Culture

Twitter offers opposing tributes upon Fidel Castro's death

Technically Incorrect: The Cuban dictator dies aged 90. There is little agreement about his legacy.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Fidel Castro is dead!

Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photo, Getty Images

In Miami, the celebrations lasted long into the night.

The Cuban community was delighted that former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, a man who had killed and incarcerated many and prevented even more from leaving Cuban shores, was finally dead, aged 90.

Twitter, though, is rarely united in its feelings.

So in the hours after the announcement of Castro's passing just after midnight Eastern Time, opinions flowed like fallen rain into a gutter.

Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan offered: "Now that Fidel Castro is dead, the cruelty and oppression of his regime should die with him."

On the other hand, Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau tweeted a very different nuance. He spoke of his "deep sorrow."

"Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation," he continued.

What good, some might mutter, is education when you're not allowed to leave the country? What good is having excellent literacy when the state controls which books you can and can't read?

President Barack Obama seemed keen to comment less on the man and his deeds and more on extending "a hand of friendship to the Cuban people." There was no mention of those he had murdered or otherwise destroyed.

President-elect Donald Trump decided this was a moment of simplicity, one in which an exclamation point was left to carry his true feelings. "Fidel Castro is dead!" he tweeted.

As for lesser Twitter mortals, those of a leftist bent seemed keen to offer benign honor to Castro, while those opposed thought them lunatic, given the thousands who had died under his dictatorship.

Comedians tried to join in with their own apolitical thoughts. For example this from Michelle Wolf: "The craziest part is that Fidel Castro died trying to get a tv that was on sale at Best Buy."

But what of those who might have had at least some first-hand experience?

Toronto Star sports columnist Bruce Arthur offered his perspective. He tweeted: "Every time I've been to Cuba people would whisper in fear when they spoke about Fidel Castro, in their own homes. He was no hero."

When it comes to oppression, it's always worth hearing the thoughts of former world chess champion and sterling Vladimir Putin opponent Garry Kasparov. His tweeted thought: "Fidel Castro was one of the 20th century's many monsters. We should lament only that he had so long to inflict misery on Cuba and beyond."

He added: "History does not judge from the perspective of a dictator's followers and defenders, but from that of his victims."

Sadly, many of Castro's victims don't have access to Twitter.