Fidel Castro, 1926-2016
November 25, 2016 11:11 PM   Subscribe

Cuba's former revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro, has died at the age of 90.

Timeline of key events in Castro's life, including his successful overthrow of Cuban military dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959, and his unbroken reign as Prime Minister (1959-1976), then President (1976-2008).
Charismatic Authority and the Leadership of Fidel Castro by Richard R. Fagen, 1965.
Latin American Network Information Center's Castro Speech Database (with transcripts).
An excerpt from Lee Lockwood's 1965 interview in which Castro explains his views on art and literature.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl (228 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think aside from Elizabeth in England, Castro was the longest serving living head of state on the planet.

Even though Cuba has been in the process of changing for a while now, with his death it is truly the end of an era.
posted by hippybear at 11:17 PM on November 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


Wow.

He was good for health and education. Centrally planned economy combined with the embargo was disastrous.

Obama will be invited to the funeral.

Then Trump will reinstate the full embargo. Or not. Who knows with that guy.
posted by adept256 at 11:19 PM on November 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


The world reacts to death of Cuban leader - live updates (from The Guardian)
posted by hippybear at 11:21 PM on November 25, 2016


This almost doesn't seem real, he was such an icon.

Does this mean the 20th century is finally over?

.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 11:29 PM on November 25, 2016 [38 favorites]


I think history has absolved him.
posted by mobunited at 11:30 PM on November 25, 2016 [10 favorites]




He outlasted Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1.0, Clinton, and Bush 2.0. But not Obama.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:34 PM on November 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


I am so sad I don't live next to a large Latin community right now. I want to go out and be with other people who will understand how I feel about this.
posted by corb at 11:38 PM on November 25, 2016 [38 favorites]


Does this mean the 20th century is finally over?

It sort of means that the 19th century is finally over. I truly think the best way to look at Fidel is as the last Garibaldian, in terms of that model of national liberation. (Garibaldi participated in guerrilla resistance movements in Brazil and Uruguay before returning to Italy.)

There was lots and lots to dislike about Fidel. My hope as the sanctions regime slackened was that the first official flight from the US would be full of gay Cuban refugees, because the institutional homophobia of the Castro regime was detestable. That said, if you look at the grand sweep of Latin American history since 1959, and the amount of utter fuckery that the US has inflicted on the region over that time, whether through their own meddling or in response to internal politics, the ability of Fidel (and Raul) Castro to work by their own schedule is pretty remarkable.

Millions of Americans still think that Havana is just a shanty town of shacks because they have no idea what it looks like, though they may have heard about old Chevys. There is such governmentally-imposed ignorance about Cuba in the US. And older Miami Cubans can mostly just fuck right off. Enjoy your party, and then look hard at who you fucking voted for.
posted by holgate at 11:44 PM on November 25, 2016 [74 favorites]


History has definitely not absolved him. His regime murdered tens of thousands of "counter-revolutionaries", impoverished Cuba's middle classes, reduced the standard of living dramatically, operated through fear and violence, and set his country back by 50 years. He did far more harm than good to his people.
posted by Spacelegoman at 11:45 PM on November 25, 2016 [59 favorites]


Per twitter, the cacerolas are out in Miami.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the first Cuban American member of the House, has a statement:

"The day that the people, both inside the island and out, have waited for has arrived: A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western hemisphere,"
posted by corb at 11:47 PM on November 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


The New York Times notes:
He wielded power like a tyrant, controlling every aspect of the island’s existence.... From atop a Cuban Army tank, he directed his country’s defense at the Bay of Pigs.... He personally set the goals for sugar harvests. He personally sent countless men to prison....

His legacy in Cuba and elsewhere has been a mixed record of social progress and abject poverty, of racial equality and political persecution....

But beyond anything else, it was Mr. Castro’s obsession with the United States, and America’s obsession with him, that shaped his rule.... His willingness to allow the Soviets to build missile-launching sites in Cuba led to a harrowing diplomatic standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union in the fall of 1962, one that could have escalated into a nuclear exchange.
Good riddance to this totalitarian dictator. He'll get no moment of silence or "RIP" from me or most Americans.
posted by John Cohen at 11:51 PM on November 25, 2016 [30 favorites]


Good riddance. I made a special trip to a bar despite not feeling great just to drink Cuba Libres to celebrate.

I hope that Obama uses this as an excuse to finish fully normalizing relations with Cuba before Trump takes office. The trade and travel bans only ever hurt the common people and it's been 20+ years since they've made any sense regardless of your ideology. The U.S. government has been clinging to a stupid grudge and I hope they take this as an opportunity to finally let it go without losing face.

And who knows? Maybe our new Great Orange God-King will even support the move once he realizes how much money he could make building casinos there.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:52 PM on November 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


and set his country back by 50 years.

Compared to what, exactly, in the context of what preceded it and what happened around it?

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the first Cuban American member of the House, has a statement:

I bet she does. Does Orlando Bosch have a statement as well?
posted by holgate at 11:53 PM on November 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


[Just as a quick note, let's not turn this into a Trump thread, please. Comments that are more about Trump's future political decisions should probably go in the current election / trump / US politics thread. ]
posted by taz at 11:55 PM on November 25, 2016 [16 favorites]


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posted by edeezy at 11:55 PM on November 25, 2016


Castro meets Mandela. They get along.
posted by adept256 at 11:59 PM on November 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Compared to what, exactly, in the context of what preceded it and what happened around it?

He sent LGBT individuals, priests, and intellectuals to labor camps. There is no context that makes that right.
posted by corb at 12:01 AM on November 26, 2016 [77 favorites]


God, this is the first time in a decade I wish I was back home in Miami, just to hear the pots and pans and see the kind of smiles on old ladies faces you only see in movies.
posted by gideonswann at 12:02 AM on November 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


History has definitely not absolved him. His regime murdered tens of thousands of "counter-revolutionaries", impoverished Cuba's middle classes, reduced the standard of living dramatically, operated through fear and violence, and set his country back by 50 years. He did far more harm than good to his people.

I'm pretty sure the regime that did that to Cuba is the one you're sitting in.
posted by mobunited at 12:13 AM on November 26, 2016 [44 favorites]


But beyond anything else, it was Mr. Castro’s obsession with the United States, and America’s obsession with him, that shaped his rule....

But only his rule. A perfect encapsulation of the rhetoric that teaches teenagers that the government has some bullshit going on with them, and only with them.

I get it though, but the whole US-Cuba thing has been such a dick-waggling contest for my entire life it's just ridiculous and unserious that it went on so long. People suffered, but not due to anything I thought, supported, or was in any position to affect. Seriously, for 30 years it's been all "Cuba sounds interesting, I want to go." Sorry, The Man won't let you because of something that happened another 25 years before that. My parents are old for my generation, and they would have had to go before my mom was 20 in order to see the old famous Cuba. Fuckin' Hatfields and the McCoy's over here, handle your business faster, American Government.
posted by rhizome at 12:21 AM on November 26, 2016 [15 favorites]


He'll get no moment of silence or "RIP" from me or most Americans.

How much of that is because most Americans have no fucking clue what Cuba actually looks like? I'm not being facetious here. Americans have been given free rein to travel and work in most of the actual worst fucking dictatorships on the planet over the past sixty years (and their country has propped up quite a few of them) but Cuba has been a giant "nope nope nope" on the map out of a sense of pique, even as the rest of the world has treated it as a kind of mid-ranking state in the grand spectrum of political iffiness. Woohoo, down with dictators, when does the baseball start?

He sent LGBT individuals, priests, and intellectuals to labor camps. There is no context that makes that right.

No, there isn't. Just as there's no context that makes right the amount of shit done to those people over the past sixty years from Mississippi to Montevideo.

But the assertion to which I was specifically replying was that Castro "set his country back by 50 years." Did Batista? Did Pinochet? Did the Brazilian or Argentian juntas? Did Trujillo or Balaguer? Did the Sandanistas and Contras? Did the Duvaliers? Did George Wallace? The base assumption in that statement is that a Castro-less alternative political history could have led Cuba to become some kind of South South Florida by 2016, or a kind of Spanish-speaking Bahamas, a relatively placid tourist money pit, and all of that seems to me like ever so much handwavy bullshit.
posted by holgate at 12:30 AM on November 26, 2016 [117 favorites]


Cuban-Americans in Miami celebrate the death of murderous dictacor Fidel Castro.
posted by John Cohen at 12:30 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


My hope as the sanctions regime slackened was that the first official flight from the US would be full of gay Cuban refugees, because the institutional homophobia of the Castro regime was detestable.

this is anecdotal and second hand and of course I have no idea what it's actually like to live life as a gay Cuban, but:

I finally got to visit Cuba in January of this year. We went with my partner's parents who are accustomed to... well different forms of tourism than I am, but it did mean we got to do some things I wouldn't normally experience. The topic of homophobia came up twice, once when a local artist was taking us around to other artists' workspaces, and again when we had lunch with a sociology professor. They both said the violence towards gays had all but disappeared and was considered a relic. Open, public displays of affection were still generally frowned upon, but otherwise, say, a gay nightclub was considered fine in a don't ask, don't tell way. Not ideal I know, but, progress.

Cuba in general was probably the most non-violent atmosphere I've ever encountered, including all the places I've lived here in Canada. Just based on a two week experience mind you, mostly Havana & Trinidad with brief stops in Cienfuegos & Santa Clara. But there was simply zero aggression in the air anywhere I went.

oh, and .

Despite everything that came after, any man that sailed a rickety ship with 81 rebels across the ocean, got reduced to just 19 men, and still managed to overthrow a country, gets my respect.

ps. if anyone ever makes it to Trinidad, be sure to hit up the Disco in the Cave! The only nightclub in town, you wander up this tiny dirt road, and it's cut into the side of the hill. Surreal. They play terrible music, but still, Disco! In a Cave!
posted by mannequito at 12:34 AM on November 26, 2016 [18 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the regime that did that to Cuba is the one you're sitting in.
mobunited

You should probably clarify what you meant with your "history has absolved him", then. The US embargo was a disaster, and his regime did have success in health and education, but he also killed or jailed enormous numbers of people and kept his people in a repressive dictatorship. What exactly do you think he's been absolved of?
posted by Sangermaine at 12:36 AM on November 26, 2016 [16 favorites]


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posted by pan at 12:39 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


No one who ran a country devoid of American tourists could be all bad.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:43 AM on November 26, 2016 [38 favorites]


Maybe our new Great Orange God-King will even support the move once he realizes how much money he could make building casinos there.

Leaving aside the Trump aspect of this entirely, I find the celebration of the idea of a mob-connected US crook building casinos in Cuba pretty astonishing, in the context of the history of the Batista regime. The Cuban revolution wasn't the cause of American interference in Cuba, it was the direct consequence of the installation of a brutal US puppet.
posted by howfar at 12:45 AM on November 26, 2016 [41 favorites]


Maybe now I can get a sequel to Juan of the Dead.
posted by gideonswann at 12:48 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Perhaps Luis Posada Carriles will also join the celebrations in Miami, as he's one of the surviving favourites of the Ros-Lehtinens and Diaz-Balarts.
posted by holgate at 12:51 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Of course, almost no one in the world had enlightened views on homosexuality back in the '60s —but let's not gloss over these atrocities:
During the mid 1960s Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba created a system of labor camps euphemistically called “Military Units in Aid of Production,” known better the Spanish acronym UMAP. By this time considerable opposition to the Cuban Revolution had developed and Castro, in order to maintain the stability of his rule, needed a mechanism whereby he could neutralize undesirables.

Internment in a UMAP could be precipitated by any of the following actions: refusing to engage in “volunteer” work on behalf of the Revolution, being homosexual, being a Jehovah’s Witness, being a Seventh Day Adventist, refusing collectivization. Additionally, among those also rounded up and sent to the UMAPs were members of the Catholic and Protestant clergy.

