Death of a despot

Fidel Castro’s death has been met with a mixed response.

Some praise him for overthrowing the dictator Fulgencio Batista and improvements in health and education in Cuba.

Others, like Carlos Eire (Professor of History and Religious Studies at Yale University, condemn him:

If this were a just world, 13 facts would be etched on Castro’s tombstone and highlighted in every obituary, as bullet points — a fitting metaphor for someone who used firing squads to murder thousands of his own people.

●He turned Cuba into a colony of the Soviet Union and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust.

●He sponsored terrorism wherever he could and allied himself with many of the worst dictators on earth.

●He was responsible for so many thousands of executions and disappearances in Cuba that a precise number is hard to reckon.

●He brooked no dissent and built concentration camps and prisons at an unprecedented rate, filling them to capacity, incarcerating a higher percentage of his own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin.

●He condoned and encouraged torture and extrajudicial killings.

●He forced nearly 20 percent of his people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea, unseen and uncounted, while fleeing from him in crude vessels.

●He claimed all property for himself and his henchmen, strangled food production and impoverished the vast majority of his people.

●He outlawed private enterprise and labor unions, wiped out Cuba’s large middle class and turned Cubans into slaves of the state.

●He persecuted gay people and tried to eradicate religion.

●He censored all means of expression and communication.

●He established a fraudulent school system that provided indoctrination rather than education, and created a two-tier health-care system, with inferior medical care for the majority of Cubans and superior care for himself and his oligarchy, and then claimed that all his repressive measures were absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of these two ostensibly “free” social welfare projects.

●He turned Cuba into a labyrinth of ruins and established an apartheid society in which millions of foreign visitors enjoyed rights and privileges forbidden to his people.

●He never apologized for any of his crimes and never stood trial for them.

There might be diplomatic reasons for world leaders to couch their words about Castro in a way that keeps the door to Cuba open.

But when a despot dies it is more than acceptable for the rest of us to speak ill of the dead.

Hat tip: AE Ideas.

26 Responses to Death of a despot

  1. Andrei says:

    How accurate are those bullet points and how much are the result of American demonization of the man?

    Cuba when he took over was a land of poverty ruled by the dictator Baptista for the benefit of Rich American companies including of course the Mafia

    Fidel Castro’s major crime was to withstand everything the USA threw at him including really charming things like tainting the milk provided to children in Cuban schools for free in an attempt to deal with the diseases of poverty endemic when Castro took power

    Of course “sanctions” meant that Cuba found it difficult to trade with the outside world for over fifty years ( and this supported by the people who supposedly champion free trade – which is bullshit, the West lead by the USA neither champions democracy nor free trade, these are just slogans used to justify their piracy and looting of the third world as Cuba was being when Castro took power)

    Whatever Castro’s sins he will answer for them on the day of Judgement but I can tell you this, he committed no crime anywhere near as great as the NATO’s destruction of Libya and I’ll bet those who are going on and on about Castro’s supposed evils would be among the first the first to line up to kiss the buttholes of the architects of that catastrophe

  2. J Bloggs says:

    Several of those points, with minor tweaking, could also apply to the US Government of the past 60 or so years. Glasshouses and stones come to mind here

  3. Ele you are just repeating propaganda and spin. Castro was no saint but he probably did more good than bad. Nelson Mandela was one of Castro’s strongest supporters and the medical aid Cuba has provided around the world puts most other countries to shame. Cubans did suffer under the US embargo but they are better educated and healthier than their US counterparts:

  4. Will says:

    The ‘can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’ argument again. It won’t do. Who knows what health and education outcomes may have been achieved under another regime. One without firing squads and prisons.

  5. Andrei says:

    Who knows what health and education outcomes may have been achieved under another regime. One without firing squads and prisons.

    Will if you look it up you will find Cuba today has a lower infant mortality rate than the USA, actually one that is about the same as New Zealand’s and among the lowest in the Americas.

