Are the winds of change in the air? Pervez Musharraf has lost the elections in Pakistan and Fidel Castro has indicated that he is to step down as Cuba’s leader. That’s a lot to have happen at more or less the same time.
I think Musharraf sabotaged his legacy by trying to stop the inevitable: his exit from power. He turned the whole affair into a painful bloody process and few will be sad to see him go. Castro on the other hand isn’t so easily dismissed.
He is loved by many in Latin America for the same reason that most African leaders still stick up for Robert Mugabe. Both stood up to Goliath. Both have taken on superpowers and told them to go jump in a lake, and off course onlookers have loved them from it. It’s easy to get caught up in both men’s rhetoric and be impressed by them until you look at the cost of their actions.
In both cases, ordinary citizens have paid the brunt of the consequences. A friend who recently visited Cuba said he felt like he had travelled back in time. He was appalled by the poverty there. Having said that, Cuba’s health care system is arguably better than that of the Americans. The same could be said of their education system. But was it worth it? Would not making peace with the United States have served his people better? And didn’t ruling with such an iron fist, for whatever reason take away from his message?
Of Musharraf, Mugabe and Castro though, the only one with a chance of being remembered in a positive light is Castro. I wonder if the fact that he relinquished power voluntarily (sort off) has anything to do with it?