The Interamerican Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) estimated in a report on Cuba that at one point there were 30,000 Cuban citizens interned in the UMAP system.
(Castro later gave a pseudo-apology for his treatment of gays.)
posted by John Cohen at 12:54 AM on November 26, 2016 [17 favorites]


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posted by antiwiggle at 1:04 AM on November 26, 2016


Washington Post: Fidel Castro, Cuban dictator, dies at 90
By Kevin Sullivan and J.Y. Smith


J.Y. Smith, 74; Raised Standards for Post Obituaries
Thursday, January 19, 2006

This is how far in advance obituaries for the famous get written. The guy who wrote Castro's obit himself died over 10 years ago.
posted by scalefree at 1:05 AM on November 26, 2016 [152 favorites]


[One deleted. Folks it would be good to try to keep things from devolving into relatively meaningless pointscoring against whoever feels somewhat differently about Castro and his policies than you do. If we are bringing up Guantanamo, let's keep it more pertinent than "Castro did bad stuff / Yeah well the US does bad stuff (Guantanamo)," for example. Just generally, it would be greatly appreciated if everyone could a) remember that not everything is black and white, and b) people are allowed to have differing viewpoints. ]
posted by taz at 1:14 AM on November 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


You should probably clarify what you meant with your "history has absolved him", then.

mobunited didn't say that, they quoted an earlier post to reference the section alluding to the damage done to Cuba and was suggesting that was the responsibility of the US.

Leaving aside the Trump aspect of this entirely, I find the celebration of the idea of a mob-connected US crook building casinos in Cuba pretty astonishing, in the context of the history of the Batista regime.

Jacqueline wasn't celebrating the idea of Trump building casinos, they were using that as a sarcastic indicator of where future policy around Cuba may go, with Trump's own interests being potentially more important than the Republican's previous embrace of an embargo until Cuba renounced communism.

I'm quoting just to point out this is a contentious topic, so it would go better if everyone took a more generous approach to what they read rather than assuming disagreement going in.

For my part, I don't feel the need to see Castro as hero or villain, since history often doesn't fit simple binaries like that. Castro's reign was in every way affected by US policy and determined by his own will and one can view that from a comparative perspective and measure US or other nation's failings against Cuba's, or just judge it from a distant moral perspective of right and wrong. We'll never know what a Castroless Cuba would have been like during those many years and any presumption we make is going to involve a good deal of projection.

There are certainly histories one can imagine that would have been better for Cuba, and one's that would have been worse. People were imprisoned and died due to Castro's policies and beliefs, people have been imprisoned and died under the belief systems of other countries including the US during that same time. Not perhaps for the same reasons or with the same organization, but reasons that weren't necessarily better or less heinous for being less organized.

Celebrate or mourn as you must, but for me it's just a moment to reflect on the singular history of Fidel Castro and his determination to rule Cuba as he saw fit without allowing the most powerful nation in the world, his neighbor, to intercede, for better and for worse. It's complex and I feel it should be thought of as such rather than simplified into a good vs bad paradigm.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:16 AM on November 26, 2016 [59 favorites]


“I like Fidel Castro and his beard”
(Motorpsycho Nightmare, Bob Dylan, 1964)

Me too.

.
posted by Mister Bijou at 1:19 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


If we are bringing up Guantanamo, let's keep it more pertinent

I mean, it's sort of pertinently ironic that the US used its long (and long-disputed) lease in Cuba to set up an extra-territorial prison camp -- built while Fidel was still in charge -- explicitly as a dodge around the constitution. They couldn't have done it in Japan or Korea or even Diego Garcia where the lease was with a friendly country, because it would have reflected badly on the lessor, but they could do it because the Castro regime had been put in an extra-special naughty corner. It's a late echo of how Cuba under Batista was treated as a "what happens here, stays here" fiefdom by the US, where the state (and the mob) could get away with shit that wasn't allowed in America, keep a degree of control over what was going on, but have no official responsibility for the consequences.

From a US perspective, Fidel was the last tie to a decade of being willing to overthrow governments because a privately-owned fruit company complained. That era ends today. There's probably a 2016 punchline there.
posted by holgate at 1:37 AM on November 26, 2016 [55 favorites]


The powers that be tried to kill him twenty times in 1960+ and he outlived damn near every one of them. Did Kissinger involve himself in a scheme to kill Fidel? If not he may have outlived every single one of them.

They will be having some great parties in Miami but I'm unsure why.

Fidel's survival unto 2016 was living proof the powers that be may not have all the power they are often purported to have. Sanctions past '89 were pure petulance.
posted by bukvich at 1:44 AM on November 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


It's worth noting that in an underdeveloped country under blockade, Fidel still managed to get free healthcare done.
posted by adept256 at 1:50 AM on November 26, 2016 [76 favorites]


One of Castro's major achievements must be how well he's shaped himself as ultimately a good guy in the psyche of many people simply because of his resistance to the USA.

His countless victims deserve this . more than he will never do:

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posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:51 AM on November 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


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posted by ComfySofa at 1:55 AM on November 26, 2016


It was my understanding the tradition of honoring the demise of anyone on MetaFilter with a . was not a matter of deserve or others. As it was, and mostly still is, on Fark, a sad tag is used because we are all mortals.

That said, controversy is essential to freedom. For any with a certitude or beyond-any-doubt assertion, I'm pleased to see your participation in and on a forum where alternatives are given equal "space".

.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 2:02 AM on November 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


He literally outlived his obituary writers.

twitter castro obituary writers
posted by C.A.S. at 2:06 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


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posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 2:13 AM on November 26, 2016


I was in Santiago de Cuba on 26 July in 1998, and by climbing on the back of a milk truck outside a stadium with some binoculars borrowed from a German guy, me and my girlfriend briefly saw Fidel Castro "live" before the security guards chased us off in case we were agents of the CIA (pronounced "the Seeya"). He spoke for 5 more hours, several of which were given over to ritual denunciations of the Seeya, and the carnival couldn't resume till he'd finished, so the applause at the end was heartfelt.

We met a lot of people who were convinced that Fidel had betrayed Che Guevara to the CIA in order to eliminate a potential rival, and food was quite hard to come by in places because of the "periodo especial" of austerity caused by the end of Soviet subsidies. But I've never been to another poor country where everyone was in such good shape. A guy on a long bus ride saw me reading Pale Fire and talked me into giving him my English copy by quoting chunks of the Spanish translation from memory.
posted by Mocata at 2:18 AM on November 26, 2016 [46 favorites]


Someday, my granny's family will get their land back. :{
posted by bendy at 2:50 AM on November 26, 2016


cuba supported my partner's family when few others would, protecting people from pinochet and the usa.

i don't know how you can effectively "score" one country's dead against another. it seems tasteless at best. at worst, that simple-minded reductionism - your side sucks so ... - is itself the ultimate cause of many of those deaths.
posted by andrewcooke at 3:13 AM on November 26, 2016 [31 favorites]


Shepherd woke me briefly to tell me of Castro's passing; I murmured something like, "good," and fell back asleep.

Now that I'm fully awake, he remarked how interesting it is how Americans are taught about Cuba & Castro as compared to Canada. I'd not considered it, TBH.
posted by Kitteh at 3:25 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Fidel Castro is dead at 90, so let me adapt some words I wrote when he retired back in 2008. Doubtless, there will be commentary, particularly from within the United States, that is unbalanced and hostile, and, of course it is true that Castro ran a dictatorship that has, since 1959, committed its fair share of crimes, repressions, and denials of democratic rights. Still, I’m reminded of the historian A.J.P. Taylor writing somewhere or other that what the capitalists and their lackeys really really hated about Soviet Russia was not its tyrannical nature but the fact that there was a whole chunk of the earth’s surface where they were no longer able to operate. The same thing goes Cuba, for a much smaller area, and it hurt them particularly to be excluded from somewhere that plutocrats and mobsters had once enjoyed as their private playground. (Other countries, far more repressive, got a pass from successive US administrations.) So let’s hear it for universal literacy and decent standards of health care. Let’s hear it for the Cubans who help defeat the South Africans and their allies in Angola and thereby prepared the end of apartheid at a time when the United States favoured “constructive engagement” with white supremacy. Let’s hear it for the middle-aged Cuban construction workers who bravely held off the US forces for a while when the US invaded Grenada. Let’s hear it for more than half-a-century of defiance in the face of the US blockade. Hasta la victoria siempre!
Chris Bertram, Castro Is Dead, Crooked Timber (26 November 2016).
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:28 AM on November 26, 2016 [51 favorites]


I guess Castro just couldn't bear to live in a world without Florence Henderson.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 3:55 AM on November 26, 2016 [33 favorites]


Congratulations to the operatives of Operation Mongoose! Slow but steady wins the race.
posted by officer_fred at 4:12 AM on November 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


.

Comparing Cuba with other countries in Central and South America feels very much like it matters far more who is killed/displaced/repressed than how many people are victims. I would never want to minimise the suffering of the Cuban middle classes, opponents to the regime and all the others who have suffered; but their plight is highlighted above others because of disagreement with the regime. Those who suffered under regimes that the USA (and its allies) supported or continues to support? Don't talk about them because they're the collateral in a great capitalist project that just has to be kept going.
posted by Vortisaur at 4:15 AM on November 26, 2016 [29 favorites]


Right: the main difference between Castro and, say, Pinochet is in sponsorship.
posted by kewb at 4:17 AM on November 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


Regardless of his ideology, he killed and imprisoned thousands in its service. He died a traitor to humanity and his country, and far too late.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:22 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


He died a traitor to humanity and his country, and far too late.

This "traitor to humanity" who had a key role in overthrowing the apartheid regime of South Africa...

Fidel Castro and the Cuban Role in Defeating Apartheid

Soon after his release from prison, Mandela visited Fidel in Havana and this is what he, Mandela, said (YT)
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:38 AM on November 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


Fidel's legacy might well be that of universal literacy and the astounding cuban medical contingent who work far and wide normally in very adverse conditions bringing relief to people whose governments have failed them. The petty spite of USA against their near neighbour is just a small indication of that country's psyche.
posted by adamvasco at 4:44 AM on November 26, 2016 [46 favorites]


Takeaways: Longevity defines success. If you don't accept a handshake from a near by neighbor; they might reach out to your far away enemy. Never sold his country out - at any time; Fidel could have banked, and rolled on with -zero- regard for his country or citizenry. Kept a country from being overran with insane industrialization and late 20th / early 21st century pollution - OMG; begin the mass deforestization and paving now/ASAP; as if the world must now step in and 'modernize' another independent country.

Fidel outlived and outlasted dozens if not hundreds of national and state level political nay-sayers. I hope that 20 years from now; Cuba is *not* some God foresaken example of another doomed post-modernization throwback culture; complete with traffic jams, a near illiterate 'public' school system, rife with the disposable crap that defines most products being sold; and so lit up at night that the sky is no longer visable. Expect the first Wal-Mart in a few years; and at some point in time I'll take a draw on a 'genuine' Cuban cigar and abrubtly hack it out.

Fidel did some damage (again, relative to scale; not really/none at all in light of so many other modern wars/political upheavals); but the guy held Cuba to a preserved success that he made happen. Time will more than likely miss Fidel, if not for what he did; for all the things he didn't do.
posted by buzzman at 5:41 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Seriously though, I thought he died in 2004. Am I a conspiracy wingnut now?
posted by gronkpan at 5:41 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Castro was a revolutionary, a hero, and a political genius. He survived over 600 assassination attempts and managed to keep Cuba afloat despite a brutal, terroristic campaign orchestrated by the United States. He had more balls and vision for a good society than all of our technocratic, conformist leaders in the West (Obama, Merkel, Cameron) combined. When I visited Cuba, I was not blind to the secret police, the climate of paranoia, the lack of "capitalist modernization". I was also aware of the lack of homelessness, starvation, and high level of literacy and pride amongst the people. I can only compare that to the country I was born in, India, with its shocking infant malnutrition or the country I work in, the USA, with its obscene military budget and immoral wars, drone strikes, and parasitic financial industry.

A giant has passed. Viva Cuba y Viva la Revolución!
posted by bodywithoutorgans at 5:52 AM on November 26, 2016 [45 favorites]


It'd be nice if whatever replaces Los Bros Castro isn't a throwback to Batista's regime, but combining South Florida swing vote power still being controlled by Batista supporters, old and young(ish), with Trump's literal connection to the same Atlantic City tycoons who ran amok in 1950's Cuba, it's hard to foresee anything else happening.
posted by thecjm at 5:55 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Was binge-watching The Crown last night.

