Sunday, 27 November 2016

Havana Hope

I have been trying to think whose death will have the effect on my generation that that of Fidel Castro has had on those who were young in the early days of Revolutionary Cuba.

There really isn't anyone at all, is there?

We have had the hysterical attempt to portray him as some kind of Caribbean Hitler.

But his body count was very low indeed compared to that of many a Western ally, or compared to that of any President of the United States, not least the present one.

Matters have now descended into the merely laughable, with ranting about how a state in the 1960s persecuted homosexuality, or a person born in the 1920s never cared for rock music.

And did you know that black youths in Cuba were sometimes subjected to Police harassment? I mean, imagine living in a country like that.

The truth is that, while there was a lot of posing among his fans in the West (not all of them, but quite a few), the hope that the Cuban Revolution gave to what was then called the Third World has proved electrifyingly real and enduring.

It extends to, for example, the poor, often black Americans whom Cuba trains to become doctors at its own expense because of the lack of opportunity in their own country.

That is all organised through the black church. Of course.

The failures and disappointments along the way do deserve to be remembered.

As do the complexities; there was a reason why Cuba held three days of national mourning when General Franco died.

But so does that hope, simply for its own sake.

There is not much of it in the world at the moment.

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