Fidel after Fidel

In his last public appearances, Fidel Castro has been hardly able to hide the marks of old age. His manly look has become a memory of the past. With his languid movements and whispering, the once strong man seemed to be coming close to the threshold of death.

It is not uncommon to hear people talk about his alleged death or about his deteriorated physical and mental health, which prevents him from making any kind of public appearance. Actually, no recent pictures of the former president were published in the media on the occasion of his 86th birthday on August 13, only some of his youth photos along with several pictures from the heroic guerrilla he fought against Fulgencio Batista’s government back in 1950s.

“When he dies, they won’t tell us anything until they have everything ready for a pharaonic-style burial. They are sure to militarise the entire country.” That’s what one of my friends said in a private gathering where issues of common interest were discussed. In fact, the moment Fidel dies, the worst scenarios are expected to unfold.

While waiting for the zero hour, the criticism directed at one of the most outstanding Latin-American dictators has been gaining in strength among the Cuban people. Yet, it would be thoughtless to claim that such voices reflect majority opinion. It is a well-known fact that leaders like Fidel are able to exercise extraordinary power over the masses. Also, strong hatred can be often mixed with frenetic love – a harmful phenomenon, which has however recurred in the history of mankind: Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin had millions of followers, even after they were put to the grave. Fidel Castro will be no exception.

Floods of tears will be shed at his funeral, pain cries will accompany the coffin. Only time will put things right and give the regime’s victims an opportunity to show their wounds to the public – as a way of historical testimony and a catharsis for the soul. But how and when? These questions are yet to be answered.

Some analyses suggest that there will be a civil war before the country switches to a post-Castro regime. Shall Fidel Castro’s death trigger it off? It’s beyond all speculation that the death of the man who has set the standard for exercising power and control over millions of people within and beyond the boundaries of Cuba could lead to a series of repercussions that not even the most insightful prognosticators have ever dreamt of.

Future history books will certainly write about Fidel Castro, which is something he has always wished for. However, the conclusions they will draw won’t necessarily be very favourable to him. The fruits of absolute power don’t usually taste sweet and the bitter after-taste is sure to stuck to the palate of millions of Cubans until the day they will be able to come up with irrefutable evidence to do justice in the Court of History.

Jorge Olivera Castillo

Olivera Castillo is a former political prisoner. He published number of books. He lives in the old part of Havana.