Fidel Castro’s Socialist Flame Goes Out In Cuba

Thousands of Cubans have turned out to mark the final journey of former president Fidel Castro from Havana to the cradle of the revolution at Santiago de Cuba.

The cortege is retracing the route Castro and Che Guevara took to overthrow the island’s government in 1959.

The Cuban people have a love-hate relationship with their former leader.

Thousands in exile are celebrating his death from Florida. Cuban neighbourhoods in Miami and Tampa have seen dancing and partying in the streets since Castro died, aged 90.

Back home in Cuba, thousands have mourned his passing while slamming the socialist ideal that destroyed the island’s economy but enabled many by offering a university education for all and an effective national health service.

Old-style communist

Castro was an old-style communist. He was friends with Russia and a long-standing enemy of the USA.

The CIA famously tried to assassinate him by doctoring one of his trademark cigars with explosives.

In all, Castro allegedly survived more than 600 attempts on his life, which suggests he was not the populist leader that Cuban socialists would have the world believe.

Besides the famous revolution, Castro is also well-known for taking on a CIA inspired attempt to overthrow him at the Bay of Pigs and winning.

He also played a part in turning up the heat during the cold war during the Cuban missile crisis, when he invited the Kremlin to base their long-range weapons within easy reach of many US major cities.

The stand-off saw President Kennedy threaten the Russian fleet carrying the missiles, which eventually turned back and went home.

Until victory, always

No doubt history will fondly remember the cigar-toting Castro, but thousands of his victims who were shot, disappeared and terrorised by secret police when he came to power with Guevara are already forgotten and lie less celebrated in unmarked graves.

War and revolution bring casualties and the winners write the history books to reflect their own glory.

The Castro family still casts a shadow over Cuba and retains a grip on power.

Fidel’s brother Raul took over as president a decade ago, but at 85 has less of an impact than his sibling did in the 1960s.

The family has struggled to maintain a socialist state as Russia dropped communism and moved towards a more open regime.

And the struggle continues as in the famous last words of Guevara to his brother at arms Fidel Castro: “Until victory, always.”