Before we get started lets get something straight. Neither I, nor Monkeys Fighting Robots, wishes death or ill will on anyone. People are fallible and cruel, but they can also learn from mistakes and become better. However, there are a handful of individuals throughout history who don’t receive this sympathy. Germans will understand what I mean when it comes to Hitler. Pol Pot tormented and murdered Cambodians for decades. Kim Jong-un is working his maniacal magic right now on the North Korean people. Dictators like these, and Fidel Castro, have earned no sympathy.
My family, like many in South Florida and beyond, are Cuban exiles. For my mother, father, grandparents, and others, the passing of Fidel Castro is a day to rejoice. It’s the end of an era that cost hundreds of thousands of people their homes, businesses, friends, families, and communities.
Cynics will say, “Hey, the regime is still in power. The island is still oppressed.” Those people are right. There’s a lot of work ahead for Cuba and the world. But at this moment in time that’s not what matters. The architect of the oppression is gone. The symbol, the face of it all, is gone. That alone lifts the hearts and minds of people who have been abused for decades. The boogeyman is dead and while his nightmares linger, a shaft of light has torn through the shroud of tyranny. It’s a small step in the grander scheme. But you don’t get anywhere without each and every step no matter how much ground it covers.
Using the powerful language of pop culture, I’ll try to put into context a fraction of the joy Cubans are feeling right now.
Howard Payne – Speed
Cuba is the bus and Fidel Castro put a communist bomb on it then slammed on the accelerator. Since 1959, the bearded bastard kept the people on a wild, volatile ride. Dennis Hopper’s Howard Payne is a smug mad man who thinks himself invincible until his head and body part ways. The Cuban people would undoubtedly come up with a better catchy line than what Keannu spews forth.
Emperor Palpatine – Star Wars
Remember that moment, when Vader finally realizes that he’s human, a father, and an enabler. Fidel was the Emperor, oppressing people through his isolated island micro-verse and fighting off rebellions with brutality. Fidel Castro didn’t have a Death Star, but it didn’t stop him from decimating the lives of Cuban people. My parents and grandparents don’t get a redemption sorry quite like Vader, but Fidel is now tumbling toward the afterlife.
Lord Voldemort – Harry Potter
For my generation of Cuban-Americans, Fidel Castro is a lot like Voldemort. The name and the horrific deeds talked about year after year. Fidel, like Voldemort, was an ambiguous nightmare, lurking and haunting the previous generation.
Ramsay Bolton – Game of Thrones
There are a few to choose from here as villains make up about 90% of Game of Thrones characters. Joffrey is an easy pick here, and it was so sweet to see him go. But Ramsay Bolton, like Fidel Castro, led an army to seize power. Fidel and Ramsay, both are both cocky, vicious bastards and it’s a satisfying five minutes to watch Bolton get what he deserves.
Annie Wilkes – Misery
Oddly enough, Stephen King’s story about extreme fandom is eerily a great way of explaining Fidel Castro. The Cuban people were in a store of car crash led by Batista, the previous leader of the island. Fidel is Annie Wilkes, except instead of fiction, Fidel’s fanaticism focused on Communism. Fidel pulled the people out of the car crash only to torment them for decades with his tyrannical ideas.
This clip from MacGruber says it best for all my fellow Cubans out there …