Monday, November 28, 2016


It’s amazing, the things I miss from world news sometimes. Only today, as I write this up following some heavy reading online, do I feel bad about not being in the know about this significant event on the day it happened. After all not every day do we have a towering pillar of history in the mid to late 20 th Century going in the manner of all mankind. By now he has been cremated and by the end of this week his ashes will be buried in the same cemetery as the national hero who spurred their homeland’s independence from Spain in the 19 th Century. I’m talking about Fidel Castro and the varied memories he leaves behind in his wake.

CNN reports that Castro, stereotyped guerrilla revolutionary turned communist despot of Cuba for near on 60 years, died at the age of 90 last Friday, November 25. Cuban television was abuzz with the announcement of his passing from his brother President Raul Castro, who had taken over the reins of state from Fidel in 2008. His statement was brief and to the point: "I say to the people of Cuba, with profound pain I come here to inform our people, our friends of America and the world, that today, 25 November, 2016, at 10:29 pm, died the chief commander of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro Ruz."

In the Saturday following the world-shaking news, electronic media all over the country was filled with patriotic songs and similar programming fare to match the people’s mournful mood. Cuba’s touristy clubs and establishments went silent and a concert performance by tenor Placido Domingo didn’t push through. Flowers and pilgrimages were made to Castro’s alma mater at the University of Havana and his childhood hometown of Biran.

The decidedly somber mood in Cuba was a far cry to the Cuban exile community in Miami, Florida just some 90 miles north from the island nation. Having escaped the bloody violence of Castro’s revolution, and the later economic deprivations and human rights violations visited upon their families, these Cuban migrants have had no love lost between them and their homeland’s long-time dictator, and happily celebrated his death with the slogan: “Satan, Fidel is now yours."

A gigantic and charismatic figure, Fidel Castro co-led the revolution to remove the repressive regime of Fulgencio Batista, only to replace it with a wholly and equally severe communist government, the only one in the Western Hemisphere at the time.

As part of the memorial activities, Castro’s ashes will go on a journey tracing back the original route of his advancing rebel army from Havana to Santiago de Cuba, where he will ultimately be laid to rest in the same graveyard where poet Jose Marti, patriot against Spanish colonial rule, is interred.

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