tv Lockup Louisville - Extended Stay MSNBC November 25, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
fete. he's one of the iconic revolutional leaders of cuba. again, fidel castro has died at the age of 90 years old. he came to power in 1959 and since then has ban force in world politics unlike any other. we've been have fidel castro, and we are now going to go to andrea mitchell with a look back at fidel castro's life. >> to his followers, he was commandante or just fidel. to his enemy az feared dictator. one of the world's last communists. he graduated with both a law degree and a doctorate, tried running for the national assembly in 1952 until cuban strongman batista seized power and canceled the elections. in 1953 castro led a reasonable e rebel group against batista's
military barracks and failed. castro ended up in jail for two years until ab am nest where i when he went into ebs i'll. in mexico castro regrouped with his brother, raul, and fellow revolutionary ernesto riviera. the three led a force back to cuba in 1956. two years later on new year's day, 1959, they toppled batista and marched into havana. "meet the press" in april 1959. >> i will not come in, and i will not agree. >> later that year he even went on the tonight show with jack par. >> i know how many questions you've been asked. >> you can ask all that you want for the public opinion of the united states about anything you want. >> almost from the start castro confiscated the property of the
wealthy, silenced newspapers, nationalized u.s. oil refineries and signed a pact with the soviet union. john f. kennedy ordered the cia so invade cuba at the bay of pigs using a force anti-castro exiles. >> resistance ends. >> the resulting debacle only helped castro consolidate power. by then a declared socialist he dramatically improved health care and literacy, but also accepted soviet missiles, brug the super powers to the brink of nuclear war. >> until j.f.k.'s hard line and back channel diplomacy got the russians to pull back. moscow helped castro arm communist insurgents throughout latin america. but with the end of the soviet union cuba's economy imploded on makeshift boats, thousands of cubans fled the increasingly
repressive regime. >> his legacy is a complicated one, but there's no forgetting how many cubans left the island under dur es. >> in the 1990s the aging ruler courted u.s. businessmen and american tourists. he showed a new tolerance for religion, welcoming pope john paul ii in 1998. anyone friends throughout latin america by exporting cuban trained doctors for medicine. in 1999 a custody battle over 6-year-old elian gonzalez became the symbol of america's struggle with fidel castro. months later a federal court ordered the child removed from miami. elian returned to his father and a hero's welcome in havana. gradually even the world's longest ruling dictator began showing signs of age. he collapsed from heat exhaustion in 2001.
he broke his knee and arm three years later. the bush administration tightened sanctions cutting off most travel to the island. castro retaliated arresting hundreds of dissidents. cuba's economy was propped up by another leftist ally, oil-rich venezuela. in the summer of 2006 after undergoing intestinal surgery, he temporarily turned over power to his brother raul. on december 2nd of that year cuba commemorated the 50th anniversary of the revolution and had a delayed celebration of fidel's 80th birthday, but an ailing fidel castro did not attend the celebrations. two years later he officially stepped down and was succeeded by his brother. he spent his later years writing columns about his life experiences emerging publicly pour pope benedict's visit to havana, skps for vladimir putin and china's president chi in 2014. never commented on president obama's breakthrough with raul castro to normalize relations,
and fidel was noticeably absent when his brother welcomed home three cuban spies. heroes in havana, long imprisoned in the united states. to the end castro insisted his revolution would outlive him. >> if i die tomorrow morning, there will be no problem here of any sort because the remains a nucleus of old revolutionary leaders who without a doubt have great authority among the people. >> he never tolerated free elections or dissent but gave his people better health care and education. his real legacy may be holding power for nearly half a century, longer than any other modern leader. andrea mitchell, nbc news, washington. >> a look back at the life and legacy of fidel castro. fidel castro has died at the age of 90, and i would like to bring in chris matthews. chris, we were looking at these pictures of fidel castro, who was in politics for 70 of his 90 years. seven decades worth of work that he has done for what he believed
was his leftist revolutionary group. was he a man of the times, or was it the times that made the man? >> among all the latin american leaders, he stands out. it's a very powerful culture in the americas for a small island. there's a sense of music and afro cuban jazz and music. it has a tremendous influence, and so when he led the -- and became an ally of the soviet union and became to our terms an outlaw, someone who would execute -- i remember it happening as a kid -- 600 people. he just executed them publicly by firing squad. it certainly made most americans
