The Reverend Jesse Jackson said people should be celebrating the life of dictator Fidel Castro.
“It is understandable that some Cubans and Cuban Americans are celebrating his death out of hate because they lost family members under his rule,” the so-called minister said in a prepared statement. “But most oppressed people are celebrating the life of a liberator who fought and won against the rich and oligarchic rule of Batista.”
Jackson said Americans should “celebrate the life of a freedom fighter.”
Jackson’s entire statement can be read below:
“People, the world over, are celebrating the life and death of Fidel Castro. It is understandable that some Cubans and Cuban Americans are celebrating his death out of hate because they lost family members under his rule. But most oppressed people are celebrating the life of a liberator who fought and won against the rich and oligarchic rule of Batista. We hope and pray that President Obama’s reestablishing US diplomatic ties with Cuba will continue and foster Cuban & Cuban American family reunification and healing. Reestablishing Cuban and US diplomatic relations after 50 years of failed isolation is a star in President Obama’s crown. Ping Pong diplomacy laid the groundwork for US-Chinese normalized relations and baseball did the same thing in US-Cuban relations.
Why should we celebrate the life of a freedom fighter? President Castro helped to free Mandela in South Africa. Upon his release he went to Cuba to say thank you. Castro stopped South African apartheid expansion into Namibia and Angola, which protected American interests.
In 1959 Castro came to New York and stayed in Harlem at the Theresa Hotel and the oppressed in Harlem thanked him for the gesture. That was 5 years after Brown legally ended segregation, 5 years before the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 6 years before the 1965 Voting Rights Act. While the US was sending guns to Latin America to prop up dictators, Castro was sending teachers and doctors.
During a visit to Cuba in 1984 President Castro asked me, and I agreed to speak at their university. I asked him, and he agreed, to worship with me at church, which he attended for the first time in 27 years. He also released 48 Cuban & Cuban American prisoners to come into Dulles with me with special permission for a Russian plane to land.
Castro offered help to the US with Katrina – a willingness to send doctors and supplies – but the US rejected it.
Castro was poor peoples’ hero, challenging the super rich & powerful. He was a hero in Africa, Latin America & North America for those who needed freedom from oligarchic and autocratic oppression. Africans living under colonialism and African Americans living under occupation and apartheid, and denied dignity & basic freedoms, admired Castro.
While Castro unfortunately denied many political freedoms, he at the same time did establish many economic freedoms – e.g., education and health care. In many ways, after 1959, the oppressed, the world over, joined Castro’s cause of fighting for freedom & liberation. He changed the world. While we may not agree with all of Castro’s actions, we can accept his lesson that where there is oppression there must be resistance.”