    And the USA also famously has the highest incarceration rate of any Nation in the world and is also the only developed nation in the World that still retains and uses the death penalty

    After the Cuban revolution in 1959 the USA through everything it had at subverting it – things you know about like the Bay of Pigs, and things you don’t or are only dimly aware of like destroying the crops in the fields just before harvest, or tainting school children’s milk

    Effectively the USA. which is a large, rich, powerful Nation made war on Cuba, which was small under developed and poor – and if people are betraying their fellow country men, by doing things like setting fire to the grain silos, you get firing squads and prisons

    Let us also not forget there is a Prison in Cuba where inmates are strapped down in special chairs and fed via their rectum with porridge enemas among other unspeakable cruelties – this is the infamous Prison

    It is going to be interesting to see what happens to Rodrigo Duterte…

  6. Paranormal says:

    Interesting that the death of a despot brings out those that share his failed ideology.

    Fancy blaming poverty, something seen in any country socialism has destroyed, on not being able to trade with capitalist countries.

    As for some facts about the apartheid style healthcare system have read of Some facts that should raise the ire of thinking people – like any ‘healthcare’ can’t be refused, including abortions.

  7. Andrei says:

    Fancy blaming poverty, something seen in any country socialism has destroyed, on not being able to trade with capitalist countries.

    That is your ideology talking not your brain thinking Paranormal

    Cuba prior to 1959 was a very poor country where most people had a terrible standard of living – like Haiti today which has never toyed with socialism

    What you fail to grasp is that the USA is an imperial power who took Cuba from the Spanish in the Spanish American war – the lot of the average Cuban until the time of Castro was similar to the lot of the Russian Serfs before they were freed by Tsar Alexander II – landless and forced to work the land for absentee American owners, with little opportunity for education and no access to health care

    Havana was a playground for the American wealthy, much of it run by the American Mafia – the biggest Hotel in Havana was built with mob money under the watchful gaze of Meyer Lansky

    Castro took Cuba back for the Cubans and when the CIA Bay of Pigs intervention failed looked to the USSR for protection (which nearly led to WW3) and put him beyond the pale as far as Washington was concerned

    Castro gave the USA a black eye and has never been forgiven for this and Cuba has been under sanctions ever since which has hindered its development but also strengthened its independence

    Blaming socialism for Cuba’s lack of development is like a Rapist blaming his victim and it would have been better for all if the USA and the West had dealt with Castro as an equal on a level playing field instead of trying to subvert his attempts to raise the standard of living of ordinary Cubans and providing them opportunities to better themselves

    The same game is being played in Venezuela and other South American Countries

    As well as the Philippines also annexed after the Spanish American war where terrible atrocities were committed against the local population in the early 1900s which match those committed by Nazis in Europe a generation later (though to be fair there was a congressional enquiry into these atrocities which was not something Nazi Germany would have undertaken)

  8. Paranormal it is probably useful to know the regime that Castro replaced that was being supported by the US. Castro wasn’t perfect but at least he was motivated by making things better for his people than self interest.

  9. Will says:

    Well he did not succeed. As for self-interest, look at his wealth.

    Andrei, I’m sure what you say is all true and the porridge enema sounds most unpleasant, but they do say, “don’t throw shit at a man with a gun.” Inviting the Soviet Union to turn Cuba into a missile base was rash to say the least. And yes, I know the USA had missiles in Turkey aimed at Russia, but Castro did not have to get involved.

  10. Andrei says:

    As for self-interest, look at his wealth.

    This is a common charge against those the powers that be would have us not like – Putin cops that one as well but nobody has ever been able to find his millions and if they did they’d steal it if it was in the West – that’s happened to other Russians and Russian companies with assets in the West.

    And yet often these people, if you look into it, actually live very simple lives. Putin doesn’t vacation in Monaco but favours Siberia for example – the Castro wealth story comes from one source as far as I can ascertain and is promulgated by people with axes to grind

    These things are projection perhaps since look for example at the Clinton’s wealth – their daughter on marriage was given a $10 million apartment in New York and now is being lined up for a congressional seat but we don’t wonder where all this money came from, or most of us don’t.