Woke up to find out about a royal succession.
posted by ocschwar at 6:02 AM on November 26, 2016


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posted by Bringer Tom at 6:12 AM on November 26, 2016


I think there are only a few still alive and living there, but I wonder what will happen to the remaining foreign fugitives who found refuge in Cuba.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 AM on November 26, 2016


Close but no cigar: how America failed to kill Fidel Castro

Congratulations to that headline writer. Bet they've been sitting on that one for a while.
posted by Artw at 6:15 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


55 years of US policy couldn't do Fidel in. Only 2016 had that kind of power.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:22 AM on November 26, 2016 [34 favorites]


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posted by adamgreenfield at 6:25 AM on November 26, 2016


You can have this one, 2016.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:29 AM on November 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


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posted by Unioncat at 6:31 AM on November 26, 2016


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posted by strawdog at 7:12 AM on November 26, 2016


A mixed legacy, to be sure, but no less a giant for it. A man both created and imprisoned by the dominant forces of the status quo, a man who fought accepted dogma, and sometimes won, sometimes lost. I don't know which side of the ledger Fidel will ultimately fall on, but it certainly is important that people like him exist, to challenge what is thought to be beyond reproach, and to question if we are on the right path after all.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:15 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


Fidel Castro was an interesting, complicated figure. It's a shame that the much of the West had unfairly demonized him, especially in comparison to other, far worse rulers in the Caribbean and Latin America - you know, the ones that the West either supported or had installed. Castro's Cuba made real accomplishments when it came to material comfort and security for most of its citizens. Castro fought tooth and nail to create a better Cuba, a Cuba free from the pernicious influence next door, and certainly free from anything like what Batista had been.

(Instead, he had curried favor with that big red benefactor which had once stretched across Eurasia...which, to be fair, if I had been Castro, I would have done literally the same thing...but then again, it's no accident that Cuba's lot plummeted with the collapse of the USSR.)

On the other hand, it's also a shame that some people insist on unfairly lionizing him and his regime, ignoring the fact that its systematic, ongoing human rights abuses are not a thing of the past - at least, not according to Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, Freedom House, etc. BUT WHAT DO THEY KNOW, HUH!?!?!? I TOOK A TRIP TO HAVANA ONCE

It's weird, seeing the mirror image neocons: yeah, he was a dictator, but he was *our* dictator, so that's cool, right? Not really, but okay. He survived so many assassination attempts, how badass! Who cares? Many shitty people avoid a thousand deaths, and many good people are taken out with one shot. I can tell you exciting stories about actually-evil people who survive attempts on their lives, I don't think that you'd find those stories badass in the same way.

...

A co-worker of mine took a trip to Cuba a few weeks ago. He loved it, he said it was fascinating, the people are of course some of the friendliest people you'll meet. But he also said that the relative poverty was palpable, and most importantly, from his conversations with various random people - you know, actual Cubans-in-Cuba, people are not posting in this thread - that people were anxious in general to move on. Real (and reality-based) fear that Cuba will turn into something bad, to be sure, but also excitement that things will finally improve in other ways.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:17 AM on November 26, 2016 [26 favorites]


Fidel Castro: Jeremy Corbyn praises 'huge figure'
Mr Corbyn, a long-time supporter of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign - which campaigns against the blockade on, and foreign intervention in, Cuba - described Castro as a "huge figure of modern history, national independence and 20th century socialism".

He said: "From building a world-class health and education system, to Cuba's record of international solidarity abroad, Castro's achievements were many.

"For all his flaws, Castro's support for Angola played a crucial role in bringing an end to apartheid in South Africa and he will be remembered both as an internationalist and a champion of social justice."
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 7:17 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


.
posted by box at 7:18 AM on November 26, 2016


From a US perspective, Fidel was the last tie to a decade of being willing to overthrow governments because a privately-owned fruit company complained.

Only a decade? The Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown by and for the Dole family...
posted by tobascodagama at 7:22 AM on November 26, 2016 [18 favorites]


I am critical of many things Castro did and the many mistakes he made. But the man was a revolutionary and a titan of history from a small island nation. Fidel Castro, ¡presente!
posted by graymouser at 7:24 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


.
posted by lalochezia at 7:27 AM on November 26, 2016


I'm not seeing any coverage of how average Cubans in Cuba feel about this. I realize Cuba itself doesn't have a free press, but I'm surprised foreign journalists in Cuba aren't reporting on it. Has anyone seen articles on the non-official Cuban reaction?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:33 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Does this mean the 20th century is finally over?

"On March 2, 1901, the Platt Amendment was passed as part of the 1901 Army Appropriations Bill.[1] It stipulated seven conditions for the withdrawal of United States troops remaining in Cuba at the end of the Spanish–American War, and an eighth condition that Cuba sign a treaty accepting these seven conditions. It defined the terms of Cuban–U.S. relations to essentially be an unequal one of U.S. dominance over Cuba."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platt_Amendment

it was only last month that I did some wikipedia pseudo-research, learning how the USA came to acquire Cuba -- as a client state, not an outright acquisition like Hawaii, Guam, and PR -- in the first place.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:35 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I realize Cuba itself doesn't have a free press, but I'm surprised foreign journalists in Cuba aren't reporting on it.

CBS has an interesting update.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:37 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Shepherd woke me briefly to tell me of Castro's passing; I murmured something like, "good," and fell back asleep.

Now that I'm fully awake, he remarked how interesting it is how Americans are taught about Cuba & Castro as compared to Canada. I'd not considered it, TBH.


Yeah, it's been interesting watching the American/Canadian reactions. We talked a bit about it on our radio show this morning... Kitteh is about as left-leaning and question-authority as they come, but we're realizing has been very successfully propagandized over her entire life on this specific subject.

I can't speak for all Canadians, and I'm not a scholar of the region or geopolitics in general, but I think most Canadians of my generation (>45) have a general feeling of Castro as a mixed bag of good and bad, but also with the very Canadian sense of respect for anyone who stares the U.S. in the face and tells it to screw off.

We have a long and complicated history of being bullied by our neighbour to the south, so I think there's somewhat of a common Canadian thread of respect for Castro/Cuba for just the sheer temerity of being a little country that spent over half a century telling America to take a long walk off a short pier.
posted by Shepherd at 7:38 AM on November 26, 2016 [32 favorites]


Has anyone seen articles on the non-official Cuban reaction?

I just recently read this one in the New York Times.
It's broader than just the non-official Cuban reaction, but it includes some direct quotes.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:39 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Fidel Castro was the poster boy for being a mixed bag of good and bad. The suspicious reactions are the ones that are overly positive or negative, treating Cuba as a symbol and not a real place.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:41 AM on November 26, 2016 [15 favorites]


Socialized medicine is great. Public education is great. Those things can be great without saying that Castro was anything but a poor excuse for a human being. It's like saying, proverbially, that at least Mussolini made the trains run on time--look, if you throw money at infrastructure, making the trains run at least roughly on time is a solvable problem no matter what your country's government looks like. You don't have to be a fascist to have a transit system. You don't have to seriously violate human rights repeatedly in order to have a decent health care and education system. Other countries have in fact managed it while still maintaining a decent record on human rights. Offering people literacy without freedom of speech--how much have you really given them?

I think the US government has hated the Cuban government for all the wrong reasons, that doesn't mean Castro did well and was an okay guy. Cuba's made some substantial improvements in a number of areas in recent years, but as with the US, a failure to actually address the wrongs of prior generations does not make them go away. And there's still plenty wrong, there. I'm not inclined to follow the US government on how I should think about Cuba, but I am more inclined to trust Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders.
posted by Sequence at 7:44 AM on November 26, 2016 [21 favorites]


I lived in Kendall, Fl, just outside Miami for two years and hated it. But, boy do I wish I was there now.
posted by jonmc at 7:45 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Kitteh: Now that I'm fully awake, he remarked how interesting it is how Americans are taught about Cuba & Castro as compared to Canada. I'd not considered it, TBH.

Yeah, that is definitely a big divide with Canada. read the prime minister's statement to get a sense of that.
The Trudeau's and Castro had a long and friendly relationship.

Not only did Castro come to Pierre Trudeau's funeral, he was an honorary pall bearer... along with Jimmy Carter.
posted by chapps at 7:46 AM on November 26, 2016 [15 favorites]


.
posted by lester at 7:46 AM on November 26, 2016


Castro was an example of what differentiates Communism from vanilla democratic socialism -- the rise of single-party, dictatorial state.

Majoritarian democracy is a pretty low bar, if you can't get 50% of the population on your side you're really doing something wrong. Then again, with democracy comes factionalism and us/them politics, like what we've been enjoying in the US off & on since the early days.

As our third greatest living former president said, "If this were a dictatorship it would be a heck of a lot easier... as long as I'm the dictator. Hehehe.”"
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:50 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


walked past the cuban embassy on the way to market. at 11am there was already quite a crowd, with flags, playing son cubano. there's a real (although by no means unanimous) sense that chile lost a friend.
posted by andrewcooke at 7:50 AM on November 26, 2016




.
posted by allthinky at 7:52 AM on November 26, 2016


Not only did Castro come to Pierre Trudeau's funeral, he was an honorary pall bearer... along with Jimmy Carter.

See also: the turnout for Tito's funeral

FWIW I grew up in a Rockefeller Republican area of the Rust Belt. My public school education covered Batista/Castro with perhaps-surprising fairness, with Castro was the example of why people would rationally not side with the US. Relatedly, the embargo was very unpopular in the US, it had been for a while.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:52 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't know how to feel about this. I used to be obsessed with Cuba and romanticized it's history. I admired that it stood up to the US and did its own thing. But the more I read the more I realized that it wasn't all good. And that for whatever it gained came at the expense of its most vulnerable people. Of course.

The US government was so strongly against Cuba and other dictatorships. Many of the people celebrating his death because Yay democracy just voted someone in who will more than likely be worse for us.

.
posted by mokeydraws at 8:08 AM on November 26, 2016


.
totally thought he was dead all ready. Seems he was never mentioned when Obama was opening up US Cuban relations.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:11 AM on November 26, 2016


Seeing the unrequited love for a shitty dictator in this thread from people who might not even exist if he'd been the guy with the finger on the button, without the Soviets there to tell him to stop being a fucking idiot, is indeed a bit fascinating.
  In your cable of 27 October you proposed that we carry out a nuclear first strike against the enemy territory. You, of course, understand what that would lead to. This would not be a simple attack, but rather the beginning of a thermonuclear world war.
  Dear Comrade Fidel Castro, I believe your proposal to have been wrong, although I understand its motivation.
  We have lived through the most serious moment, in which a thermonuclear world war might have broken out. Clearly, in that case the US would have suffered enormous losses, but the Soviet Union and the entire Socialist camp would also have suffered terribly. -- Khrushchev 10/30/1962
posted by effbot at 8:40 AM on November 26, 2016 [19 favorites]


I will remember him as someone who used the promise and hope of democracy and freedom from a brutal regime, and the honest but misguided beliefs of those who put faith in communism, to accrue personal power. Someone who brutally turned on and murdered those who fought alongside him for freedom (and many others). Someone who was, in the best case scenario, corrupted by power, or, in the worst case scenario, a liar from the start. Someone who chose himself always, over his country and his fellow Cubans.

Just because many of the people who fought him or sought to unseat him were also wrong doesn't make him right. To me Batista and Castro are both dirt, Trujillo and Castro are both dirt, Hoover and Castro are both dirt.

Today I'll be thinking of my family friend who came to America as a 12 year old refugee from Castro's regime in 1960 and how she still cries thinking of Cuba.
posted by sallybrown at 8:43 AM on November 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have visited Cuba, and I did not like it. The suppression was like a thick poisonous gas over everything everywhere. Like a tropical East Germany (East Germany was the worst place in the Eastern Block after Albania and Rumania, and they were crazy dictatorships). The other place I have visited that was similarly horrible is Syria. I'm not a naive admirer of Castro. I hate the whole cult of personality thing.
That said, Castro's paranoia was legitimate: the US was trying to kill him all the time. The blockade made it impossible to build agriculture and industry after 1989. And even though the Cuban diaspora are largely middle-class, there are also a large group of gangsters and deliberately evil landowners among them. Batista's regime was incredibly corrupt and the 90% were living in abject poverty. Unlike so many other revolutionary dictators, Castro delivered. Those 90% saw vast improvements in every single aspect of their lives. When I was there, tourism was growing, and creating a new moneyed class of people who worked as guides, cooks, waiters, taxi drivers, etc.. Still, most people I met honored and respected Castro for bringing their families out of squalor. (Strangely, I met a lot of people who thought I was Cuban. This makes no sense because I am pale as snow. But I do have dark hair and I am short and I go out of the main routes). People who were neither in the tourist industry or among the party-elders were poor, worried and scared, and not communist. But they were convinced that they would have been worse off without Castro. Which is probably true if you compare with how the 90 % are doing everywhere else in Latin America.
Also, as part of my job, I visited a person at the very top of the revolution at their home, and they were living in a very modest home which showed no sign whatsoever of corruption.

