Fidel Castro, the “father of Latin American revolutions”, and the ruler of Cuba for the past 50 years or so, died last week at the age of 90.
Despite the fact that Castro’s political legacy will continue to live on for years, it is believed that his death is unlikely to change the course of development in Cuba, and his brother and incumbent president Raul Castro’s devotion to economic reform will continue to reshape country in the days ahead.
However, while Fidel Castro’s death might have marked the end of an era for Cuba, the warning he made more than half a century ago still applies to our world today, and therefore deserves attention.
Shortly after he took power in 1958, he said that “South America and the entire southern hemisphere are badly in need of a series of revolutions in order to take back whatever the rich and powerful have seized from the public”.
In other words, Castro saw the widening income gap and uneven wealth distribution as the major causes of social unrest.
Ironically, five decades later, Donald Trump was voted into the White House largely because of his pledge to redress the uneven distribution of wealth in US society.
The fact that the recent rise of populism across Europe and the US largely has its roots in public discontent with the quickly widening wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots suggests that Fidel Castro was quite a visionary, as he had accurately predicted in the late 1950s that the widening wealth gap would give rise to worldwide social unrest.
In fact, the main reason American voters preferred Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton is that Hillary is the embodiment of the vested interests both in Washington and Wall Street.
Disillusioned with the political and economic establishment and desperate for drastic change, American voters were willing to take a chance this time and voted for an unorthodox and a more unpredictable candidate like Trump, hoping that he would bring about real change.
Even though Fidel Castro is dead, his political convictions are likely to live on and resonate with not only Cubans but also average citizens of the free world who are at the receiving end of capitalist exploitation.
Ironically, it appears the unfinished business of Castro is likely to be finished not by the Cubans but by average citizens in the capitalist world, which Castro stood up against throughout his life.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 28
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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