    Our own Prime Minister lives well enough does he not – holiday home in Hawaii…

    Castro was never seen hob nobbing with the jet set at San Tropez and that’s a fact.

    Effectively the West has been at war with Cuba for nearly sixty years – Castro withstood it much to the chagrin of the Oligarchy who really rule us and who control much of the narrative through their media outlets – I’m not saying he was a Saint but I do believe he put the welfare of Cubans first and foremost whereas before his time Cuba was a typical Banana republic – where ugly Americans exploited the poor for their own hedonistic pleasures, as happens today in the sexual tourism meccas of SE Asia – and that repulses me more than you can know

  11. Paranormal says:

    DK and Andrei, why is it you think it is acceptable that Castro replaced an awful regime with an evil one? Yes Cuba was all those things before Castro snatched power, but it is your failed socialist ideology that thinks what he subsequently inflicted on his people was acceptable.

  12. Andrei says:

    You have been brainwashed Paranormal – Castro’s “regime” was not evil.

    And it is you who displaying signs of being an ideological ideologue

    You should know that DK and myself are poles apart politically opposite ends of the spectrum

    I do believe that sovereign nations should be allowed to determine their own destiny and I do not believe in economic imperialism

    Fidel Castro put an end to the looting of his Nation, the prostitution of children by rich American filth and did bring health and education to all, whatever his other sins may be

    The threat Castro posed to the USA was not military, it was that he provided leadership and hope to other Latin American Nations crushed under the jackboot of American economic imperialism

    Here is an example for you from Bolivia – an ex President who was totally in the USA’s pocket and who lived in Miami sold the water rights and supply systems to an American company and thenpassed a law making it illegal for people to collect rain water forcing them to buy water from the American company

    These people were and are desperately poor Paranormal and water is a vital necessity so they were held hostage and their limited income was being depleted to line the bank accounts of wealthy Americans and Government officials – it led to revolution and so it should have

    Another example ongoing – the farmers of Ukraine, the bread basket of Europe are being driven into bankruptcy and their lands acquired by Monsanto – this also happened in the Balkans

  13. Name Withheld says:

    DK and Andrei, why is it you think it is acceptable that Castro replaced an awful regime with an evil one?
    Well here’s a clue.
    Vladimir Lenin had a name for them…. “Polyezniy”…. Useful idiots….
    Those who lavish praise on Communist regimes they know nothing about, while turning a blind eye to the misery they caused.
    With Cuba of course they seek to excuse Castro’s reign of terror by lauding his supposed achievements in healthcare and education.
    Sadly for his people he failed miserably.
    Cuba runs a three-tier health system. One for tourists, one for the political elite, and a third for ordinary Cubans. Ordinary Cuban citizens endure appalling standards of hygiene and lack even the most basic equipment and drugs.

    Ele you are just repeating propaganda and spin.

    Cuba Archive finds that some 5,600 Cubans have died in front of firing squads and another 1,200 in “extrajudicial assassinations.” Che Guevara was a gleeful executioner at the infamous La Caba Fortress in 1959 where, under his orders, at least 151 Cubans were lined up and shot. Children have not been spared. Of the 94 minors whose deaths have been documented by Cuba Archive, 22 died by firing squad and 32 in extrajudicial assassinations. The heftiest death toll is among those trying to flee. Many have been killed by state security. Three Lazo children drowned in 1971 when a Cuban navy vessel rammed their boat; their mother, Mrs. Alberto Lazo Pastrana, was eaten by sharks. Twelve children — ages six months to 11 years — drowned along with 33 others when the Cuban coast guard sank their boat in 1994. Four children — ages three to 17 — drowned in the famous Canimar River massacre along with 52 others when the Cuban navy and a Cuban air force plane attacked a hijacked excursion boat headed for Florida in 1980.

    I’m sure the survivors of these massacres will be much heartened to know it was all just SPIN after all.
    Pass me a bucket.

  14. Andrei says:

    Vladimir Lenin had a name for them…. “Polyezniy”…. Useful idiots….
    Those who lavish praise on Communist regimes they know nothing about, while turning a blind eye to the misery they caused.

