoms, a state run economy still and no political freedom.
- The catholic church and the Vatican moderated the detente between Havanna and Washington.
- In spring 2016 the ice-time between the US and Cuba ended.
- President Obama visited Cuba in March. American tourists can visit the island now.
- In March 2016 the Rolling Stones rocked Cuba.
- Still no political freedom. The Ladies in White continue to protest for the release of their political prisoners.
- Fidel Castro was against the opening to the West and America, his brother in favor.
- Cuba lost its financial supporter Venezuela due to the lost oil price and political problems in this other socialist country. Russia is far away and not interested to support the communist island since the 1990th.
- Quo vadis, Cuba? For sure to more freedom, step by step by step. It will take longer than many hope.
- US President-elect Donald Trump issued a statement: “Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.” ” While Cuba remains a totalitarian island,” he hoped that in future it would “move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve. Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”