Fidel Castro's lasting legacy

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/26 18:16:10 Last Updated: 2016/11/26 18:25:00

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro died Friday night at the age of 90. As the last prominent leader from the Cold War, his death is reminiscent of the vicissitudes of that era, triggering tons of comments on his legacy.

Fidel Castro gradually transferred power to his younger brother, Raul Castro, after a serious illness in 2006. Raúl Castro has been in power for many years, so Fidel Castro’s death will not impact Cuban politics.
Fidel Castro was a man of the 20th century, a witness of the ups and downs of the world of that era. He significantly influenced and reshaped Cuba, leaving a mark on Latin America. He was destined to have a divided public image.

For the Cuban people and even for the people of many Latin American countries, Fidel Castro is a revolutionary, a hero of national independence and an outstanding soldier pursuing freedom. The image of a soldier followed him all his life. He rebelled against his family background when he was a young man, then he fought the old world, leading the Cuban people to an armed struggle until they seized power and established a socialist system in the country. In his later years, he supported the country's move toward a market economy, realizing a soft landing for the country's economy and establishing a special position for Cuba in Latin America.

Because of his undertakings, Fidel Castro, for a long time, had been considered by the US as an archenemy. He was largely considered a dictator by the Western media. However, in the decades of sanctions by the US against Cuba, Fidel Castro adopted a flexible and pragmatic diplomatic approach, gaining broad sympathy and respect from Latin America and many other countries. He was a role model for Latin American countries for his unswerving pursuit of national independence and integrity. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many socialist countries went through a dramatic transformation. But Cuba remained stable and took the path of orderly reform. This shows the wisdom and determination of the Castro brothers.

So far, Latin America has been extensively influenced by socialism. Fidel Castro is a symbol in the continent. The US, no matter during the Cold War or in the post-Cold War era, constantly waged wars against small and weak countries across the world and subverted regimes of many countries. But it couldn’t do anything about Cuba. Decades of sanctions failed to smash the will of Cuban society. In the end, the Obama administration extended an olive branch to Cuba and restored diplomatic relations between the two countries. This reflects Fidel Castro's outstanding strategist.

As a small state, Cuba is not powerful enough to make waves worldwide. It is even hard for it to remain independent and be itself. But Cuba has managed to hold onto its path. For a long time, the Cuban government has put the well-being of its people as a priority of governance. The country is peaceful, much less infected by drug abuse and violent crimes rampant in many other Latin American countries. Its economy went through hard times after the break-up of the Soviet Union, but it managed to shift gears and implement reforms.

The Western propaganda machine has long demonized Fidel Castro. But Cuba under Fidel's leadership has never been a radical country. Its foreign policy has been largely moderate and open. The country has never wanted to make enemies and sour US-Cuba relations to a large extent were caused by the US.

Fidel Castro was an old friend of the Chinese people. Although Cuba and China were estranged for a time because of the Soviet Union, Castro had always been respectful to China’s achievements in socialist reform. He greatly contributed to the friendship of China and Cuba. He will be remembered by the Chinese people. May he rest in peace. 

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