As I do many a morning, I awoke and immediately checked my email. This is certainly an obnoxious habit, but thanks to the wonders of Smartphones I can now give into my sense of anxiety that something very important happened while I was asleep that I must immediately tend to.
I was greeted by a message that stated “in this horrid year, Castro dies and the monster [Henry Kissinger, of course] still lives.”
Clearly a straightforward message, but not having yet heard the news of Castro’s passing it took me a few moments to realize that Castro had just died.
I, of course, like many of you have some degree of mixed feelings about Castro. As someone is bound to slither in and leave a comment about, yes, the government which Castro helped established and presided over for a number of decades was quite authoritarian and not very tolerant of dissent (albeit, I suppose one could wonder had it not been if Castro would have lived to age 90). Castro certainly had an early homophobic streak, which he was later quite vocal about having overcome.
Yet, Cuba under Castro helped to develop a system of universal health care, one which frequently sends doctors and medical supplies the world over, a nationalized system of pharmaceutical production that resulted in two ground breaking cancer vaccines, and made truly remarkable reductions of illiteracy, poverty, and homelessness.
Cuba and Castro supported liberation struggles across the world and thanks to their support for the national liberation struggle in Angola helped to bring Apartheid in South Africa, a system backed by the Reagans and the Thatchers of the world, crashing down.
All of this was accomplished by an extremely poor nation that was under constant threat and siege, from the world’s most powerful nation, which supported a ruthless blockade and campaign of terrorism against the Cuban people. The fact that Cuba could accomplish so much under such dire circumstance should really shame all of us that we in our own countries have made such little progress in these fields.
Of course, the capitalist hyena press is out in full force attacking Corbyn and anyone else who dares utter any bit of praise for Castro’s legacy. These same people will be wagging their fingers and reminding you that you mustn’t speak ill of the dead the next time some Israeli war criminal, former US Senator who was unremarkable for anything other than his racism, or when inevitably Henry Kissinger dies.