Fidel Castro was a friend and leader who really cared for his people. He was a man that I had known for almost half a century. A liberator who freed his people from tyranny.
I saw how he was overwhelming loved by his people. The several times I traveled with him through Cuba he was be mobbed by people expressing their admiration for him. I have never seen the same affection expressed for any American President.
When I visited Fidel we would talk into the early hours of the morning about his political philosophy, what he had read—sometimes with the authors—and what could be done to improve the lives of people by providing them the necessities of life. Until very recently, I visited Cuba every year since the early 1970s.
The first time I visited Cuba was with my parents staying in Havana at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in 1936. During the 1940s and 1950s I saw Cuba’s social problems mounting as economic and social differences accentuated. Fidel saw this as well and he acted to liberate his people from the tyranny of an elite class that had dwindling concern for the people of Cuba.
Fidel’s greatest accomplishments included his liberation of his people from a historical tyranny, his commitment to protecting the public health, his efforts to export health care workers to help others, and his efforts to ensure access to education to all.
You could find medical teams from Cuba all over the world and they were darn good doctors. The schools, universities, medical clinics and hospitals in Cuba, and those run by Cubans who had been sent abroad by the government, were among the best in the world.
In South America and Africa, countless people in owe their healthy lives to Fidel’s commitment to improving health and education around the world. I have traveled to isolated areas in South America and Africa where I would find highly-qualified Cuban doctors working for the people.
Fidel will be missed as a friend, not only by me, but by his people and by the countless number of people whom he helped.