Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro is Dead

I grew up in Miami and there were two things that were considered indisputably evil 1) The Holocaust 2) Fidel Castro. In regard to the communist rebel 90 miles away I held this view for most of my childhood. After all there was no one to convince me otherwise and plenty of Cuban exiles hammered this portrait of a monster every day on the airwaves. Cuba was the tropical North Korea. There was an embargo and a complete freeze on understanding not only the man but the complexities of a contemporary nation.

As silly as this sounds the first crack in this frozen painting came from the documentary "The Buena Vista Social Club." I saw a country bedraggled by the embargo and suffering but also alive with joy. Then there was the Elian Gonzalez deportation of a child back to his father. And then there was the reports of the free health care, doctors who take care of not only Cubans but travel to other countries, cures for cancer, black dissidents who were being kept safe from the harm of trumped-up charges, Europeans who said it was their favorite destination in the Western Hemisphere, and finally Cubans from Miami who started flying back to Havana (via Mexico). I'm not Cuban but I think my understanding of Castro and Cuba is a lot more complex today than it was as a child. He was a tyrant and a thief who helped bring the world to the edge of a nuclear war. But he was also the only man who successfully opposed American corporations, offered shelter for people against white supremacist hegemony in this hemisphere, saved lives with socialized health care.

This isn't a love letter or a condemnation. Just an acknowledgment of complexity. Hell, even George Bush saved millions of lives with his AIDS program in Africa. And if I can acknowledge that the WORST GODAWFUL, MOST UNFORGIVABLY BAD president in American history managed to do something good for brown people in this world, I can hold space for a troubled and complex view of Castro. 

1 comment:

Trish said...

Hello, Aurin,
It's been a while since I've responded to Six Perfections and I'm so glad I opened your blog this morning. The thrill of reading something so beautiful and thought provoking makes me hopeful for the arts and humanity. What an intelligent and lucid commentary. Your insights into the complexity of the human condition resonate strongly with me and make me consider a request made in an opinion which appeared recently in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The writer implored those who might have voted for the candidate who outrageously offended and instilled fear in the hearts of millions of decent people suggested that anyone who did make that choice in the ballot box but who does not, in fact, embrace xenophobia, or misogyny, or bigotry, or homophobia, reach out to one of those groups for which s/he holds some acceptance and empathy. We all need to find connections with those who seem different right now. I find myself looking at strangers with suspicion and wondering who they voted for. That sort of response to recent events puts me into a category not too different from all those fearful folks who can't get past their own gut reactions to a reality that doesn't jibe with thier own world view; and that makes it so easy to fall into a trap that accomplishes exactly what the opposition wants: Divide and Conquer. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiring me to consider something so vital in living a full and realistic life.