Fidel Castro has left a long and controversial legacy. He achieved many of his goals. Castro ended his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in 1960 with a proclamation. Included in this proclamation were these two statements.
"The right of the sick to medical care and hospitalization"
"The right of the children to education"
These two rights have become a reality for the Cuban people. The country's health and education statistics rival those of wealthy, core nations, including the United States.
Another View of Castro's Legacy
In a report on Cuba by Human Rights Watch (HRW), a law called "Dangerousness," is used to arrest and imprison people if there is any chance they will commit a crime. HRW attributes this law to Raul Castro. It is Article 73 of the Cuban Penal Code. This 2009 report lists 53 prisoners who were incarcerated in 2003; who are still in prison. The report does admit there are other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland who can arrest citizens for "anti-social behavior." HRW also reports there is a lack of judicial freedom in the courts of Cuba, based on the courts requirement to fulfill the guidelines of the Council of State when passing judgments. This Council of 31 members has power over all branches of government (Human Rights Watch, 2009).
There were many obstacles facing the new government when it took power. One of these was the hatred of the Cuban exiles who fled the Island for the United States. These refugees were met with open arms by the US government and immediately launched a campaign to oust Castro. The benign creation of Radio Marti, through the Reagan administration and the Cuban American Foundation, quickly broke the rules of the Voice of America regulations and moved to Miami. The broadcasts were violent anti-Castro rants, with the broadcasts being produced directly by the exiles (McPhail, 2014).
They began waging an illegal war, with the help of the CIA, while the US looked the other way. These included bombings, assassination attempts on Castro, Rocket attacks, and working undercover as mercenaries for the CIA. These exiles were active in the political system of the United States, exerting pressure on national elections (Hayden, 2015).
Operation Mongoose, the code name for the CIA covert mission in Cuba, had the ultimate goal to get rid of Castro, by any means possible. Some operations were launched as propaganda to unseat Castro by turning the people of Cuba against him. These attempts failed. The CIA determination to assassinate him also failed as the 90 years of his life prove.
Here is a short list from an NBC news article, "Fidel Castro: The CIA’s 7 Most Bizarre Assassination Attempts (NBC, 2016)."
- The Exploding Cigar
- The Reluctant Cuban
- The Painted Seashell
- The Contaminated Diving Suit
- The Deadly Lover
- The Poisoned Pen
- The Psychedelic Speech
According to some reports there were over 600 attempts on Castro's life (Democracy Now, 2016).
Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, wrote a revealing 25,000 word article for Rolling Stone in 1977. The revelations in this article are extremely relevant to the Fidel Castro legacy. It places a whole new focus on the history and truth or propaganda set forth in the media about Cuba, the Revolution, and conflicts with the United States. Most of the major news organizations and their journalists were involved in the CIA in some form. Many were paid directly; some journalists saw it as their civic duty. The involvement is from the top down.
" Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald Tribune."
While in defense of the involvement of journalists, the CIA dismisses the term, "spy." The journalists are "links" to sources the CIA may be able to use to obtain information. The opportunities a journalist has for access in foreign countries, and the US, for that matter, create a channel of access like no other (Bernstein, 1977)."
"The Cuban Revolution will have to accept the fruits of its long advocacy of an independent region of the Americas, which for now includes a democratic electoral path enabling the advancement of social equality, regulated economies including corporations, cooperatives and worker-run enterprises, and regional integration in defense, diplomacy, and development" (Hayden, 2015).
Tom Hayden was an anti-Vietnam war activist. He fought for the struggle for freedom in Cuba.