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Fidel Castro turns out to be polarising even in death

Death of Cuba’s former strongman leaves the world divided in its opinion of the world’s last prominent revolutionary

Image Credit: REUTERS
Marian Martin (L) looks at a portrait of Cuba's late President Fidel Castro after paying tribute to Castro along with her sister and mother at the Jose Marti Memorial in Revolution Square in Havana, Cuba, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
Gulf News

With the death of Fidel Castro, the page is turned on one of the world’s last prominent revolutionaries who have left their mark on the world, said the UAE’s Al Khaleej.

“Perhaps one of Castro’s greatest achievements is that he stood up to the mightiest world power that was a stone’s throw away, and made Cuba a hub for the liberation movement in Latin America. Domestically, his greatest achievement was building a successful and free health care system. Doctors were widely available throughout Cuba and the country achieved infant mortality rates that are equal or even better than those in western countries. He also managed to eradicate illiteracy by more than 98 per cent. Despite conflicting views, like all great men, Castro will remain a legend for global revolutions that left their mark and impact on the modern world.”

Politicians and the public were divided in their stands regarding the late Fidel Castro, said the London-based pan-Arab paper Al Quds Al Arabi. “Regardless of conflicting views on Castro, what is clear is the immense global and popular response on news of his passing. Castro’s character and the country he ruled, as well as incidents that led to him seizing power, his survival of many assassination attempts and standing strong before rapid historic changes around the world, is summary of the modern era’s contradictions and consequences. Castro’s death provided an occasion to discuss how the Cuban revolution inspired other revolutions around the world, such as in Asia, Latin America and Africa. Castro’s compassion with revolutions in Algeria, Egypt and Palestine, and the role he played in the Non-Aligned Movement, also contributed to making him a symbolic figure.”

Castro passed away as the longest reigning president in the 20th century, said Egypt’s Al Ahram. “This means that 11 US Presidents were elected during Castro’s rule. Castro was not merely a ruler or a normal leader, he is a part of the world’s modern history. Perhaps the world will remember him for standing up to the world’s strongest power, the US, which failed to overthrow him. The world will also remember him for upholding a communist regime, when the home of communism itself, the Soviet Union, collapsed in 1990. He was even able to withstand the chokehold of an economic blockade imposed on Cuba by the US.”

Castro was the last of the 20th century’s legends, who moulded the era in their image, said the Lebanon’s Daily Star.

“Yet Castro’s revolution is now 60 years old, and as necessary as it was to overthrow Batista’s corrupt regime then, now too it is imperative that Cuba throws off the yoke of outdated ideals and bankrupt politics. Take China, for example. Mao imposed Marxist ideology on his country for more than a quarter of a century. Yet, since his death, China has taken huge strides forward, becoming a world powerhouse. Cuba, a country at the crossroads of the US, Latin America and the Caribbean, is a place of great and unique promise. But never could it change with Castro’s presence looming so large. Hopefully now Cubans can turn a page and enter the 21st century, as the world says goodbye to the final relic of the last one.”