Castro's little lie

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Fidel Castro’s name has haunted me since I was a child in Venezuela, frequently hearing horror stories about him from my expatriate Cuban family. He was my political boogeyman, lurking in the shadows to arrest my freedom-loving parents. He was the monster who fostered poverty, forcing people to wait in long lines for food rations. As an older child in Miami, the grocery store was like a forum; old Cuban men vehemently exclaimed, “The problem with Cuba is...” They’d shout “*¡Cuba Libre!*” while gesticulating madly or staring off toward distant memories of a Cuban paradise.

Ex-patriots or not, a free Cuba is in all Cubans’ hearts, but that reality isn’t soon coming. While Castro’s resignation has shone light on the possibility of freedom from his oppressive regime, this is easier said than done.

For most Cuban ex-patriots like my family, Castro’s Feb. 19 resignation is a cop-out. He’s violated every human right possible, and jailed many people for saying even one word against his policies. He placed shooting ranges next to elementary schools, and even started the Union of Pioneers of Cuba, a youth brigade that teaches children to stray away from God (as all good Marxists should) and to instead idealize Castro (as all good Cubans should). Even the 1978 Code of the Child and of Youth states that “Society and the State work for the efficient protection of youth against all influences contrary to their communist formation.”

Following these offensive practices, Castro’s resignation is not quite the end Cuban people, such as myself, wished to see. In fact, Castro’s death is what most freedom-loving Cubans feel would bring the island closer to freedom. Castro survived his long reign as dictator by becoming a symbol of revolution and infusing this pride in the people, speaking of Cubans as noble “revolutionaries” who stand and fight against their enemies. Infusing this supposed pride in the minds of Cubas, in addition to sending some into exile and scaring others into silence, allowed him to remain in power for so long. As such, this monster who has worked so hard to remain a totalitarian dictator is not likely to give up his glory so easily. His resignation only signals his intention to help support a new symbol of modern communist ideals, manifested in the image of his younger brother, Raul Castro, who is replacing him.

Before you can free a country, you have to free its people from misguided ideals. If these ideals live on in his brother, the symbol of Castro’s totalitarian reign will live on as well.

Last week, some U.S. Cubans held signs that read “Castro’s dead” in the streets of Little Havana, Miami, and Hialeah, where large populations of U.S.-Cubans reside. But much to our chagrin, we all know he’s still very much alive. Arguably, Castro’s step down as dictator may be followed by some changes, but probably none drastic enough to give my family back in Cuba shoes, jobs, and enough food to eat.

Worst of all, Fidel Castro may actually get to live out his vacation by drinking a Cuba Libre — a popular Cuban drink of cola, lima, and rum — by Cuba’s paradisiacal beach side. In response to the irony of the name of the drink, U.S residing Cubans have renamed it La Mentirita, or “The Little Lie.” Castro’s resignation is deceiving in the same way. As such, Cuba is not free, and will not be for some time.