Fidel Castro will forever be remembered as one of the most controversial figures in modern history, to his many adoring supporters and vocal critics.
The former Cuban Leader and revolutionary was a great man, not only because of the actions he took on behalf of his people, but because he had principles and beliefs and stuck to them, regardless of the immense outside political pressures.
Castro, who passed away on Friday, November 25th at the age of 90, ruled Cuba under a single party for half a century, before handing power to his brother in 2008.
Castro will be remembered for his unwavering stance against the United States for a half century, standing up to 10 different US Presidents, nearly bringing nuclear war to the West. Handing over power to his brother Raul after his health declined, who has continued his legacy since taking office, and has been fighting alongside Fidel since his earliest days.
Fidel Castro was the leader of the Communist party, regardless of your political views on Communism, he stood for the Cuban people, and always protected their national interests. Fidel turned Cuba into a Socialist state, enacting sweeping reforms which heavily invested in healthcare and education for the Cuban people.
His reforms also came with a mass crackdown on the media and his opposition in Cuba, which was widely criticized around the world. The Cuban revolution which is how Fidel came to power, by opposing the authoritarian regime in power, would shape US-Cuban relations for many years to come. Americans truly fear Communism and Socialism, and the divide between the two nations had never been greater, until a recent improvement of relations under the Obama administration.
Fidel was able to survive in power, despite the many attempts by the US to topple his government. Examples being the invasion of Cuba during the Bay of Pigs, and the numerous reported assassination attempts.
The world can learn a great deal from Fidel Castro, that as great as Democracy is, it has allowed the imperfect system of Capitalism to take hold of Western society. Capitalism presents many opportunities for people of the West, yet it often overlooks many social issues and neglects marginalized groups of people in society.
Education in the United States is in decline, as the skyrocketing post secondary costs and the lack of good high schools around the country are an example of a system which has not invested in its own people. Education in Cuba is publicly well funded, and is free. With over 13% of Cuba's GDP being allocated to education, Cuba's Literacy rate is 99.8%.
Before Fidel Castro, Cuba was a more rural nation with basic education not provided for most. The need for heavily investing in the youth of the Nation is of utmost importance, as they are the future. A report states that as of 2014, 91% of people aged 15 to 24 years of age had basic literacy skills, compared to 76% of people 65 years or older, this is in stark contrast to Cuba's extremely high literacy rates.
Health care in Cuba saw many reforms under Fidel Castro, as health care was a cornerstone of the rule of Cuba's revered leader. Yet, many issues plagued the Cuban Health Care such as shortages in medicines and equipment, this was almost entirely due to the harsh US embargo placed on the Cuban people in the 90s.
I do have to give credit to the Obama administration for mending ties with Cuba, as the Cuban people should not have to suffer a lack of basic medicine and supplies due to their political affiliation. Being a Canadian, I truly believe health care is a right, and people should not be left without coverage.
This was a major tribute to Fidel's rule, as there are no private healthcare clinics in Cuba, rather health care is run by the state and is provided to all citizens at a very reasonable expense. Cuba prides itself on its equity in healthcare, as the wealthy few do not receive preferential treatment. Inequality of healthcare is a major issue in Global politics especially in the United States, with Millions going without health care insurance before Obamacare.
The WHO says Cubans not only have the highest life expectancy in the region, but also place in the top globally. Millions of tourists visit Cuba annually, it is expected that thousands go just for the access to their health care system, and access to their highly trained medical professionals. With US-Cuba relations improving, it is worth noting that major health care reforms are underway in 2016-2017 to improve Cuban health care further.
I am against foreign countries forcing regime change abroad. The thing I admire most about Fidel Castro was his dedication to the Cuban people and his ability to stand up to the United States for such a long period of time. He should be praised for his ability to stand up to Corporate greed and financial institutions which often have to large a say in the decisions governments make.
Fidel Castro is quoted as saying "Cuba is the only country in the world which does not need to trade with the United States."
Cuba was of extreme importance to the US even though there are no major oil reserves, it is not a major political player on the global scale, and the economy is not a major powerhouse, yet the US fixation on the overthrow of the Castro government was a fixture of American politics throughout history.
Fidel Castro's ability to stand tough against A foreign nation's intervention and corporate interests are widely respected around the world, and have even inspired the likes of Venezuela and Hugo Chávez. The world needs leaders like Fidel Castro to stand firm against invading foreign countries unilaterally, and attempting to dictate the future of their people, he truly was a remarkable man.
I did not focus on the many issues which Cuba and the Cuban people face, and the negative aspects of Fidel Castro's rule, as there were a number of troubling issues under his rule. I do not support Communism, but I see the valuable lessons that can be learned from its principles and the principles of Socialism.
The world needs more leaders whose only responsibility is to their people, and who are not controlled by Corporate greed and Big Business. Fidel Castro will forever be remembered in the hearts of people around the world, for his love of Cuba, and his passion for the Cuban people. He should be revered and the world should learn from his courageous actions, as a passionate and driven leader.
Fidel Castro was an example to many Latin American Nations and other leaders around the world that foreign nations such as the US do not have the right to meddle in the internal affairs of another country.
"Socialism or Death," was a major creed Fidel Castro stuck too in the face of opposition around the world, and with many Communist nations embracing Capitalism. Fidel Castro was a man of integrity who stuck to his principles and his beliefs. An example of a great Leader.