As expected, the news of the death of Fidel Castro was announced by his brother Raul, in a brief official statement to the people of Cuba and friends around the world.
While his biographers are careful to detail that he survived hundreds of alleged attacks, no one can keep count of the innumerable times that his death circulated as a rumor or even as a headline, starting with those left him for dead after the attack on the Moncada barracks, or after landing of the yacht Granma on the coast of eastern Cuba.
Sixty years to the day after the morning of 25 November 1956, when the historic yacht sailed from Tuxpan, Mexico, events have changed the significance of that anniversary to inscribe the date, as of today, as the moment when the hisotiral leader undertook his “ultimate journey.”
The question so often formulated, of what would happen after the physical disappearance of Fidel Castro, will soon have its inexorable answer. Obviously, it will not have the dramatic effect it would have had, had it happened when he was in command of the rudders of the country, as was on the point of happening in June of 2006 when he had to “provisionally” delegate all his responsibilities to his brother Raul.
Although the impact has been ameliorated by a decade of relative absence, in one way or another his real death marks a before and after. Especially for the decisions that his heir must take in his last year in office. From this point, the argument that this or that cannot be done because “the boss” would not agree, ceases to have any meaning. No one will now have any doubt about who rules Cuba
Now begins the prolonged stage of competing panegyrics and diatribes. Adulators and detractors will bring to light their long sharp conclusions, will once again relate the anecdotes that earned him glory and blame; they will recall the legends and jokes, epithets and nicknames.
Cuban television will have already prepared a selection of his historic moments, the best pens of the national Parnassus will publish poems and compose songs, and then will come the anniversaries, and sooner or later the generation of those who never knew him will exceed that who saw him triumphantly enter Havana, deliver his interminable speeches, make his unappealable decisions.
The contemporaries of Elian Gonzalez will perhaps remember that 17 years ago, a day like this 25 November, that child rafter was rescued almost miraculously in the Straits of Florida. This coincidence obliges us to think of Charon, the mythical boatman who leads souls to their final destination. This ship will not sink. Fidel Castro is dead. Sadly for some and joyfully for others, this time it’s true.