Part of my family is Mexican. This is a strange democracy, where thousands are killed for political reasons and other thousands are killed because of crime. Yet it doesn't at all inspire the hatred that Cuba does. Millions of Americans holiday in Mexico.

I'm not defending Castro, because I really hate the oppression in Cuba. But I will give him a moment of thought. He achieved more than most men.

.
posted by mumimor at 8:44 AM on November 26, 2016 [34 favorites]


Back in the nineties, as part of the Miami Book Fair, a table of experts including McNamara discussed the Cuban Missle Crisis in light of the downfall of the USSR and recently released Soviet documents. Cuba had over a hundred missiles, not just the several we spied. And Castro wanted to launch them, which absolutely terrified Russia.

Another anecdote provides a Miami antiCastro perspective. In the early 90s a radio psychic predicted Castro would not die in the coming year. He was assassinated.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:49 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


The US government was so strongly against Cuba and other dictatorships*

* Offer not valid if ruled by François Duvalier, Rafael Trujillo, Anastazio Somoza, Mobutu Sese Seko, Suharto, Augusto Pinochet, Carlos Castillo Armas, or the Al Saud family.

The thing that everyone should find weird about America's screaming fantods about Cuba in the post-Cold War period is that the U.S. has had an active military base ON THE ISLAND SINCE 1903 (well, it was coaling station first, now it's used to send people down a black hole of torture and indefinite detention).

But before people get too carried away romanticizing Castro, here's some reading:

Human Rights Watch World Report 2016: Cuba

Amnesty International: Cuba 2015/2016
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


Fidel Castro's passing is the turning of a page. He hasn't been in power for several years, but his mere existence was a lightning rod, as this thread shows.

Hopefully, his passing will facilitate some beneficial change. Maybe the US will find this enough of an excuse to continue normalizing relations, and the Cuban regime will take the opportunity to let the revolution move into a new phase that is less repressive.

.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:58 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not every story need needs a protagonist, this one included. Between the US, Cuba and the USSR there are no good guys. That's OK.

But it's also not true that any bad actor is uniformly, cartoonishly bad. One can be honest and rational about these men and their legacies without having to perform public rituals of love or hate.
posted by klanawa at 9:01 AM on November 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


For those David Grann fans out there, he wrote a great piece on William Alexander Morgan, the "Yankee comandante" in Castro's revolution (spoiler alert: Morgan was one of the many people Castro executed after taking power).
posted by sallybrown at 9:04 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Other countries have in fact managed it while still maintaining a decent record on human rights.

Context, though: based on the past half-century what does it take for a Caribbean nation to have a relatively decent and equitable economy alongside a stable and pluralistic political climate? The somewhat bleak answers include "be a colony until pretty late (or still be one)", "have a tiny population and serve as a tax haven for the world's dodgy kajillionaires", and "run lots of things for the benefit of tourists". Perhaps there's a counterfactual scenario where the last 60 years of Cuban history are more like those of Jamaica or Puerto Rico (both of which have their own serious problems) but there are surely more scenarios that resemble the Dominican Republic or Haiti. Even broadening the map to the continent, there are very few oases of peace and relative prosperity in the region.
posted by holgate at 9:06 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


.

Now Don Was will need a new partner for his KFC shops.
posted by delfin at 9:07 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]



Context, though: based on the past half-century what does it take for a Caribbean nation to have a relatively decent and equitable economy alongside a stable and pluralistic political climate?


Ahem.

Costa Rica.

Leftist. Democratic. Liberal. As much of a welfare state as a banana exporting country can afford to maintain. Stable. Generally critical of the United States.

Good riddance to Fidel Castro.
posted by ocschwar at 9:15 AM on November 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


There are a lot of people talking about Fidel Castro right now on the Internet. How many of those people are in Cuba?
posted by oceanjesse at 9:19 AM on November 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


My first trip to Cuba was arranged in 2014. That trip happened January 2015. And in doing so I became the first US American educator to teach in Havana schools in 50 years I returned in June, the course I taught of all things was astronautics. I now have been back–and taught class–another four times, for a total of six trips to Cuba in two years. (My being based in Key West where la Habana is closer than Miami makes this a more accessible trip.)

I say all that to say this: Of all things I am grateful for being a native Floridian and having been able to travel to Cuba before the embargo was lifted (right before) and while Fidel Castro was still alive is one for the books.

Cuba has my entire life been "a stone's throw" out of reach. It's essentially 90 miles from the shores of Key West. 90 miles! And yet it was like Shangri-la, a forbidden land.

Arriving in Cuba then for me was like opening some cordoned off part of my own consciousness. And to be perfectly honest it made me a more whole person.

But this is about "Uncle Fidel". Again, being from Florida, Fidel Castro is monumental figure. His presence here is mythological. He is a political giant of legend. For all of us in Florida, Fidel Castro was the living real opposite of Mickey Mouse. And for Florida, Mickey Mouse, along with orange juice, NASA, and salt water beaches, is everything. Castro brought Cuba to the stature of the most great icons in our cultural economy.

Seeing Fidel Castro's visage throughout Havana and Cuba as I traveled–along with Che and José Martî–gave the place a Narnia-like quality. Here was a living figure deified alongside other iconic figures of revolution. Here was a living relic of something called the Revolution. And in Cuba was to be found the spoils.

As I said, I give thanks for having witnessed the last, final moments of that epoch, the Revolution. What happens now is anyone's guess. They celebrate like fat cats in Miami. But in Cuba no one cheers. I called and called so many last night. It is the picture of sadness there. "It is day-night," a friend said. He meant this as code. He meant no one thinks aloud.

This year in Cuba I happened to be at a birthday party for Raul Castro. It was a well-attended, quiet event. Raul came. He drove by in a chauffeured car and waved. And as he passed by, we all stood there and ate his cake.
posted by Mike Mongo at 9:20 AM on November 26, 2016 [32 favorites]


Nestor Alamendros will be waiting for Castro in the afterlife.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:23 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Too little too late, 2016.
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 9:28 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I find the celebration of the idea of a mob-connected US crook building casinos in Cuba pretty astonishing, in the context of the history of the Batista regime.

That part of my comment wasn't a "celebration," it was a snarky deliberate reference to the Batista regime and history's tendency to repeat itself.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:32 AM on November 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


"Costa Rica." ... "As much of a welfare state as a banana microchip exporting country can afford to maintain."

FTFY
posted by Jacqueline at 9:34 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ahem. Costa Rica.

Yeah, filed under "very few oases". Abolishing the army proved a good way to avoid military dictatorships, as long as you keep Big Banana happy.
posted by holgate at 9:40 AM on November 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


At the time of the Elian Gonzalez incident a part-Cuban woman told me that her cousin told her that he'd rather be in Havana than Miami's Calle Ocho.

Alice Walker supported him despite his record wrt lgbts. At a reading I attended in the 90s she claimed that cuban hiv+ people in sanatoriums had 1st priority for meat.

I just heard on NPR that sex work didn't stop with communism.
posted by brujita at 9:46 AM on November 26, 2016


Costa Rica also gets 90% of it's electricity from renewables. You, too, should be humble at what they've achieved.
posted by adept256 at 9:47 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


We have a long and complicated history of being bullied by our neighbour to the south, so I think there's somewhat of a common Canadian thread of respect for Castro/Cuba for just the sheer temerity of being a little country that spent over half a century telling America to take a long walk off a short pier.

We're not intentionally bullying you, we're just aggressively demonstrating our affection like an older brother giving you noogies.

When ISIS threatened Canada a few years ago, I remember that pissing Americans off WAY more than any of the threats ISIS had previously made against the US. There'd been a sort of resigned "yeah we probably deserve the hate" reaction to the latter, but Canada? NO ONE FUCKS WITH OUR HAT.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'd love for someone knowledgeable to make a Costa Rica post. How did they avoid the problems we've seen in nearly every other Latin American country?
posted by mumimor at 9:51 AM on November 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:59 AM on November 26, 2016


I'd love for someone knowledgeable to make a Costa Rica post. How did they avoid the problems we've seen in nearly every other Latin American country?

Oh hey maybe I should do that sometime. Nearly every research paper I did in college was about some aspect of Costa Rica, I lived there for a year, and contributed to a couple of guidebooks for people seeking to expatriate to Costa Rica. But that was 10+ years ago and I have no idea when I'll find the time to do it justice in a FPP.

Short answer: Costa Rica abolished their military in 1947, put all the money other countries waste on military spending into developing their human capital instead, and deliberately moved their economy away from agriculture and resource extraction to ecotourism first followed by a tech industry second. When Intel built their chip plant in 1998, Costa Rica's #1 industry changed from tourism to microchip exports overnight and the rest of the tech industry developed around that anchor. All of this is facilitated by the strong focus on human capital development -- everyone learns English in school, so all sorts of North American companies find it very easy to outsource all sorts of work there.

It's not a paradise, though. The few indigenous people left (disease wiped almost all of them out, so much that modern Costa Ricans are predominantly white and of Spanish descent) live in absolute squalor out in the jungles. Additionally, roughly 20-25% of the people living in the country are not Costa Rican but instead are Nicaraguan economic refugees. Basically Nicaragua is to Costa Rica what Mexico is to the southwestern US. Since Nicaraguans tend to be darker skinned than Costa Ricans and not as well educated, blatant racism and classism are pretty rampant in society.

Bringing it back to the topic at hand, a ton of upper-class Cuban refugees settled in Costa Rica as well. Whatever wealth and connections they were able to bring with them were invested into the country's economy. So that infusion of outside entrepreneurial talent helped too.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2016 [26 favorites]


I think aside from Elizabeth in England, Castro was the longest serving living head of state on the planet. -> List. The King of Thailand had reigned for even longer than Elizabeth, but he too passed away a few weeks ago.
posted by plep at 10:06 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


My Latin American studies class was told that CR never had much of an indigenous population....even when the Spanish 1st arrived.
posted by brujita at 10:14 AM on November 26, 2016


Seeing the unrequited love for a shitty dictator in this thread from people who might not even exist if he'd been the guy with the finger on the button, without the Soviets there to tell him to stop being a fucking idiot, is indeed a bit fascinating.

I was so frustrated last night at the bizarre love American leftists have for Castro, that I wound up talking to a friend about it. She pointed out that American leftists got a simplified story and so it looked very much like the American revolution, which they have been taught to lionize - that Americans don't have a lot of room in the psyche for "everything is terrible and nothing is good".

From a Latin perspective, I grew up knowing that anyone who wanted power would be terrible in one way or another, and that no matter how starry eyed they started, they would become brutal through the course of their reign.

Castro talked a great game about freedom and then set up a family dictatorship.
He promised a better life for the people and sent anyone who liked the old government - a government that itself had started as a rebellion, with progressive principles, creating the 1940 Constitution before being corrupted - to a firing squad.
He denied freedom of expression, movement, assembly, the press, religion. And he punished "violations" of this with machine guns.
posted by corb at 10:15 AM on November 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


Takeaways: Longevity defines success.

But also a kind of failure. It's a reminder of how profoundly different the political climate of the mid-50s was, in spite of the nostalgic chrome-plated yearning of American Boomers on display this year: Hollywood blacklists, HUAC and McCarthy hearings, massive amounts of CIA interference in the western hemisphere, atomic tests as tourist attractions. Family-based rule tied to a specific set of historical experiences and grievances ultimately provides no solid legacy. (Though you could say the same about parts of south Florida.)
posted by holgate at 10:18 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cuba had over a hundred missiles, not just the several we spied. And Castro wanted to launch them

. . . if the US re-invaded Cuba I assume -- socialismo o muerte!
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:19 AM on November 26, 2016


I was so frustrated last night at the bizarre love American leftists have for Castro

some, most, but not all as you imply here.
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 10:20 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


some, most, but not all as you imply here.

