tv PBS News Hour Weekend KQED November 26, 2016 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
captioning sponsored by wnet >> desjardins: on this edition for saturday, november 26: hillary clinton's campaign will participate in a recount in three states; and fidel castro, a revolutionary both reviled and revered, is dead at age 90. next on pbs newshour weekend. >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual
and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by: and by the corporation for public broadcasting, and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. from the tisch wnet studios at lincoln center in new york, lisa desjardins. >> desjardins: good evening, and thanks for joining us. two-and-a-half weeks after conceding defeat, hillary clinton's campaign today said it now supports presidential election recounts in three pivotal and closely-contested states-- wisconsin, michigan and pennsylvania. today, clinton lawyer marc elias wrote in a post on the web sit"" medium" that data scientists working for the campaign were already checking official vote totals in every state. then, green party candidate jill stein formally filed a wisconsin recount petition yesterday. she announced plans to do the same in michigan and pennsylvania by monday.
elias said: elias said going forward the clinton campaign will be" represented" in any court proceedings and on the ground. since the election, clinton's lead in the national popular vote has grown. she now has 2.2 million more votes than donald trump, but she's behind mr. trump by a combined 107,000 votes in wisconsin, michigan and pennsylvania. elias noted that trump's lead in the closest state, michigan, about 11,000 votes, exceeds the number ever overcome in a u.s. election recount. clinton would need to overturn the current results in all three states to reverse president-
elect trump's victory in the electoral college. mr. trump calls the potential recounts "ridiculous" and added in a written statement: now to our main story: fidel castro ruled the island of cuba with an iron fist for almost half a century, handing power over to his brother eight years ago. cubans called him simply" fidel." he was a thorn in the side of ten american presidents, a defiant communist allied with the soviet union in the cold war, and a dictator who imprisoned and killed his enemies and drove a million of his citizens to flee. castro was the father of a revolution that delivered healthcare and education to his people but deprived them of a better quality of life by most other measures, and, most of all, of political freedom. late last night, president raul castro went on cuban state television to announce the death of his older brother and predecessor, but he gave no cause. fidel castro had suffered from an intestinal disease for over a decade. raul castro announced nine days
of national mourning and said his brother would be cremated, with his ashes interred in the city of santiago, near where he grew up. in havana, flags are at half staff and the mood has been somber, the streets largely empty of people and traffic. president barack obama expressed his condolences to the castro family. mr. obama, who began a process to normalize relations with cuba two years ago and visited cuba this year, added: president-elect donald trump called castro a "brutal dictator who oppressed his own people." mr. trump said: speaker of the house paul ryan said: by contrast, russian president
vladimir putin said castro had been "an inspiring example to many countries." china's communist leader, xi jinping, said: and bolivia's socialist president, evo morales, said castro was "the leader who taught us to fight for the sovereignty of the state and the dignity of the peoples of the world." and in the section of miami known as "little havana," thousands of cuban-americans took to the streets to celebrate castro's death, chanting "cuba si, castro no." >> i guess i shouldn't be happy because a person has died, but he separated my family. my parents never got to see cuba again. so, today, i rejoice for this. >> the streets are so joyous because several generations of cubans are celebrating the death of a dictator-- not the death of a human being, but the death of a dictator.
