Fidel Castro, former Prime Minister and President of Cuba, died yesterday at age 90. He was the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist leader that fought for the whole Cuban nation and took the country out of poverty and into… more poverty.
Castro was one of the last leaders left that managed to manipulate millions of his fellow countrymen into believing one of the greatest lies of the 20th Century: ‘communism works’.
That old supposed truism doesn’t hold too much weight in modern Cuba, since it has had to enact major economic reform in order to stay afloat in an ever-changing world. The Communist Party decided to embrace a freer market. They rented shops to private individuals and allowed them to sell their wares at normal prices and keep all the profits they earn. Of course, this isn’t quite a shift to liberal capitalism with the government still retaining a large amount of control over the individuals, but when we see the successes the shopkeepers have made, it gives us an insight into what Cuban life could have been like without Castro.
The amount of US control over the island prior to the Revolution is quite a complicated subject, but I would not say the overthrowing of the government itself was one of the ills of Castro. Batista did seem to promulgate a very corrupt version of capitalism. However, as the more enlightened of us know, the bad execution of a system doesn’t necessarily suggest the failings of the system itself. When the system is built atop a foundation of lies as with communism, we’ll always see it crumble. Cuba’s slow transition into a more liberal economy, to counteract the carnage caused by totalitarianism is at the forefront of these examples.
So without making explicit reference to stifling dictatorial oppression, the fact remains that the pernicious idea of communism and socialism may have robbed a bright future from all Cubans. With just a small dose of capitalism, Cuba has already seen a great difference in people being able to provide for themselves and their families. I hope that one day, a free and open market with individual rights and freedoms for all, will someday be as commonplace in Cuba as it is 330 miles
to the north. Today, all of Cuba will mourn the loss of their ‘great’ leader, but with it, they mourn the idea of what could have been, if history had taken a slightly different path.