So sorry! You are entirely right and I didn't realize I'd implied that. Many American leftists are aware of his Amnesty International report card, etc. I was mostly thinking of the subset of American leftists who are getting in fights with Latin Americans all over the Internet.
posted by corb at 10:25 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


The CIA tries 638 ways to kill Castro and he dies of old age. Now that's what I call a health care system.
posted by flabdablet at 10:32 AM on November 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


Castro talked a great game about freedom and then set up a family dictatorship.
He promised a better life for the people and sent anyone who liked the old government - a government that itself had started as a rebellion, with progressive principles, creating the 1940 Constitution before being corrupted - to a firing squad.
He denied freedom of expression, movement, assembly, the press, religion. And he punished "violations" of this with machine guns.


Yeah, only American-backed dictators get to do all that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:37 AM on November 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


My Latin American studies class was told that CR never had much of an indigenous population....even when the Spanish 1st arrived.

I'm not sure if that's true for when the Spanish first arrived in the New World, but it may have been true by the time the Spanish started settling Costa Rica in earnest. The Spaniards didn't settle the Central Valley (the modern-date population center of Costa Rica) until the 1700s, which meant contagious diseases had already had ~200 years to spread amongst the indigenous population. IIRC, the various native groups (there was no unified empire in Costa Rica) that did survive did so by retreating into the deep jungles and more difficult mountainous regions where the Spaniards wouldn't go.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:39 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'd prefer more honest assessments of Fidel that didn't pretend that the United States has no grievous human rights violations that Amnesty, the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch, among others, are happy to tell you about.

In the meantime, . for the passing of a figure who certainly left an imprint on the 20th century, and for all that failed optimism.
posted by TwoStride at 10:49 AM on November 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


One of my professors in college had been a lawyer in 1950s Cuba. You couldn't mention Castro to her. 50 years later and she was still spitting mad.

The weirdest part was her major area of research was Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Gabo of course was a longtime beloved friend of Castro's. Couldn't mention that to her, either. She's still alive and still teaching--I just checked--and I bet she's very, very drunk right now. Felicidades, profa.
posted by librarylis at 10:58 AM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


.

I will not share my thoughts and feelings with you in this thread.
posted by infini at 11:01 AM on November 26, 2016


This must be that "both sides do it" that I've heard so much about.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:02 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


He was good for health

his regime did have success in health

Fidel still managed to get free healthcare done.

So let’s hear it for ... decent standards of health care.


I'm sorry, but you've been had:
To be sure, there is excellent health care on Cuba — just not for ordinary Cubans. Dr. Jaime Suchlicki of the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies explains that there is not just one system, or even two: There are three.

The first is for foreigners who come to Cuba specifically for medical care. This is known as “medical tourism.” The tourists pay in hard currency, which provides oxygen to the regime. And the facilities in which they are treated are First World: clean, well supplied, state-of-the-art....

Remember, too, that there are many separate, or segregated, facilities on Cuba. People speak of “tourism apartheid.” For example, there are separate hotels, separate beaches, separate restaurants — separate everything. As you can well imagine, this causes widespread resentment in the general population.

The second health-care system is for Cuban elites — the Party, the military, official artists and writers, and so on.... And their system, like the one for medical tourists, is top-notch.

Then there is the real Cuban system, the one that ordinary people must use — and it is wretched. Testimony and documentation on the subject are vast. Hospitals and clinics are crumbling. Conditions are so unsanitary, patients may be better off at home, whatever home is. If they do have to go to the hospital, they must bring their own bedsheets, soap, towels, food, light bulbs — even toilet paper. And basic medications are scarce.

In [the Michael Moore documentary] Sicko, even sophisticated medications are plentiful and cheap. In the real Cuba, finding an aspirin can be a chore. And an antibiotic will fetch a fortune on the black market.

A nurse spoke to Isabel Vincent of Canada’s National Post. “We have nothing,” said the nurse. “I haven’t seen aspirin in a Cuban store here for more than a year. If you have any pills in your purse, I’ll take them. Even if they have passed their expiry date.”

The equipment that doctors have to work with is either antiquated or nonexistent. Doctors have been known to reuse latex gloves — there is no choice. When they travel to the island, on errands of mercy, American doctors make sure to take as much equipment and as many supplies as they can carry. One told the Associated Press, “The [Cuban] doctors are pretty well trained, but they have nothing to work with. It’s like operating with knives and spoons.” ...

So deplorable is the state of health care in Cuba that old-fashioned diseases are back with a vengeance. These include tuberculosis, leprosy, and typhoid fever. And dengue, another fever, is a particular menace. Indeed, an exiled doctor named Dessy Mendoza Rivero — a former political prisoner and a spectacularly brave man — wrote a book called ¡Dengue! La Epidemia Secreta de Fidel Castro.

When Castro seized power, almost 50 years ago, Cuba was one of the most advanced countries in Latin America. Its infant-mortality rate was the 13th-lowest in all the world, ahead of even France, Belgium, and West Germany. Statistics in Castro’s Cuba are hard to come by, because honest statistics in any totalitarian society are hard to come by. Some kind of accounting is possible, however: Cuba has slipped in infant mortality, as it has in every other area (except repression).

But its infant-mortality rate remains respectable.... The regime is very keen on keeping infant mortality down, knowing that the world looks to this statistic as an indicator of the general health of a country. Cuban doctors are instructed to pay particular attention to prenatal and infant care. A woman’s pregnancy is closely monitored. (The regime manages to make the necessary equipment available.) And if there is any sign of abnormality, any reason for concern — the pregnancy is “interrupted.” That is the going euphemism for abortion.
posted by John Cohen at 11:11 AM on November 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:14 AM on November 26, 2016


At the time of the Elian Gonzalez incident a part-Cuban woman told me that her cousin told her that he'd rather be in Havana than Miami's Calle Ocho.

I can't speak for that cousin, but 45,000+ people a year risk everything to come from Cuba to the US. Doesn't make Calle Ocho any better, but it doesn't make Cuba any better, either.

Cuba is a real place, containing real people - it does not exist as a comparison to the US, or as a symbol of this or that. Castro resisted, Castro built, in some ways he succeeded admirably, in other ways, he failed horribly. Such is life.

I'd prefer more honest assessments of Fidel that didn't pretend that the United States has no grievous human rights violations that Amnesty, the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch, among others, are happy to tell you about.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are quite happy to provide honest assessments of Cuba, under either Castro, as well as honest assessments of the United States. Guess what it's like when you compare the two! I say that as somebody who is in other ways sympathetic to Cuba's situation, to Castro's often-justifiable paranoia, etc.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:17 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


WHO statistics on Cuba
posted by mumimor at 11:20 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, but you've been had:

I'd have to see this from someone other than Jay Nordlinger in the National Review before I start giving it any real consideration.
posted by slkinsey at 11:20 AM on November 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


John Cohen has it 100% correct. (Try to find an anti-diarrheal or any simple medication most anywhere in Cuba but the black market. It genuinely cannot be done.)
posted by Mike Mongo at 11:26 AM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Seriously though, I thought he died in 2004. Am I a conspiracy wingnut now?

Depends: is it Berenstain or Berenstein?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:28 AM on November 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'd prefer more honest assessments of Fidel that didn't pretend that the United States has no grievous human rights violations that Amnesty, the ACLU, and Human Rights Watch, among others, are happy to tell you about.

I think I find this idea that you can't talk about Castro without first talking about the US to be upsetting on a lot of levels, not least of which being that the US is not Latin America and it is mostly non-immigrant Americans, who already focus first and foremost on North America, saying that we need to talk about the US before we talk about Castro. Let people whose family and friends have been impacted by Castro or dictators like Castro talk about Castro without requiring us to first go on a tour of everything America has done wrong. For once let us talk about Castro in terms of Cuba and Latin America and what he did to it.
posted by corb at 11:29 AM on November 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


You can't pretend to be horrified by the atrocities carried out by communist regimes and handwave the atrocities carried out by capitalist regimes. It exposes the fact that it's not the atrocities you actually care about.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:31 AM on November 26, 2016 [25 favorites]


On what planet does "by all means, let us compare the Amnesty International and HRW reports for Cuba and the US" equate to handwaving anything.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:36 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


He promised a better life for the people and sent anyone who liked the old government - a government that itself had started as a rebellion, with progressive principles, creating the 1940 Constitution before being corrupted - to a firing squad.

This skips the part where Batista was running a distant third in the 1952 presidential election, took over in a coup, and established a military dictatorship. He partnered with the Mafia and US corporate interests.
JFK: At the beginning of 1959 United States companies owned about 40 percent of the Cuban sugar lands—almost all the cattle ranches—90 percent of the mines and mineral concessions—80 percent of the utilities—practically all the oil industry—and supplied two-thirds of Cuba's imports.
The fight with Castro's Cuba fits a pattern of many Cold War conflicts where the US saw Communism as a global monolith where in many cases the conflicts were more cases of nationalism.

Maintaining an embargo against Cuba was ridiculous, especially after trading for decades with Communist countries Vietnam (against whom the US fought an actual war) and China (against whom the US fought in the Korean War).
posted by kirkaracha at 11:37 AM on November 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


I think I find this idea that you can't talk about Castro without first talking about the US to be upsetting on a lot of levels

How can any reasonable discussion about Castro and the things done by his regime not reference the country that not only created the environment in which he was able to come into power but whose acts influenced practically everything he did once he did come into power? Who knows if we would even know or care about some guy named Fidel Castro if it weren't for the United States?
posted by slkinsey at 11:39 AM on November 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


John Cohen has it 100% correct. (Try to find an anti-diarrheal or any simple medication most anywhere in Cuba but the black market. It genuinely cannot be done.)

What? It's been some years since I was there, and things may well have gotten worse, but simple medications were widely available back then. Also, several European countries with Spain up front were giving substantial aid, including medicine and education for doctors, to counteract the blockade. Maybe after the crisis in Spain the aid has diminished, and some medicine has been restricted by the blockade. Which is to say, even as there are terrible crimes committed by the Cuban government towards its own people, lack of medicine would fall squarely on the American government.
Normally when the West does boycotts or blockades, there are exemptions for humanitarian reasons. Like medicine.
posted by mumimor at 11:39 AM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


People can certainly talk about what the effects of Castro's rule have been for the people of Cuba and in Latin America, but it is also true that having the US as an opponent determined to kill Castro personally and overthrow his government however they could, did a lot to shape Castro's choices and the effect they had on the people of Cuba. The embargo and US policy sought to ruin Cuba to remove Castro'r regime, it isn't a one or the other kind of situation, the two are inextricably linked. Things could have gone better for Cubans under Castro if the US had been a more willing partner, or things could have gone better if Castro had stepped aside in face of US opposition, or things could have gone worse in either case. We can talk about not treating Castro as a symbol, but that's what he is for people who love and hate him and that larger than life status is part of what makes him and his rule so hard to discuss since his symbolism had an enormous impact on everything that happened to Cuba.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:41 AM on November 26, 2016 [9 favorites]


I guess I'll be watching Red Zone Cuba tonight.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 11:53 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


This skips the part where Batista was running a distant third in the 1952 presidential election, took over in a coup, and established a military dictatorship.

It was not my intention to skip it - I sometimes forget what's known and not known. I was more alluding to the fact that Latin America (and Cuba in particular) has a long history of people who come to power on a revolution - Castro rebelling against Batista rebelling against General Machado, who himself rebelled against Spain in the War of Independence - and then over time find their idealistic principles corrupted. General Machado wanted to create public works and make Cuba a jewel. In his first few years he did well, but then he began grasping at power, murdering students, changing the Constitution to enrich himself and prolong his rule - also amid many, many assassination attempts. Batista rose up in the Sergeants Revolt against Machado and his abuses, was elected as a populist, instituted reforms - and then as you say, took over in a coup when he could not succeed democratically and instituted a repressive government, repealing the good laws he himself had created. He also then began violence, torture, public executions. Then came Castro with his revolution and his ideals, and then shortly afterwards began the executions and labor camps. Like others before him, he became corrupted through power.

And from a personal standpoint, Castro is responsible for training and supporting Ortega, whose rebellion killed many of my family members. So this is a little less abstract for me.
posted by corb at 12:04 PM on November 26, 2016 [11 favorites]


Two quick Cuba stories:

As a kid I had a shortwave radio in the attic. Even in Seattle, it was easy to tune into Radio Havana's nightly broadcast, which was intended for Americans. Every single night there was a tirade against the American Imperialists -- complaining about Guantanamo, the lawsuits against Cuba in American courts, the embargo, everything. And then the same announcers would smoothly switch into a cheery recitation of the day's American baseball scores.

