Fidel Castro’s death was a cause for joy for millions of people who watched for 47 years as the Cuban communist dictator committed numerous human rights abuses, including killing and imprisoning homosexuals, trashing the country’s economic infrastructure, and transforming Cuba into a one-party nationalist socialist state.
In a New York Times letter to the editor, Schwab claimed Castro’s death was only celebrated by “Cuban exiles in Miami” and conservatives.
“Although the right detested him, those of us on the left respected his standing up for the poor, the downtrodden and the desperate masses of the developing world,” he wrote, lamenting, “in his time, there was no one like him.”
Schwab added that despite offending Washington “by his very impudence and survival ... Castro’s impact on politics in the third world was positive, while the model health care system his government developed and the educational opportunities he provided all Cubans will remain as among his greatest domestic achievements.”
Erika Loomis, professor of history at University of Rhode Island
In a blog post called “Castro: It’s Complicated!” Loomis denounced Americans for criticizing Castro on Twitter “at a time when their own nation has just put a fascist in office,” presumably referring to the democratically-elected Republican president-elect Donald Trump.
“Fidel Castro was a tremendously complex person who attempted to rebuild a society around ideas of justice while also refusing to allow democratic institutions to form,” he wrote. “He sought to resist U.S. imperialism while openly hoping his island would be devastated by a nuclear attack.”
Oh, but let’s not forget free healthcare and education! Ah, yes. Here it is: “He brought outstanding medical care and education to his own people and the poor around the world.”
Loomis also added that Castro, along with Che Guevara and Ho Chi Minh, was “an inspiration for billions of people around the world seeking freedom from colonial overlords.”
Ronald Howell, professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College
In a special column for the New York Daily News, Howell praised Castro for being “an unwavering champion of racial equality” and “the most dedicated and powerful proponent of racial justice the world has ever known.”
Howell wrote that Americans ignored Castro’s good deeds because it made them look weak.
“Through the turning of the last century, Cuba remained a significant presence in Africa, providing medical assistance and trying to strengthen diplomatic bonds,” he said. “No wonder all this never received coverage in the U.S. media. It would have made the United States look weak in its assertions that it treated all fairly.”
Althea Spencer Miller, professor of theology at Drew University
Miller posted a lengthy eulogy on Facebook mourning Castro’s death and how the dictator’s “complex life and politics were vilified here in the U.S.”
“--for me as an anglophone Caribbean person, he represented the provision of educational opportunities through scholarships, health opportunities, and national, social, and cultural opportunities.”
Healthcare and education…
Miller said Castro’s “imbrication of communism, mixed enterprise, and social and cultural development” attested to that kind of system working better than other systems such as “freedom of capital.”
Michael Oman-Reagan, PhD candidate at Memorial University
Reagan tweeted a Democracy Now article and included the quote, “Cuba is the only country in the world that sent soldiers to confront the army of the apartheid…” with “#Fidel” next to it.
The article calls Barack Obama’s handshake with Castro a “historic moment,” praising Castro for his “pivotal role” in ending apartheid in South Africa.
Dabney Evans, assistant professor of public health at Emory University
Evans told the Atlantic Journal she met Castro as a healthcare professional in Cuba.
“He had these piercing eyes and a piercing mind,” she said. “When he shook my hand, he really looked at me. I remember being in the very powerful presence of a person who obviously had a lot of charisma.”
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