>> desjardins: newshour weekend's hari sreenivasan has more on fidel castro's life and times. >> fidel! >> sreenivasan: his communist revolution outlasted ten american presidencies and withstood half a century of american economic embargo. he survived numerous attempts to overthrow or assassinate him. he fought off one u.s.-backed invasion at a little known beach called playa giron, in what americans came to know as the bay of pigs, and helped unleash a superpower confrontation by installing soviet missiles in cuba. the world had seen little of the cuban leader in the past decade after serious intestinal illness struck in 2006. in 2008, he stepped down as president, putting his brother, army head raul castro, at the country's helm. this feeble old man in a track suit was a pale shadow of the overconfident 32-year-old guerilla who shook up the western hemisphere. fidel castro triumphantly took control of cuba on january 1,
1959. he rolled into havana atop a tank a week later. he came down from his guerilla stronghold in the sierra maestra mountains, joined by his partner in revolution, the argentine che guevara, and a small rebel army. they had toppled the right wing dictator fulgencio batista, who had been in and out of power in cuba for 25 years. castro quickly nationalized u.s.-owned companies and property in cuba, along with church holdings and the farms and businesses of wealthy and middle class cubans. the u.s. responded with an economic boycott that lasted decades, and castro began an alliance with america's superpower rival, the soviet union. >> sreenivasan: departing president dwight eisenhower severed all links with cuba. >> there is a limit to what the
united states and self-respect can endure. that limit has now been reached. our friendship for the cuban people is not affected. >> sreenivasan: the hardships placed upon the cuban economy, and castro's repression of his cuban opposition, sparked a series of mass migrations that would profoundly affect the united states and the future of u.s.-cuba relations. the new american president, john kennedy, picked up one of his predecessor's plans, an armed overthrow of castro. the c.i.a. trained an army of 1,200 cuban exiles to invade and begin a popular uprising. on april 17, 1961, the small, counter-revolutionary force stormed the beach on cuba's southeast coast. many cuban people rallied to castro, and his forces quickly put down the bay of pigs invasion. it was a disaster for the new kennedy administration. but the following year brought a new confrontation and even more danger. on october 16, 1962, u.s. spy planes photographed the
construction of a soviet missile site in cuba. a crisis ensued, which brought the world the closest it had ever come to nuclear annihilation. a u.s. naval blockade, called a "quarantine," was forced on cuba. kennedy took to the airwaves and warned of the consequences. >> to halt this offensive build- up, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to cuba will be initiated. it shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from cuba against any nation in the western hemisphere as an attack by the soviet union on the united states, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the soviet union. >> sreenivasan: it took 12 days of intense negotiations and u.n. diplomatic efforts, but the soviets backed down and promised to remove the missiles from cuba in return for a u.s. commitment not to invade the caribbean island. the newshour's robert macneil,
who was in havana at the time, asked fidel castro about the missile crisis in a 1985 newshour interview. >> when the crisis was at its very height, did you personally think that nuclear war was a possibility one of those days? did you believe that? >> ( translated ): yes, i believed that was a possibility. >> and did you... what did you feel about your role in having brought it to that point? >> ( translated ): it was not me. it was the united states that led us to that point. it was the united states. >> sreenivasan: castro put down dissent, economic conditions worsened, emigration to the united states surged. exiles and their families filled american cities and prospered in places like miami's "little havana." these immigrants became a force in american politics, standing against any efforts to lift the embargo or reopen diplomatic relations. ( cheers )
all the while, castro endured. he rallied his faithful supporters in the capital with his trademark hours-long, fiery speeches full of nationalist and socialist rhetoric. >> ( speaking spanish ) >> sreenivasan: crowds of thousands turned out to listen. even with massive soviet subsidies, another dramatic economic downturn hit cuba in 1980, and castro said anyone who wanted to leave cuba could do so by boat. again, a huge wave of immigrants headed to the united states in what became known as the mariel boatlift. many of these were prisoners and convicts. but castro continued to hold a tight grip on his people through restrictions on free speech and free press. he quieted the opposition with imprisonment, and he did not deny that his jail held political prisoners when the newshour's robert macneil asked him in 1985. >> ( translated ): yes, we have them. we have a few hundred political prisoners.
is that a violation of human rights? those that have infiltrated through our coasts, those that have been trained by the c.i.a. to kill, to place bombs, do we have the right to put them to trial or not? are they political prisoners? they're something more than political prisoners. they're traitors to the homeland. >> sreenivasan: with the collapse of the soviet union in the early 1990s, subsidized sugar prices and cheap oil from cuba's communist ally disappeared. cubans were again asked to tighten their belts. castro needed new friends. in 1998, the communist leader came face-to-face with communism's arch rival. castro welcomed pope john paul ii to cuba. the pope addressed the cuban people at a mass where thousands turned out. he called for an end to human rights abuses and drew the world's attention to the plight of the cuban people.
