Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) – the presumed frontrunner in the race to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee – was asked for his views about the legacy of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro during an interview on SiriuxXM Radio’s The Karen Hunter Show:
ELLISON: He [Castro] was a revolutionary leader who confronted a system of government that excluded everybody except the military and the monied rich. Because he took them on and defeated them, and set the country up in a way where, did he use harsh, dictatorial tactics? Yeah, probably he did. But did he also stand up for peace and freedom in Africa? Absolutely. His Cuban forces took on the South African apartheid military forces and defeated them. He deployed doctors everywhere from Chernobyl to all over Africa. Wherever people were sick, he sent those doctors there. He made medical education very available, made medicine available.
So if you look at his legacy, you have to say that he confronted people with a lot of power on behalf of people who didn’t have any. But he also did jail people who were political critics of his. He did also not allow total and free speech, and so I think it’s a mixed bag. But for anybody to say that he was all bad, that’s all wrong.
Listen to the audio of the comment here:
I was at the David Gray concert in Los Angeles last night thinking it would be a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend when Raul Castro dropped a bombshell and announced to the world that his brother, Fidel Castro, had died. Though this has nothing to do with the Democratic Party’s rebuilding efforts or the results of the election, it is still a momentous event that must be acknowledged.
Fidel Castro was one of the last remaining icons of the Cold War. (As Blogs of War put it, “Last member of the original Cold War cast bows out.”) Only a handful of people of that stature from both sides of the conflict are still alive, most of them from the latter years of the Cold War which ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Stansfield Turner, Brent Scowcroft, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, William Webster, Robert Gates, John Major, Helmut Kohl, Helmut Schmidt, Lech Walesa and Daniel Ortega. (Feel free to contact/correct me if I forgot anyone else who should be on that list.) Castro was – for better and for worse – one of the most influential people of the 20th Century. Read the Miami Herald obituary for more information and context.
Here is a sampling of responses and official statements from political figures in the United States and around the world: