When Fidel Castro died in his sleep at 90 on November 25 in Havana, American news consumers might have been forgiven for thinking he was slain in battle. "Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,"...
The long struggle of Nelson Mandela—from freedom fighter and political prisoner to president of South Africa—has, in death, received universal acclaim from world leaders. Even George H.W. Bush, who was U.S. president when a white racist dictatorship held the...
Ethics has never been a forte of the pro-embargo Cuban-American lobby. But the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC has reached a new low. Capitalizing on South African president Nelson Mandela’s health problems, embargo supporters have constructed a false parallel between the...
“Who is this man Mandela?” The U.S News & World Report asked in January 1990. Apparently no one much knew, since the magazine could only come up with three short paragraphs about the ANC leader. But it was Mandela’s visit to the United States after his release from prison that most highlighted how much America had yet to learn about the anti-apartheid leader.
With a post-Castro Era looming on the horizon, the Obama administration should muster the political will to prepare the United States for February 2018, when neither Fidel nor Raul Castro will remain at the helm of the Cuban state.
A pragmatic approach to foreign policy is by nature flexible, responsive to changes in the target country, clear in its interests and goals, and creative in its implementation. In short, it’s everything the Obama administration’s approach to Cuba isn’t. Just ask Alan Gross.
“When I saw the rockets being fired at Mario’s house, I swore to myself that the Americans would pay dearly for what they are doing. When this war is over a much wider and bigger war will begin for me: The war that I am going to wage against them. I know that this is my real destiny.” Fidel Castro wrote these words in 1958, the decisive year of his guerrilla war against Dictator Fulgencio Batista.
On the list of America’s most-hated leaders, Fidel Castro gets the award for longevity. Outlasting ten U.S. presidents, from Eisenhower through George W. Bush, Castro has managed to maintain his high ranking for over five decades. Though the 84-year-old ex-president of Cuba is unlikely to drop off the list during his lifetime, the persistent image of Cuba as communist dystopia may be on the verge of changing–that is, if the dreams of American big business come true.
Fidel Castro’s official resignation as head of the Cuban state, although expected, was a turning point that has raised major questions concerning Cuba’s future. His younger brother Raúl, who now officially assumed the highest position in the country, had already “temporarily” replaced the commander in chief on July 31, 2006 after Fidel Castro stepped aside due to a serious illness, the nature of which was declared a state secret.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Cubans have lived through a “special period.” This euphemism stood not only for a drastic decline in the standard of living, but for a sharp alteration of social values as well. Soviet aid vanished along with the advantageous trade with the Soviet bloc. As Cuba’s economy went south, the state broke its part of the social contract: it no longer provided Cubans with their material needs of sufficient food and clothing. Basic health care and education remained, albeit cut back. But the government cut rations by more than half and cheap food disappeared. To survive, each Cuban felt himself morphed from the values of communism (sharing) to the values of individualism (dog eat dog).