“The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.” President-elect Donald J. Trump
By Stephen W. Browne l November 30, 2016
Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev with Fidel Castro
Well, he’s dead. At last.
Fidel Castro (1926-2016), the longest-ruling dictator in the Western Hemisphere died on November 25.
The praise was every bit as sickening as I expected.
“Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire. Presente!” Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein wrote on Twitter.
“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said parroting settled Cuban Communist propaganda.
British Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn called Castro, “a huge figure in modern history, national independence, and 20th-century socialism.”
President Barack Obama was somewhat more circumspect in his eulogizing.
“At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation,” Obama stated in a press release.
Though hedging his praise a bit, Obama failed to mention that the way Castro “altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation,” was to imprison, torture, and execute people who disagreed with the Cuban socialist vision, impoverish a country that had a standard of living equal to the United States, and drive untold thousands of people to cross shark-infested waters with makeshift rafts on the slim chance of arriving penniless on America’s shore as the better alternative to a life of mere existence in the island prison known as Castro’s Cuba.
Contrary opinions came from thousands of Cuban-Americans dancing in the streets of Miami, Cuban-American politicians such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, and President-Elect Donald Trump.
The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights, Trump said.
Trump called for “a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.”
One may only hope.
Future generations may well wonder how and why a dictator, not much different from any in the sad history of the 20th century, was lionized by politicians, movie stars and media moguls who took tours of Cuban Potemkin villages and returned all aglow with the thrill of their brief proximity to evil and absolute power.
Cuban refugees and visitors who could evade their handlers reported the sorry state of (uncompensated) confiscated properties, magnificent works of architecture crumbing and decaying, mothers and housewives resorting to prostitution to feed themselves and their families, and the healthcare praised by Michael Moore doled out in filthy hospitals where patients had to bring their own bandages and bed linen.
Castro did defy the mighty United States from his little island prison, thus winning the admiration of America-haters around the world.
Though the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 is generally thought of as a win for President John F. Kennedy, there are accounts that Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba when he realized Castro and Che Guevara actually intended to use them in an attack against the United States would have started World War III.
And at that Castro and Khrushchev got a win for their side by negotiating a secret agreement from Kennedy not to invade Cuba, for all intents and purposes abandoning the Monroe Doctrine, while agreeing to pull the medium-range nuclear Jupiter missiles out of Turkey.
Remarkably he continued to do so after the collapse of his superpower patron the USSR.
Boldness often wins the admiration of the timid. But there is more I think.
Castro appealed to everything base in human nature, the desire for ultimate power. To take what we want, to bend others to our will, and to kill on a whim.
A reasonably free country can offer the chance to rise very high, to the heights of wealth and fame of those who flocked to sit at Castro’s feet, and often sleep in his bed. But Cuba cannot offer that.
Some of the most privileged revealed the darkness in their souls by whom they chose to admire and eulogize.
Stephen Browne has been a sewage treatment plant worker, a truck driver, an English teacher and a journalist. In 1991 he received his MA in anthropology and set out for Eastern Europe, which was to become his home for the next 13 years. While teaching English and working with local dissidents abroad he began to write professionally about the tremendous changes happening after the collapse of the Soviet empire. In 1997, he was elected Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. In 1998, he co-founded the Liberty English Camps in Lithuania, which teach the principles of free markets and political liberty through English-language instruction, and eventually became the Language of Liberty Institute. He returned to the U.S. to study journalism on a graduate fellowship and pay some dues in rural newspapers in the Midwest. At present he lives in his native Midwest with his two children Jerzy Waszyngton and Judyta Ilona. Mr. Browne is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.