see him as the enemy, as a brutal dictator who believed in communism and did not believe in freedom as we know it. certainly not in an election. didn't believe in any opposition. even to this day if you show any political ambition in that country or try to speak out, you're arrested. there is no freedom in cuba today. this is something that -- the way people should be treated in the world. i don't take a benevolent view towards the man. in fact, i'm glad that now i can say i feel good about visiting cuba, because i didn't want to have anything to do with supporting him. i don't think we americans as a people -- everybody everyone has their own judgments to be make here -- wants to be part of his success because if that's the right way to go in running a country, we've been wrong all these years because we believe in americans in our constitution and of the right of people to have political views, first
amendment, freedom of religion, of press, of assembly, speech. all those things castro opposes by philosophy. that justifies the absolute denial of freedom. that's certainly antagonistic to the way most americans look at the human rights. in latin america in spreading his political power and his influence and certainly nicaragua and places like that, venezuela and most recently, he has been an ally along with his tup type of communist revolution. it's very hard to not see him for the context of how he came to be. i will remind everybody, certainly people who read about him in history, he was a
romantic figure when he came into power, and when he knocked off the corrupt dictators, batista, we young high school kids rooted like mad for the guy. we thought here was this guy in fatigues with a beard coming in out of the countryside and swept aside this old corrupt regime, and he was going to be almost like a folk hero to most of us for many months, and as andrea pointed out he would go to meet the press and go on to -- it's a forerunner of the tonight show, jimmy fallon's show, and he would be a figure that you would look up to and say, god, this guy is great. then, of course, he began to execute people and join the soviet side, and i think we had to be very cold about this. in the cold war when it reached its peak, we were really threatened geopolitically by the soviet union around the world, and he was part of the alliance against us, and he would have been part of the victory had there been a cold war victory by
the soviets. he was very much in their circle and very much an ally of chris chef and -- at their worst. there's still some romance, i think people attached to him, but i think it has to be made sober by the fact he was not a friend of the united states by any means at all. >> those things -- and, andrea, you mentioned that you had been to cuba several times over the years, met fidel castro in person. tell me what do you think is going to change now that donald trump is our president-elect with our policies towards cuba? >> i think it's very, very hard to predict. trump through his business connections was interested in havana, but has to consider all
of the political ramifications now. what you can understand is that president obama and we're looking at those pictures now with raul castro and president obama when we were all there for that visit. president obama did the heavy political lift of taking this on, and it would have to be reversed now by president-elect trump once he takes off in january, and he would have to make that strategic decision where does his own party stand? the chamber of commerce and other republican leaders, many republican senators coming from agricultural states wanted this normalization. others are hard lined against it. certainly marco rubio right there in florida hard line against all of this, and jeb bush as well and others in the party. this will be a decision, of course, that will be sfwrud u influenced by his national security advisor, michael flynn,
and whoever he selects as secretary of state, but this is really a decision for donald trump. we haven't really heard him speak of reversing what president obama has done. it's really an open question. >> and, andrea, we were looking at the pictures of president obama with raul castro and raul castro just went on cuban television and announced that his brother had died, and i will read this to you. it's been translated. "it is with deep pain i inform our people, our friends of america and the world today on the 25th of november at 10:29 p.m. the commander in chief of the cuban revolution, fidel castro, passed away. the complaints of the expressed will of fid fidel, his remains will be cremated in the early morning hours of saturday, the 26th, and the commission organizing the funeral will provide our people with detailed information on the funeral services. that will pay homage to the founder of the cuban revolution onward to victory always."
what do you know about raul castro and his relation with fidel castro? you were in cuba. ewe been in the presence of these men. how about his death affect raul and his leadership, do you think? >> i don't think it will affect his leadership, but i think that he will pay the respect that is due to his older brother and partner in the revolution. i think he will see a state funeral. you'll see a great deal of mourning. >> with france and spain and certainly other parts of the world. they needed to make that connection with the united states.
