No tears for Fidel Cas­tro

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Kath­leen Parker

Some­times his­tory doesn’t have to wait to judge — and when it comes to dic­ta­tors, even dead ones, we shouldn’t ei­ther.

With news of Fidel Cas­tro’s death Fri­day — fi­nal­mente — world lead­ers be­gan of­fer­ing eu­lo­gies, some of which were so va­pid or will­fully ig­no­rant that Cas­tro might have writ­ten them him­self. Ap­par­ently bereft of the right words, they treated Cas­tro’s bru­tal­ity as po­lite un­men­tion­ables, serv­ing up plat­i­tudes as though just an­other im­por­tant fig­ure had passed on to his maker. Did they miss the screams? Grow­ing up in Florida dur­ing the Cuban mis­sile crisis, run­ning bomb shel­ter drills and hear­ing the sto­ries of refugees who be­came life­long friends, I some­how man­aged to evade the charms of the rev­o­lu­tion­ary rogue, who merely re­placed one dic­ta­tor­ship with an­other far worse.

It’s one thing to be re­spect­ful of the Cuban peo­ple — and I’m not sug­gest­ing we cel­e­brate anyone’s death. But it is an­other to side­step the his­tor­i­cal hor­rors of a mur­der­ous, 60-year mil­i­tary regime and strike a pose of diplo­matic equa­nim­ity that as­suages only glut­tons of in­sin­cer­ity.

It’s true that Cuba boasts a high level of lit­er­acy and a health care sys­tem free to all. Then again, you don’t see many peo­ple from in­dus­tri­al­ized na­tions lin­ing up for heart surgery in Ha­vana.

Pres­i­dent Obama’s re­marks, though elo­quent, were care­fully mean­ing­less. Steer­ing clear of specifics, he noted that Cubans are filled with emo­tions, “re­call­ing the count­less ways in which Fidel Cas­tro al­tered the course of in­di­vid­ual lives, families, and of the Cuban na­tion.”

Yes, death, tor­ture, op­pres­sion, im­pris­on­ment, a state­con­trolled me­dia and a mis­er­able, state-run econ­omy will flat-out al­ter a per­son’s course. Obama then grabbed his­tory’s tail and gave it a yank, say­ing, “His­tory will record and judge the enor­mous im­pact of this sin­gu­lar fig­ure on the peo­ple and world around him.”

Aw, come on, let’s beat his­tory to it. One of the worst dic­ta­tors in modern his­tory has mer­ci­fully died. It doesn’t mat­ter that in 2008 he ceded con­trol of the gov­ern­ment to his brother Raul. Sym­bol­i­cally, his death lib­er­ates the psy­ches of at least three gen­er­a­tions of Cubans and Cuban-Amer­i­cans.

His­tory will strain lit­tle in judg­ing Cas­tro or in sort­ing out his ef­fect on the world. Now that Obama has eased the decades-long U.S. em­bargo, wisely in my view, as well as re­stric­tions on travel, the tiny na­tion has a shot at rein­ven­tion.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump would do well to stay in this lane rather than threaten to re­in­state the em­bargo. He should un­der­stand that Cas­tro loved the em­bargo more than anyone be­cause, as ever, he could blame the U.S. for his fail­ures. For Trump to fall into this same trap would be a post-mortem gift to Cas­tro and breathe new life into cruel legacy — the dic­ta­tor’s fi­nal tri­umph over Amer­ica and the sev­eral U.S. pres­i­dents who could never quite bury him.

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