Windsor Vigil Remembers Fidel Castro Warmly

A vigil is held in Windsor along the waterfront on November 29, 2016 in honour of Cuban leader Fidel Castro after his death on November 25. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Fidel Castro will be remembered fondly by some in Windsor with a few handfuls of people attending a vigil by the waterfront on Tuesday night to honour the Cuban revolutionary who died of illness last week.

Laura Chesnik, who helped organize the event alongside the Canadian Cuban Friendship Association of Windsor, praised the Cuba Castro helped create.

“Cuba has become a model for ensuring the well-being of all its people and leaving no one to fend for themselves,” says Chesnik.

A vigil is held in Windsor along the waterfront on November 29, 2016 in honour of Cuban leader Fidel Castro after his death on November 25. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

A vigil is held in Windsor along the waterfront on November 29, 2016 in honour of Cuban leader Fidel Castro after his death on November 25. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Chatham’s Derry McKeever attended and stresses while Castro “didn’t do everything right” in his nearly 50 years in power, there were significant improvements from the previous dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.

“If you have free education, if you have free healthcare, if you’re willing to send people to places in the world that need help — there’s something good about that,” says McKeever, who also used the vigil as an opportunity to criticize Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for not following in the footsteps his father, former prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, set out in his relations with Cuba.

“I am very concerned that his son has not lived up to that legacy,” says McKeever. “He is willing to cower to the [US President-elect Donald] Trump onslaught and not go to Cuba for the funeral for Castro that he should be attending. It looks to me that he’s missed the opportunity to be a world leader.”

Trudeau was roundly criticized by many politicians, academics and columnists for his rosy condolences to Cuba after Castro’s death.

Many at the Windsor vigil focused on Castro’s fight against Batista, the US, as well as military and medical aid given by Cuba during his time in power.

Jack Albert from the Harrow area thinks the negative aspects of Castro’s legacy — including imprisoning any who opposed him — is largely a result of having the US as an enemy.

“I will not deny that some of those people were thrown in jail; relatively few though,” says Albert. “Cuba does not have large numbers of political prisoners compared to come countries we’re quite friendly with — Saudi Arabia would always be a good example.”

A vigil is held in Windsor along the waterfront on November 29, 2016 in honour of Cuban leader Fidel Castro after his death on November 25. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

A vigil is held in Windsor along the waterfront on November 29, 2016 in honour of Cuban leader Fidel Castro after his death on November 25. (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Windsorite and Guatemalan native Marvin Roman says Castro is well respected across Latin America.

“We have 1,000 doctors from Cuba right now, serving for free, in the worst areas where Guatemalan doctors don’t want to go,” says Roman.

He wanted pay his respects to Castro at the vigil.

“Fidel has stood up for sovereignty, the defense of the homeland,” says Roman. “Our homeland is always threatened by multi-national corporations or foreign interests that want to go into Central America.”

Castro survived hundreds of assassination attempts during his reign between 1959 and 2008 before his brother Raul took over as Cuban president.