This weekend the long time head of state of Cuba, Fidel Castro, passed away. With his passing, an extraordinary era has come to an end. Not that Cuba will change much because of Fidel Castro’s demise, as he hasn’t been in charge of Cuba for ten years. When he in 2006 handed over the command to his brother, Rául, he also completely withdrew from the political scene.
Nevertheless, Fidel Castro was one of the most prominent and controversial head of states in the past century. He was a man of the cold war—and a master of playing its game. Rightly he will go down in the history books as the one who made the Cuban revolution happened—for better or worse—and with only 81 men began the revolt that finally kicked out the old dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Fidel Castro was controversial from beginning to end. Some saw him as a devil, others as a saving angle. No doubt, he was a complex character, and as a person probably somewhere in between these extremes. I believe he honestly had the better for the Cuban people in mind, during his 47 years in power, certainly in the beginning. At the same time it’s not possible to disregard the fact that he headed a repressive and in many ways undemocratic regime. In the end, though, I think he did more good than bad for Cuba.
I have followed the development in Cuba for 25 years. Although I never met Fidel Castro personally, I photographed him on many occasions. He put his mark on the Cuban society. The question now, is of course where Cuba is heading. Immediately no big changes, I believe. Not as long as one Castro brother is at the helm. But then? Not possible to predict.