Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Cuba Libre?

Today I woke up to the news that 81-year-old Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro, submitted his letter of resignation as president, sighting ailing health. After a half-century of tyrannical rule (oh, excuse me, autocratic rule), Cubans are left wondering what's next. According to an article at Foxnews.com:

About 1.5 million Cubans and Cuban-Americans live in the U.S., two-thirds of them in Florida, and the majority in Miami-Dade County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Since they began arriving, the Miami area has become a mostly Hispanic, bustling city that is a hub for international trade and finance, but also deals with poverty. What was once a city marked by Southern drawls in English transformed into a place where Spanish is spoken everywhere. [[Source: Fox News.com, Associated Press, "Miami's Little Havana Reacts to Castro Resignation," http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,331161,00.html, accessed Feb. 19, 2008]]

My guess is that they've probably experienced a myriad of emotions, only to feel somewhat numb. After all, for over fifty years, governments/presidents have attempted to overthrow him--all unsuccessfully. Even when communism fell in Eastern Europe, Fidel was still going strong!

Then when news of Fidel's health spread and it looked like death was coming for him, many thought, finally, freedom!, but it looked like not even Death wants Fidel! Ni la muerte lo quiere.

What of Fidel's brother, Raul, who waits in the wings to take over as president of Cuba? Some say he's worse; others say he's another tyrant but not as ruthless. Who's to say except the people who are oppressed under the bureaucratic thumb?

Although I'm not a Cuban or Cuban-American, I am of Hispanic descent, so I feel for my socios. If I lived in a Pollyanna world, I might be idealistically hopeful that Cubans would at long last be free and experience the freedoms that democracy has to offer. All Cuban-Americans who long to return to see relatives and loved ones, and to go back to Cuba to help their fellowman would have that liberty. But, the reality is that that's most likely not going to happen. Not for another 25+ years when Raul's health begins to fail--and even then solo Dios sabe.

So, with baited breath, many Cuban-Americans wait to see what's next for their island and their people. Que Dios los cuide.

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