the u.s. had isolated them from a number of the international organizations, is and the embargo certainly has been tremendously painful. it's really trip crippled their economy. raul castro was taking those steps, including the internet which eventually will open cuba up in profound ways in terms of the politics of cuba. there's -- they have flights that are beginning to take place. they've gone beyond the point of no return, but it's still a totalitarian state as chris matthews was pointing out. >> you had mentioned that when people were there, when the cuban people are there and they're watching fidel and raul that they were there in support and showing almost a love for their leader, but also that they were there in obeyance of their
leader and almost a fear of them. does raul castro command the same respect that way that fidel castro had? do you see that possibly shifting? >> i think that there may be a revisionist record of fidel castro. i think that a lot of the abuses are going to try -- they will try to paper over some of the most egregious moments in the period that followed. i think he will be reveered as someone who brought education and social services and medical care to all of his people. >> chris matthews, i would like you to weigh in on this. castro has been the leader of cuba since 2008 when fidel stepped down and passed his power over, but now with his passing, that puts raul castro in a different position. does he have to live up to his brother's legacy now, or can he
be his own leader and possibly change relations with the united states? >> i don't think anyone would say that he possesses the charisma. we haven't talked about the charisma, the personal appeal of fidel castro. it's hard to imagine anyone else who lacked his personality, his swag, his public passion. as andrea talked about, the long speeches he would give. it's all real. it's not phony. he is a passionate -- he was a passionate communist, passionate nationalist, and his ability to rally the people against all the sanctions against them and actually to keep his power despite the natural tendency of people to reject totalitarian m totalitarianistotalitarianis totalitarianism. he is able to do that with the force of personality, and it's so obvious when we look at him, and we look at him in these pictures we're going to get a picture -- a younger people get a picture of how dramatic he was as a figure. i mean, it's hard to imagine a country that small with such a
great leader, and i think -- i don't think anyone has ever said that about raul. raul is a bureaucrat, a brother. a brother who can carry on, but he never could have led the revolution himself. i want to get back to something. the cuban missile crisis of 1962, it's hard for people who didn't live through it to know what it was like, to be told that on cuba, 90 miles from our shore, from florida, tlfrp for a time there missiles with intermediate ability, intermediate strength. they were able to reach new york. he was putting in missiles like that. these were not just defensive missiles. these were missiles that were capable of offsetting what was our tremendous advantage in intercontinental ballistic missiles where, these were meant to offset that. they were able to reach new york, for example.
they were aim at new york city. that was a heroic and frightening period of days in which we knew that we were facing the possibility that those missiles could be activated, could be launched. the united states -- we're looking at pictures right now of kennedy going through that period. finding a way to diffuse that situation so that no nuclear war would break out. it was real, and castro was one of the players. i don't think he had operational control over those missiles. russia did. castro said i wish they hadn't gone to the intermediate range missiles, and at least i could say internationally he could be claiming purely defensive steps he was taking, but the fact is he was really a part of what could have been the blowing up of the world essentially with the power of our missiles and the soviet missiles at the time
if we had gotten into an escalating situation that could have easily come -- easily been triggered by what was going on in cuba. that i think to most of us who grew up with cuba and castro will always go back to the cuban missile crisis as the most frightening period in american modern history and maybe any history if you think about what was at stake. i think that's something that we're -- you pick up the papers tomorrow and the next few days, it's going to be a tremendous amount of print on the -- >> what's going to happen now is liberalization and economic openings and i hope it ends up. i hope it ends up with the country that is democratic and maybe still a bit socialistic, but doesn't get overrun with too much american commerce. it still has its character, and its national integrity really that keeps somehow and get rid of all the totalitarianism.
