FOR THE WEEK OF NOV. 28, 2016
Catch up on news from Cuba and share an interesting quote or fact.
Share a U.S. reaction to the death from a public figure, a Cuban-American or a reader's comment.
Now read an article from another foreign land. Summarize what you learn.
A major world figure, former Cuban President Fidel Castro, died late last week on the island nation 90 miles south of Florida. He took over in 1959 as the leader of a Communist revolution and stayed in control until stepping aside in 2006 because of illness and passing power to his younger brother Raúl, now 85. The elder Castro formally resigned as president in 2008, ending a tenure longer than that of all other living national leaders except Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Castro served during the terms of 10 U.S. presidents, from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush.
Newspapers report his death at age 90 in Havana with the type of sweeping language used in history books. Here’s part of what The New York Times says: "He became a towering international figure whose importance in the 20th century far exceeded what might have been expected from the head of state of a Caribbean island nation of 11 million people. . . . He had both admirers and detractors in Cuba and around the world. Some saw him as a ruthless despot who trampled rights and freedoms; many others hailed him as . . . a revolutionary hero for the ages."
American-Cuba relations once were so tense that war seemed possible in 1962 over long-range nuclear missiles placed on Cuba by the Soviet Union, a Communist super-power based in Moscow split apart in 1991. Now the neighbors are a bit closer. President Obama dialed down the decades of antagonism two years ago by moving to exchange prisoners and normalize diplomatic relations. Last March brought the first visit to Cuba by a sitting American president in 88 years and opened the way for daily U.S. flights that now bring tourists to the island. "The Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States," Obama says in reaction to Saturday's news. Further changes could follow if Raúl Catsro leaves the presidency in 2018, as he says he will – though Fidel Castro's influence on his country and on the Western Hemisphere is likely to remain long-lasting.
President Obama says: "History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him." – Statement on Saturday, Nov. 26
Miami Herald says: "He held a unique place among the world’s leaders of the past century. Others had greater impact or won more respect. But none combined his dynamic personality, his decades in power, his profound effect on his own country and his provocative role in international affairs." – Glenn Garvin, front-page article Saturday
British editor says: "How can anyone committed to human rights mourn Fidel Castro - a man who killed and repressed his own people?" -- James Kirkup, politics executive editor of The Telegraph (London)