Fidel Castro has passed.  In the history of our hemisphere he was the longest standing communist dictator.  He was not voted into power; rather, he seized power through violence, assassination, and deportation of those he cited as dissidents.

I work with a man whose family was forcibly deported from Cuba when Castro seized power.  At the time this man was 12 years old.  He remembers it vividly.  Try and put yourself in his shoes as a young boy as I tell his story.

Early one morning Castro’s armed soldiers showed up in front of his family’s home and small farm.  They come in the home and tell his father that he is scheduled for deportation the next morning.  His mother, father, and his 2 brothers and 1 sister were all in shock and terrified.   They were allowed 1 suitcase each and only the jewelry that they were wearing when the soldiers arrived.  They were supervised while they packed their belongings.

His father was forced to sign over his land and home to the government.  They were not allowed to contact their relatives before leaving.

They were loaded into a truck and taken to Havana that afternoon.  The next morning they were put on a boat and departed for Miami.  They had nothing but one suitcase each and the clothes on their backs.  Imagine how you would handle this, not well.

In Miami, many Cubans had already arrived before my friend’s family arrived.  The U.S. government along with other Cuban refugees had set up a crude immigration plan in Miami.  Basically, if you had relatives already in the U.S. you would be sent to their location and temporary housing would be provided for you.  You would also receive food assistance until you could find work.  My friend and his family ended up in Portland, Oregon.

There he learned English and worked in the fields with his father and brothers harvesting whatever needed harvesting. He went to school and studied hard and was successful.   It was hard work but he did it.  His father was a proud man and did not like taking government assistance, and as soon as he was able, he stopped it.

His family ended up being successful.  His father and mother ended up having 2 more children after arriving here for a total of 6.  All of his brothers and sisters ended up with good careers.  They earned it.

History has judged Fidel Castro.  He was a ruthless, murdering despot who stole people’s property and disrupted families all in the name of communism.  The ideology of all things should be owned and operated by the government and everyone will get what they need from the government.  Everyone will be equal because the government will control all.  Does this sound remotely familiar?

Did Castro’s Cuba work?  You can evaluate this in many different ways but the best way in my opinion is to ask yourself the question if it was so good then why have hundreds or thousands died over the decades trying to get off the island in search of something better.

Now Fidel is meeting the ultimate Judge and I have a feeling he will be spending eternity in a climate much warmer than Cuba.