Ms. Martin and the Cuban-American Perspective: “I feel happy for Castro’s death”

Isel Martin, a Cuban-American from Santa Ana pours a glass of champagne during a gathering with family and friends after news broke of Fidel Castro's death on Saturday, November 26, 2016. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

In the words of many Internet users, Fidel Castro survived more than 600 assassination attempts, but even he could not survive 2016. On Friday, November 25th, 2016, the 90-year-old Cuban leader Fidel Castro died of natural causes. The media remembers Cuba’s “Maximo Lider” as a revolutionary hero, defying American influence and improving the country for the better. His Cuban Literacy Campaign, the government of Cuba reports, has increased the literacy rate of the nation to 96%.

Not all, however, are joining in with Cuba’s mandatory nine days of mourning for the leader’s death, and there are many who are skeptical about the success of Castro’s so-called “improvements” to Cuban life. As news of Castro’s death arrived in America, many Cuban-Americans and their families got together to celebrate. Ms. Martin and her family was among them, as featured in the OC Register. “I feel happy for his death, even though it was kind of anticlimactic. I would’ve enjoyed it more had he died when he was younger because there’s a lot of damage he’s done to the country that is irreversible,” Ms. Martin states.

Ms. Martin left Cuba when she was 8, but she still remembers what it was like living under Castro’s regime. “He’s been in power for 54 years. There are no free elections. There’s only one political party — the Communists. People don’t vote. There are no human rights, or rights to protest against the government.” She still has relatives back in Cuba who tell her horror stories that reveal the cruelty of Castro’s government, such as imprisonment for the people who speak and protest against the government.

When asked about what she thinks the death of Castro might mean for Cuba’s future, Ms. Martin admits that she isn’t sure. “His brother is still in power. His brother still follows that totalitarian rule, so I don’t know. Hopefully things will change soon.”

Still, Ms. Martin is sure of at least one thing — life did not get better for the people under Castro, no matter what the government of Cuba claims. “That’s all propaganda. Whenever you hear the government of Cuba saying ‘we have 100% literacy’ or ‘we have the best medical care,’ that’s all coming from the government. There are no independent studies or groups that are saying that. The government is only going to say positive things about themselves. Unfortunately, many people believe those things.”

Life in Communist Cuba is drastically different from our lifestyle here in America, a country that protects our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But for most Cubans, the restrictive way of life under Castro’s leadership is the only way they know how to live in order to survive under a totalitarian regime. All we can do now is be aware of the injustice in Cuba and remain hopeful that now that Castro has died, a better Cuba is in the making.


Photo credit to Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG. View the slideshow at