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Castro… The End - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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In a clever move, revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has resigned and ended a presidency that lasted nearly half a century only to become a spiritual leader for many years to come. The ailing old man realized that he would not last much longer as president of Cuba so he decided to step down, which has made him a legend in his country – even though he had the sole monopoly of its authority and governance.

The Cuban leader’s clashes with the United States have endured for a long time; he witnessed ten American presidents and was always on their agenda and was frequently featured in their addresses. Throughout his life, Castro has adopted a position against the US and openly criticized it in his extended speeches; in fact, on one occasion he attacked “American imperialism” 88 times in one speech.

Castro was never amiable towards the US except once when then-US President Bill Clinton allowed the six-year-old (in 2000) Cuban child, Elian Gonzalez, to be reunited with his father. At the time Castro issued a statement conveying his appreciation of this step whilst confirming that “tomorrow the dispute will continue”. This is the same man who told his comrades 31 years ago “my destiny will be a war with the United States.”

And yet, in a twist of irony, US President George W. Bush said that Fidel Castro’s resignation “ought to be a period of democratic transition” at a time when the US economic sector is preparing for the period after Castro, especially since America imposes an economic embargo on Cuba. Undoubtedly, the Cuban issue will be featured in the US elections since the Cuban lobby, especially in Miami, plays a powerful and influential role in the elections.

However; the important thing today is the old man’s timing – he knew when and how to leave. He took charge of his own fate before death, which hovers close by, did. In his resignation speech, Castro addressed the Cuban people saying, “My first duty after years of resistance is to prepare (the people) for my departure both politically and psychologically,” and thus he managed to gain another form of legitimacy in Cuban history.

Here the observer can only conjure up the image of one of Fidel Castro’s friends, Saddam Hussein, and consider how he acted at Iraq’s expense as opposed to Castro’s actions today. Castro could have left the Americans frustrated with his death but he didn’t die and a small part of victory lies in defeat. However; this is something that Saddam did not take into consideration, he believed that states were like moustaches, that is, when a leader is buried his moustache (dignity and state) are buried along with his body.

The regular criterion used to judge leaders is by their achievements for their countries. In accordance with the archaic Arab standards, such as the models that we have witnessed throughout history, it is important to compare Fidel Castro since the revolutionary leader throughout his term never plunged his state into the unknown just to spite his opponents, he never tied the honour of resistance to himself personally, and the people did not take to the streets crying and asking him to not step down in false pretence.

Castro will be succeeded by his brother Raul and the Old Guard will descend upon the regime so that Fidel Castro’s days, with all their folly, will be deemed better in comparison to the present. Indeed the Cuban leader’s star is fading – by his choice – and we will now witness what his stubborn stance holds for this beautiful island.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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