Antonio Mauri spent some time in Cuba in November during the time that Fidel Castro died. Famous sites he visited in Cuba in the days following Castro’s death were the Teatro Nacional (top left) and El Capitolio (top right).  He also took a ride through the streets of the city in an “almendron.”

Antonio Mauri spent some time in Cuba in November during the time that Fidel Castro died. Famous sites he visited in Cuba in the days following Castro’s death were the Teatro Nacional (top left) and El Capitolio (top right). He also took a ride through the streets of the city in an “almendron.”

Fidel Castro’s death took the world by storm, while in Cuba, his supporters mourn.

By Antonio Mauri

I remember waking up on Friday thinking it would be another normal day. The Placido Domingo concert was the next day and, being the reason my family and I were in Cuba, that was where all my energy was focused.

My parents and I went out to lunch and did all the things one would expect from tourists. We had been to Cuba many times before to visit family, but still enjoyed participating in all the activities designed for visitors.

Later in the day, we visited the “Fabrica de Arte Cubana,” or “Factory of Cuban Art.” It was at night when a man scampered in to tell us that President Raul Castro just announced that his brother, Fidel, was dead. At that moment, nobody said a word. Everyone was overcome with a rush of different emotions. We didn’t know what to feel or how to act. He was 90 years old, and although we all expected it, we couldn’t believe the day was here. My family’s personal attitude towards Fidel was negative, so while our reaction was not necessarily a celebration, we couldn’t help but crack a smile.

I remember thinking about my late grandfather who passed away only a few years prior. He was born in Cuba and as a teenager, after certain conflicts with the government, formed an anti-Castro group. Forced to seek refuge with the Mexican embassy, he settled in Mexico City. All I could think was “what would Apo say if he were here?” He had told us tons of stories about all the families Castro destroyed and the sorrow that he caused as president. It was then that I realized I was witnessing a monumental day in history firsthand.

On our way back to the hotel, I asked the driver what he thought about what had just happened. He responded that he was indifferent. Like many others, he knew that it would not impact the way in which the country is governed. Were we putting too much emphasis on one man as a symbol of everything wrong in Cuba? My thoughts were further validated the next day when I realized that everybody seemed to be apathetic. While in Miami people were celebrating, those in Cuba either acted like nothing had happened or were completely devastated. To many mourning, he had been a symbol of freedom and an inspiration.  I, very insensitively, pointed out that this was a result of the media’s overbearing influence on the country.

I suppose that everyone has their own opinion about this historic event, yet I had always assumed that the attitude towards Fidel Castro was universal. It was eye-opening to be in Cuba the day he died and to witness the reaction of those whom he personally affected. Regardless of individual opinion, it is always shocking to hear such news when in the lion’s den.

Comments are closed.