Fidel Castro Inspired Millions with His Promises of Justice and Progress but Presided Over an Oppressive State

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With Fidel now dead, many believe Raul will move more quickly toward reforms.

Fidel Castro burst on the world scene in 1959, spawning the very image of a revolutionary with his scruffy beard, rifle and cigar, ruling Cuba for a half-century while rankling 11 U.S. presidents and helping bring the world to the brink of nuclear war.

Mr. Castro, who was suffering from undisclosed illnesses, died at 90 years old, his brother, President Raul Castro, announced Friday.

Mr. Castro, nicknamed the “guerrilla prince” by one of his many biographers, animated millions in Cuba and across the world with his promises of democracy, social justice and economic progress. Early in his reign, Mr. Castro forged an anti-Washington stance, allying with the Soviet Union and supporting guerrilla movements from Latin America to Africa.

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But by the time he formally resigned in 2008 as Cuba’s president and handed power to his younger brother, Raúl, he had come to embody all the contradictions of his movement.

Mr. Castro pursued egalitarian ideals of free health care, housing and education, while outlawing free speech, jailing dissidents and banning fair elections. He played world politics with the skill of a grandmaster, but embraced an ideology that ultimately failed. He overthrew one dictator in 1959 only to become Latin America’s longest-ruling one, 49 years.

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He sought to free Cuba of its dependence on sugar and make it a wealthy country, only to bankrupt the island and make it dependent first on the largess of the Soviet Union, and then of Venezuela. But Venezuela’s economic crisis has curtailed aid to Cuba.

When Mr. Castro stepped down, many had hoped the more pragmatic Raul would quickly launch economic and political overhauls to ease Cuba into the global economy and introduce a more democratic system. But he has only taken a few hesitant steps in that direction. Instead, the elder Castro developed a second career as a Cassandra-like commentator, raging against the U.S. and frequently predicting an inevitable nuclear war.

The economic outlook brightened in 2014 when President Barack Obama forged an agreement with Raúl Castro to restore diplomatic relations. Since then, Mr. Obama has gradually loosened curbs on American trade and travel with the island, though a full lifting of the economic embargo is in congressional hands. However, the prospect of better economic ties with the U.S. now looks difficult after Donald Trump won the recent presidential election.

With Fidel now dead, many believe Raul will move more quickly toward reforms.

Fidel Castro was born in 1926 in Biran, a frontier town on the island’s wild eastern tip, the illegitimate son of a former Spanish soldier and peasant who had become a rich landowner, and his maid. One of seven children, Mr. Castro’s father sent him to Havana to study at Cuba’s best schools.

In Havana, he got involved in the violent student politics of the time, eventually becoming a gun-toting law student…(read more)

Source: WSJ


One Comment on “Fidel Castro Inspired Millions with His Promises of Justice and Progress but Presided Over an Oppressive State”

  1. […] Fidel Castro Inspired Millions with His Promises of Justice and Progress but Presided Over an Oppres… (punditfromanotherplanet.com) […]


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