castro did come to loosen some restrictions on the catholics in cuba, the pope's message did little else to change the day- to-day lives of cubans. but in later years, castro found new allies in the hemisphere... >> viva la republica boliviarana de venezuela! viva cuba! >> sreenivasan: ...in leftist leaders like venezuela's hugo chavez and bolivia's evo morales, who said they were inspired by the cuban revolution and joined castro in delighted defiance of uncle sam. fidel's slow fade began on july 31, 2006, when he ceded power to his younger brother, raul. the news that castro had undergone successful surgery for gastrointestinal bleeding aired over state television. in the states, among the exile and cuban american population, there was anxiety along with jubilation at the idea that this could be the end. but soon, castro allowed himself to appear in photos from his hospital bed and even entertained friends while convalescing.
when he was up and moving in october of 2006, the video captured a frail and aging man in a much weakened state trying to look healthy. in december 2006, cubans celebrated the 50th anniversary of the revolution and a belated birthday without the guest of honor who was still too ill to attend. he didn't reappear in the public eye until 2010, and, almost a year later, he officially resigned as the communist party's leader. in 2012, cuba hosted another ponitff, pope benedict. castro was too ill to attend a large mass which drew thousands, but the pair did hold a meeting. >> these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. it's time for a new approach. >> sreenivasan: then, in a momentous development in december of 2014, president obama announced the united states would reestablish diplomatic ties with cuba. that meant opening up an embassy in havana, expanding economic ties and easing travel bans.
the first step was a prisoner swap between the two countries. but the deal was made with fidel's brother, president raul castro. it was the first major discussion between presidents of the u.s. and cuba since 1961, and fidel was still nowhere to be seen. despite his decline from public life and politics, the communist icon continued to publish editorial columns and assumed the role of an elder statesman. >> desjardins: read more about fidel castro's impact on history, and reactions to his death in the cuban community in miami, at www.pbs.org/newshour. >> desjardins: for more on fidel castro's foothold in history and what it means now, i am joined here in the studio by carla robbins, an adjunct senior fellow at the council on foreign relations. she's also a pulitzer prize- winning journalist formerly with the "new york times," "the wall street journal" and "u.s. news & world report." and in washington, william leogrande is a professor of government and a specialist in latin american politics at
american university. he's the author of "back channel to cuba: the hidden history of negotiations between washington and havana." a very strong panel. thank you both for joining us on a hole day weekend. let me start with you, carla. fidel castro was divisive in life, and now even in death. we've seen reactions around the world vary, not just in the western world and the developing world but we've seen even the prime minister of canada have some words of praise for fidel castro and his death, very different from what we've seen from most american leaders. what do you think fidel castro, in the end, represented in his life? >> well, you know, if you thought about it, cuba a very small country, and it doesn't produce any strategic materials that anyone would really care about it, but it was 90 miles away from the united states with fidel castro, and it was in the midst of the cold war that he came to power. so his ability to sort of manipulate that relationship, and he was such a sort of rock star in the way that he did it, so it was always this sort of
symbolism of challenging american imperialism and being in the face of the united states. and he was that way until the very end. so it was sort of the rock star fidel, even though at home he was pretty much a thug. >> desjardins: the rock star. can william leogrande, he talked about the power of propaganda. what do we been the facts? >> when he took power in 1959, he had two objectives-- one was to totally reform cuba's corrupt and unequal social order and the other was to gain independence from the united states. in the early years he made a lot of progress on both of these. he kicked the americans out and abolished capitalism in cuba replacing it with soviet-style communism. but the reality is over time those goals began to actually erode. we see now that his brother, raul castro, is moving towards more of a market socialism on the order of china or vietnam. so the old-style soviet model just didn't work. and since december 2014, cuba and the united states have been
re-engaging with one another. u.s. visitors are going down there by the thousands and u.s. businesses are just chomping at the bit to get into cuba. >> desjardins: how did fidel castro do this? it's been many deck epidemics since cuban people have suffered from economic distress and political repression? >> you know, it's fascinating. when you think that the wall fell in '89, that the soviet union unraveled 25 years ago, and the cubans went through a very tough time, that special period when they didn't have that financial support that kept castro in power for a very long time. how did they do it? it's an island. they could control an enormous amount because it was an island. i think the power of his personality was a big part of it. but as bill said, also, they did make some pretty significant changes socially so there were a lot of true believers there for a long time. i will tell you the last time i was there, which was the last time they let me in, which was the mid-90s, there was an awful lot of people who had been believers in the revolution who finally said, "enough was
enough." would i have predicted 20 years hence that they would still be in power? that is pretty surprising. >> desjardins: bill, what about that. what do we know what the cuban people think right now about the castro regime? >> the older generation, people over 60, who remember the old regime and who grew up in the 1960s and even in the 70s, when there was a lot of enthusiasm for the revolution and when the economy was doing better, they tend to have a lot of affection still for fidel castro and raul castro. and in the few public opinion polls that have been done on the island by outsiders, that generation is still supportive. but the younger generation is badly disaffected. these are people who grew up in the special period when the economy was a disaster. and for them, the revolution means privation. and a lot of them don't see a lot of future for themselves in cuba, and that's why so many of them are leaving. >> desjardins: carla, you know, it's remarkable to me, this was a man who was the longest in power of any 20th century ruler, except for monarchs. >> it's remarkable what repression can do for you.
