On Friday, 25th of November, President Raúl Castro of Cuba announced his elder brother and predecessor to the title, Fidel Castro, had passed away. As a centralised figure in many political landmarks of the 20th century in the Western world, the life of Fidel Castro and his passing may have been on the minds of many politicians around the world, who may have taken to the podium over the weekend to announce their constructive thoughts following Fidel’s passing.
Born near Birán, Cuba, in 1926 to a wealthy plantation owner from Spain, Fidel was raised as one of six children in an industry, which may have been predominantly American-owned. Amid challenging economic surroundings, the Castro family and children may have felt strong Spanish connections along with their contemporary society, and by the time Castro reached the end of his collegiate years, he decided to continue and moved on to study law, where he immersed himself in Cuban nationalism and socialism.
In the following years, he may have sought reform across many societies, at one point re-imagining the Dominican Republic and its relationship to its leader Trujillo. Engaging avidly with various revolutionary movements, it appears Fidel’s ultimate ambition was to liberate his home country and those like it. During and after his apprehension at the hands of Batista, Castro continued to co-ordinate with new-wave revolutionaries, including Che Guevara. In 1959 and at the age of 32, Castro succeeded in his aims to liberate Cuba, and soon became its President.
As time continued, Castro and his government shifted towards communism, and the history which the world may now be well-versed in continued till today, when Castro may be considered as an unconventional dynamic figure of leadership, offering food for thought for leaders and individuals across the world. Following his passing last week, a great deal of consideration and discussion may have arisen regarding his leadership and ambitions during his half century of leading Cuba, leading the world to look towards and consider the future. Intriguing comparisons to make regarding this event may come from some of the prominent political leaders of today, who used social media to express their thoughts on the life and passing of Fidel Castro as both a man and leader. Some of the first to respond were President Barack Obama and the president elect Donald Trump, whose considerations of Castro may have taken differing focuses.
In his statement, which was issued a few hours after his initial four-word tweet, Trump stated his hopes how “today marks a move… towards a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve’, suggesting the departure of Castro from the political world may mark the opportunity for the transition to a new age, though the world should remember the acts of the past as they move forwards.
President Obama alternatively focused more so on the productive aspects of recent years, taking a middle-ground in terms of emotional connection and stating that “history will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.” As the first president since 1928 to set foot in Cuba, and proprietor to the movement reuniting ties between Cuba and the USA, the President may offer a unique insight into Castro and the years following his leadership. The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, also took to the stand to reflect upon the socialist ambitions of Castro, drawing attention to what he achieved in life such as “significant improvements to the education and healthcare on his island nation”.
Whilst there may often be topics and moments in history, which cause for discussion and reflection, it may be clear from the reactions of contemporary political figures the ways in which society may shift perceptions and ambitions to head towards broader horizons and equality in society.
How may society continue to learn from the lives of historic leaders?