This wouldn't be the first time that news of Castro's demise is delivered prematurely. In 1953, in the aftermath of Castro's disastrous sneak attack on the Moncada Barracks in the city of Santiago (where the authors parents are from), a majority of Cubans thought the young revolutionary would be killed once captured by Batista’s army. At the behest of Castro's wife Mirta Diaz-Balart (the mother of Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart and Aunt of US Congressmen Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart) Arch Bishop Enrique Perez-Serrante intervened sparing his life.
On February 17th, 1957, New York Times reporter Herbert Mathews trekked into the Sierra Maestra, a mountainous and forested region on the eastern end of Cuba, and met with Castro who had reportedly been killed in an ill fated landing on the Caribbean island. Mathews' report subsequently appeared on the front page of the New York Times, proving that Castro had once again eluded the inevitable (at least temporarily) and launched the Castro myth.
On July 31st, 2006, throngs of jubilant Cuban exiles took to the streets of Miami upon hearing that Castro had ceded power to his brother Raul. The exiles were sure that only death would separate him from power (not just a little bloody bowel movement).
Though Castro has survived and is now counted amongst the ranks of the Octogenarians, some of the folks that accompanied him on his revolutionary quest haven't been as fortunate. The most notable of these dead revolutionaries is Ernesto "Che" Guevara (the scrubby looking dude on the T-shirts), an Argentine doctor and adventurer who met his maker in the mountains of Bolivia while trying to spread the revolution in South America. Frank Pais, the young leader of the urban arm of the 26th Of July Movement in Santiago was discovered and killed in a gun battle with Batista’s police in 1957. The leader of a competing anti-Batista group (FEU), Jose Antonio Echevarria, who had conspired with Castro in Mexico, died during a failed attack on the Presidential Palace in Havana. Camilo Cienfuegos, a popular leader (perhaps too popular), “disappeared” under mysterious circumstances shortly after the revolution succeeded in 1959. Castro has been suspected of having a hand in the deaths of all these men (and had plenty of motive), though it’s never been concretely proven.
Sometimes those closest to a Tyrant, and the masses that obey him (either by fear or adulation), have a hard time coping with their leaders’ mortality. When Mao Tse-tung died, some of his inner circle blamed his physician despite the fact that he was 82 had suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease for some time and suffered from various heart ailments (not to mention that, with the exception of Jack Lalanne, being in your 80s can be hazardous to your health). Many suspected foul play when Joseph Stalin expired from the effects of a stroke at a "youthful" 74. Generalissimo Francisco Franco was allegedly kept alive so that his death on November 20th would coincide with an important date in Spanish history (the Death of Phalange founder Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera). Raphael Leonidas Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic with an iron fist (and a psychopathic mind) for over 30 years before being gunned down on his way to "visit" one of his mistresses (pre-Viagra). The Dominican populace, thinking this was some sort of twisted hoax, remained cowered allowing his son Ramphis to remain in control for several (bloody) months. Castro's condition has been shrouded in secrecy for over a year. His inevitable death will surely be the object of speculation long after the worms have devoured - and vomited - him.
One would think that the epicenter of the Cuban exile community in Miami, having fled Castro's communist tyranny, would be a bastion of liberty and free market principles. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Local Cuban-American politicians have imposed an endless number of laws that have stifled the local economy, while on the national level lobbying for trade and travel restrictions that seem to have originated from a Kafka novel. So what if Castro is dead? For all intents and purposes he has been dead for over a year and nothing has changed in Cuba. The exile "leaders" champing at the bit to take back control of the island lack any economic or social direction. For the most part they are driven by a lust for power much like their nemesis.
The rumor of Castro's death coincided with the visit of US presidential candidate Barrack (I'm no Saddam) Hussein Obama, who treated a crowd of supporters (AKA mindless twits) with the expected pandering, pledging to work for a "free" Cuba (and a Socialist US). Politicians have been playing with the heart strings of Cuban Exiles since John F. Kennedy in a speech at the Orange Bowl following the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion (which he betrayed). He promised exiles that Cuba would soon be free; though that obviously never happened and he was soon dead (Castro is also suspected to have been involved in Kennedy's death). Cuban exiles seem to forget that these men are running for President of the United States and will say anything (and I mean anything) to amass votes and get elected.
So while we await the news of a corpse in Havana, all of us should reflect on the significance of the death of a tyrant. Does it mean the death of Tyranny? Will it bring about true freedom and liberty? Does democracy guarantee property rights and free speech? Unfortunately the answer to all those questions is a resounding NO. As the famed British philosopher/economist Herbert Spencer said over 100 years ago – and which still holds true today - "The Republican form of government is the highest form of government: but because of this it requires the highest type of human nature, a type nowhere at present existing."
that Castro being in his 80's and suffering from various maladies will
die soon (if he’s not dead already), but tyranny and oppression sadly
will survive him.
Emiliano Antunez, 41, DDS Degree UCE Dom Rep, semi anarchist, quasi-nihilist, and a touch of pragmatist, with a penchant (Midas touch) for business and clueless in politics (campaigned hard for mayor of Miami and got less than 1% of the vote “the masses are revolting”). Formerly on the Board of Miami Dade Housing and Finance Authority and currently serving on the board of the Overtown Community (in)Action Agency.