Fidel Castro died today. Farewell, El Comandante. May you rest in peace.
With him also died a beacon, a light that shone in this world. A light that said Cuba would not be ruled by America; become a puppet state, or be threatened and bullied. Cuba would not bow down to harsh blockades and embargoes, or listen to the cries and complaints of the exiles in Florida. There would not be another Batista, and no more Mafia or gangsters to exploit this poor country.
Some have described him as a dictator. Others say that he lived in luxury as his people struggled to survive. His alliance with the Soviet Union almost brought the modern world to war once again, during the missile crisis in 1962. The Soviets retreated, but Castro never gave in. He gave education to his people. He gave them a better health service, more freedoms, and less corruption than they had ever known. He may not have been perfect, nobody is. But anything was better than the Batista regime he replaced, and his determination to see through the Cuban Revolution was an inspiration to all of us on the Left.
The future for his country may now be uncertain. The vultures will be circling, and a Republican is going to be in the White House. But we had Fidel for when it really counted, and he never did less than stand up for what he believed in, and to try to get the best for Cuba. There have been few like him in my lifetime, and in the time I have left, I do not expect to see another.
Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz 1926-2016. You will be missed.