Fidel Castro was a violent and murderous tyrant, yet since his death much of the left has made excuse after excuse for his actions. This hypocrisy must be pointed out.
Fidel Castro had “a tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people”, or so says Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in a gushing obituary after Castro’s death. He was a “champion of social justice”, according to Jeremy Corbyn, and a “hero to many” according to Jean Claude Juncker. These positions do deserve some caveating, however. Castro would, I’m sure, have claimed to have love for the Cuban people. That is, apart from those he had summarily executed, tortured, imprisoned on false charges or forced into exile.
We hear much from the left about Cuba’s impressive education system, but they neglect to mention that censorship of freedom of expression was—and remains—rife in Cuba. Castro taught the Cubans how to read, and then instructed them what they were permitted to read. Ah, but what about Cuba’s advanced healthcare system? It is true that Cuba has had some medical achievements, particularly in vaccinations , but it is also true that their doctors are abandoning their profession to become taxi drivers for higher pay, thanks to a fully socialist economy. Moreover, it is also a fact that due to the horribly oppressive nature of the Cuban regime, they cannot allow doctors to travel freely. Controls were eased in 2013, and were quickly reinstated to stop doctors fleeing to other nations.
In fact, one can only hope the Cuban healthcare system is advanced, as they will need it to help Castro’s torture victims recuperate. According to Juan Carlos González Leiva, a human rights lawyer and activist in Cuba, prisoners can look forward “narrow cells with no sunlight called “drawers” that have cement beds, a hole on the ground for their bodily needs, and are infested with a multitude of rodents, roaches, and other insects…In these “drawers” the women remain weeks and months. When they scream in terror due to the darkness and the heat, they are injected sedatives that keep them half-drugged”.
It is simply undeniable that had this been a conservative or right wing dictator rather than a communist one, the left would have been up in arms about these human rights violations, and rightly so. Instead it is dismissed with a “can’t make an omelette” mentality, with the theory of no enemies to the left making itself well known. Indeed, it is positively certain that had Castro been privatizing rather than nationalising but with the same human rights abuses nobody would be gushing about his achievements today: many on the left sadly turn a blind eye so long as the “right” ideology is being implemented.
Many simply bestow him with the title “anti-imperialist”, as if this title simply expunges his horrors from history. Castro was no such thing; instead he was an imperialist stooge. Not for the US, but for the Soviet Empire. Whilst the US cannot claim to have an unblemished record on human or foreign interventions, this does not take away from the crucial facts. The US is a democracy; the USSR was not. The liberty provided in a democracy such as the US is the reason Cubans have thrown themselves onto rafts to reach the United States, rather than vice versa. Moreover, it was not the US, as much as some on the left love to attack them, who killed countless millions of their own citizens; that was the USSR, the regime so-called “anti-imperialist” Castro got on so well with.
When history remembers Fidel Castro, for his impact is undeniable, it will remember a dictator: a power mad tyrant, too scared to let his citizens read or say or paint or write what they wanted lest his murderous regime was overthrown. This man will be so remembered as he so richly deserves to be, joining the ranks of reviled dictators the world over in the public imagination as evil tyrants. History will also remember those who defended him and praised him; there is only so long one can excuse the inexcusable.