Cuban scholar Rafael Hernandez on Castro's death, relations with Canada
Published Monday, November 28, 2016 10:00PM EST
Rafael Hernández is a Cuban writer, political analyst, and founding editor of the journal Temas. He teaches at the University of Havana, and has been a past visiting scholar to Harvard University.
Hernández met CTV National News Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lisa LaFlamme in Havana to talk about the impact of Fidel Castro’s death.
Lisa LaFlamme: Is the outpouring of grief we see in Havana’s Revolution Square an obligation, or a genuine feeling of loss?
Rafael Hernández: To face the real event, the death is something that you feel you are never prepared. That happens with someone who is your relative, that happens with Fidel Castro.
Most Cubans feel with Fidel Castro a personal connection. To blame him for all the bad in Cuba, or to recognize him as the one that created all the good in Cuba. Even those that have mixed feelings or criticize him, recognize his tremendous role in transforming this country.
LaFlamme: Canadians come to Cuba, they still see food rations, they still see very bad internet, no communication, restricted travel -- what do you think Cubans want for the future?
Hernández: The main aspirations of Cubans is to recover the balance between income and market prices, and this is still a problem. The rest of us think we have the best healthcare system in the region, we have the best education system in the region and we have citizenship that can think with their own heads. And that is a fundamental achievement not just because of Fidel Castro, but he played an important role in that.
LaFlamme: You've seen the controversy over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments after Fidel Castro's death. What's your reaction to that?
Hernández: Pierre Elliot Trudeau was welcomed by the vast majority of Cubans as a hero, because he was expressing recognition and respect to us. For us, Canada has been that -- the only country with Mexico in the hemisphere that kept an independent policy vis-a-vis Cuba, that was independent enough of the United States to continue an independent policy.
I think that in many ways, our relationship with Canada may be a model for the future of our relations with the United States.