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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Adios, Fidel Castro.

The word "adios" in Spanish literally translated, means "go to God." Unlike "hasta luego," or "see you soon," adios is said only at the time of final partings to the land of no return.

Formally, today I should be saying "adios" to Fidel Castro, the long-lived Cuban dictator who died last night at the age of 90. But I can't bring myself to do that today, perhaps never.

My family was born in Cuba, and Castro is the main reason why most of us are thankful that we now live in the United States. My parents and relatives heard the rhetoric posed by Castro right after he took over the island, and did not like what they heard. They did not like what they saw; Castro's armed troops storming streets in olive drab, sporting beards in a land where clean shaven men with neatly trimmed mustaches were the norm.

Castro spouted anti-communist slogans, swore there would be religious tolerance and promised democratic freedoms. No sooner than he grabbed power from the corrupt Fulgencio Batista dictatorship than the tide turned and hell broke loose. "I am Fidel Castro," he said, "and we have come to liberate Cuba." 

Not quite.

Fidel sporting a Rolex watch.
So much for anti-capitalism. 

Castro took over all private industries (including properties belonging to United States companies) and forced homeowners to "share" their houses with total strangers. All dissenters got hauled to the "Paredon" (the wall) and shot.  

Children were taken from their families and placed in state schools so they could be indoctrinated by the new regime. Desperate parents who were able sent their children to live out of the country. This was the case with some of my cousins and family friends.

Many of Castro's revolutionary cronies (including the infamous Che Guevara) ended up dead. From a public relations standpoint, a dead former revolutionary did much more good to Castro's cause. And it worked. 

Cuba became a land of repression, with laws quashing freedom of assembly, movement, expression and the press. The educational system was equally limiting. "The universities are available only to those who share my revolutionary beliefs," he said. Clearly, speaking one's mind was a privilege available to very few. 

During a four-hour speech after his takeover of Cuba, Castro said, "History will absolve me." That is yet to be ascertained, as the days, months and years go by and historians write the books. Fidel's actions caused my family and a host of other Cubans untold grief and separation from their loved ones, and their nation. I speak for most of them candidly that we will likely not absolve him of anything, ever.

But most importantly, Castro died an atheist, an unbeliever in any God of any kind. Can I, can any member of my family, can any number of Cubans say "Adios, Fidel" and send him to God? 

Nor can I say "Hasta luego," a flip see you later. Go rot in hell is what I have left.

Amen, that will have to do.