Has any other Latin American done as much damage in a single lifetime as Fidel Castro? It’s…not even close.
From his roots as a student gangster and two-bit murderer in Havana in the 40s, through a succession of catastrophes on four continents, Fidel Castro punched far, far above his weight. The guy who pleaded with Khrushev to start a nuclear holocaust, who sent tens of thousands of Cuban farm kids to dole out lead in a crazy, murderous war in Angola, thousands to attack Israel in the Yom Kipur War, thousands more to stand with the genocidal communist Mengistu regime in Ethiopia, who tried and failed to destabilize Bolivia, Argentina, Venezuela, el Salvador, Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Guatemala, who tried and succeeded in destabilizing Nicaragua, Chile, Granada and — alas — Venezuela is finally, finally dead at 90.
In the extraordinary trail of devastation Fidel Castro blazed in his lifetime, Venezuela is just a footnote. But it’s our footnote, damnit. In the photo we see a washed up Hugo Chávez, fresh out of jail in 1994, in his first foreign trip after failing to overthrow our democracy by force. Chávez might have — just might have — faded into complete irrelevance, had Castro not latched onto his potential, exploiting his vanity to bankroll his own ghoulish dictatorship for another two decades, pushing Venezuela into its current catastrophe in the process.
Fidel Castro was as close to a purely evil figure as Latin America has presented world history.