26 November 2016

The boogeyman is dead - Fidel Castro has died aged 90.

I was born in August 1956. For my generation in America, Fidel Castro was the boogeyman and now he's gone. My grandchildren, the oldest being 12 years old, have grown up with a different boogeyman (probably Putin, or Trump for the sick-making leftie luvvies) but for my generation, Castro was the man we were raised to fear would come out from under the bed or spring from the closet to terrorise us if we misbehaved.

I even remember 'the grown-ups' huddled around the telly for what seemed to me FOREVER at the time as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded before our very eyes. I remember hearing the 'B*stard!' and worse aimed at Castro - not that Khrushchev wasn't damned and cursed at the same time but with far less vehemence. I distinctly recall several of the adults murmuring something about Turkey and Italy (where the US had deployed armaments) as being something of a provocation to the Soviets. Those murmurings were followed up quickly with angry, shocked proclamations against Castro for falling in with the Russians and thereby putting the West into terrible danger.

We had a bomb shelter - nearly everyone with a garden did. Ours was cleverly disguised as a root cellar. My aunts, step-mother, and older sister scurried back and forth to load in blankets and clothing, check the water supply was functioning and the air vents were unclogged. All the while cursing Castro for endangering all of us.

My dad and uncles, their preparations completed once the convoy of farm trucks and other vehicles were tucked up in the barn with full petrol tanks and the log stores moved from convenient locations near the house to hidden spots to protect the seasoned wood, were on the edge of the sofa or pacing the living room as they focussed on the television and radios. 'NBC Radio is reporting...', one of the uncles or my brother would shout to the room, the women stopping their scurrying to check the latest updates. We smaller children were sent to the root cellar under the nearly hysterical supervision of my older sister (then aged 18 and about to go into convent - she was furious with Castro for killing her before she'd had a chance to take her initial vows as a nun and cursed him for it every bit as vehemently as the 'real grown-ups' were cursing him) every time things seemed to be especially dangerously close to eruption (launching of the missiles).

Castro. Our boogeyman.

Of course, we survived the Cuban Missile Crisis. But Castro remained our boogeyman - my father, like so many fathers, went to his dying day still cursing Castro. When Obama reopened relations with Cuba I was shocked - how on Earth could Obama have done such a thing?! In my eyes Obama had just flung open the cupboard door and invited the boogeyman to tea complete with us as the teacakes, ffs! If I'm honest (and I do try to be), in my opinion soon after Obama moved into the Oval Office he outed himself as, erm, perhaps the worst POTUS ever but reopening relations with Cuba, in my opinion, just took the biscuit. Castro was the boogeyman - thousands had died trying to escape Castro's Cuba, did their lives and the reasons they fled just not mean anything to Obama?!

And now Castro has died. His brother, Raul, considered to be far more 'reasonable and moderate', has been in charge for years. Raul Castro may end up in history as far worse than Fidel ever was but Raul Castro never going to be The Boogeyman to any generation.

That distinction is reserved for his brother Fidel, and now Fidel is dead.

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