We don't normally root for someone's demise, but we'll make an exception for Fidel Castro. And, the moment of departure for the Cuban dictator appears to be drawing near. The Director of National Intelligence, Ambassador John Negroponte, reports that "El Commandante" is "very ill and close to death."
"Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer ... months, not years," Negroponte told The Washington Post.
Castro has not been seen in public since late July, when he underwent emergency intestinal surgery, and temporarily handed over power to his brother, Raul. Various medical experts--including physicians who work for the CIA--believe that Castro has an advanced case of rectal or colon cancer, with no chance of recovery.
That diagnosis is a bit ironic; the Cuban government devotes extensive resources to protecting Castro's health, yet he is dying from an illness that could have been easily detected--and treated--if caught in its early stages. Cuba's state-run health care system, long been touted as one of Castro's "successes," apparently failed its most important patient in his hour of need. It may be a fitting capstone to Castro's failed experiment in communism, which has left Cuba far behind other Latin American nations.
The Washington Post (of all media outlets), noted Fidel's failure the other day, in an editorial contrasting the legacies of the Cuban leader, and his right-wing Chilean nemesis, Augusto Pinochet. While making no excuses for his human rights record, the Post notes that Pinochet's dictatorship helped pave the way for a vibrant economy and a return to democracy. Over the past two decades, Chile has emerged as the most successful nation in Latin America, and Pinochet had a hand in that success.
When Castro expires, he will leave behind a nation that is economically ruined and politically oppressed. The Post observes that the Cuban dictator spent the last years of his life reversing minor liberalization reforms--sealing his nation's economic fate--while maintaining the gulags that have tortured, killed and imprisoned thousands of his countrymen.
Fidel remains a hero to many on the left, and I'm sure that his MSM obit has already been written. It will tout his "leadership" of the non-aligned movement, defiance of the United States, and his personal charisma. But the real legacy of Fidel Castro can be found in those ancient cars creeping down the streets of Havana; the poverty and despair that afflicts much of the Cuban populace, and a bankrupt health care system that might have actually hastened his demise.