maets maybe that's impossible. certainly the ideal cuba would be a combination of good health care, good education, good democracy with freedom and with more economic freedom to go with it, but cuba has never really had that ideal. the country has suffered under totalitarianism before they suffered under a kind of cruel corrupt government of batista. you know -- >> it's interesting as we're watching these videos and these pictures of fidel castro come in, you see him with presidents. he is bigger than his personality just being so big. now a republican congressman from florida -- when the congressman -- can you comment on the state of florida now because you have a very high
group of cubans that would be watching this and obviously very affected by the loss of fidel castro. >>. >> this is the place that many cuban exiles call home. my own parents, grandparents came to this country fleeing fidel castro's dictatorship in the early 1960s, and this is where many cubans sought refuge from the firing squads, from the exappropriations from the violations of human rights, so i wouldn't say right now there's a major enthusiasm out on the streets. i think there's a lot of reflection. you probably will see people celebrating here in miami into the evening and tomorrow morning when the sun comes up, but certainly for many people here
there's a sense of relief. there's a sense that a new chapter can begin, a chapter where the cuban people have true hope of freedom, of democracy, the respect for their human rights, of a relationship with the united states that can truly be positive. not like the one we've seen in recent years where our country has given countless concessions to the cuban dictatorship and where the cuban dictatorship now under the control of raul castro has really done very little to reciprocate and continues denying cubans of basic human rights, such as free speech and freedom to associate. this is certainly a landmark event here in south florida, and you will see many reactions from people in our community into the
morning and especially when the sun comes up tomorrow. >> within the cuban areas there. how do you think president trump -- president-elect trump will be with the republican party -- how will that affect your constituents in florida? >> the new presidency certainly will mark the end of the current policy of unilateral concessions. we've seen since new revenues for that government. very little res profit from the dictatorshi
dictatorship. the cuban government continues to oppose u.s. interests all over the world. the cuban government has one of the most sfirs indicated spy networks in the united states. spying against our government and our -- the cuban government continues to repress to beat people to imprison them for their political beliefs. at the very least you are going to see the end of this policy of unilateral concessions, and the president-elect rsd he will actually reverse a lot of the executive -- that president obama has signed into law over the last two years so that remains to be seen, but certainly that plelk was made and many people here in our community are hopeful that the new president will hold the cuban government accountable and demand the type of reforms that the cuban people deserve and
also that our country deserves if we are someday going to repair our relationship with this island nation. >> congressman, thank you so much for your input there. let's go to gabe gutierrez who is on the line with us as well, and gabe, what can you tell us about fidel castro? you have been to havana. what can you tell us about the feel of the cuban people and how they -- okay. we're going to turn back -- sorry -- to chris matthews. we'll have gabe on the line later. chris, what can you tell us about the feel you think of the cuban people because you mentioned 1962, and that is the same thing that the congressman brought up saying that many of the people that are in miami remember that. they left the country because of that, and it's very, very forefront in their minds, in their memory of fidel castro, but things have changed in the past few years. dpou really think it will still
be the cold war and fidel castro, or are people going to look at him as a different kind of leader? >> well, just imagine if you -- the cuban people have come to the united states have that feeling, and it's true. it was taken over by the communists, and they feel that they know that the country that they have as their home, they lived in and grew up in. their language, their culture, all of that was taken over by foreign influence, by a guy who paid his loyalty to the soviet union, and was a member of the international communist party, if you will, and they certainly believe that the reason they left that country is they couldn't live in freedom without being killed. the firing squad was real. the pressure was real. they couldn't be political enemies of castro in that country and survive. that was impossible with a
totalitarian regime. i do think it's interesting. you are asking about trump, and trump will always be a question mark until we see him in action, but i think -- i was talking to some hispanic leaders of the united states right after the -- the morning after the election, and they said that probably if you looked at the way the vote went in the hispanic community in our country, almost a 30% vote in a community that had been antagonized by mr. trump voted for him, and a lot of people -- they certainly believe as experts that 30% reflected largely cuban-american votes. knee been historically more kwv, more republican. they feel you can see right there in the numbers. almost one-third of the hispanic vote, latino vote, in the united states, was for him, and the lion's share of that was cuban-american. well, he got the message. they were looking for him as an ally.
idealogically. to take on the rest of this cuban legacy in the next century. this young century, i should say. i would think just looking at trump and his foreign policy sort of blue print. >> we're dealing with a communist dictatorship forever. at some point there has to be elections. there's always going to be a bottom line in assessing the relationship between the united states and cuba. they embrace dem kraerks or they are not. and right now they are not.