In high school, during the early days of the War on Terror and the runup to war in Iraq, the school district decided to send an "enforcer" to make sure that all classes were saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the day (which was guided over the school-wide intercom), and that we were facing an American flag that was in each classroom. Initially this was very strict, but over time the enforcer stopped physically checking every classroom every day, and just made sure the pledge was being read over the intercom. My teacher quietly swapped the American flag in her classroom with a Cuban flag. So every day for the rest of the year we pledged allegiance to Cuba.
posted by miyabo at 12:27 PM on November 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't know how you can effectively "score" one country's dead against another. it seems tasteless at best. at worst, that simple-minded reductionism - your side sucks so ... - is itself the ultimate cause of many of those deaths.

Indeed.

I must admit to mixed feelings, myself.

I can remember watching the coverage of the revolution evolve in living black and white from hopeful backgrounds.on bearded Fidel to watching televised executions night after night on the NBC Nightly news (with 2nd grade me not at all happy about being shown people being killed on TV) to the Bay of Pigs to watching Kennedy's broadcast during the Missile Crisis (with 5th grade me not at all happy to see my mother stop her ironing and hear her bitterly remark 'Well, we're all going to die!') followed by days of feverishly watching the news while reading my dad's copy of Pat Frank's Alas, Babylon and on and on...

Today surprised me — against all odds and all sense, I guess I assumed Castro would live forever, head in a jar like Futurama 's Nixon. But he died, so Mom was right. But then I knew that. And should have remembered when I heard the news.

Well, everything old becomes new again. Just like in grade school, I lie awake through sleepless nights worried sick about the next four years, giant meteors and The Day After. Some things never change.
posted by y2karl at 12:32 PM on November 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


I think it's hard to avoid discussing the U.S. when covering the history of Latin America in no small part because of the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. The Somozas in Nicaragua, Batista in Cuba, and Ubico and later Armaz in Guatemala all had plenty of U.S. support. (And Armaz was likewise supported by the Somozas.)

The Cold War was ostensibly driven by ideology, but both sides supported dictators and used similarly nasty covert intervention tactics. And even before the Cold War the U.S. was rather ruthless in protecting U.S. businesses in the rest of the Americas. It's hard to discuss the history of these regions without taking into account projections of both U.S. and Soviet power.

The tragedy is that the people caught in the middle were often no more real or significant to one side than to the other.
posted by kewb at 12:33 PM on November 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


Honestly, I'd take false ideology over today's naked cynicism.
posted by Zalzidrax at 12:45 PM on November 26, 2016


Maintaining an embargo against Cuba was ridiculous, especially after trading for decades with Communist countries Vietnam (against whom the US fought an actual war) and China (against whom the US fought in the Korean War).

Not as long as Florida has 29 electoral votes and is pretty regularly won by a margin smaller than the number of Cuban exiles in Miami (roughly 917,000 in 2014 - Trump won Florida by 131,472 votes).
posted by Naberius at 12:50 PM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Mixed feelings. Cuba's isolation is both good and bad, and a lot of common people were without question raised up and benefited greatly from the Revolution, but the Soviet "help" and Castro's own hubris and social shortsightedness hurt a lot of others.

Cubans I know, many of whom are still in Cuba (and not rabidly anti-Castro children of Mariel) are about 50/50 on Castro. He's been a divisive figure, even ten years out of power.

So, I dunno. A qualified dot.

.*
posted by rokusan at 12:50 PM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I'd take false ideology over today's naked cynicism.

It's the former which feeds the latter unfortunately, leaving little faith left for any claims of greater meaning or values.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:51 PM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]




.
posted by Bob Regular at 1:05 PM on November 26, 2016


Re Canada again... Justin Trudeau's remarks today were apparently made at a human rights summit, something pointedly noted on CBC radio a moment ago, along with Castro's less than stellar human rights record. His comments raised the hackles of the conservatives ... notably the abominable Kelly Lietch who is trying to bring this back to support her racist Canadian values bullshit.

TL;DR: iconic figures get used to pump up the myths of all sides.
posted by chapps at 1:55 PM on November 26, 2016


I've known this day was coming my whole life, but I still don't know how to feel.
Fidel Castro and his actions have cast a huge shadow over my entire life. My grandfather was Cuban and grew up on a fruit plantation, having an early life which was very similar to Fidel. My grandfather went to military school in the US, married my grandmother, and had two children, quickly settling into an unhappy marriage and alcohol abuse.

Meanwhile, Fidel became a revolutionary. In '59 when the Batista regime fell, my great-grandfather was executed. Efforts throughout the years to locate living relatives in Cuba found no one alive. They were wealthy farmers involved with Batista, after all, so it's not a huge surprise. All this happened long before I was born. My father grew up with my grandfather, whose monstrous behavior might be blamed at least in some part on the fact that his family was dead an he could never go home again. My father's first language was Spanish, but he lost it because he wanted to distance himself from his own suffering. He would only relearn it taking night classes when I was in middle school.

I never learned Spanish. My father married my mother, a very white woman, and I'm more Irish than Cuban. My skin isn't that dark, but I don't really get sunburns. My father is more often mistaken for South Asian than Latino, especially in the summer time. Cuba has, until this year, remained a place that I never thought I would be able to go, but now that door looks like it might be closing too.

Fidel was a complex man at a complex time. So was my grandfather. I can't say I liked a lot of what Castro did, but it sounds like Batista was no better. I hope Cuba and the Cuban people keep surviving, especially in this turbulent time.
posted by clockbound at 2:07 PM on November 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is one of those things I can't bring myself to be either happy or sad about. It just is.

Funny thing is that all this could have been avoided if we hadn't picked the wrong side when Castro began hi revolution. He knew he needed the support of either the US or the USSR. He asked the US first, but we told him to go fuck himself, assuming there was no way he's actually pull it off. That initial response set the tone for our future relationship and drove Cuba into the arms of the Soviets. How much bloodshed and difficulty could have been avoided all these years if we had gone the other way? Cuba probably would have ended up more like a European country, dabbling with socialism rather than becoming a completely authoritarian communist nation under Soviet protection.

Of course, then we wouldn't have had the missile crisis and might have ended up with a full nuclear exchange at some later point instead. It may well be that Castro saved us all by showing how quickly things can escalate in a nuclear armed world.
posted by wierdo at 3:30 PM on November 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Then came Castro with his revolution and his ideals, and then shortly afterwards began the executions and labor camps. Like others before him, he became corrupted through power.

How much of Castro's repression was a reaction to US opposition, though? Eisenhower authorized the CIA to overthrow Castro's government in March 1960; the US started embargoing exports to Cuba in October 1960, and sponsored the Bay of Pigs invasion in April 1961. Then the Cuban government aligned with the Soviet Union. The US installed Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Turkey in April 1962; as a response in May 1962 Cuba agreed to deploy Soviet missiles in Cuba, triggering the Cuban Missile Crisis.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:43 PM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


How much of Castro's repression was a reaction to US opposition, though?

The US is legit out to get me, therefore I will throw all the queers and JoHos into prison camps?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:50 PM on November 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


If only Castro had been such a fine exemplar of American values as Allende or the Somozas, I'm sure everything would have worked out fine between the US and Cuba.

Anyway I had a Cuba Libre to see him off this morning. I had to explain to the bartender that that is a Rum and Coke.
posted by Bringer Tom at 4:12 PM on November 26, 2016


Anyway I had a Cuba Libre to see him off this morning. I had to explain to the bartender that that is a Rum and Coke.

With a splash of lime juice!
posted by Jacqueline at 4:16 PM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Bringer Tom: "Anyway I had a Cuba Libre to see him off this morning"

Me Too! Except I had to take my daughter to a tournament so it was a Virgin Cuba Libre, Diet.
posted by Mitheral at 4:33 PM on November 26, 2016


He asked the US first, but we told him to go fuck himself…

Wasn't that our response to Ho Chi Minh as well?


And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a Cuba libre specifically made with Bacardi, which was originally made there?
posted by TedW at 4:53 PM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


In conclusion, Fidel Castro is a land of contrasts.

.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:25 PM on November 26, 2016 [5 favorites]




Wasn't that our response to Ho Chi Minh as well?

Yep. Twice. One of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, his guiding principles for the Allies in World War I, was:
A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable government whose title is to be determined.
So Ho Chi Minh petitioned the Paris peace conference in 1919 to ask for self-determination for Vietnam, which had been a French colony since 1883. Turned out self-determination was only for Europeans.

The Allies' Atlantic Charter during World War II called for "the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them." During the war the Viet Minh, supported by the American OSS, fought a guerrilla war against the Japanese and Vichy French colonial government. Ho Chi Minh declared independence from France in early September 1945. His declaration was largely based on the American Declaration of Independence.

Instead of living up to the Atlantic Charter and acknowledging the independence of a colony of a European power, the US backed France's reoccupation of Vietnam and provided major support to France during the First Indochina War. Despite the Viet Minh beating a French army that was largely armed and equipped by the US, we entered and lost the Vietnam War. As with Cuba, I believe the Vietnam conflicts were more a nationalist struggle for independence than a Communist plot for world domination.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:50 PM on November 26, 2016 [13 favorites]


tl;dr: As a former European colony that had fought for independence, the US should have acknowledged Vietnam's independence after World War II.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:52 PM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Trudeau's statement has prompted #trudeaueulogies on Twitter.
posted by Kabanos at 6:27 PM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I looked through my dads pictures when he lived in Cuba in the 50s. One I have on the wall is of Jose Martis' statue decked with flowers on the anniversary of his birthday, one of the ribboned arrangements was from Castro, circa 1956.

Anyone know were he'll be buried?
posted by clavdivs at 6:51 PM on November 26, 2016


Well, I hope that his death provides the justification needed for our soon to be Pussy Grabber in Chief to allow Obama's normalization of relations to stay.

He's been irrelevant, from a political standpoint, for years now, and the USA's use of Cuba as a Communist whipping boy is revolting. The fact that an American can visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, but because America's government is still nursing a grudge over being stood up to in the 1960's (and a bunch of politicians are terrified of a tiny handful of Cubano refugees in Florida) Cuba is subject to a total embargo is obscene.

You don't have to love Castro to see that the USA's treatment of Cuba had no relationship with the actual behavior of Cuba or other nations the US had better relations wtih.

So maybe now that Castro is dead we can stop pretending that Cuba is uniquely evil and awful and uniquely deserving of the full wrath of American pique.

Let that good at least come from his death.
posted by sotonohito at 7:09 PM on November 26, 2016 [6 favorites]


America's government is still nursing a grudge

Best guess, America's government stopped giving a crap decades ago.

Florida, however, is a very tight swing state with a lot of anti-Castro Cubans.

And they vote.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:24 PM on November 26, 2016 [5 favorites]


And correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't a Cuba libre specifically made with Bacardi, which was originally made there?

Not any more. If you travel in Central America, you will find the usage basically means any rum with any version of Coke. I've been in places where it was the only drink anyone ever ordered and you were the WEIRD FOREIGNER if you wanted anything else. And NOBODY says "rum and Coke," it's Cuba libre, my friend. Stay thirsty for that freedom.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:30 PM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


.
posted by iamck at 7:47 PM on November 26, 2016


I don't have anything to say about Castro himself, but I think that this might be one of the more thoughtful obituary threads Metafilter has seen. Thanks to all making their reasoned and sober cases about the death of a complicated man with a complicated legacy.
posted by tavegyl at 8:11 PM on November 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


Whoa, I just heard Castro was a demon
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:37 PM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


He could have freed his people. Ike himself congratulated and welcomed his successful revolution.

Castro decided he wanted to be King, and he was, for as long as the Soviet money held out.

His people left in makeshift rafts for Florida even before then.

If he aligned himself with the USA, communism and capitalism in friendly incompatibility the same way Portuguese and Spanish fascism managed to survive WWII... the entirety of the cold-war would have been averted. The US would have been A-OK with Ho Chi Minh, who really liked and respected Americans, just shovel the French out like you have insisted the other European Imperial Colonial Powers let go.

We couldn't once Castro made Cuba a Soviet satellite. But, hey, he got to retire as King! To his brother, who is also aging out quick. After Raul is gone... what?

