Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Fidel Castro ailing (?)

When most world leaders are ailing, people usually pray for that person's recovery -- and when he or she ultimately leaves this world to join the next, we offer condolences. Heck, when the Queen Mother died, the congregation I belong to offered prayers for the repose of her soul, even though she wasn't Catholic.

Even if it's a dictator of the likes of Kim Il-Sung or the Ayatollah Khomeni, at most we often just shrug and move on, and hope their successors will be more reasonable and treat their citizens accordingly.

Yet when news broke out last night that Cuba's Fidel Castro temporarily ceded executive power to his brother so he could undergo emergency surgery, people were dancing in the streets of Miami. These so-called "Christians" have been actually praying for their former tormentor's death, and are gleeful they may finally get their wish.

Well what if it does? Do they think their brothers and sisters back on the island are just going to embrace America again with open arms? Get real. A decades-long trade embargo has only hardened attitudes, and has impoverished Cubans. Not quite to the point of the destitution ravaging North Korea, but it is a hard existence. I went there 20 years ago during the height of the Cold War and the differences between what tourists experiences and what the locals did just blocks away was absolutely striking even then.

I doubt that Batistas are returning to power any time soon, but it seems to me that all the Miami Cuban community wants is a government in Havana that would essentially be the pasty of the White House, taking direct orders from it. That's not freedom. As comedian Rick Mercer once said in reference to American attempts to impose the Cuban embargo rules on longstanding US allies like Canada, "Freedom does not mean doing only what the Americans will let us." Among world countries, only Israel and the Marshall Islands honour the US embargo -- all the others have recognized it's better to deal with the devil they do know and have full trade and diplomatic relations.

So, when it comes down to it, I think democracy may be finally coming to Cuba sooner than we think. But I think the result will be the exact opposite of what Cuban Americans want, instead it will more like than not be a home grown government that will take its own stride and keep Washington at much further than arms' length.

And that's also a good thing. The more countries that keep Washington as friends but also on a tight leash, the better. As for all those people wishing Castro dead, I have this to say: Odds are God will return the favour on you before he takes out Fidel

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