Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Playful maverick or evil dictator


Yesterday's newspapers were quickly out of date by the time news broke that Castro was stepping down.

They have made up for it today.The question is what does the coverage show of their stance on Castro and world events.

The Independent is the only paper which chose to lead with the story.Its front page headlining

Adios, Castro: Fidel is a relic of a vanished age and fossilised revolution adding that

In his declining years Mr Castro has become, for better or worse, a listed global monument, a relic of the vanished age of Kennedy, Khrushchev and superpower brinkmanship, and of national liberation wars led by revolutionaries in dusty military fatigues. Nearly half a century on he is still wearing the fatigues, even though the revolution had fossilised into a regime sustained primarily by the economic siege imposed by Cuba's giant neighbour to the north.

Its leading article describes the "Departure of a dictator who had outlived his times"

Fidel Castro is an autocrat who, at 81 and in poor health, has just squeaked into the group of graceful farewells.
adding that

Fidel Castro had a model for Cuba's development, and he pursued it single-mindedly. For very poor Cubans – the majority – Communism was not the unalloyed blight it was in more developed countries elsewhere. Behind the barricades and the fierce anti-Western rhetoric, Fidel Castro brought a measure of social progress.
In later years, however, he was a leader conspicuously outpaced by the times, atrophied in the categories of class struggle and the Cold War. As such, however, he came to seem less threatening, for all the needless deprivations suffered by the population. With his fatigues and trademark beard and cigar, he had presided long enough to see Communist Cuba return as retro-chic. Curious outsiders, we forecast, will now rush to see Fidel's Cuba before it passes. We hope they go with open eyes: for the positives, but also for the many, many negatives which Cuba will be so much better off without.


The Guardian describes

an extraordinary half-century in which Cuba gained greater fame than its size would otherwise have commanded, thanks to a leader who painted his revolution in vivid colours and who survived the varied animosity of 10 US presidents.
adding that

his resilience in itself secures him a place in history. But it cannot disguise the fact that his Cuba was undemocratic, sometimes cruel and by its own terms a failure on most measures other than longevity. He did not create an equal or prosperous society


The Telegraph says


The welcome decision by Fidel Castro to stand down after nearly 50 years as Cuba's president and commander-in-chief should be an occasion for quiet optimism so far as the country's future is concerned
. whilst reminding us of

the effectiveness of the fearsome security apparatus he established to suppress the slightest hint of opposition to his regime, which resulted in thousands of political activists being paraded before the revolution's firing squads or sentenced to lengthy jail terms
.

The Times to the point reminds us


he has written a deluded 1,000-word resignation letter, published at midnight and prompting ritual tributes from his remaining friends on the wilder shores of Marxism. But the wider world should be under no illusion that he has wrecked his country. And the US, against which he defined it, should seize this moment to end a policy of non-negotiation that has failed utterly
.

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