While the children of Operation Pedro Pan celebrate the death of tyrant, over the weekend the history revisionists in the Labour party for the sake of contrarianism have tried to salvage Castro's Cuba from the wreckage of his own creation. If you're one of those people, don't bother. Anybody who reads the Amnesty International report in the last year of Castro's reign, if he's honest enough will quickly be disabused of any ill advised support for the communist regime he ran in Cuba.
Castro came to public notoriety with the backing of the United States when he first attempted to overthrew the military coup under Batista in 1953. Cubans had be reeling for change ever since the Spanish-American war and Castro capitalised on their desperation but what replaced it was far short of liberation. It wasn't difficult to turn people against Batista (who himself usurped power in 1952) and Castro had gained international attention when he lead a failed attack in Santiago De Cuba against a Cuban military base. Released after just two years of prison, he would leave the country with his brother Raul to raise money in Miami and build forces in Mexico to organize another invasion.
Hindsight is a great thing, televising Castro's trial transformed his handful of supporters into a revolution that rallied the country. After he returned to Cuba with Che Guevara in 1956 he was able to gain even further support among the poorer factions of the country. Our second mistake came after Castro took power, the embargo that followed his assent became the greatest resource for Castro to continue both the regime and the police state. "Its not socialism that fails Cuba it's the blockade".
Being one of the few to impose communism from within the country sans an invasion from the Soviets, Castro would never willingly concede defeat. When the US became unwilling to trade with Cuba, Guevara who became head of the Cuban national bank signed a trade deal with the Soviet Union. Their subsidies propped up the Cuban economy until the end of the Cold war which, after an abrupt end brought them to the brink of famine. Still even when Castro resigned, a decade and a half later the economy was stagnant and income per head was lower than most of Latin America but as one of the richest men alive I can't help but notice he didn't do so bad.
Soon "Elecciones y que" became the mantra "Elecctiones y que", "Elections so what". It was understandable why the Americans imposed the blockade, even though I feel it was the wrong thing to do. But before Castro could build relations with the Soviet Union, he would sink even lower. He publicly opposed the Prague spring, the Velvet Revolution that would overthrow dictatorship in Czechslovakia and reestablish itself as an independent democratic state. In part this was just a political move but it wasn't unlike him to support a totalitarian ideology, not only in Cuba and Prague but also through his backing of both the IRA and the FARC.
The La Coubre explosion, the bay of pigs and the CIA assassination attempts on Castro life were all exploited for justification to bring Cuba closer to a Soviet style regime. Though supporters would try and redeem him some favor by reminding us he opposed South African apartheid but it's not as though the man really cared for the proletariat over political power.
He never submitted himself to the ballot box and not one election was ever held in Cuba. The polity didn't even have the pretense of being a democracy. Opposition parties are banned, dissidents are imprisoned or exiled, hostile media was shut down, the Cuban administration was filled with friends and family and Cubans remain unable to travel abroad or even to parts of their own country where tourism is popular.
Let us also not forget, that some of the darkest in word history came in 1961 with American missiles in Turkey and Soviet missiles "on that imprisoned island" in Cuba, (which Castro wanted to use) we were on the edge of a nuclear holocaust.
Nothing is more unpalatable than listening to a socialist born and raised in the Anglo sphere argue that this is somehow justified by the number of hospitals they produce or their education system being better than other countries.
Castro has failed Cuba and even on his death bed it remains illegal to discuss the economy, to write letters to the government, to report on political developments, to speak to international reporters, to advocate human rights, to visit friends and relatives outside your local area without government permission. Cubans are arrested without warrants, and prosecuted for failing to denounce fellow citizens or for "other acts against state security" which broadens as far as Castro's taste.
Still we can only hope one day to celebrate liberty and freedom in Cuba.