Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fidel Castro

He's stepping aside, in case you haven't heard. Most of the Hispanic/Latino communities I've interacted with had a rather ambiguous view of him. Often a certain amount of respect was mixed in with more negative feelings--he succeeded in implementing ideals that had been longed for in various revolutions and reforms throughout Latin America...but he also did so on the back of human rights abuses. Rarely did it involve the hate for him found in the Cuban exile community...likely because most of those I knew were Mexican, Dominican, Argentinian, etc.

The history is sobering--he overthrew a corrupt dictator who had US support, and US support for dictators has been our black eye throughout Latin America (and the world even). Castro wasn't nearly as radical at the time, and he sought US approval and support. It was when he didn't get it that he turned to USSR and became much more radical.

None of which excuses the abuses...but it does place some of the blame on us as well. And it helps show how history is never as simple as people like to present it.

Anyway, I had one college prof who actually went on a double date with Castro once. This was before the revolution. He and the man who would become my professor's husband were in university together and went on a double date. Profa Cortina and her husband were among those who fled immediately after the revolution--she already had a doctorate in Cuba, but was stuck cleaning hospitals in the US. But then she learned English (as all immigrants try) and earned a BA and MA in Michigan and ended up starting the exchange program that I went on to Spain. Actually, I found an online tribute to her at my alma mater's website...and turns out some of the details are slightly different, but mostly the same. I love the detail about remembering Fidel's dreams to play baseball. And I never knew about her husband's involvement in Bay of Pigs. Huh.

4 comments:

TK42ONE said...

My father-in-law was childhood friends with Fidel's brother (or somehow closely linked to the Castro family - I'm not sure, he doesn't really talk about it). Anyway, what I find most interesting is my sister-in-law calls him early this morning to tell him Fidel stepped down. But in the many many years I've known him, he's never mentioned any opinion on Castro. Always odd to me, I figured being from Cuba, he'd have a voice one way or the other.

Daniel Ausema said...

Yeah, interesting that he doesn't share his opinion. Does he talk about other aspects of Cuba from when he did live there?

TK42ONE said...

Not really. His mother may mention something about Cuba in passing, but rarely will they talk about their time there. I think only once did she (his mom) tell me a story about Cuba and it was when somebody died (I think her brother or uncle or something) and they all mourned in their house for several days before coming out. But I heard the story so long ago I'm not even sure of all the details. But never have I heard anything about Castro other than the photo I saw over Christmas with Fidel and his brother and he mentioned he knew the brother as a kid.

Daniel Ausema said...

My father-in-law doesn't say a lot about Netherlands, where he was born, I guess. I do remember him telling me quite a bit once in response to questions I was asking. I'm guessing that's mostly a result of how young he was (5 or so?) when his family moved to Canada, though. And it probably has to do with the fact I don't see them all that frequently, and there's usually so much else going on when we do.