Publicat: 28 Noiembrie, 2016 - 14:40
The End of an Era

28 NOV 2016:  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been criticized by some who objected to his remarks following the death of former Cuban President Fidel Castro.  Trudeau called Castro a "legendary revolutionary and orator" who made significant improvements to Cuba's education and health-care systems. In response to his critics, the Prime Minister said his remarks were intended to mark the death of a former head of a country with which Canada has had a long relationship.

Acknowledging that Castro was a dictator, and that some people who had been impacted by the his regime might have differing views, Trudeau said,  "He certainly was a polarizing figure and there certainly were significant concerns around human rights.

"That's something that I'm open about and highlighted, but on the passing of his death I expressed a statement that highlighted the deep connection between the people of Canada and the people of Cuba."

As those of us in travel and tourism know, The Prime Minister is correct. There is, and has been for decades, a strong bond between Cuba and Canadians.  While nobody condones the human rights violations of any regime, Castro was one of the 20th century's most influential leaders, and his death is a time to extend condolences and support for the Cuban people.


In Miami, news of Fidel Castro's death saw jubilant crowds spill onto the streets of Little Havana. Waving Cuban flags and beating pots and pans.

Hundreds gathered outside the neighborhood's Versailles restaurant, a longtime haunt of the exile community, spilling out on to the street from the sidewalk as they chanted, sang, danced and took videos and selfies in what can be regarded as a distasteful and inappropriate response to the death of any human being.


President Obama issued a statement Saturday morning, "Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people.

"We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.

"History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him."

"In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future," Obama said.

"As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America."


US President elect Donald Trump used his favoured form of communication to tweet, “Fidel Castro is dead!”

Much later he issued a statement saying, “The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades.  Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights."  


Trump’s condemnation of Castro is somewhat ironic, given the praise he lavished throughout his campaign on Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who has unquestionably contributed to similar human rights abuses.

However, despite this unlikely bromance between Trump and Putin, the Russian leader’s  response to Castro’s death (released after Trump’s tweet) has been seen in some quarters as a rebuke to Trump and the US, as Putin praised Castro for being, “a sincere and reliable friend of Russia.”


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon also offered his condolences to the Cuban people and the family of Fidel Castro. Ban said that "at this time of national mourning, I offer the support of the United Nations to work alongside the people of the island."

He said that under Castro’s rule, Cuba made advances in the fields of education, literacy and health, and said he hoped, "Cuba will continue to advance on a path of reform and greater prosperity."


Meanwhile, as Cuba prepares a massive commemoration for the leader of its socialist revolution, tens of thousands of high-season travellers have found themselves accidental witnesses to history - and smack in the middle of a sombre city that's little like its usual exuberant self.

“Who knows what tomorrow or after nine days brings in terms of the country and what happens for the future,” said Graham Palmer, a 36-year-old financial director from London. “And I think we will certainly look back at the airport tomorrow and feel quite privileged that we've been here.”

But along with the awe at being present at this historic time, there's a tinge of regret at seeing such a subdued Havana.

Many museums are closed, and a state-sanctioned ban on live music has shuttered concerts and nightspots including the famed Tropicana nightclub. Old Havana is eerily devoid of the roving troubadours whose Buena Vista Social Club croonings normally echo through the cobblestone streets. And the 1950s classic cars that function as collective taxis are doing without the usual reggaeton at max volume.

The University of Havana and the Revolution Plaza, where Castro's ashes are to be on display starting Monday, have already been cordoned off and there is no access to the towering monument to independence hero Jose Marti.

Meanwhile a citywide ban on most alcohol sales means those savoring Cuban cigars for the first time have to do so without the traditional accompanying snifter of rum.

Lined up outdoors at the Coppelia ice cream parlour in downtown Havana, conversations were more subdued than the animated tones for which Cubans are famed.

There's a sense that having a good time right now would be considered disrespectful to the memory of the man who remade Cuba into a socialist state and wholly determined its fortunes from the 1959 revolution until severe illness forced him from power a decade ago.

“We are in mourning because the president died,” said Manuel Ruiz, a 57-year-old parking attendant. “He is a man who deserves respect.”

A Placido Domingo concert Saturday night was cancelled, as was the nightly cannon-firing ceremony that in colonial times signalled the closing of Havana harbour.

More than three million tourists visited Cuba last year, and the government expects even more this season as interest explodes due to the current detente between Havana and Washington.

On Monday the first commercial flights from the US to Havana are scheduled to land. But with the national mourning in place through Castro's Dec. 4 funeral, those passengers could still find relatively little to do.


There are no statues of Fidel Castro in Cuba. No school, street, government building or city bears his name. And while his likeness stares back from billboards and official portraits, it is absent from pesos and postage stamps.

As the island's unchallenged leader for nearly a half-century before falling ill in 2006, Castro forbade monuments in his honour only weeks after his rebels toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista on New Year's Day 1959. He then spent decades railing against the idolatry encouraged by other communist leaders, such as Mao Zedong, Josef Stalin or North Korea's Kim family.

“There is no cult of personality around any living revolutionary,” Castro said in 2003. “The leaders of this country are human beings, not gods.”

Yet despite his distaste for such honours, the Marxist Castro stood as a globally recognized symbol of resistance to Washington and free-market capitalism, a hero to left-wing Latin American allies whose movements he helped inspire and an evil genius to his foes in Miami.

He was the most dominant figure in Cuba, and Cuban state media amplified his every public act or utterance.

“The personality cult around Castro ... is continually enhanced.” He “lives bathed in the absolute adulation orchestrated by the propaganda organs of his regime,” biographer Tad Szulc wrote in “Fidel: A Critical Portrait.”

Over the years, that propaganda machine churned out posters and framed portraits that were hung in government offices and plastered everywhere from pizza parlours to baseball stadiums. His words became catchphrases displayed on billboards along the island's potholed highways.

Tens of thousands of Cubans were summoned to his frequent speeches, which rambled for hours under the broiling Caribbean sun and were rebroadcast on state television.

Even after turning over the presidency to his younger brother, Raul, Castro still cast a long shadow, publishing lengthy essays that were carried in every Cuban newspaper, incorporated into school curriculums and painstakingly read by newscasters, who ate up airtime slogging through every word.

Castro once told filmmaker Oliver that Stone he “never spent one second” thinking about how he would be remembered.

However, even many Cuban exiles grudgingly conceded the brilliance of a man who defied 11 different administrations in Washington, survived numerous attempts to topple or assassinate him and outlived many of his most bitter enemies.

Shortly after Castro's rebels swarmed into Havana in 1959, sculptor Enzo Gallo Chiapardi erected a marble monument in the new leader's honour near the Columbia military base.

“To Fidel, who knows how to break the chains of dictatorship with the call to liberty,” read the inscription. A furious Castro ordered it torn down.

Over the years, he instead made other revolutionary figures into icons, most notably Ernesto “Che” Guevara, whose name and face appear on billboards, stadiums, 3-peso bills and a six-story portrait that towers over Havana's Revolution Plaza.

Yet now that he is gone, will Havana's Jose Marti International Airport be renamed or statues of Castro erected in public parks?

However, because Castro lived to be an ailing old man, his mystique will never rival that of the much-romanticized “Che,” said Paul Dosal, a history professor at the University of South Florida. Guevara was killed at age 39, and today his visage graces T-shirts, keychains and refrigerator magnets around the world.

“It will be difficult, if not impossible, for any subsequent government to recast or replace that final image,” Dosal said. “A revolutionary who dies of old age is no longer such a revolutionary.”

Sursa: eTN