Cuba’s Fidel Castro Dies

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Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former Dictator and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90.

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost 50 years before Raul took over in 2008.

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former president and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90, his brother Raul has announced.

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The Washington Examiner‘s Daniel Chaitin writes:

…The U.S. was among the first to formally recognize his government, cautiously trusting Castro’s early assurances he merely wanted to restore democracy, not install socialism.

Within months, Castro was imposing radical economic reforms. Members of the old government went before summary courts, and at least 582 were shot by firing squads over two years. Independent newspapers were closed and in the early years, homosexuals were herded into camps for “re-education.”

In 1964, Castro acknowledged holding 15,000 political prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled, including Castro’s daughter Alina Fernandez Revuelta and his younger sister Juana.

Still, the revolution thrilled millions in Cuba and across Latin America who saw it as an example of how the seemingly arrogant Yankees could be defied. And many on the island were happy to see the seizure of property of the landed class, the expulsion of American gangsters and the closure of their casinos.

Castro’s speeches, lasting up to six hours, became the soundtrack of Cuban life and his 269-minute speech to the U.N. General Assembly in 1960 set the world body’s record for length that still stood more than five decades later.

As Castro moved into the Soviet bloc, Washington began working to oust him, cutting U.S. purchases of sugar, the island’s economic mainstay. Castro, in turn, confiscated $1 billion in U.S. assets…(read more)

“The commander in chief of the Cuban revolution died at 22:29 hours this evening,” President Raul Castro said.

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CATO Institute: Cuba Libre? An End to the Counterproductive Cuban Embargo

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President Obama’s announcement to overhaul U.S. policy toward Cuba is historic. And, according to Cato scholar Juan Carlos Hidalgo, president’s move should be uncontroversial.

“U.S. policy toward Cuba has been a blatant failure,” says Hidalgo. “It has not brought about democracy to the island and instead provided Havana with an excuse to portray itself as the victim of U.S. aggression…The 114th Congress should pick up where the president left off and move to fully end the trade embargo and lift the travel ban on Cuba.”

Cato scholars comment on the unexpected policy change:


Bells Ring in Havana, Anger Erupts in Miami

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Havana (CNN) — Church bells rang out Wednesday afternoon in Havana, marking a major moment in history — Cuba and the United States are renewing diplomatic relations after decades of ice-cold tension.

Word of the massive change was met with passionate opinions and some protests in the United States. And tearful celebrations erupted in the streets of the island after President Raul Castro announced the news in a televised address.

“With the main obstacle for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations eliminated, the only unknown is the next step. Is the Cuban government planning another move to return to a position of force vis-a-vis the U.S. government? Or are all the cards on the table this time, before the weary eyes of a population that anticipates that the Castro regime will also win the next move.”

— Yoani Sanchez, a well-known Cuban blogger

But there was uncertainty and some anger amid the joy.

Dissident Cuban blogger Yusnaby Perez tweeted that his neighbor asked him whether a change in U.S.-Cuban trade relations would mean that he could finally afford to buy meat.

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Other dissidents worried that their concerns will now be overlooked.

Yoani Sanchez, a well-known Cuban blogger, decried what she described as a carefully plotted victory for the Castro regime in the swap of detained U.S. contractor Alan Gross for Cuban spies imprisoned in America. Read the rest of this entry »


Pause for a Smoke: Celebrations Begin for American Consumers of Cuban Cigars

CUBA-XVI HAVANA CIGAR FESTIVAL

WASHINGTON — With President Obama announcing major shifts to diplomatic relations with the island nation of Cuba, it’s going to get easier to find the one of the country’s most renowned exports:JFK-cigar

Cigars.

In the changing relations, the “number of steps to significantly increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba,” will increase, diplomatic officials told reporters Wednesday.

American citizens will be also authorized to import additional good from Cuba.

The ease of travel and commercial restrictions may soon result in more Cuban cigars in the country. Relaxed commercial restrictions may facilitate the ability to do exports by making the general process easier, as well as more travelers from Cuba bringing back the famed smoking sticks. Read the rest of this entry »