I’ve been told over and over that one should not gloat. It is unbecoming, unworthy of the proper spirit of magnanimity and humility, and a sign of immaturity.
I’m not gloating. I’m celebrating, just not as much as all the folks in Little Havana and the other Cuban expat communities. I was at the gym, trotting away (or slogging away, since I had the hot-trotter at a 15% incline) and noticed that CNN was running pictures of a bearded dude in o-d green, then what seemed to be street scenes of some kind, then more bearded dude. I don’t wear my glasses in the gym, so I guessed it was something about Cuba, maybe Raul Castro had died? No, nope, it was Fidel himself, as I discovered when I got home and logged on for the first time.
My father grew up in Florida and had a few stories about the Cuban refugees and the later Cuban missile crisis (it happened. No one worried too much about it, since they were on the up wind side of the state). I also almost had a charter flight transporting one of the criminally insane people Castro dumped on the US, but one of the male pilots took it, and informed the US marshals that he was leaving the door unlocked and if the guy went wild, out the door he went, air pollution fine or no air pollution fine. Not nice, not humanitarian, but some of these guys were and are seriously bad news.
I didn’t think too much about the Cuban revolution until I was in my 30s and started reading books by Jaime Glazov and a few others, and some first-hand accounts of people who managed to make the crossing to the Keys. This came about because of the Ché shirted teens on campus. What exactly had the dude done? Well, a whole lot of really nasty stuff. Ditto Castro. Liberator of the Cuban people? If you call turning the island into a prison and running it so badly that you export soldiers, doctors, and send sugar and rum to the USSR in order to keep the lights on and the military fed (who cares about the civilians), freedom, then sure, it was liberated.
I’m not certain if Fidel Castro and Co. are the last of the Soviet-supported dictators or not. Robert Mugabe might count, although US President Jimmy Carter gets a nice helping of credit for his taking what had once been a prosperous, food-exporting country and turning it into what we all think of when we see a headline about Zimbabwe.
So Fidel Castro, aged 90, has gone to his eternal reward, whatever that may be. I may grab a pot and wooden spoon and go out and bang them a few times, just to echo the party in Little Havana last night and today, a bit like I always jingle my keys when I describe 1989 for the students. ¡Viva Cuba Libre!