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By Luke Walter on 20.2.2024

Farewell Fidel

Yesterday, Fidel Castro, the man who has led Cuba since 1959, has announced he will not accept another term as President of the socialist state. “I neither will aspire to, nor will I accept, the position of president of the council of state and commander in chief,” the 81-year old told the online edition of the Communist Party newspaper, Granma.

He has been temporarily out of power for 18 months following a prolonged series of illnesses and treatments. He handed over power to his brother, Raul, who is widely expected to secure the Five- Year Presidency at the National Assembly, which meets this Sunday. Analysts do expect however, that the 56-year-old Vice-President, Carlos Lage Davila, could be a contender to Raul Castro, who is twenty years senior to Davila.

Fidel Castro has not announced a retirement from politics all together, he said: “I just want to carry on fighting like a soldier of ideas. I will continue writing under the title, Reflections of Comrade Fidel.”

US President George Bush, speaking in Rwanda, said: “The international community should work with the Cuban people to begin to build institutions that are necessary for a democracy, and eventually this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections.” Fidel Castro has been a thorn in the side of the United States since his coming to power in the revolution of 1959, overthrowing the US-backed dictatorship of General Fulgencio Batista.

Following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Castro soon aligned Cuba with the Soviet Union. Castro invited the Soviets to establish nuclear missiles in Cuba, leading to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which was eventually resolved, leading to a thaw in Cold War politics.

Castro’s legacy will be one of bringing Cuban education and healthcare to world class levels, but at the cost of multi-party democracy, as well almost crippling economic sanctions, imposed by the US. The retirement of Fidel Castro marks the end of a link between the politics of the twentieth century, and the challenges of the twenty-first.

Cuba is a reminder to the United States of a small country, 90 miles south of the Florida coast, which was able to repel invasion, economic hardship and even assassination attempts. Cuba inspired other Latin American and post- colonial African nations, to follow suit and establish independence.

Cuba’s ‘revolution’ is by no means over, and to Raul Castro and others in the Communist Party, it certainly is not complete. Castro’s retirement marks only a change of face, from an iconic one to perhaps a more pragmatic one. The mixed legacy of Castro still has some time left before the historians, and Cuban people alike, can debate his place in history.

Comments

  • Well Shaun, it is a government of talented people, which is why no one in the liberal party serves in it.

    By Arjun on 4.3.2024

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  • If Fidel is so good at running hospital’s and schools perhaps we should get him a job in Gordon Brown’s government ‘of all the talents’

    By Shaun Nichols on 4.3.2024

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