After my initial euphoria in solidarity with many of my fellow Cuban compatriots rejoicing over the death of this ignominious man, I feel compelled to share what has subsequently turned into an ambivalence over the passing of this vengeful and destructive man who upended the life of an entire nation and who for 35 days short of 58 years remained tantalizing everyone inside his Gulag and the rest of us, luckier to have found refuge physically outside his failed inferno.
It has become apparent to me that this man’s death really doesn’t mark anything beyond the faint consolation of recognizing that mercifully, evil men aren’t immortal. After my grandparents’ generation passed and all my parents’ siblings and my father died as well, conscious of being next in line, I was beginning to wonder about this monster’s longevity vis-à-vis my own mortality. At the very least, I wanted to outlive him.
However, it’s also sorrowful that his death ends his physical struggles with gastro-intestinal malignancies. He’s now free of stoma bags for the collection of his waste that reduced him to an undignified existence among those at his deathbed who were forced to withstand his repulsive stench, hopefully watching him cringe in pain around the clock. His last breath released him. He’s no longer reduced to the denigrated wretchedness of his decaying body, which makes many like me regret the end of his life. As pejoratively as these images that consoled me over the last eight years communicate many of my very large character flaws, sensing the quality of his slowly expiring, baleful life provided me mean-spirited comfort, the antidote of the life-long agony his existence caused so many millions of us who suffered by the systematic destruction of our beloved country under his command.
Nonetheless, there’s plenty of evidence to assert that his end won’t bring anyone closure over having fled into exile, many as me, young and innocent children. Regrettably, his death will not assuage the hurt of not being raised at home with loving, supportive grandparents and every other close relative we loved dearly, whose death through the years saddened us and made our isolation from our family left behind that more difficult to bear when the news reached us. Surely, it won’t revive any of our deceased family members and childhood friends who died along the way, all equally dreaming of a return to a vibrant, energized cultural existence in the Cuba Castro’s totalitarianism destroyed one institution at a time with bitterness and disdain in retribution for the sins of his mother who conceived him out of wedlock with the man who paid her housekeeping wages. No, his death will not quiet the anguish of six decades, for good people died and we, the few, were away to witness at a safe distance as our original culture and social structures imploded back home.
A careful observation of the situation and the facts today in Cuba raise my dissatisfaction with this man’s death ostensibly being a non-event. After almost six decades in power, his ideological system of theft, abuse, corruption, repression and annihilation is ensconced and woven into the fiber of the decaying society engulfing my beloved homeland. Alas, change is only possible with a new constitution, a copy of ours in the US, with specific tenets of justice and equality guaranteeing individual, inalienable rights, a respect for private property and an independent judiciary within a system of law and order.
In today’s Cuba, despite the death of this perverse tyrant, power remains concentrated at the top, and at the top sits a ruthless brother-survivor who continues to carry out the same Castro abuse perpetrated against all who raise their voice in dissent. This Castro, as his brother did, perceives change as weakness. As I’ve observed, la yegua Castro is equally as vile and vicious as el Caballo Castro. He understands how any perceived undermining of his authoritarian rule places in peril his life and the life of his descendants, who unlike the rest of their eleven million compatriots enjoy a lifestyle of excesses sipping champagne and munching on Beluga caviar as they cruise in luxury around the world while the rest try to survive in utter despair and misery.
In essence, given the present state of life in Cuba, it would take a twenty-first century miracle to foster change. I’m lucky for living in a country I love, but I confess that despite the mountain of years in exile, there remains a small, secret compartment in my heart filled with very stirring emotions stowed away, longing for a return to my real home someday, even while consciously understanding the depth of Thomas Wolfe’s assertion, especially knowing that my real home was bulldozed six decades ago. Some would label my emotions nostalgic, yet I attribute them to a desire to safeguard at least a small part of the innocence I lost as a consequence of the despair the extrication from my way of life caused me at a very young age.
In closing, though, I leave you with a clear refrain: “May Fidel Castro’s immortal soul wander through hell for infinity and may worse suffering than humans can conceive beset his ever-lasting soul forever and ever.”