Raul saw the writing on the wall, and Obama seized the moment. I fear where Trump will tread, as the Cubans are inherently organized and ready for anything.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:57 PM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


He was finally done in by a booby-trapped conch, right?
posted by mazola at 12:09 AM on November 27, 2016


I fear where Trump will tread, as the Cubans are inherently organized and ready for anything

I'm sure the CIA is already on the case. Look for news about a Cuban "up and coming young democracy activist" in the next 5 years or so.
posted by rhizome at 12:27 AM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Stay thirsty for that freedom

coca cola: la leche negra del imperialismo.
posted by andrewcooke at 12:56 AM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


.
posted by nikoniko at 1:03 AM on November 27, 2016


Interesting thread by @JoametteGil:
Fidel Castro is dead and I am full of emotions.

Disclaimer before I even talk: if you're not Cuban, I don't give a fuck what you think about what I'm about to say.

Fidel is a man who lived 90 miles away from me, who everyone in my family wished was dead, vocally, for as long as I can remember.
...
This moment is also strange for me as a bi-racial Cuban. There are very few Afro-Cubans in Miami. There's a reason.

Cuba became a much Blacker nation after several waves of exiles left. Most exiles were white and white-ish Cubans. They could afford to go.

The first wave of exiles where the wealthiest. Many already had property in Miami they could move into.

That was slightly before the revolution was won. A little after, people began to deport their children en masse to avoid indoctrination.

Ultimately, America's promise of capitalist mobility did not pay off for us. Do not scoff at free healthcare and education. Don't scoff -
- at my family's suffering under US capitalism.
...
Yet my stomach rolls over looking at the photos from Miami right now. Light-skinned Cubans mourning the privilege that was ripped from them.

Light-skinned Cubans celebrating in the streets because the man that stole their mansions to create housing for the poor is DEAD.

I can oppose so much of what Castro did without feeling glee over his death nor solidarity with the white Cuban elite who ALSO voted Trump.

Being a Cuban right now is way more complicated if you would have been just as poor before Castro as you would have been after.

The popular opinion right now in Cuba is torn. Younger folks don't really a give a shit that he's dead. Folks in their 50s mourning the -
- person that fed them, housed them, when elite ran away and took all their money with them.

My greatest wish for Cuba is greater personal liberties, civil rights, mainly freedom of speech and the press.

I want democracy in Cuba. What I fear now is corporate oligarchy gaining a foothold on the island. No matter what you think about all -
- this, one thing is 100% fucking true: capitalism is a poison.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:14 AM on November 27, 2016 [25 favorites]


Slap*Happy Historically speaking revolutions almost never produce better government than existed before, and revolutionaries are almost never people who follow through with their promises.

Part of that is baked into how revolution and government work. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith's excellent book The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics shows how power dynamics make this almost inevitable.

Americans have a false idea of revolution because ours was one of the very few (I can think of only one other offhand) in the modern era that actually worked out well. All the others just swapped out dictators.

It is, I agree, unfortunate that Castro's revolution didn't produce a better government, but that almost never happens so I can't say it really was surprising or even disappointing. The expected result took place, Batista (who's awfulness is so often swept under the rug by people bashing Castro) was replaced by someone just as bad if not worse. That's generally what happens in revolutions.

Actual progress towards a better government seems to happen mainly in slow reform rather than revolution.
posted by sotonohito at 4:50 AM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Does this mean the 20th century is finally over?

No, it's just 2016 continuing to overcompensate for being gazumped on Lemmy.
posted by flabdablet at 5:46 AM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


I quoted the part of the NYT obit that says Castro ushered in "racial equality," but this other NYT article from 2013 paints a different picture:
Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about. The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn’t exist. Before 1990, black Cubans suffered a paralysis of economic mobility while, paradoxically, the government decreed the end of racism in speeches and publications. To question the extent of racial progress was tantamount to a counterrevolutionary act. This made it almost impossible to point out the obvious: racism is alive and well....
posted by John Cohen at 6:19 AM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]




"Historically speaking revolutions almost never produce better government than existed before, and revolutionaries are almost never"

They had this little thing in France that was successful.
posted by clavdivs at 8:31 AM on November 27, 2016


Which one?
posted by tobascodagama at 9:00 AM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


CGP Grey explains why revolution rarely leads to good governance.
posted by wierdo at 9:34 AM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about.

Again, context matters here. Over the same period, racism in Haiti and the Dominican Republic has been open, often bloody, often institutionalised. The Castro regime spans the half-century from George Wallace's "segregation now, segregation forever" to the assertions of modern American conservatives that racism is over, therefore affirmative action policies or oversight of state election laws are themselves racist.

Any assessment of a large region over a substantial chunk of time is inevitably going to flatten the perspective and overweigh what seems inevitable in the present day. The broad themes are brutality and inequality and instability and pretty shitty options for people who weren't already rich or possessed of talents with a high dollar value in the US.
posted by holgate at 9:59 AM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jamie Zawinski explains why revolution rarely leads to good governance.
posted by flabdablet at 10:09 AM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


John Cohen That's one of the common features of Communist governments, and applies to feminism as well. It's one of the gripes I have with my more socialist left allies who here in the USA keep trying to pretend that every single social problem is the result of class and nothing else. You see these infuriating (always white, always from privileged backgrounds) leftybros claiming that America doesn't have a racism problem, or a sexism problem, that really it's all class. And of course class is a big deal, but it isn't everything.

They want to define every social ill as a product class, and in a Communist government since class is abolished then, hey presto, all other social ills must be too! Anyone claiming otherwise must be a capitalist running dog or a counterrevolutionary or something equally awful.

Which is why, despite legally women having equality in China and Russia, women's rights often lagged far behind what was accomplished elsewhere. Talking about sexism meant all problems weren't the result of class, and that was politically unacceptable.

clavdivs Well, not so much. First they got the dictatorship of the Committee of Public Safety, which was so miserable that when Napoleon came in with his own dictatorship people were genuinely happy. Then massive war and empire, followed by a collapse, a trade back and forth between Napoleon and the monarchists, a swap between more conservative monarchists and more liberal monarchists. Another revolution leading to another Napoleon III's dictatorship.

Which ended with a semi-peaceful transition to the Third Republic, not an actual revolution. And, note that the Third Republic was a quasi-monarchist outfit that slowly transitioned to a more liberal democracy.

Revolution didn't really end well in France as it generally doesn't end well anywhere.
posted by sotonohito at 10:30 AM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


>Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about.

That article is a perfect example of the bullshit representations throughout my life. Combine your Nirvana Fallacy with a bunch of vague criticism-by-implication with no point, except what, that Castro didn't solve racism? What a failure. The business aspects (laws, policies, social) are the most vague, so the worst that the article appears to be describing is poverty without violence, which, you know, maybe the US could take a lesson from.

I support the sentiment touched on elsewhere that people complaining about Castro should also account for Detroit.
posted by rhizome at 10:44 AM on November 27, 2016 [7 favorites]


Which is why, despite legally women having equality in China and Russia, women's rights often lagged far behind what was accomplished elsewhere.

Huh? After the Bolshevik revolution womens' rights surged ahead in Russia. Here's Geoff Eley on the subject (pg 188):
What did women gain in the revolutionary years? Lenin insisted proudly on Bolshevik success: “Not a single state . . . has done even half of what the Soviet Government did for women in the very first months.” Allowing for nongendered exclusions of property owners from the franchise in the 1918 and 1923 constitutions, women had full citizenship in the Soviet state, sharing equally in the new political community of labor. Equality was grounded in economic independence, as the right—and obligation—to work. Impediments to equality were removed—the gendered apparatus of nineteenth-century liberal reforms no less than the patriarchalism of tsarist law. Residential, property, and inheritance laws gave women equal rights in land, households, and communes. Radical labor laws provided extra protections and equal pay. New family law addressed the household dominance of fathers, introduced civil marriage and divorce on demand, abolished illegitimacy, and legalized abortion. Women’s treatment in Muslim Central Asia was also addressed. This was Western feminism’s maximum program, to which no government in the West ever came close to agreeing.
Which ended with a semi-peaceful transition to the Third Republic

Peaceful, sure, if you ignore the war that brought it about as well as one of the most shocking massacres that had taken place in Europe to that date, which crushed revolutionary forces within Paris.

Revolution didn't really end well in France as it generally doesn't end well anywhere.

Not sure why hating on the French Revolution is an endemic problem on Metafilter, but I think Mark Twain has the definitive word on this:
There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror, so to speak; whereas, what is the horror of swift death by the axe, compared with lifelong death from hunger, cold, insult, cruelty, and heart-break? What is swift death by lightning compared with death by slow fire at the stake? A city cemetery could contain the coffins filled by that brief Terror which we have all been so diligently taught to shiver at and mourn over; but all France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 11:32 AM on November 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


"Revolution didn't really end well in France as it generally doesn't end well anywhere."

The topic would make a good FFP. But Fidel wouldn't mind a healthy debate. I'll have to disagree with your premise as it is held on the principle of control and chaos as the primary thing to avoid in a revolution, i.e. centered on the leadership then the over all gains. Perhaps your thinking of a bloodless coup or popular change in leadership. Almost every historian will agree that the revolution changed things. Now, a Marxist viewpoint may disagree and I can see and discuss historigraphy on that point.
I do agree it doesn't end well in other revolutions comparatively.
posted by clavdivs at 11:34 AM on November 27, 2016


Which one?
posted by tobascodagama at 12:00 PM on November 27

This is an excellent question.
posted by clavdivs at 11:43 AM on November 27, 2016


I support the sentiment touched on elsewhere that people complaining about Castro should also account for Detroit.

American exceptionalism is deep-seated in the American psyche.

Castro, like the Sandanistas in Nicaragua and the Chavistas of Venezuela, was birthed as much by American imperialism as by his revolutionary movement. You can't talk about revolution without talking about counter-revolution. One of the reasons that revolutionary outcomes (in this hemisphere anyways) tend to go astray might have something to do with who is funding the opposition...which in this case just happens to be the most powerful nation in the world...not to mention the economic warfare. Obviously, this does not mean that Castro, Daniel, and Maduro are paragons of virtue.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:48 AM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


Apples and oranges, to be sure, but it's interesting to compare the relative trajectories of Vietnam and Cuba over the past 30 years.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:14 PM on November 27, 2016


I'm thinking that power (pouvoir) will always shit on the little guy, however the little guy is defined in their culture, regardless of the economic system in place or electoral/succession practices.
posted by rhizome at 1:15 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]




Yeah, the problem with asking people for their take on a situation is that they'll tell you.
posted by rhizome at 1:31 PM on November 27, 2016


Ken Livingston can be a colossal moron, and I am grateful that he has the freedom to travel to Cuba and the freedom to speak his mind about his reflections on it. We would all agree that Cuba (and the US) have been far worse off for the embargo, assassination attempts on Castro, etc. - there is no need to stretch that into something stupid.

I mean, LOL if he's seriously comparing Cuba's ongoing police state to not being able to literally support Hitler during a literal war against Hitler. Cubans did not have anything resembling freedom of travel until 2013. It was illegal for a pleb to purchase a computer until 2007, and have fun getting international internet access on that thing. Blah blah blah. We don't need to pretend that the US *made* the Cuban government do those things. Cuba developed the attributes of a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship for the rather obvious reason that it *was* one, and still is mostly one, being one of the few left after the others have each died off and/or liberalized, at least economically.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:44 PM on November 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


The 20th C saw a lot of the US exploiting South America for their resources. Won't let us? K, send in the military and CIA and assassinate leaders, install right-wing dictatorships, take resources anyway.

Castro knew this, so told US "OK, back me up and I'll toss Batista for ya." That's what we had always done. So Castro takes over, then flips the bird to the US! So we try to get *him* out and fail...so end up punishing the entire country with embargos and bans and such for 50+ years.

US gets extremely punitive and long memory when we don't win (including keeping a prison torture camp on the island).
posted by CrowGoat at 1:53 PM on November 27, 2016 [5 favorites]


Like, I am 100% down with not demonizing Castro, especially since Castro's Cuba had been more or less pushed into the arms of the USSR. However, it's bizarre seeing a few vocal people defend the Cuban regime *as a regime* by making up all kinds of nonsense about how, oh, Cuba's so close to the US, no wonder it turned out the way it did. Nope. Taiwan sits stubbornly by China, and it ain't like Cuba. Yugoslavia had lain between the First and Second Worlds, and Tito's strategy had been to become *more* flexible, to allow Yugoslavs *greater* speech, travel, and economic rights in comparison to those truly behind the Iron Curtain.

