Reactions to the death of Fidel Castro Ruz have highlighted some of the differences in the way the Cuban revolutionary and long-time head of state is perceived throughout the world. Most of the world admires Castro and Cuba as having accomplished something heroic by standing up to a bullying empire of immense power, defending the country's national sovereignty, and living to tell about it. Not to mention the millions of people aided by Cuban doctors and health care workers and other acts of international solidarity that are perhaps unrivaled in modern history, especially for a nation of Cuba's size and income level.
In the belly of the bully, things look different. And we are not just talking about Donald Trump's impolite rant upon Castro's death, true to form and pandering to the waning but still influential Republican base of right-wing Florida Cuban-Americans. From the New York Times subhead of its obituary for Fidel:
"Mr. Castro brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere, bedeviled 11 American presidents and briefly pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war."
Let's look for a moment at one piece of this unintentional humor: just who brought the Cold War to this hemisphere? A few years before the Cuban revolution, Washington overthrew the democratically elected government of Guatemala under the false pretext that it was a beachhead of Soviet Communism in the hemisphere. This ushered in nearly four decades of dictatorship and horrific state violence, which the UN later determined was genocide. In 1999, President Bill Clinton would apologize for the US role in this genocide.
But what vindicates Castro's view ― and most of the world's interpretation ― of the US-Cuban conflict, even more than the first four decades of the US embargo and other interventions against Cuba, is what has happened in Latin America in the 21st century. In this era, left governments came to power through democratic elections on a scale that had never happened before. First Venezuela, then Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Honduras, Chile, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Paraguay, and El Salvador elected, and in some countries re-elected, left governments. A number of the new presidents had been persecuted, jailed, or tortured under US-supported dictatorships. And all of them had the same view as Fidel Castro of the United States' role in Latin America.
This op-ed was originally published by The Hill on December 2, 2016. Read the rest here.
Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and the president of Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the new book "Failed: What the 'Experts' Got Wrong About the Global Economy" (2015, Oxford University Press). You can subscribe to his columns here.