Living With or Without Fidel

Yusimí Rodriguez

Fidel Castro. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago I read an article on this website that was asking “Where’s Fidel Castro and how is he doing?” At that moment I realized that I hadn’t thought about the leader in a long time. After devoting two articles to discussing him, he had simply slipped my mind.

On the way home, I made a comment on the subject to several people who only have the national media as their source of “information.” Like me, they reacted with “You know…that’s right, he hasn’t been on TV, and I haven’t seen any of his ‘Reflections’ published.”

I haven’t heard any speculation about his status – not at the bus stop, or the line at the grocery, or while at the “agro” market or in the homes of people I visit. No one is asking how he’s doing or why he hasn’t been seen.

I don’t remember the last time I saw his face on TV. I’m not sure if he appeared on the screen any time around his birthday, on August 13th. However what’s crystal clear in my mind is that day in 2006 when his illness was announced (though I’ve never known for sure what it was).

I was still working for an official newspaper at that time, and we had planned a party for the following day. It was canceled, of course, just like the annual Havana carnival celebration was canceled that year. There was fear, uncertainty, speculation.

And since these things are contagious, at that time I too wondered what would happen if he died.

Six years later, I thought I had the answer when everything indicated that he had died or was critically ill. But no. He has gradually resurrected, first through messages, then by photos.  Likewise, his vote was deposited in the ballot box on Sunday by someone. Today in the morning, we had one of his usual (extensive) “reflections.”

I don’t know if we’ll see him on the TV screen holding up that day’s newspaper. However one thing rings clear from these past days. Firstly, it is not his death that will change anything for the lives of Cubans, at least not for the better.

Secondly, Cubans are too busy trying to improve their lives or simply get by, that we think about him less and less.

I have never wished or felt joy about the death of anyone. When Fidel finally does go — which will have to happen at some point — I won’t feel any sorrow or joy. Actually, I don’t know if I’ll feel anything.

I wanted to see the positive side of him staying alive to witness the changes being undergone in the country: the opening of small businesses that he closed in the Revolutionary Offensive, to eliminate the last vestiges of the bourgeoisie; the (partial) returning of Cubans right to freely travel.

I hoped that at some time he would be obliged to recognize his mistakes in leading the country, but his “reflection” this morning on the role of Cuba (and his) during the October Missile Crisis took away that hope.

Anyway, it is inevitable that the leader will abandon us at some point, despite the advances of science and the efforts of his medical team.

The news, when that occurs (and when they decide to announce it), won’t go unnoticed of course. There will be national mourning and global speculation, and programs about his life and work that will alter the monotony of television programming as well as our lives. There will be full pages in the newspapers dedicated to him.

And it will all be well deserved; he will have fulfilled his mission to the end, that of living long enough to ensure the transition (we don’t know to what), so that the Cuban people will slowly adapt to the idea of continuity of what we call the revolution but without Fidel Castro.


14 thoughts on “Living With or Without Fidel

  • October 29, 2012 at 5:21 am

    I respect you taste in coffee but not much else, I’m afraid, including adulterating fine Cuban rum with Coca Cola but as an American you don’t have an opportunity to know how fine Cuban rum tastes.

    I’m a fan of sociology and have never heard the term “preference cascade” so obviously looked it up on the web. I found NO sociologists using it but it’s a popular term currently on right-wing American websites ranging from Obama haters to climate deniers.

  • October 28, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    You state, “It is baffling and hard to understand why good people die young”.

    Is it not “baffling and hard to understand”, that is, to comprehend, why ANYBODY dies, at any age? It’s life, matey.

    You claim to think Fidel “has imposed tyranny on his country for more than 50 years” with no evidence offered. I, and the rest of the world KNOW the US has imposed a more than 50 years’ blockade, representing an economic tyranny, on the Cuban people.

    You have NO support in the world. Is it not time to think about ‘coming in from the cold’?

  • October 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    RE: “Fidel … will never occupy the same place in history that a Ghandi, or a Mandela will have.

    Nor will any of the dozen or so presidents in your country that have come and gone in the same period of time.

    RE: He has caused too much harm to too many people.”

    A drop in the bucket compared with the dozen or so presidents in your country that have come and gone in the same period of time – three to six million Vietnamese under four US presidents alone.

    RE: “He sacrificed generations of Cubans…”.

    As opposed to the unending generations of Cubans who would have been sacrificed to US imperialism if he had not resisted?

    RE: Serving “his ultimately selfish purposes?”

    His primary goal was to resist US imperialism. He was successful, even by your admission. As an American, you may somehow think this was a ‘selfish purpose’, more likely trying to twist reality to your own selfish purposes, I think – to dominate the Cuban people.

    RE: ” Will there be millions who will be sad to hear of his passing?”

    You KNOW there will.

    RE: “And millions more will then learn of his evil deeds.”

    Americans have been claiming this for more than 50 years. Like flying saucer theories, if you ain’t found anything up to now, you ain’t likely to then.

    RE: “Hitler too will be remembered for his ‘statemanship’ during the 20th century.”

    Equating Fidel with someone responsible for the deaths of millions? You are descending into name-calling again, old man. Your hatreds betray you. Take two Valium and go for a swim. Don’t believe what you may have heard about a tsunami coming.

    RE: “it is undeniable that his chorus of detractors will sing loud and clear upon his passing.”

