AND, from many, good riddance !
Over the next few days we shall all be swamped no doubt with the usual humbug tributes from the loony left, certain academics and entertainers, and other fellow travellers, particularly from those in the so called ‘non-aligned’ nations, and former Soviet satellite states, over the death of Fidel Castro.
Nearly all of them will ignore the fact that Castro, who died earlier today after a long illness, was nothing short of a narcissistic, brutal dictator who betrayed the Cuban Revolution. He executed and imprisoned thousands of Cubans in order to enforce upon the country his brand of Soviet-type Marxism-Leninism. He forced many thousands more of his countrymen to flee the beautiful island nation in order to escape his ruthless totalitarian rule. With great risk to their lives, most of these Cubans fled just 90 miles away across the sea to Florida where many of them and their descendants took to the streets today in excited and jubilant celebration on hearing the news of his death.
Castro, who was born into a wealthy land-owning family, took only two years to oust the criminal regime of the then incumbent President Batista. After his army of revolutionaries took Havana, and chased Batista out of the country, he announced publicly on New Year’s Day 1959, the establishment of a ‘representative democratic government’ which he categorically stated would be neither Communist nor Marxist. In a very short time, it was not only one of the most repressive Communist- Marxist regimes anywhere, but his brutal excesses were at least equal to those of any committed by Russia or its eastern European allies.
Thousands of democratic political opponents were executed and jailed. Even under Batista, opposition newspapers had been allowed to operate within certain limits. However, Castro banned these entirely and no political dissent was allowed under his rule. In 2006, Castro handed much of the day to day running of Cuba to his younger brother, Raoul, who went on to assume the presidency two years later. While some liberalisation has taken place over the past ten years, Cuba is still run on totalitarian lines by what can now be called an ‘autocratic family dynasty’. Raoul Castro still reigns.
Fidel Castro will also go down in history as the man who brought the entire world to the brink of nuclear catastrophe in 1962, by allowing the former Soviet Union to station nuclear missiles in Cuba. A third world war was averted by President Kennedy’s strong stance on the issue and his ultimatum to the then chief Soviet mischief maker, Nikita Kruschev, to remove all Russian missiles from Cuba forthwith. Kruschev blinked first and in a few days all the nuclear weapons were returned to Russia.
There is little for a Westerner to admire over the 49 years of Castro’s rule. However, for the record, it should be acknowledged that the regime has two remarkable factors to its credit. In education, a very high literacy rate has been achieved by even Western standards, certainly comparable to that attained in the South Indian state of Kerala under the communist government of E M S Namboodripad. The other is in health care which is amongst the best in the world.