Fidel Castro, the fiery author of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader, died Friday. He was 90 years old.
In declining health for several years, he will long be remembered from without for his cigars, his uniforms and his fiery oratory, while being remembered for both a benevolence and despotism that shaped the island nation for over 5 decades.
While not dwelling on a well-documented past, one’s eye must now turn to the future of Cuba and what will come in the weeks, months and years ahead. Much has changed in the past few years, including the unprecedented détente that recently led to a hesitant level of normalization in the relationship between the United States and its neighbor to the south. How will that continue and will it?
How will this new relationship develop with a new President Donald Trump in the White House instead of a President Obama? It has long been felt that Cuba must change and reform in order to survive, but will the recent election of a president whose views are almost diametrically opposed to the current incumbent bring Cuba closer to the United State or push them away, possibly into the arms of its oldest ally, Russia? These questions and more will unfold soon.
Journalists in Cuba reported that the news of Castro’s death was met with shock and sorrow by older Cubans while simultaneously being met with mostly indifference from the younger generation. This is the generation that will eventually lead the island nation and their views, beliefs and political doctrines are not aligned at all with those of many of their elders. They will welcome positive change while older Cubans will view it with suspicion and resistance initially.
One thing is certain though…nothing will quite be the same as it was before and it will be interesting to observe how it all unfolds.