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Bye Bye Castro - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I admit, with pride, that I have never understood Yousef Chahine’s movies, the poetry of Adonis or the rhetoric at Baath party conferences. In one way or another, all of this is referred to as “culture” however culture can never be a worthless or dishonest thing, likewise, what has happened over three decades in a country like Cuba can also be described in the same way.

Cuba has isolated itself from the world and has been dealt with as “the island” that chose complete seclusion and adopted a revolutionary and absurd approach under the leadership of Fidel Castro. Castro, with his distinctive military attire and thick “unreligious” beard, came to power in Cuba after leading a military revolution on the island with the Argentinean legend Che Guevara. In Castro’s words, he came to free the country of corruption and despotism but he established an intelligence system that robbed the country of freedom and the economy of integrity, similar to some Arab countries in the 1960s.

Cuba transformed from a promising country to a large prison that is only heard about by those who smoke the famous Cuban cigar or enjoy its sugar. Even Cuba itself has not escaped the “bequest of the revolution” as Fidel Castro resigned from his executive positions and handed them over to his brother Raul after illness, weakness and old age took its toll on the former Cuban president.

Fidel Castro has transformed into a “symbol” that confronted imperialism and an icon for revolutionists and socialists. He represented a refuge for anyone inclined to opposition and many have had the privilege of taking a picture with the oldest revolutionary in the world such as the great Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the incomparable international football star Diego Maradona, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the famous American director Oliver Stone. However, the people suffered severely from the socialism of Castro who was held in such high esteem by his guests; poverty, underdevelopment and decline of the country’s infrastructure are distinctive features of this fascinating island where time stood still in the 1950s.

Cuba witnessed the famous failure of the U.S intelligence services during the Bay of Pigs operation that sought to overthrow the new regime. Castro has been linked to the assassination of former American president John F Kennedy and the major international crisis [known as the Cuban Missile Crisis] when Soviet missiles were being installed in Cuba against the United States of America, the closest the world came to nuclear confrontation between the two superpowers of that period, namely, the United States and the Soviet Union.

Today, Fidel Castro can rest after he established a traditional revolutionary government, robbed the country of its freedoms, abolished religion under the pretext of secularism, “stole” the wealth of self-made people as he nationalized their property, and focused on education and the fields of medicine and sport.

Fidel Castro was an absolute despot who enjoyed delivering speeches to his people on any possible occasion that sometimes lasted over nine hours at a time! The inarticulate rhetoric and obscure speeches were laden with the “revolution” theme and revolutionary slogans but the situation on the street and the Cuban reality completely contradicted that. Perhaps the time has come for this promising island to wake up from a long and painful nightmare.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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