On November 25, 2016, 90 year old Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz died in Santiago de Cuba Province, Cuba. His death was received with a wide spectrum of reactions.
The entire country of Cuba went through a nine day national mourning phase. Flags were flying half mast. Many paid their respects at different memorial sites. The people mourned the loss of the leader. He had been the face of the nation for almost 5 decades, outlasting 5 U.S. presidents from Eisenhower to Bush.
People respect Castro as a revolutionary leader who changed Cuba and fought for the welfare and development of the country. He was applauded by many for the recent rebuilding of Cuban-American relations.
Leaders all over the world expressed their admiration of the former Cuban Prime Minister.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called Castro “a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described him to be a “legendary revolutionary and orator [who] made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.”
However, in Miami and Little Havana, Florida, Castro’s death was a celebration. People, mostly Cuban, spilled onto the streets waving flags in joy. Many held signs saying, “Satan, Fidel is now yours.”
Others detest Castro and strongly believed that he was a hypocrite and tyrant who violated the human rights of the Cuban citizens. They denounce him to be a dictator responsible for the pain and suffering of many.
Illeana Ros-Lehtinem, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress who had left Cuba with her family at a young age, criticized Canadian Prime Minister’s response to Castro’s death.
She argued that “[he] did not lose a loved one to an execution squad ” and that he, along with other foreign leaders who had spoken well of Castro, should “look at the ‘real record’ of his decades in charge.”
Valencia High School freshman, George Kim, shared his thoughts with JSR.
“I can’t say that Fidel Castro was a good man, at the same time, I can’t say that the celebrations were justified. Castro was human. He made mistakes, maybe more than others, but he also did a lot of good things for Cuba. I know that he chose the wrong ways to get where he wanted, but as human beings ourselves, I personally don’t think that we can count our opinions to be valid.”
So who was Castro? Before his rise to power, all people can agree that he was a strong revolutionary who fought against the oppression of the people. The real question is, who was he after his rise of power? A strong leader who continued to fight for his country, or a hypocrite who abused the power that he had? Only one thing’s for certain: Fidel Castro’s legacy will live on.