President Barack Obama responded to the announcement of former Cuban President Fidel Castro’s death by claiming history will “judge” him by his actions, but Cuban exiles in Florida seem to be answering that question ahead of schedule.
“At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people,” said Obama in a statement Saturday. “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him”
The victims of Castro’s regime seem to have answered how history will judge the former dictator by taking to the streets of Miami to celebrate his death. Cuban dissidents and their descendants were elated to learn that the man responsible for forcing them into exile had finally met his end. The jubilant crowds partied through Friday night and continued into Saturday.
“I wish my dad was here to see this,” 27-year-old Abraham Quintero told the Miami Herald in tears.
Obama’s statement, unintentionally or not, mirrored Castro’s own words from a famous speech delivered Oct. 16, 1953. At the time, Castro faced charges for leading an attack on a Cuban military barracks and used the speech to defend his actions in court. He concluded with the eponymous words: “Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.” Castro would later use the speech to formulate the basis for his revolution in 1959 in which he took power.
Obama added self-congratulatory remarks in his statement which ignored the repressive experience of Castro’s many victims.
“During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity,” said Obama.
Thousands of Cuban exiles settled in Miami’s “Little Havana” neighborhood after fleeing the Castro regime. The Cuba Archive Project estimated more than 9,200 people were killed by the Castro regime directly, while as many as 78,000 more were killed escaping the dictatorship.
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