    Polyezniy Полезный means “useful” Name Withheld the phrase is actually Полезный идиот and does not appear in Lenin’s writings – like a lot of things you think you know it is a actually fabrication deployed to shut down discussion when the person who pulls it like a rabbit out of a hat has no real counter argument to an idea they have been presented with

    The sad thing about people like yourself is you think if you read something in the NYT or see it on BBC it must be true

    Cuba runs a three-tier health system. One for tourists, one for the political elite, and a third for ordinary Cubans. Ordinary Cuban citizens endure appalling standards of hygiene and lack even the most basic equipment and drugs.

    You know this? How?

    According to the UN and the CIA Factbook Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the USA and one that is almost identical to New Zealand’s

    And the same sources give Cuban Life expectancy as almost identical to that of the USA and about 9 months less than that of New Zealanders – which might suggest that Cuban’s enjoy fairly good health care probably equivalent to that enjoyed here and better than that enjoyed by any other Caribbean, Central or South American Nation – those are verifiable facts rather than propaganda bile reported in the Western media

  15. Paranormal says:

    So Andrei, how do you know your propaganda is superior to namef withheld’s?

    It also seems 20% of Cubas population don’t agree with you about just how wonderful life was under Castro.

  16. Andrei says:

    Paranormal I am not putting forth propaganda rather I am putting forward numbers taken from the UN and the CIA Factbooks which on the face of it contradict Name Withheld’s claim about Cuba’s health care being deficient

    Because of multiple sources linking is difficult but Wikipedia provides the infant mortality information in tabular form

    And that source gives USA – 5.87 deaths per 1000 live births
    NZ – 4.52 deaths per 1000 live births
    Cuba 4.63 deaths per 1000 live births

    To compare this with another Caribbean Nation: Jamaica we see an infant mortality rate there of 13.37 per 1000 live births

    This is not provided to claim Cuba under Castro was a paradise or to promote communism – it is purely to call in to question an unsupported statement put forward by Name Withheld regarding Cuban’s access to health care

    It is axiomatic to you that Castro was “evil” but you need to question that axiom because questioning axioms is how you can make intellectual progress

  17. Name Withheld says:

    The sad thing about people like yourself is you think if you read something in the NYT or see it on BBC it must be true
    Oh really?

    Such propaganda services by The New York Times for Castro’s Stalinist regime are reflexive after more than half a century of practice. “Fidel Castro has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the Constitution….but it amounts to a new deal for Cuba, radical, democratic, and therefore anti-Communist.” (Herbert Matthews, the New York Times.)

    the phrase is actually Полезный идиот and does not appear in Lenin’s writings

    You know this? How?

    Who cares whether it was coined by him or not?
    One does not need a Russian thesaurus or a lesson in Russian grammar to understand that it describes perfectly the syndrome exhibited by naive communist sympathizers in the West.
    I would have preferred “Bat S**t Crazy”, but that term of course is very appropriately taken by Steffan (homeopathy) Browning and his fellow green travelers.
    You are not alone in heaping praise on the dead dictator of course…
    As well as total non entities such as Browning, Curran and Harre et al..Join…
    Justin Trudeau, Ban Ki-moon, Barack Obama, John Kerry, Jimmy Carter, Pope Francis, Jeremy Corbyn, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un, and of course Vladimir Putin.

    Best headline so far Adiós, Dirtbag.
    Now wheres that bucket?

  18. NW, I would love to know what your sources are 😉

    It must be so easy to live in your world of black and white political views, where no shades of grey exist.

  19. Mr E says:

    He sent Gay men into the military then latter imprisoned them.

    He was challenged on human rights by multiple human rights organisations.

    He sent people to their death. Based on a questionable legal system. Without remorse.

    People (his people) left their homes in droves as a result of his leadership.

    Some Green Party members are admiring him.

    Castro was Castro. He will be remembered for what he was and sometimes what he wasn’t. He has left a legacy that has polarised people. Those that are admiring him are looking past behaviours that many won’t be willing to forgive right now.

