A lot of the recognition of Fidel Castro as one of the great figures of recent world history has been tempered with the acknowledgment that the United States has insisted for fifty years that he be categorized as a dictator and oppressor.
But it's hard not to notice that the consequences of Castro's authoritarian regime have included health care, education, literacy, and broad social equality for most of Cuba's diverse people:
“See this?” says Lino Espinoza, pinching the dark flesh of his forearm. “I am a black man, the descendant of slaves brought to Cuba. But I fought with Fidel. Black fighters were welcome in his army.
“And you know what I did after the revolution? I studied in Moscow and became a doctor. My friend over here was a teacher. This other man was a sports administrator. None of us would have had education, gone to university, if not for Fidel."There are many other authoritarian regimes in Central America, and historically most of them have had the support of the United States. Most have focussed their efforts on empowering the mafia, and the feudal landholders, and the banana and sugar companies. Emphasis on mass education, health care, and social equality? Not so much, let's say.
I've never gone to Cuba.Not saying I never would, but I'm a writer, and many Cuban writers end up in jail. But as they take him to his grave this week, I'd say Fidel Castro deserves some recognition and some respect.
Image: Huffington Post