...

I've just come from a meeting with all the important people who assign which historical figures to which attitudes and symbols. We've all determined that it's okay for Castro to be remembered as a hero. Let this be his reward for a long, difficult life. Let the good parts of his life shine a light going forward. If it works for George Washington, if it works for Winston Churchill, if it works for Tito, et al., then it can work for him.

The trade-off is that Cuba must be seen as it is, and not as one might like it to be, nor as one might construe it as some kind of meaning-laden fictional character in an a sweeping epic.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:55 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


The US revolution didn’t turn bloody because in many ways *it wasn’t a revolution*. It was a war between ruling classes about who should have ultimate control of the country. After the "revolution" pretty much the same people were in charge of the US as beforehand, it’s just that they no longer answered to Parliament.

Revolutions that completely overturn the governing structures of a country are much more likely to turn bloody than wars between elites over control, for the many good reasons outlined above in various links.

Yes, yes, I know: there were voting rights & Senates & Representative & a Constitution and all that good stuff. Did the class that took all those roles change? Not much.
posted by pharm at 2:09 PM on November 27, 2016 [13 favorites]


If you haven't been reading the Miami Herald coverage, I recommend it. They've posted an in depth article about the atmosphere in Cuba, as well as many articles about the Cuban American response in Miami and editorials from Cuban Americans.

They also have a behind the scenes article about how they've been planning for this day for a long time.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 3:12 PM on November 27, 2016 [2 favorites]


One of the things that has been unsettling to me has been the clash I'm seeing on social media between the Anglo Left and the Cuban American Left. I think that there are a lot of good points to be made about relative privilege of the folks who were able to make it over here (as discussed in the tweets linked by Golden Eternity). But... I also find it generally distasteful for non-Cuban Americans to say "actually Castro was great" to people who lost family members.

The Cuban American Left does exist. As someone who has lived in Miami for a decade -- most of my friends are Cuban American lefties. These are folks who are deeply involved with the LGBT activism in Miami. These are folks that are writing satire articles about white privilege and their family members voting for Trump. These are folks who went canvassing with me for Hillary. And yet ... they actually have lost family members to the Castro regime. It's not an abstract thing for them. They're presumed to not exist in this discussion and in their own social media feeds they're being called out for not being good enough liberals.

I don't really have a good answer for this except to name it as a thing.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 3:36 PM on November 27, 2016 [8 favorites]


I have an in-law who came to the US as a Pedro Pan child, an exodus of 14,000 children organized by the Catholic Church to help children of the Castro regime's opponents escape to the US between Castro's revolution and the Cuban Missile Crisis, officially to attend religious schooling (which was not allowed on the island at the time). Castro allowed it, but the children had to leave -- obviously forever -- without their parents. It was kind and cruel in the way of dictators: Parents, mostly middle-class and laborer families who hadn't had the money to flee when the revolution happened as high-profile and wealthy Cubans could, were able to evacuate their children from a repressive regime and the possibility of being jailed for their parents' political views, but the price was sending those children to strangers in a strange land and never seeing them again. They were placed in Catholic foster homes across the US by Catholic social services. It was organized on the down-low and few people heard of it until it was over. (Many of those children's parents were eventually able to defect after 1965.)

Anyway, she and her surviving family live in the Chicago area, where the Cuban-American community is considerably less-intense than the Miami community, and while I know she's looked forward to this day for many years, her rage at the regime has long since burned down into sadness, and she welcomed the reopening of diplomatic relations with the island under Obama -- she would like to visit again before she dies, has accepted that the Castros are an unfortunate fact that aren't likely to go anywhere except by death, and has seen how opening relations with other countries (like Vietnam) has sometimes done better than embargos and war and sanctions.

I was also interested to read the inside the Herald newsroom piece; thanks for that, JKS. I knew a guy who worked at the Herald for 40 years, including as an editor, and he'd told me some of that when telling old war stories. He also said, after he retired and they moved to another state to follow his wife's job, it was really weird for a long time to remember that in the rest of the US, Cuba was not front page news and that outside the bubble of Miami, not a whole lot of people cared. But that inside Miami it's super-intense and people have detailed knowledge and strong opinions (and a lot of academic and journalistic expertise).

I was once at a seminar where a couple of Cuban-Americans got in a knock-down, drag-out shouting argument over whose parents had been collaborators with whom and who were the legit Castro-fleeing refugees. They were both from Miami, it's an intense little bubble with a lot of feelings.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:51 PM on November 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


At least now that he's passed away, soon I won't have to listen to leftists come just this close to writing apologias for the divine right of kings when they defend him.
posted by ocschwar at 9:09 PM on November 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


The US revolution didn’t turn bloody because in many ways *it wasn’t a revolution*.

How so not bloody? Thousands died on both sides.

During and after the fact, if you were known to be a Loyalist, you risked confiscation of property, tarring and feathering, even murder. People left in droves to Canada, UK, and the Bahamas, the history largely forgotten.
posted by BWA at 5:34 AM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh sure. I’m not saying it was a some kind of bloodless coup: It was a war after all. The point is that most revolutions suffer from internecine violence after the revolution as power struggles within the regime turn bloody, usually resulting in the emergence of a 'strong man' leader who takes power by virtue of being more ruthless than anyone else. The American revolution is an exception to this rule.
posted by pharm at 6:21 AM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


> That's one of the common features of Communist governments, and applies to feminism as well. It's one of the gripes I have with my more socialist left allies who here in the USA keep trying to pretend that every single social problem is the result of class and nothing else. You see these infuriating (always white, always from privileged backgrounds) leftybros claiming that America doesn't have a racism problem, or a sexism problem, that really it's all class.

The Marxist left views everything through the lens of class conflict (and insists applying their Marxist-theory definition of class of to any discussion class conflict, which doesn't correspond very well to the reality most us live in). Social Democrats, on the other hand, have had a pretty good track record of instituting policies that lead to greater gender equality.

I think it's worthwhile to acknowledge that there are different "lefts". I wish more people here were willing to do that.
posted by nangar at 6:23 AM on November 28, 2016 [4 favorites]


Noisy Pink Bubbles As far as women's rights in Communist nations go, it is undeniably true that formal legal equality was achieved with commendable speed.

Problem is, once the laws that were directly oppressing women are gone and women have technical, legal, equality, there's still a lot of work to be done. Work that **WAS** done in the USA and other non-Communist nations, albeit at a slower pace on the legal front, that eventually resulted in women in those nations having a better situation than women in Communist nations have.

Both in China and Russia today women have a worse time of it (on average) than women in the western Democracies do. Because once formal, legal, equality had been emplaced the rulers of those nations could ignore women's issues on the grounds that women were now equal and anyway class is the only oppression that exists.
posted by sotonohito at 7:09 AM on November 28, 2016


China and Russia are communist countries?
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:23 AM on November 28, 2016


Former.
posted by sotonohito at 7:58 AM on November 28, 2016


The PRC is still nominally Communist, as well.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:12 AM on November 28, 2016


Christ.

I thought Trump might use Castro's death as an excuse to allow Obama's normalization of relations to continue. I'm still not used to the depth of his evil and corruption.

Now he's tweeting that unless Cuba "makes a better deal" he'll reinstate the embargo.

I'm pretty sure he's talking about opening up some Trump business in Cuba as a condition of normalizing relations.
posted by sotonohito at 12:29 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Zizek

TL won't watch: he says the Cubans suffer from a national Freudian genital neurosis and it's perfect (albeit a bit tasteless) that the guys name was Fidel Castro. This might be the greatest Zizek video ever.
posted by bukvich at 1:33 PM on November 28, 2016




You see these infuriating (always white, always from privileged backgrounds) leftybros claiming that America doesn't have a racism problem, or a sexism problem, that really it's all class

Can you cite a Marxist that has this position?

It seems implausible that a Marxist (or anyone, really) would stand by it. Especially when Communists have been on the cutting edge of combatting sexism (see my above comment) and racism. It was the CPUSA, for instance, that provided the legal defense for the Scottsboro Boys, was doing interracial union organizing in the Jim Crow South, did tons of organizing in Depression-era Harlem, put its own members on public trial for "white chauvinism", etc... does this sound like "leftybros claiming that America doesn't have a racism problem"? Were Harry Haywood, Claudia Jones, Grace Campbell, etc. etc. etc. whites from "privileged backgrounds"?

Granted, I take nangar's comment that not all leftists are equal, but by my tally, the record of Communists combatting racism and sexism in America is pretty exemplary.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 3:27 PM on November 28, 2016 [2 favorites]




Communists have been on the cutting edge of combatting sexism (see my above comment) and racism.

Some forms of racism; not antisemitism; the CPUSA was the American cheerleader for the Soviet Union's attempts to extinguish Jewish identity in the USSR.

As for sexism, the SWP in the UK has had a long-running and notorious problem with misogyny, sexism, and (reportedly) rape. I don't know if the CPUSA had the same problems, but they seem to have been structural in origin, and similar structures often create similar problems.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:10 PM on November 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


A documentary on Miami's Cubans, which taps into the rapid civic and political integration, ideas of authenticity in immigrant groups, racial dynamics, and especially the character of a community that is defined by "exile" over an extended period even as it exerts political influence over the community where it resides.
posted by holgate at 9:56 PM on November 28, 2016


One of the unintended consequences of the 1976 anti-Castro bomb attack that took down Air Cubana Flight 455...

How Fidel brought back the English game of cricket to Cuba.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:52 AM on November 29, 2016


Eduardo Galeano - FIDEL

"His enemies say he was an uncrowned king who confused unity with unanimity.
And in that his enemies are right.

"His enemies say that if Napoleon had a newspaper like Granma, no Frenchman would have learned of the disaster at Waterloo.
And in that his enemies are right.

"His enemies say that he exercised power by talking a lot and listening little, because he was more used to hearing echoes than voices.
And in that his enemies are right.

"But some things his enemies do not say: it was not to pose for the history books that he bared his breast to the invaders’ bullets,
he faced hurricanes as an equal, hurricane to hurricane,
he survived 637 attempts on his life,
his contagious energy was decisive in making a country out of a colony,
and it was not by Lucifer’s curse or God’s miracle that the new country managed to outlive 10 U.S. presidents, their napkins spread in their laps, ready to eat it with knife and fork.

"And his enemies never mention that Cuba is one rare country that does not compete for the World Doormat Cup.

"And they do not say that the revolution, punished for the crime of dignity, is what it managed to be and not what it wished to become. Nor do they say that the wall separating desire from reality grew ever higher and wider thanks to the imperial blockade, which suffocated a Cuban-style democracy, militarized society, and gave the bureaucracy, always ready with a problem for every solution, the alibis it needed to justify and perpetuate itself.

"And they do not say that in spite of all the sorrow, in spite of the external aggression and the internal high-handedness, this distressed and obstinate island has spawned the least unjust society in Latin America.

"And his enemies do not say that this feat was the outcome of the sacrifice of its people, and also of the stubborn will and old-fashioned sense of honor of the knight who always fought on the side of the losers, like his famous colleague in the fields of Castile."
posted by nikoniko at 9:58 AM on November 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


...On Saturday morning, the writer Néstor Díaz de Villegas sent out a mass mailing: “Fidel has died. There’s not an atom, an iota, a minute, a cell, a millimeter of my life that didn’t have everything to do with Fidel Castro, that is not Fidel Castro’s. I don’t know if there’s any difference between Him and me. I belong to his time, his History, his endurance. It’s me who has died, they’ll cremate me tomorrow. They’ll incinerate something, a pound of my flesh on the tyrant’s funeral pyre.”

There’ll be a little something of me there, too, along with my cousins, my friends, even my parents, though they are gone. Fidel didn’t merely contain multitudes: He took all of our destinies and redesigned them. Who would I be if Fidel’s revolution hadn’t happened and my parents hadn’t left? Who would those who remained on the island be if those of us who left had stayed by their side? Who would any of us be if Fidel hadn’t caused this rupture in our lives?

After all the headlines and the shouting, after all the calls from all the places we Cubans have been scattered, this is what haunts us.>The Little Fidel in All of Us
posted by y2karl at 8:44 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]




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