Years ago I sat in a political science class, discussing the Cuban Missile Crisis. The question came up whether or not Cuba should've followed through with the use of nuclear weapons especially if the U.S. invaded which it had plans to do. In a class of a couple hundred students, I was the LONE voice who argued that yes, they should've. I argued that 1. They had nothing else to lose as they were going to be totally wiped out either way 2. Who was the U.S. to tell a sovereign nation like Cuba what it could and could not do to defend itself? For the sake of national integrity, Castro had to take a stand.
You can imagine that I was pretty much ridiculed during that class session, people looking at me like I had lost my mind. As it turned out, years later the world learned that the line of thinking I advocated was exactly what Fidel Castro was arguing to the Kremlin during the Crisis. It is a warped prism that Americans view the world through which clouds their ability to reason with others.
I seldom quote twitter on here but someone tweeted that it was American pretense that blamed bread lines in Havana on communism but that simultaneously declared capitalism had no role in the homeless or poverty of a city like Detroit.
It is true that Fidel was a despot. It is equally true that he didn't start out that way. I often wonder if U.S. actions had been different, if the U.S. hadn't tried to invade Cuba with the Bay of Pigs fiasco or if the C.I.A. had stopped itself from literally hundreds of attempts on Castro's life, if he would have been a different leader. The U.S. didn't care about communism or Castro. It cared about the fact that the corrupt business practices of the previous dictator, who did D.C.'s and more importantly U.S. corporations bidding, was longer in place. It was all about the dollar and then it morphed into an issue about a Soviet sphere of influence. Those families who fled to Miami with the fall of the Batista dictatorship, were fleeing because they were part of a corrupt oppressive system themselves. That doesn't get mentioned in the States but there are two sides to every coin. Pun intended.
Fidel will have a mixed historical record. He did do a lot of good things for Cuba with the educational and health systems in place. He also helped several countries gain their independence and he had a profound effect on underground movements around the world including the U.S., especially during the 1970s and 1980s. A couple posts ago, I blogged about Patty Hearst and the SLA. The Cuban Revolution played a role in their thinking as it did with groups like the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground.
The picture above is of Fidel with Che. I suppose the two old comrades are doing some catching up about now. Cuba is a small place. But those two revolutionaries had a major impact on world events and their influence is still being felt. Love them or hate them, that fact can't be denied.
It is a five star movie but to see the personal side of Che, rent 'The Motorcycle Diaries'. Che took a motorcycle trip around South America and intended to be a doctor. The trip changed him and yet it also revealed his bravery in a willingness to treat a leper or risk death to save another. Like I said, there are two sides to every coin.