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  • » 11/26/2016, 11.38


    Fidel Castro, father of the Cuban revolution, has died

    His body will be cremated today. He led the island for 50 years. In 2008 he passed the presidency to his brother Raul. He attempted to export the Marxist revolution to Latin America and Africa. Some economic and social achievements at home, along with a heavy oppression of human rights. The disappearance of myth after the fall of the USSR. The Catholic Church and the Popes, catalysts of a transformation on the island nation.

    Havana (AsiaNews) - Fidel Castro, former president and leader of the Cuban revolution, died last night at the age of 90. His death was announced by his brother Raul, the current president of the island, who added that the remains of the "lider maximo" will be cremated later today.

    Fidel ruled Cuba with an iron fist for 50 years. In 2008, after an illness, he passed on the reins of power to his brother Raul.

    Born into a family of landowners of Spanish origin, in 11953 Castro began fighting the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship. In 1959, with a small army of rebels, he took power.

    The United States was the first country to recognize the new government. But in 1960 the Socialists tones of the new leader began to provoke US hostility. In 1961 the Bay of Pigs invasion,  anti-Castro military operation, ended in failure. Looking for allies and support, Castro sided with the USSR and declared his a "Marxist-Leninist" revolution.

    In 1962 he allowed the USSR to deploy nuclear missiles on the island, bringing the world close to a third world war, defused thanks to the intervention of John XXIII.

    Eager to "export the revolution", he offered up Cuba for guerrilla training and sent his troops into Latin America and Africa to support the Marxist revolts, with some success only in Nicaragua.

    At home, he won the fight against illiteracy and guaranteed healthcare for all inhabitants of the island, but at the same time he stamped out - even with violence, torture and the death penalty - tens of thousands of his political opponents, gagged the media , and took total control of the populations life. Although Castro was educated by Jesuits and always estimated the figure of Jesus, the Church was seen as an enemy of the revolution: many priests were killed; Catholic schools nationalized.

    Thanks to a mixture of anti-Americanism, inflamed rhetoric, the promise of land distribution to peasants, the gigantic production of sugar cane, Fidel was hailed by many intellectuals and left-wing world leaders who glanced over the violations to human rights, freedom religious and even to homosexuals, interred as inmates in prison camps where they were "cured."

    The aura of success that surrounds the "lider maximo" began to wane in 1991 when the USSR collapsed and with it the enormous economic aid that kept Cuba afloat, also weakened by an United States embargo. Even today the island is marked by poverty lack of transport, food, homes, with simple goods such as soap, books and clothes sold at exorbitant prices.

    In 2008 Fidel handed the presidency to his brother Raul. And despite some easing the US embargo and some economic reform (including opening up to international tourism), Cubans are forced to live on less than $ 20 per month.

    According to many analysts, Raul – following the China and Vietnam model - he is slowly turning the Marxist legacy of Fidel opening up to the private market and the international community.

    The influence of the Church and the popes also played a large part in this transformation. In 1998 Pope John Paul II visited Cuba, a declared atheist regime, wishing that "Cuba open to the world and the world open itself to Cuba." In 2012 it was the turn of Benedict XVI, who called for eliminating "immovable positions and unilateral viewpoints which tend to make understanding more difficult and collaboration ineffective”.

    Finally, the visit of Pope Francis in 2015, and his hope to build "bridges" between Cuba and the international community and especially the United States. A year earlier, thanks to the good offices of the nunciature in Washington and Havana, there was an easing of sanctions against the island and a mutual promise to work for diplomatic relations.

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    See also

    26/03/2012 VATICAN - CUBA
    Pope: in Cuba true progress calls for respect for the spiritual dimension of man
    On arrival in the Caribbean island, Benedict XVI acknowledges the improvement of the situation of the Church, but "many areas remain in which greater progress can and ought to be made, especially as regards the indispensable public contribution that religion is called to make in the life of society".

    29/03/2012 VATICAN - CUBA
    The Pope blesses the future of Cuba and meets Fidel Castro
    In his farewell address at the airport in Havana, Benedict XVI invites Cubans to overcome the "limitations" to the fundamental freedoms and the "restrictive economic measures" to make progress on the island. The urgency of the dialogue and the overcoming of "unmovable positions" and "one-sided points of view" to the bishops and the faithful he asks "enthusiasm" and "consistency" in evangelization. Fidel Castro delighted at the beatification of Mother Teresa and John Paul.

    23/01/2004 TURKEY – CUBA
    Bartholomew I lands in Havana, while arrests of Christians continue

    02/04/2012 VATICAN - CUBA
    With Good Friday recognised as a holiday, Benedict XVI wins "small" victory
    The Holy See welcomes the Cuban government's decision to make it easier for people to attend Good Friday celebrations. The Catholic Church seeks greater space and freedom on the island.

    20/02/2008 CHINA - CUBA
    Why China yes and Cuba no?
    Both are dictatorships that do not respect human rights or even religious freedom, but their development has been very different, due to the Soviet origin of the Cuban model, to Fidel Castro's extremely long reign, and to his imprisonment in anti-American ideology. Beijing, and also Hanoi, have instead entered the global market and experienced great economic growth.

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