Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba in 1959, implementing new policies that quickly alienated the US government, while developing a close relationship with the former USSR. Within two years, this tension eventually led to one of America’s most infamous standoffs, the Cuban Missile Crisis. Castro’s hardline regime caused millions of citizens to flee Cuba in fear for their lives. Many of those who fled crossed the Straits of Florida and arrived in Miami. This week, Little Havana was anything but somber when the news of Castro’s death crossed the wire and hit the States.
Miami Exiles Rejoice
Within hours of the announcement of 90-year-old Fidel Castro’s death on Friday, thousands of Cuban-Americans exiled since the 1950s took to the streets in joy. Little Havana was buzzing with relief and happiness as residents flocked to the area, banging pots and pans and cheering, “the tyrant has died.”
Carlos Lopez, age 40, shed some light onto the subject telling the press, “We are not celebrating one man’s death, but the death of an ideology. We are celebrating that little piece of liberty we got back today.”
Cuba Reacts to Castro’s Death
Not all were joyous when they heard the news about Castro’s death. In fact, Havana was quite somber after residents heard the news about the passing of their long-standing father figure. Angel Daniel Castro, Castro’s nephew, told the press that people from all over came knocking on his door and calling him, asking if the news were true. He told reporters, “Many people are crying. Some complain of high blood pressure. Fidel was a good man. For us, he was like a father. And Cuba sees him as a father. One woman just called crying and saying she had lost her father. Everyone feels it.”
Cubans will be mourning for a nine-day period to honor and pay their respects to the country’s former leader. One young Cuban woman told CNN, “The Cuban people are feeling sad because of the loss of our commander in chief Fidel Castro Ruz, and we wish him, wherever he is, that he is blessed, and us Cubans love him.”
While the residents of Cuba come to grips with the loss of their leader and Miami residents take to the streets in joy, others are planning on the next steps and what this means for relations between the US and Cuba.
What his Death means to US-Cuba Relations
Over the years, the pro-embargo and hardline grip on the minds of Miami residents have weakened, creating a wider division among Cuban-Americans on how to re-engage with Cuba and its people. Some are hoping that with the death of Castro, Cuba has lost its father figure, making it an ideal time for President-Elect Donald Trump to crack down on the government.
Others are hoping to seize the opportunity to rebuild the Cuban economy and US relations by flooding the country with tourists, goods, and ideas that align with America’s ideals. Raul Castro has already been working with President Obama to lighten the country’s restrictions, including economic reform, travel agreements, and general American relations. For now, everyone is processing their own thoughts on the subject, but one thing is clear, the future of Cuba is most certainly at a pivotal point in history. Will Cuba embrace America’s helping hand? Will Trump share the same desire to rebuild Cuba as the Obama administration? Or will Cuba continue to be a place shrouded in mystery as the country redefines its future?