UNBC Prof. Reacts to Castro’s Passing
Prince George, B.C. – Reaction today to the death of long-time Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Cuban state media announced his passing last night at the age of 90.
“Well certainly it’s not unexpected, he’d been sick for a number of years now and sort of exited the scene in terms of being leader of Cuba and he’d passed that on to his brother Raul but certainly a pivotal figure in the history of Cuba and the history of this hemisphere if not the world,” says UNBC political science prof. Dr. Gary Wilson.
“Because he really was a thorn in the side of the United States for so many years as he led the communist revolution. He was the bridgehead for communism in the Americas and during the Cold War this was really, really important. We all know about the Cuban Missile Crisis and these others things that happened while he was in power.”
Despite his “thorny” relationship with the U.S. he says Castro’s relationship with Canada was much different.
“Pierre Trudeau was one of the first if not the first western liberal democratic leader to actually visit Castro in Cuba in the 1970s. It certainly broke with the tradition of the time which was to try and isolate Castro and Cuba.”
But Wilson says it’s important people realize Cuba under Castro was “not a nice, democratic regime where opposition was allowed.”
“It was a communist regime and opponents were punished and put in jail so it wasn’t a free society.”
More than anything, he acknowledges Castro will go down as one of the most divisive figures of our time.
“That’s the case with any kind of revolutionary figure – one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter and it really depends just where you are within the context right?” he says.
“If you’re a Cuban who was relatively wealthy in the 1950s, owned property and everything and then had to flee because the communists came to power and you lost all of that, then I’m sure you wouldn’t feel too warmly towards Castro.
“But if you’re a left-wing revolutionary who is opposed to many of the things the U.S. is doing in Central and Latin America, then you see Castro as more of a kind of person who pokes his finger in the eye of the U.S. repeatedly and you celebrate that.”