if they don't allow people to speak their mind in those restaurants or in those places when they go to buy a hamburger, are we really getting a good deal with cuba? if we say, yeah, you can continue to repress your people, as long as you let our businesses into your country, i don't think that even feels right for an american in the united states to be part of such a deal. >> brian williams, on the phone right now. we've been talking to chris about the politics, and andrea mitchell has also weighed in on this man's legacy in cuba. what are your thoughts? >> well, first of all, as someone who has been listening to us on the air since this news broke, i hope people have listened carefully to you and to chris and andrea because it amounts to a history lesson in
contemporary global politics. we had a communist nation 90 miles south of cuba. that was event number one. then getting to know this young refusal use aary, notwithstandi. fidel castro who will always -- already be remembered overnight in cuba depending on how much media coverage this gets as the great revolutionary. his brother, i understand, has put out a statement tonight saying he will be cremated in the early hours of tomorrow morning, and i think this is going to move quickly. chris was also correct to caution everyone. this is not a nation that is going to be standing on the shore waiting for the airplanes from the united states to arrive
with mcdonnell's, with sears row buck, with wal-mart, with amazon. it is still true that for most people when you travel there today and americans with means and with a good travel agent are going there already to get that tourist experience while cuba still feels authentic and like cuba for a lot of people you land in your social -- and it becomes an unusable brick. you are kind of amazed at the level of play in the hotels and many of the restaurants. we flew in with the first american interest section in january of 2015. it was my last flight down there, and western in arguably the best wing of the fancyiest hotel in havana, and the only way to tell this story is the way an american would observe it. new your hotel bathroom none of the soaps and shampoo bottles
matched. they were in some cases from different hotels, from different eras. they have been refilled. they had been put together in a hurry. all of those little things that, look, 90% of us find a way to put them in our bag as we depart, especially the good ones, they were all a mish-mosh. the leg on the table in the hotel room had broken off. there was for an outside delegation of american politicos and journalists. life has been hard. times have been hard. their hand is on the spigot to allow western investment. they've been allowing european tourists for many years. they have some hotel complexes on the beaches that cater mostly if not exclusively to europeans. taking a day drive across the island can take hours because of bad roads. you see misuse and abuse of the
environment. you see young girls engaged in prostitution. at the same time, though, you all also see what chris has been highlighting. you see the medicine system they are very proud of. you see athletes and think of how many cube airborne athletes have enriched the sport in this country and around the world. writers, the arts, that cuban culture that chris was so romantic about, no one wants to lose that. it's been so rich and deep rooted in our country. no one there is going to wake up tomorrow morning and say, you know, we need jeffersonian democracy on this island nation. it's been a long time since americans needed catch up and keep up on things cuban. those casual observers that don't have relatives, say, in little havana and miami. fascinating play. the pace of modernization has gone kind of on and off in years
passed. even though he was out of power, tonight ushers in a new era. whether it's symbolic, whether it's practical, we don't yet know. his brother is still alive. his brother is in control. as castro put it, i could die tomorrow, and there are plenty of old revolutionaries as he once put it to take my place. that is true. there's an ethos there that all the generations have come up under. what was also true was when andrea set up these, and that is we cannot forget how many people have left those shores in durress and rickety boats and to make the 90 mile trek north to our country which has been a beacon of freedom since our founding. too long an answer to your question, but those are my thoughts at this hour. >> what's interesting is you talk about how quickly you believe that the cuban raul castro would be moving along with this quickly because they are going to have fidel castro
cremated tomorrow. he made that announcement when he announced to the country that his brother had passed at the age of 90, and we are already seeing on-line tweets, people sharing pictures of celebrations in the united states in florida, in miami. people are tweeting, and they are celebrating the death of fid heel castro, the end of his regime, the end of his era, the end of his revolutionary leadership, and that's here in the united states, which might have a longer lasting impact than the people in cuba may be privy to. how do you think the reaction in cuba is going to be when they wake up to know that fidel castro has passed? >> iconography of fidel castro is endless, and what's interesting is he has always said -- one of the quotes from him came via his son. a photographer. he always said he doesn't want monuments to him.
maybe that's said by a man with the confidence of knowing in that society it is the way one is remembered. to be reveered in a pefrm public state. there will, of course, be many, many monuments to fidel castro. i suspect and i think chris touched on this earlier. fascinating nonetheless. yet, the conversation had to stop at a certain point when we talked about comparative government. the conversation had to stop when her knowledge of world affairs and modern media ran out. she looks at the iphone in my hand in january of 2015, says
and realizes that is more technology than most cubans will ever hold in their hands here to for her at least. the wi-fi representative and its ability to call the resources that pay the bills and the searches on the web. that's been a big dividing line. i think there will be some generational reaction, but to chris's point earlier, remember, the youngest child in cuba to the oldest person in cuba, they have one thing in common. they were raised during the castro era. they were raised in a communist country. a country that has had its choice for how much kind of democracy to allow in. the sanctions hurt. they crippled cuba badly, as they did in it iran.
