For many in Cuba, Latin America, and the world, the rise of Cuba's Fidel Castro ushered a revolutionary change. He became a polarizing figure who was an icon of liberation for some, and an icon of oppression for many others, especially for the over 1.5 million Cuban exiles who fled the island in search of a better life.
I called my mom and dad Saturday morning in Miami and broke the long awaited news of Castro's death, an interesting historical twist given the fact that they had taken me out of Cuba as a small child in an effort to save me from what they saw were imminent familial and social dangerous emerging from the communist dictatorship.
Fidel Castro's death symbolizes the passing of an era and accelerates hope that the winds of change that are already in place in Cuba will continue to deepen. The last three Popes visited the Cuban island, each calling for greater openness from Cuba to the world (and vice versa) and inviting the Cuban government to respect fundamental human rights and freedoms.
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Pope Francis and President Barack Obama paved a new path forward to a culture of encounter between Cuba and the U.S., cutting "loose shackles of the past." The passing of Fidel Castro finally closes the door to an outdated and ineffective foreign policy and breaks wide open the door to a new era in US-Cuban relations.
[Miguel H. Diaz is the John Courtney Murray Chair in Public Service at Loyola University Chicago. From TK-TK he served as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.]