Cubans react to death of Fidel Castro

Sunday, November 27, 2016
VIDEO: Castro death folo
VIDEO: Castro death folo

HAVANA -- Minutes after state television announced the death of former Cuban president Fidel Castro, concert halls shut down late night activities and young Cubans flooded the streets of Havana.

As speculation rose regarding what might occur in the hours after the announcement of Castro's death, police arrived on the scene, with vehicles ready to fill with anyone caught misbehaving. But as the sun rose in the early hours of Saturday morning, the trucks continued to sit empty and unused. An otherwise rowdy Havana accepted the news of Fidel's passing: gracefully mourning behind closed doors.

At a local wifi hot spot a few blocks away from the evacuated nightclubs, young Cubans were listening to music and laughing -- a normal scene for Havana on a late Friday night in a public park.

When asked what they thought about the sudden passing of Fidel Castro, a group of young women began to giggle. One of them, who asked to be identified just as Laura, didn't seem shocked by the news.

"He was old already. It was his time," she said. "Does anyone know how he died?"

Laura's friend, Camila, asked, as she looked suspiciously around and then admitted, "I'll have an opinion when that policeman over there stops looking in our direction."

While the overall mix of suspicion with apathy seems common among the youth of modern-day Cuba, many older Cubans argue that the younger generation doesn't respect their own history enough to be able to criticize it or the former commander in chief.

Luis Clerge, 81, who fought in the revolution of 1959, admitted in a recent interview that he took matters into his own hands when he wasn't pleased with politics and what he saw as increasing inequality in society. Almost jokingly, Clerge encouraged Cuban youth of the year 2016 to do the same if they were not so pleased with the society they were living in.

"I don't see anyone inciting a call to arms though, so things can't be that bad," he said.

Others who described themselves as believers in the Cuban Revolution said they see the trajectory of revolutionary ideals continuing without falter, and perhaps, even speeding up. Carlos Alzugaray, a former ambassador and policy analyst, believed that if there was any red tape left to be cut, the death of Fidel Castro was it.

"This reform process has a pace that has been determined essentially by Raul Castro. Will the red line that exists because of Fidel's presence disappear? Yes, obviously. There are probably things that are not done because Fidel is there," Alzugaray said.

"There's no doubt that Fidel was the great inventor of political campaigns; all that disappeared with Raul, and politically, Raul will be able to do much more now," he said.