    You may be surprised but I think your peanut gallery chorus will likely be drowned out by the heavenly choir around the world singing Fidel’s praises. Hope you have a strong voice. You’ll need to have one like Paul Robson to be heard. But he would never be seen in the same choir as you.

    RE: other voices, ones ” silenced by fear of retribution”.

    Dissident voices are certainly singing loud and clear on this website so it’s hard to know who you are referring to. And then you and your wife seem to have no problems coming and going to Cuba despite your continuous anti-government propaganda and wishes for Fidel’s demise.

    Hopefully you are given the full body search at the airport on your arrival, including your ‘junk’. Cojones are sometimes hard to find in some people, however [smiling].

    RE: those who stayed silent whilst Fidel was alive, only talking out after his passing that will “taint his legacy in comparison to Mandela”.

    Fidel and his good friend Mandela opposed oppression in the face of retribution. That’s the stuff heroes are made of. Those that wait until it’s safe, or that flee their country rather than stand up for what they claim to believe in are thought of in another way, typical of what you bait your hook with when fishing.

    RE: guarding monuments to Fidel against “vandalism”

    I wouldn’t be surprised, but vandals don’t have a great reputation. It falls into the same category as those who desecrate Jewish cemeteries. If you cannot resist, I strongly recommend leaving any personal identification at home. Seriously. Hatreds cause people do really stupid things.

    RE: “the first Havana Starbuck’s.”

    If that possibility is not enough to strengthen anyone’s resolve to resist US imperialism, I don’t know what is. Cubans, you don’t know how awful coffee can be until you have one at Starbucks! Toronto is infested with them and are boycotted by me and my fellow citizens.

    Word of mouth here claims they are only here so American visitors have a place to go to ‘feel at home’. Presumably they are the main customers. How ugly is that? I would never patronise one so don’t know. The combination of bad coffee and the possibility of meeting ‘Moses’ compatriots is enough to put anyone off.

    Starbucks are habitually targeted during anti-globalisation protests. It’s the same in other countries. Cubans resist! You have nothing to lose but bad coffee and a shop full of American gringos!

  • October 27, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    Amazing! Fidel is admired, respected, and will be mourned in most of the Countries whose people have dark skin. It is only the Sanctimonious Nations of Europe and North America who believe all the Anti-Cuba Propaganda. An article in today’s news says Racism has increased in the US, now that we have a Black President. Colin Powell even admitted today, that his Party, The Republicans, is the political refuge of Racism in the US. You have to wonder what took him so long to realize that, btw.

    The Author is right in saying that Fidel’s death will not affect Cuba the way it would have in 2006. Even in 2008, when he officially retired there wasn’t any big reaction. I was there that morning, and had to laugh at the calm, after the US had been predicting a huge uprising, if and when it happened.

    Anti-Communism is the fuel that fires these rabid comments. And the Racism comes in because even tho Cuba hasn’t yet conquered it, Fidel made ending Racism one of the pillars of the Revolution.

    Most so-called “White” people simply cannot stand the thought of sharing power, or even dinner with a Black person. After all, we all are raised knowing that white equals ‘good’ and black is ‘bad’. Even the cowboy movies made that obvious by color-coding the hats!

  • October 25, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Moses and Griffin are motivated by hate and nothing more. There’s no reasoning. Just acid, sarcastic comments. It’s that simple, John.

    “You might just as well condemn George Washington and all those who followed him for all the deaths of those who opposed the American revolution.”

    Exactly, and no American ‘think-tank’ will EVER condemn the genocide of the native American people that took place in order for the white man to build the great US nation.

  • October 25, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    “It is clear that you disagree with some if not most of the alleged abuses of power perpetrated by Fidel.”

    The keyword here is ‘alleged’. I don’t ‘disagree’ with it, I just can differentiate information from propaganda. In the (in)famous book The Black Book of Communism ‘experts’ estimate a death toll of about 17.000 (pretty round number) to be blamed upon the Cuban Revolution. Propagandists always do that. See the horrors of Mao, for example. When Deng Xiaoping first came into power, he denounced that the excess deaths during Maoism in the GLP and the Cultural Revolution to be about 16 million. Western ‘experts’ soon raised this number to 20 million. Then 50 million. Then 70 million. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone in the future says that ‘Mao killed a billion people’ and everyone will buy it.

    Remember that the winners are the ones who tell the story.

    “This alone will taint his legacy in comparison to Mandela who as far as I know has no significant negatives. Build a statue to Fidel anywhere in the world and I assure you there will be a need to guard it against vandalism.”

    Because you eat propaganda. Mandela was on the CIA’s terrorist list for years, for goodness sake! And eat this video.

    Well in all historical records I am aware of, even on the excellent John Lee Anderson’s biography, Che is always seen as a much cold and ruthless guerrilla than Fidel. Still his statue on Rosario, Argentina doesn’t need any guards.

    Heck here in São Paulo there are statues of Duque de Caxias and Borba Gato. Research about them and you’ll see what I mean.

    Alas, if you see that video you’ll come to the conclusion that if they ever build a statue of Fidel, it’ll certainly be on South Africa.

    “By the way, I still want to share a couple of lattes with you at the first Havana Starbuck´s.”

    No thank you. You have offended my people, my Latin-American brothers, far too much in your commentaries here. Sorry for being honest.

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