I want to share this Illinois angle to the death of Castro. In 1999 then Illinois Gov. George Ryan - I'm sorry to add he's a disgraced former governor who served time in prison for crimes committed when he was our former Secretary of State - he paid a visit to Cuba. You can read the full interview at the Daily Herald where he talked about his visit and his interactions with Fidel Castro. He brought a nice care package with him when he went down there especially some religious items for Cuba's Catholics and Jewish community.
Yeah another thing about Fidel Castro, he didn't like religion that much it seems. Though it seems he had to soften his stance as time went on even after he had to retire from his position as Cuba's dictator.
Rich Miller was also on Gov. Ryan's visit to Cuba and had some tense interactions with Castro and is sorry he never had the chance to ask this question:
My greatest regret is that, because he pointed his finger in my face while yelling at me and then cut me off when I asked about the hotel owners, I didn’t get to ask Castro about something I’d witnessed countless times in Havana.Over the years Cuba by some people who may be leftist activists and probably by some friends when I was in college how Cuba has a good health care system and also high literacy rates. By this poignant example it heightens my belief that high literacy and health care means very little if you're not free. Especially if you can't write what you want to write or read what you want to read or you're taken care of by great doctors regardless you're healthy but you're still not free.
Whenever anybody I talked with in Cuba mentioned Castro, they never used the man’s name. Instead, they’d always slyly stroke their chin to mimic somebody stroking their own beard. People whispered to me that they did this because Castro had spies literally everywhere and nobody was sure who was whom. Saying his name out loud risked perking up somebody’s ears nearby and then draw unwanted attention to the person who was speaking.
Castro talked often during that press conference about how the people loved him and how free they all were. So, I wanted to use that chin-stroking thing as my final question, but I never got to ask it.
And now I never will.
The people who laud these achievement gloss over the freedom angle. They seem to dismiss that the Communists of Cuba had little problem with executing people who threatened their regime.
The Cuban exile community celebrated Castro's demise. I will not celebrate the death of any man, but I will celebrate the eventual fall of the regime that man helped build.