don't expect a rush. the person in our newsroom over the years, and this will grossly violate her sense of modesty. the person to talk about castro with is andrea mitchell, who has been on the other end of so many long evenings. foreign journalists know that there was kind of a dance of events. you would get this last minute invitation. castro was famous for not spending the night in the same place any two nights in a row because he had legitimate security fears over these past several decades when he has outlived most of our presidents since eisenhower. he was a noit owl. meals would start blait late. you would meet the man and then he would just start in. long before the veil of old age came down on him, he could talk
easily, easily and seemed to love the sound of his own voice for hours on end. he was the original revolutionary. he was the man the people called the great revolutionary. he did give birth to modern day post-battesta cuba, which often could not be mistaken for a modern nation whatsoever. the pictures we see in america of the old american cars from the 1950s, those are not a quaint parade vehicles that drive around for the tourists. that's been transportation. all of them have been jerry-rigged since the day the curt-on-came down on western parts. that's changing somewhat now with the arrival of western brands. it's still a nation where you see donkey carts along side cars, trucks, and buses in downtown havana, because that's
exactly what they would rather have for transportation. >> we're looking at this person that's been in office for 70 years. he is 90 years old. he started his fight when he was a young man, and he went through many different phases of this through cuba. as he said, history will ab solve me. eye where does that stand now? >> i think that's a moving target. i think it's a much better question than i have an answer for you. what chris did in giving us just a kaleidoscopic tour of cuba and cuban politics is remind us of the public executions. this wasn't all as cinematically beautiful as it was in the godfather trilogy. when midnight arrives, freito receives the kiss of death, and
there's a rush to see who has seats on a plane. the last plane out at the airport. >> this involved power, glory, and money being snatched from those who had it under the corrupt regime of batista, and it involved executions and it involved a lot of upset and tumult. >> if you can see, i want to interrupt you real quick because we have video from little havana because people are celebrating in the streets. this is live video of little havana with people celebrating the death of fidel castro. that shows you right there people who have lived under his regime. people who had in little havana fled. this is what the congressman was talking about earlier. people who remember him from those 1960 days, from that
dictatorship from that iconic leftist revolutionary leadership that he had in cuba. here we have live scenes of people celebrating here in little havana. >> obviously, these people have an interesting memory of fidel castro. probably not the same in cuba at the moment. this is our modern technology. >> absolutely. there are just -- think of the american families, including friends of ousrs, who have an address, a slip of paper with the address of their family home that they were thrown out of when the revolution dame. they've gone on to prosperous lives here in the united states, but there's always been that worry that what if question that concern about the family house. is it in disrepair? is it still standing? is there a happy family living there? they, many of them, would like to go back out of curiosity. many of them curse the modern
day cuba that cut their lives there short. it's a fascinating complicated topic, where everyone celebrating in little havana is more than entitled to their opinion. they have lived this living history story of these past few decades. >> brian williams, great to have you weigh in on this. i appreciate your time. >> dara, thank you for having me. chris matthews, we're looking at pictures of people celebrating on the streets in little havana in miami. what can you tell me about this? how is this -- how is this exetch fewing? how is this telling you what we know about the life of fid e8 -- fidel castro. >> just imagine -- look at the looks on these people as we're watching it live now. their happiness. you know, ever since the late 1950s they haven't anne e been able to go home. they have watched the flag of their country become a flag in the communist world. they've watched castro execute people they know.