>> desjardins: and i think my question to you is then, what do you think his legacy may be now, beyond his ability to stay in power? he said in april in his farewell address that, "cuban communism's legacy will live on." what does that mean, and is there such a thing? >> i think that's sort of delusional. eventually, it will unravel. i mean, in the world of the internet, even being an island, you cannot be that separated. and as bill said, this generation, they want out. they want it to be over with. they don't want that level of privation. and they certainly don't want to be cut off from the rest of the world there. you know, there were changes that took place-- educational changes, health care changes-- you know, it's a different country, certainly, than it was under batista. but the joke went on for too long. will cuban communism live forever? i certainly hope not. >> desjardins: my question to you, bill, is now how do you think this will change things? does the death of fidel castro hasten reforms? what does this all mean for cuba? >> well, fidel castro was such a symbol, i think his passing
will, on the u.s.-cuba relations side, take some of the heat out of the animosity, particularly among some of the hard liners in miami for whom fidel personally was just an object of abject hatred. on the island itself, i think his enduring legacy is that he made cuba a fully independent country from the united states. the last country in latin america really to gain its full independence. >> desjardins: carla, talking about symbolism, fidel castro passed away just as we see most of the symbol of capitalism itself, or certainly aristocracy, donald trump, rising to power. does this-- do you think this is an opening now in terms of the united states' stance towards cuba to lead to a more hard line from president-elect trump? >> right now, he's taking the very hard line. he carried the cuban american community in florida there by 52%, according to the exit polls. so maybe he'll take the hard line itself. you know, if i had to bet, i think the train's already depart. i think that basically american businesses are interested in
going there and, you know, americans are interested in going there. i don't expect there's going to be a massive roll-back. >> desjardins: and, bill, do you think in the next, let's say even six months, we'll see any changing of the pace in cuba? >> well, we're going to have to wait and see which donald trump takes the white house. is it the politician who promised cuban americans that he would roll back everything barack obama did in cuba? or is it the businessman who in the 1990s wanted to get into cuba and do business himself and just as recently as september said he thought an opening to cuba was fine, as long as we negotiated a good deal. >> desjardins: william leogrande of the american university, and carla robbins of the council of foreign relations. thank you both for joining us. >> thanks very much. >> glad to be with you. >> desjardins: on pbs newshour weekend tomorrow, our jeffrey brown sit down with singer-songwriter norah jones to talk about her evolving craft, her musical roots, and her new
album. and that's all for this edition of "pbs newshour weekend." i'm lisa desjardins. good night. captioning sponsored by wnet captioned by media access group at wgbh access.wgbh.org >> pbs newshour weekend is made possible by: bernard and irene schwartz. judy and josh weston. the cheryl and philip milstein family. the john and helen glessner family trust-- supporting trustworthy journalism that informs and inspires. sue and edgar wachenheim, iii. barbara hope zuckerberg. corporate funding is provided by mutual of america-- designing customized individual and group retirement products. that's why we're your retirement company. additional support has been provided by:
-it's just not for the dignitaries. it's just not for those that have means. it's open to everybody. -all kinds of people feel they belong here enough to have some of their most intimate rituals performed in this place. -this city hall to me symbolizes more than anything else hopefulness, optimism, its rebirth -- the phoenix that arises from fire and destruction. -city hall is a beautiful building, but it's really also a lens through which to view san francisco's social and political history. -for some, it's been that symbol of the palace for the people, the symbol of democracy. but for others, it's been a symbol of oppression, it's been a symbol of exclusion.