For all that has been written about Fidel Castro since his passing Friday morning, painfully few editorials have bothered to challenge themselves to consider the many successes of the Cuban Revolution, the lives it has saved nor the humility of the longest serving President in world history.
To the latter point, go to Cuba today and you will not find his likeness splashed gaudily anywhere – least of all the lapel pins, murals and monolithic statues that characterized the tin pot dictatorial regimes of Saddam Hussein or Kim Jong-il. Since Castro ascended to the Presidency, illiteracy on the island nation has vanished, along with diseases such as malaria. Even under the truncheon of American sanctions, Cuba has managed to best their unsanctioned Latin American neighbors in almost all key indicators of health and education, including life expectancy, HIV transmission and crime. Literally thousands upon thousands of lives have been saved by Castro’s revolutionary policies, which can be confirmed by simple comparison with the Dominican Republic: a country very similar to Cuba in terms of geography, demographics and economy, but with much poorer outcomes for their population. Human rights are a pet issue among the pontificating American press, and should be. Let them begin their flood of concern over their own country’s eye-popping rate of incarceration, 2.1 million prisoners, 3,000 of whom are marked for death before getting flustered over Cuba’s relatively tiny prison population of 60,000 in a country that abolished capital punishment 13 years ago. And this is to say nothing of the reams of homeless and drug-addicted found throughout every country in the Western Hemisphere, yet have all but disappeared under Castro’s guidance. Cuba is not a perfect country, but it is a remarkable one due to the visionary leadership of Fidel Castro. Just as he survived 638 assassination attempts to pass away peacefully at age 90, so too has his country survived, and often flourished, in the face adversity and struggle. Though the man his gone, the country will prosper in an new era of detente if it sticks with the core principles that have guided its successes since 1959. There will be tumult, but as a sagacious man once said: “a revolution is not a bed of roses.”