silence the ones that were left behind. i mean, just -- i mean, it would have to be some sort of -- it would have to be like a movie thing. we like to have our country taken over by deck taictatorshi. all the companies that western and take for granted removed from our lives. you cannot speak, write, kong gate. just obey. i don't want them to see romanticize any extent in the modern day. he came in as a figure of romance, and he betrayed the revolution. most of these people were looking at spying right now. almost all of them had something to do with supporting the revolution use. they were people that believed in the early days in hopes of that revolution. they thought it was a democratic revolution that would bring cuba from a dick at that timership to a democracy, and they were betrayed. they were betrayed. as brian said, they lost their
homes. they lost their country. imagine losing your country. that's the emotions ka came ford. whatever mist simple went into it, mythology went into it, it was really about the hopes of the people to restore the freedom of the country of their birth. the cuban communities are pretty tight knit community down in florida. you see it down in not just havana, but in tampa and places like that where they meet together over a cafe lat yea-ye. they know where their homes were. i think we're going to see a lot of this the next few days. castro may be cremated tomorrow, but i think this is going to go on what we're watching right now for several days, and let's see if -- how the dynamic works here, as we say in politics. great word, dynamic. will the excitement of these people and the news of how excited they are reverb rate on
the island of cuba itself? will people there say why is this going on? how can they be so happy at the death of our leader? going back to the past, when i was in college in the 1960s -- >> chris, if i may interrupt. we're going to take a live feed now from wtvj. we're going to listen in to what's going on in miami. >> this is a different occasion. i'm going to talk to her a little bit more because we got interrupted with the fireworks. why is it a dream come true? many people say they don't celebrate death. why is this a celebration? >> there's a celebration because this man has done a lot of harm, much harm, has destroyed not only lives, but the culture of cuba. the cuban culture has been destroyed. the history was altered in a very negative way. he has destroyed the people. there's no liberty for over 60
years now. this is the end of a symbol. nothing will happen, unfortunately, but his life represents a symbol of oppression. >> when you found out that he died, did you come here immediately? le. >> i had to come here when i saw it. i said to my husband, you get your pants on, and let's go, okay, right now? >> you knew you had to be here and be part of this. >> i called all my friends already and we'll see around somewhere. >> how was the parking? when i got here, i had to jump out of the park. this looks like a parking lot on both sides, and if anthony can pan over. on one side it is moving, but you can see on the other side, many people are stopping to see
what is going on. people jumping out of their cars. they said your day has come. your day has come. why is this day so important to you? english? [ speaking spanish ] >> reporter: she says that they've been suffering for many, many years so this day is very important. she's had this shirt for 20 years. she had been waiting to wear this shirt for 20 years. that shirt says your day has come. now i want to talk to the younger crowd. as i mentioned, says there are people here from all ages. not just exiles but children of cuban exiles. why did you decide to come out
today? >> this is a big moment. it's going to happen once. it's great that he died. this is a great celebration. >> and for those at home who don't get the pots and pans and all that stuff, why is it such a big part of our culture? >> i don't know. it just is. >> talk to me about the scene here? were you asleep at home, and you decided to come on over? were you out? >> i was about to fall asleep, and i got a notification on my phone that fidel died. yeah, we decided to come out here. >> you knew you had to be here? >> yes. >> let's talk to some more people here in the crowd. you guys were ready with your cuban flag. >> yeah, we're ready. >> and why did you come over? >> because it's free cuba. we want -- we've been waiting for this for are years. it's finally time that we celebrate. >> thank you so much. >> many people -- many people here chanting "freedom." an emotional day, a very big day, a day for celebration.
definitely here in miami dade county. back to you in the studio. >> and that's miami celebrating the death of fidel castro. word is coming out, and as people are finding out they are going to the streets of miami and celebrating as people said, the death of fidel castro. we're going to go to nbc gabe guy ate ez right now. you've been in cuba. how long do you think the people of cuba are taking this news that fidel castro has died at the age of 90? >> we were in cuba just a few days ago. went there on tuesday and wednesday, and we were shooting a story about the impact of the cigar industry and how the lifting of restrictions several weeks ago by the obama administration and cuban cigars might affect businesses here in the united states. we're also speaking about how they felt about the stalling of diplomatic relations that we've talked about the past few minutes now, and, you know,
really what strikes you is when you are in havana, it's -- many people there are thirsty to have this thawing of relations with the u.s. kbloe >> many of them want this thawing of relations, and they feel that if the u.s. and cuba can sort of move forward with this new era of relations, that it could be a benefit for both countries. now, you look at the pictures now that were lookingt out of little havana in miami. i can tell you growing up in miami, you know, this was -- you see the picture celebrating there, and this is something that many of the cuban exiles in miami say this is the day they thought maybe would never come. often heard over and over again like it were framed when castro dies, when, you know -- when
