On November 26, 2016, I woke up in Santiago de Cuba, the city where the Cuban Revolution began. Just the day before I was in the house where Fidel Castro and his fellow revolutionaries prepared for their attack. Just the day before I was walking through the Moncada barracks, where that attack took place. And just the day before I was standing in the cemetery where Fidel Castro will soon be buried.
Since that Saturday when the news erupted that Fidel had died, I had been traveling back to la Habana from Santiago. When I arrived in Habana last night, I didn’t see the lively and crowded city I’ve come to call home. Instead I saw a completely empty, dark, and silent city mourning the loss of their revolutionary hero.
I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the death of Fidel Castro and I still don’t know what to think. He was a man of great significance in Cuban history as well as my own family’s history. A man who caused my family to say goodbye to the home that they loved dearly has died, and I was here to witness this historical moment.
But, putting my personal sentiments aside, there is no denying that Fidel Castro forever changed the course of Cuba and the rest of Latin America. Cuba desperately needed a change, and he was the young man that gave the Cuban people that much needed revolution (whether the result was favorable or not).
It is difficult for me to mourn the loss of someone who has uprooted so many Cubans and altered the course of so many lives. But it is easy for me to recognize that Cuba has lost an incredibly important historical and cultural figure. Instead of dwelling on the wounds of the past, I think it is time for us to look hopefully toward the future of Cuba.