Death of Fidel Castro elicits mixed emotions

Christine Weeks, Contributing Writer

Ninety-year-old Fidel Castro, former dictator of Cuba, died on Nov. 25. His death, like his time in power, has evoked mixed emotions in Cuba and the world at large. Castro, a Cuban native, led the country from 1959-2008. Castro was in poor health from 2006 until his death.

Castro served as prime minister during his first 47 years leading the country, followed by his later roles as President of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers, as well as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba. It was under Castro’s leadership that Cuba became a one party-socialist state with nationalized businesses and state regulations stemming from socialist ideologies.

Castro’s socialist platform is one of the many reasons that his rule was so controversial. Castro’s leadership served as a driving force behind major events in U.S. history, such as the Bay of Pigs Invasion as well as the Cuban embargo that was recently lifted by President Barack Obama.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of the Castro regime was the abuse and violation of human rights inflicted upon Cuban citizens. His rule subsequently caused mass emigration from Cuba, as many believed they had no choice but to flee.

“As the daughter of a first-generation Cuban American, my initial reaction was a huge sense of relief. I have seen my great grandmother and my grandparents suffer the loss of their homeland while also still reminiscing the beautiful island that once had an incredible deal of culture, wealth, and sophistication,” Paulina Johansson ’19 said.

“The death of Castro is an important symbol for my family and all the exiled Cubans who had their lives brutally ripped away from them. I now have a sense of hope that with Castro’s death and under the leadership of our president-elect, human rights will be re-instituted and respected in the island of Cuba,” Johansson said.

Global reactions to the death of Castro are divided between grief and joy. While some have been awaiting the death of the man who violated the rights of so many, others will mourn the death of their respected leader. Though Castro’s brother, Raúl, currently leads the nation, it is unclear if his influence will be sustained in the future. Nonetheless, it is important to reflect upon Castro’s death and the symbolic notion that his abuses have died along with him.

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