TTU political science expert explains impact of Castro's death

TTU political science expert explains impact of Castro's death
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs
Source: Ashlyn Tubbs

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Inaki Sagarzazu is a Texas Tech Political Science assistant professor from Venezuela, and has studied Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro's 90 years of life.

Sagarzazu was taken off guard when Castro's brother announced his death on Friday.

"We've been hearing for such a long time that he has been sick, we've heard rumors that he was really dead…but nobody was saying it," Sagarzazu said, "So when I saw it, I was kind of in shock."

As a Texas Tech political science assistant professor, Sagarzazu calls Fidel Castro a "character that generated strong emotions" as the head of Cuba for nearly five decades.

"He was leader of a revolutionary movement in Cuba, a revolutionary movement that took over power in Cuba on January 1 of 1959," Sagarzazu said. "It was a communist revolution, so it was a left-wing revolution."

That is why Sagarzazu said some people were overjoyed at the news of Castro's death.

"On one side, there were a significant number of people that left the island, that fled the island, that were persecuted, that were political prisoners that had family that were murdered by the communist regime," he said, "and so all these people right now are feeling tremendous joy, if not some for the death itself."

However, Sagarzazu said others are grieving Castro's death.

"You have a significant number of left supporters, left-wing supporters, which, although they might disagree with the forms of the Cuban Revolution and of the dictatorship itself, in a way they idolized this person that would stand up for hours and talk pointing his finger toward the United States," he said. 

Sagarzazu believes since Castro is gone, the Cuban government will be able to move away from his shadow even with his brother as president.

"There's been reports that Raul Castro is much for moderate than his brother Fidel," Sagarzazu said, "and he's been opening up the island's economy and even politics throughout his brief tenure."

So even though Castro may be gone, Sagarzazu knows he will still be a topic in his classroom and beyond for years to come.

"Castro was a very polarizing figure, but he was the first that stood up to the U.S. in a region that was always considered to the U.S. as it's backyard," he said, " so I think the Cuban people are going to mourn him, some with more feeling than others, and I think life will go on."

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