The death of Saddam Hussein passed without much public fanfare in the United States. Fidel Castro, whose death is imminent, will not be so lucky.
The city of Miami reportedly planned an event at the Orange Bowl Stadium that would celebrate the death of the ailing Cuban dictator. While the citizens of Miami, especially the many Cuban immigrants, certainly have the right to express their feelings, the city’s plans went too far. After public outcries, the city downscaled the events and said it would not use any taxpayer dollars to fund the event.Miami officials said that it was never their intention to host a party celebrating
a man’s death. They simply wanted to provide citizens with a safe venue to revel in, if they felt the need to.
In Little Havana, a hamlet in Miami
with a large population of Cubans who fled Castro’s regime, news of Castro’s
abdominal illness last July was met with cheers. This same feeling will likely appear in full force upon news of his death.
But the planned celebration was a different event. It was being prepared by a group set up by city commissioners. Tomas Regalado, one of those commissioners, denied that the event was meant to be a party.
“It’s not going to be a conga line, I promise you,” Regalado told CNN. He said the event was intended to serve as a safety measure.
Whether this is entirely true is difficult
to tell since the committee that Regalado helped set up discussed T-shirts, themes and performers that the city might hire for the occasion.
It may seem excessive to orchestrate
an event simply to celebrate a man’s death, no matter how evil he is thought to be. While we could rightfully criticize the city for going overboard with the planned celebration, providing a venue for it is hardly disrespectful.
“Whether or not it is ethical, they have the right to [celebrate],” said junior
Elie Dworkin. Miami, and the rest of the country, is free to celebrate Castro’s death. The city government should certainly provide a safe venue for that celebration, so long as that is the main goal. In fact, safety and freedom are essentially why most Cubans fled their homeland in the first place.
However, that line between safety and celebration is an important one. If the city of Miami is holding the event simply to offset the street partying and give families a safe place to be, then all it is doing is watching out for its citizens.
Timothy Lyons, a junior in the Fox School of Business, understands the sentiment. “A man dying is never something to be celebrated,” he said. “But I don’t think it’s the death they are celebrating.”
This statement underscores the difficulty that those of us who are not closely connected to the issue have in relating to it. Most of us have not celebrated someone’s death. It is also hard to imagine the city of Philadelphia hosting a celebration of anyone’s death, even if it were a dictator’s. At the same time, most of us have not lived under a regime as repressive as Castro’s and it is hard to begrudge those who have and their sentiments.
Stephen Zook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.