Thatcher's meaning to the victims of communism
Those who view Thatcher as anything other than responsible for saving her country from itself will not appreciate what she meant to millions around the world who seek the right to live in freedom
I met Margaret Thatcher in London in 2010. It was an event to mark me for the rest of my life and I will never forget her words to me on that occasion.
I was attending a meeting of the European Resource Bank, an umbrella group for free market think tanks around the world. Like all such occasions there were workshops, speakers and networking events. One night, however, we were attending a dinner in Guild Hall, a wonderful testament to old London.
While sipping cocktails and chatting with guests from most of Europe and a few other places, I wandered near a door to an antechamber where there seemed to be some commotion around an arriving honored guest. Staying by the door, I peered in to see none-other than Baroness Thatcher in a beautiful blue dress and some rather stunning jewelry. I could not believe my eyes.
When the doors opened to the larger room, I was standing near the entry and almost immediately as she made her way in with Matthew Elliot, director of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, I asked if she would like to sit down.
“Oh yes, please,” was the response from the woman who, along with Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II, was most responsible for the liberation of millions from communism.
We got her a chair and I helped her sit down. “So very kind of you; that’s much better don’t you think?” she said, her eyes twinkling.
At that very moment it occurred to me who I was in the presence of. Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I introduced myself to her and said the following:
“Ma’am, my people, the Cuban people, admire and love you for all of your efforts in defense of individual liberty, and we will be eternally grateful to you when the moment of our own freedom comes. Thank you.” I suddenly realized that I was tearing up as I said this.
She took my hand with both of hers and looked my in the eye with her own steel blue eyes and said: “The Cuban people too will be free, I have every expectation.”
We said other things but I don’t remember anything else after that as the crowd recognized her and made its way towards her. I could only imagine the honour of being in the company of Polish workers who she met during her early visits to Warsaw and other towns in that country. People who needed as much encouragement as the Cubans now do.
When I learned that she had passed away I felt no tears and no remorse. I was saddened but also aware that she had been in ill health for many years, including when I had met her in London. She showed no illness then. In fact, she had her picture taken with close to a hundred in attendance, all the time shaking hands and smiling. All the time she showed a constitution of iron and a very British sense of grace and elegance.
I was later reminded that when the Nobel laureate economist F. A. Hayek first met then Prime Minister Thatcher, he is said to have exclaimed: “she is so beautiful.” I now know exactly what he meant. She was a lion who inspired men and women to strive for the most illusive of all conditions, human freedom.
Those who mistakenly view her as anything other than a great visionary presence who managed to save her country from itself will not appreciate what she meant around the world to millions who seek the right to make their own decisions and live their own lives in peace.
Someday, when students in a free Cuba review history, they will read about this extraordinary British lion of liberty. I have every expectation.
Fernando Menéndez is an economist and principal of the Cordoba Group International, a strategic consulting firm providing political and economic analysis to clients
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