On the Occasion of the Death of Fidel Castro by Paxti Ariet

I have had sometime to think over the death of Fidel Castro and the impact that event has on the whole world but I especially want to address the Cuban communityy in exile. As a child of exiles I have heard the stories of the exiles when the revolution was triumphant in 1959. I have heard about the losses and deaths. I am not blind to any of all that has happened . My family too was one that lost many things because of the revolution. My own father came alone at the age of 11 as a refugee because of lies that were spread by the counter revolutionaries. He suffered as a refugee, then was not able to see his mother for another five years after his father came the next year. Therefore I will not speak ill nor demonize those that have suffered because of the revolution because that was real pain and hardship that they went through. I will, however, criticize their analysis of WHY it happened and the economic shape of Cuba pre-1959. Many of you, including my family, who lost because of the revolution were in control of resources that were essential to share with the rest of Cuba. For example my family owned two pharmacies in Havana. My grandfather was a good man who would treat people as a doctor for free and would even give away medicine to the poor. For all that the loss of those businesses were painful, I understand that for a country to be able to provide healthcare and medicine to its people under a program of universal healthcare, it is needed that the state have control over the medicine to regulate pricing to make sure that there isn’t gouging or other bad practices. I also know that most of the country’s land was owned by foreign corporations. The number one was the United States. I can understand a people who have been under the thumb of first the Spanish and now the Americans would want full control of their land, especially for food production and especially on an Island. Before the revolution, the government of Cuba would allow the US to come in and buy lands from the peasants and then force the peasants into sharecropping agreements where the peasants could be kicked off the land at any moment. Therefore agrarian reform was essential to the revolution. As to the deaths that occurred in the initial stages of the revolution, I will say that mistakes are always made in a transition era. Transition is always chaotic and yes I can agree that maybe people who should not have been killed were killed. I know this is no consolation to the families that were left behind.

As to the economic situation of Cuba I will repeat what has always been said that the embargo and sanctions against Cuba have always been a crippling factor for the country. This limits access to essential resources such as food, seeds, medicine, etc. Through it all, however, the state institutions have remained. For example, through all the economic problems there was still a free healthcare system, a free education system, etc. They were not cut away like in capitalist countries with austerity measures. In capitalism the first institutions that are done away with in an economic crisis are the social welfare institutions. Cuba has never abandoned these, even when things were tough and even when resources for those institutions were limited by scarcity. This also lead to strict rationing of everything, including food. This was done to make sure every Cuban can eat. Yes, there has always been scarcity, but this scarcity was because of the sanctions and embargo.

Now to the topic of political dissidents in Cuba, every country has the right to defend itself from threats foreign and domestic. Even in the US when a group comes and says they want to overthrow the state and destroy the government, that group is put under scrutiny, monitored and eventually arrested and/or silenced. Cuba is no different especially with a gigantic hostile enemy only 90 miles away.

I would like now to direct my attention to the exile community in Miami that are celebrating the death of Fidel Castro. I see you in the streets waving the Cuban flag along with holding signs for Trump/Pence. You are hypocrites for doing so. How can you claim to love your country yet you have consistently supported the sanctions and embargo that have crippled your country? How can you support the US, a country that used our beloved country as a playground and left millions hungry and homeless, in their effort to expand their empire? How can you condemn the Cubans that are still on the island for not rising up when you yourself left and are not there and have not been there to help Cuba through its hard times? Instead you ran away and became North Americans. You then support a man like Trump that is hostile to other Latino/a people? How can you hold his sign while waving the flag of our Country?

But I know the answer, I grew up in Miami and have seen what you have turned it into. It is a segregated ghetto with areas reserved exclusively for the white exiles of the 60’s or “First Wave”. You allocate all the wealth of the city in Kendall, Westchester, Aventura, Miami Beach, and Brickell. But you leave nothing for the other areas. You condemn the blacks to live in opa loca, Liberty City, Little Haiti and Downtown. You look down on Haitians, Blacks, other Latinos especially if they are from Central America.Then, when your own people come to the US, because of the lies you promised them you sanction them to only live in Hialeah, which is a hell hole. You show the country and the world a picture of Miami that is a lie. A paradise of beaches and upscale Cuban restaurants. However you never mention the poverty, high cost of living, lack of good paying jobs, racist white Cuban police force, nepotism in the local government, and let’s not forget the gentrification that is spearheaded by people like Donald Trump with his buildings in Miami. Instead of being in the streets celebrating the death of a man, fix your city, not for the Whites but for all that call Miami home.