Reflections on Cuba and Castro

The retirement of Fidel Castro has raised renewed interest in Cuba. Here are some resources that I found that might be of interest.

From the Pew Research Center, the article Global Views on Castro and Cuba, which states:

Fidel Castro ends his long tenure as president of Cuba with international opinion mixed on the question of whether his leadership has been good or bad for his country. While Americans have an overwhelmingly negative view of Castro, attitudes in many Latin American countries are far more favorable to the longtime Cuban leader. The Pew Global Attitudes survey in the spring of 2007, for example, found that pluralities in Bolivia (42%), Brazil (39%), Argentina (39%), and Peru (38%) think Castro has had a positive effect on his country.

Opinion in Canada is also positive towards Castro, with 44% saying that his leadership has been good for Cuba, the highest percentage among the nine countries surveyed about Castro. Even there, however, opinion is mixed, with 36% saying he has been bad for his country.

From Straight Goods the article Cuba's accomplishments likely to be overlooked in media coverage, which states:
With Fidel Castro's resignation, Cuba is poised to move onward and upward, building on what he began. Whether Canada and the United States will do so as well depends on the results of the next election in each country.

In days to come, we can expect to hear media reports casting Castro mostly as a strongman, dictator, revolutionary and nuisance to American presidents. He was all of that, but those were means to an end for Castro. The end was to build a miraculous, egalitarian society on a poor mountainous island with a history of colonialism and slavery, surrounded by enemies.

Other important realities of Castro's Cuba usually go unreported in news coverage. Castro's accomplishments in a poor, post-colonial economy are extraordinary.

* All Cubans have health care and free education up through post-secondary.
* Literacy levels are so high that Cuba has been able to offer doctors to other nations — including the US, after Hurricane Katrina.
* No Cubans starve. There is no homelessness problem.
* After the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba lost its oil supply, it became a world leader in organic agriculture
From CBC-TV: Doc Zone the film Castro, A Life of Revolution the summary of which states:
Now, after ruling Cuba for close to fifty years, Fidel Castro has stepped down. From his childhood in rural Cuba through his fight in the Sierra Maestra to winning the revolution and transforming the country, Fidel Castro: A Life of Revolution presents an account of his life and times that has rarely been heard – the account of Castro himself, taken largely from private letters, correspondence, speeches and interviews.

The documentary concludes with a debate about Castro’s legacy as world opinion now seems divided between those who blame him for executing hundreds, imprisoning thousands and driving hundreds of thousands into exile, and those who credit him with the most influential revolution of the modern era. Exclusive footage of Castro's childhood home and his rebel headquarters in the Sierra Maestra mountains is complimented by classic archival footage, including CBC interviews with Castro when he was the most wanted man in Cuba.

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