    His passing will mean many will not get to see measure justice for the activities questioned. Therefore, for me, his legacy will be that of infamy.

  20. Mr E, George Bush and Tony Blair both have potential war crimes charges hanging over them. The US is currently supporting Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen and Saudi Arabia regularly beheads people. The US regularly executes thousands of potential “terrorists” and innocent people with its drones. New Zealand’s own human rights recommendations (to meet our obligations under various UN declarations) have increased from 60 to around 250 under this Government. Australia currently imprisons refugees, and those not convicted of any offence (other than ‘association’ with undesirable groups such as motorcycle clubs) in off shore detention centres.

    I don’t believe Castro is revered as a saint but he did achieve some remarkable things for his people and country that should be recognised. Like I said earlier, life isn’t actually black and white. The US supported the imprisonment of Mandela as a terrorist and it is interesting how his image changed. Castro was no Mandela in his governance style but he was actually far more effective in lifting the quality of life for his people. I think you will find that many of the Cubans in the US that celebrated Castro’s death had profited under the previous corrupt regime.

  21. Mr E says:

    Dave, I care not for comparisons of Castro with Bush, Blair, Hilter, Mussolini or even Santa.

    I am referring to specific actions of his.

    Imprisonment of Gay Men.
    Death penalties based on a questionable legal system
    Resulting in multiple challenges from Human rights organisations.

    You seem to be saying these actions make him, not “perfect”. Not perfect!!!????

    That is like saying Hilter made a few judgements of error.

    I think this sort of stuff drives people away from the Greens. The willingness to look past apparent atrocities and minimise them.

    Now Castro is dead, he cannot be held accountable for any actions (depending on your beliefs, I could be wrong). That means those who have been wronged will never get to consider justice.

    You might this that is ok, and easily looked past, but I don’t. And it makes me wonder what kind of evil the Greens would be willing to pally up with.

    If there was a leader in NZ who had imprisoned Gay men, would you write an MOU?

  22. Paranormal says:

    Andrei 30/11 @8:57 I think you miss my point. How do you know your figures are accurate and not just more propaganda?

  23. Andrei says:

    I think you miss my point. How do you know your figures are accurate and not just more propaganda?

    Well I don’t know anything for sure Paranormal, but there is nothing that leads me to suspect the New Zealand Government of fudging our infant mortality and life expectancy statistics to make them look good

  24. Paranormal says:

    At least with NZ government figures there is the Auditor General and a few layers of bureaucracy to hopefully get them close to accurate.

    Do you really believe Cubas figures have the same level of independence when flagship leftist talking points depend on them?

    The fact US organisations repeat them don’t lend them any more veracity. Surely you can see the irony in that?

  25. Mr E Homosexual acts were also illegal in NZ until 1986.

    Cuba has followed a similar time line of changes to New Zealand. I do not approve any form of discrimination and certainly don’t support Castro’s stand on many things. However you will struggle to convince me that his positive achievements aren’t worth celebrating. The poorer 20% of the population in Cuba are probably better of the the poorer 20% of the US population.

    I would love to see your sources

  26. Mr E says:

    So let’s follow.

    Castro takes power.
    Affirms a reassignment of wealth.
    The Wealthy leave – All inequality measures are fixed.
    Cuba becomes poor
    Castro welcomes Russia to plant nuclear weapons in exchange for resources
    Hiding in his bunker, pens a letter encouraging a preemptive strikes, the globe teeters on the brink nuclear Holocaust.
    Thankfully the Russians and Americans think more wisely.
    Cubas wealth returns at the expense of global relations and nearly the loss of life on a Global scale.
    Russia eventually pulls support from Cuba.
    Cuba becomes poor. People die and drown attempting to leave.
    Cuba exchanges doctors for resources with Venezuela.
    Cuba returns to wealth.

    The Greens admire.

    Is that a fair version of history? In short any success within Cuba has been on the basis of Human exports, Nuclear risk, and Human trafficking.

    The health care you so admire is referred to as Salaried slaves

    You can admire that all you want. I wont.

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