01 December 2016, The Tablet

Liberty must have a place in the future


Fidel Castro, who has died aged 90, could have been so much better. As the ruler of Cuba for nearly half a century, it was within his reach to fashion a society that exalted human dignity in all aspects – a beacon of freedom to Latin America and to the international Left. Instead, while promoting the health and education of the masses, he made Cuba an international byword for repression. This is the great contradiction at the heart of Castro’s Cuba. Those who did not conform to the dictator’s expectations and demands were imprisoned or exiled, or in some cases, shot. So despite his overthrow of the merciless mafia-state run by Fulgencio Batista, Castro’s Cuba is still poor, its people still downtrodden – though better educated and healthier than their Central American neighbours – and the police state is still merciless.

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