Fidel Castro, the former President of Cuba, who has survived numerous CIA assassination attempts and outlasted, almost, 11 US Presidents, has died. He leaves behind a legacy, both as a fearless leader who stood up to the supposed tyranny of the US and as a President who led its country to economic ruin. Both viewpoints will, doubtlessly, be hotly debated in the years to come.
For five decades, he worked to turn the island nation into a place of equality and social justice. His government produced tens of thousands of doctors and teachers and achieved some of the lowest infant mortality and illiteracy rates in the Western hemisphere. That, however, did not mask the fact that Cuba never shook off its dependence on foreign dollars and the state-run economy failed to bring prosperity to most Cubans.
During his reign in power, the CIA plotted to assassinate Castro, using everything from exploding seashells to lethal fungus. The US government also exerted immense pressure on Cuba by cutting off, almost, all trade to Cuba, as well as financing dissidents and pro-democracy activists.
However, none of that worked.
On December 17, 2014, Obama announced that the US planned to renew diplomatic ties with Cuba and loosen trade and travel restrictions, enraging certain groups of people who felt that the President had neglected the efforts of democracy groups within Cuba, opting to provide the socialist government with a lifeline instead.
In 2006, after several years of ailing health, Fidel Castro handed the reins over to his brother, Raul Castro. Since then, Raul has pushed through various economic reforms, which included the expansion of the private sector and property rights, allowing Cubans to buy and sell homes and cars. But, he has not earned the same reverence as his older brother, who remains the icon of the revolution for many Cubans.
The legacy of a man who has drawn comparisons to Che Guevara has to be accessed honestly, given the context of that time period. However, for his contributions and genuine strive for the betterment of his people, he will be remembered.