this dictatorship, you know, finally ends. then cuba will change it has changed. the younger generation, the attitude towards cuba has softened a bit. there has been a kind of real shift in thoughts towards the castro -- forwards the castro government, and with fidel castro, power to his brother raul, the question becomes now where does this go towards the future? will -- you know, what happens during the trump administration? will he perhaps roll back some of the -- some of the thawing of relations that the obama administration has had to put forward. certainly a momentous day. just having been in havana. i can tell you the death of this
iconic leader will certainly be met with mixed reactions, within the island itself, and as we're looking at these live pictures from little havana, certainly there is a lot of celebration within miami among that exiled community. they've really waited for this news for a very, very long time. >> and, gabe, real quick, we're seeing these pictures live from miami. obviously somebody had said that they got the news notification, so they came out to hear it. we had pictures on twitter. news spread very, very quickly here that fidel castro had died. yet, when we hear stories of the technology in cuba and how raul did come out and say that his brother had passed, how many of the cuban people were actually reached by that state television announcement? how do you feel that reaction will be? >> even though there's this talk
of this opening of communication with the island slowly but surely, the people there are still -- it is communications are just so difficult there. even to go and work there as a journalist. wi-fi is very tightly controlled. it's very difficult to get information, although, the people there are -- they're very -- it's a very ingenuity. not in short supply there in cube kra. so they think they find ways for telling that we have the packaged, and that is something that different people within the country can hire it. the newt program, and the flow of information is kind of underground in havana and other parts of the island. you're seeing reports of soernl media, though, there acertain
journalists are telling other people within the country that, in fact,ing their leader has -- that fideth castro has -- i can't tell you specifically, but we are seeing reports that it is difficult for many of the folks in the island to, you know -- they wrept watching state-run tv, they might not know that fidel castro -- this is the iconic leader that has passed away. speaking with a couple of the cubans in our -- that we are speaking with for our story earlier this week, that he are aware of the technology and then i was holding an iphone in my hand, and they were able to tell the difference. >> got an iphone 7
. >> you know this new round of technology, the wave of technology has been something that -- the question will be how quickly will this happen because, of course, the u.s. embargo still in place? only an act of congress can -- many of the folks in havana slowly but surely, they want this -- this further thawing of relations to move forward. >> if i can bring in colonel jack jacobs. if you could weigh in on this. your memories of fidel castro and his legacy, what do you see happening now? >> it's interesting. the revolution occurred while i was still in high school. not long after that castro came to the united states, came to
washington with the expectation that he would meet somebody at the highest levels of the food chain in the united states, the president of the united states, dwight eisenhower at the time, dodged meeting castro because the american government properly had grave reservations about the direction of this revolution. he did wind up meeting with richard nixon in the end, but eisenhower dodged him, and whatever relationship that might have developed went downhill from there. the next president, kennedy, then launched the bay of pigs invasion which was a complete disaster, and then when i was in in college in 1962 the cuban missile crisis occurred, and i remember all of us gathered -- tell you how times have changed.
there was a lone television set in the basement of our dormitory, and all of us gathered around this one television set to watch president kennedy alert the nation that the cuban missile crisis of underway. there was a wide variety much reasons that it occurred. for all intents and purposes, all of us young men were looking at the probability of going to war very, very quickly. i can't -- the logic that we harbored about what was going to happen, you look back and say to yourself we actually thought that we were going to get drafted and, what, go down to cuba and dismantle the missile with screw drivers, go fight the russians on cuban soil, defend florida against a russian invasion? it all was about the gap between
american missile capability and russian missile capability that caused the russians to put the missiles on cuban soil. when you are really, really young, all of life gets compressed into a short period of time, and we were convinced that the whole thing was -- not that there was going to be an exchange of michls, but that we were all going to be drafted, and we would number the army, and we would defeat the russians, perhaps, on cuban soil. fidel kras row has passed away. he gave power to his brother in 2008, but fidel castro was the prime minister of cuba from 1959 to 1976.
he was president from 1976 to 2008, and, again, he is one of the world's last cold war leaders. fidel castro has died in cuba at the age of 90. we will have more on his death and more commentary coming soon. right now we're going to go back to our program. thanks for watching. >> life can turn terrifying in an instant. you are locked in a battle with a raging driver. a deadly tornado takes place. even ordinary routines. >> only seconds to choose.