Farewell, FidelThe resignation of Cuban President Fidel Castro after 49 years in power reconfirms that the era of ideology is over.
Castro ignited an armed revolution in 1959 when he overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and set up the only communist country in the American neighbothood.
In the early stages of his rule, Castro allocated land to the Cuban people and made medical services and education free in an attempt to build an ideal society.
Announcing his resignation, the 82-year-old Castro said his only wish now is to fight as a soldier of ideas.
Today, Cuba is a poor country with a gross domestic product of $4,500 per capita. Basic necessities are in short supply and many Cubans have tried to leave, especially by boat, to reach the shores of Florida.
Poorer residents in cities like the capital Havana cause trouble, and sugar makes up 80 percent of the country’s total exports.
This situation is a direct result of the policies that Castro has implemented.
Cuba is a small country of 110,860 square kilometers and a population of 11,390,000. The country looks a bit like Florida, a state in the world’s strongest powerhouse, just a few miles away by boat, but years away in terms of economic development.
But Cuba has stuck to its anti-capitalist and anti-American values, despite sanctions imposed by the United States for some 40 years and some 600 assassination attempts against Castro. His long survival is a surprise.
The main reason for his political longevity is that Castro has had the power to oppress the media, imprison intellectuals and have his political rivals assassinated.
Meanwhile, as an uncorrupt leader, Castro achieved a 98 percent literacy rate and raised life expectancy to 77 years.
But Castro has been an obstacle to economic growth in Cuba. Shortly after his resignation was announced, an American fund called HCBF that invests in the Caribbean, including Cuba, surged 17 percent to a record high.
Fidel Castro’s 76-year-old brother Raul Castro, who is presumed to be his successor, has reportedly said that beans are more important than arms.
He is reported to have also said that the Cuban system needs to be restructured.
Raul Castro is right.
All ideologies are useless ― whether socialism, people’s democracy or Castroism ― if they are not based on democratic principles and if they fail to make people’s lives more prosperous.