With Fidel Castro’s death at 90, the encomiums are rolling in, especially from what remains of the American Big Media. But in fact, Castro during his 58 years of dictatorship was an evil man, a communist who tortured, killed and imprisoned with no remorse, a tyrant who tore a once-beautiful country apart and sent its finest citizens into exile.
Yet, the media might as well have been going around with black arm bands following Castro’s death.
He was the “George Washington of his country,” said Jim Avila of ABC’s “Nightline.” He “will be revered” for bringing education, social services and health care to Cubans, gushed MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell. CNN’s Martin Savidge hailed Castro for “racial integration.”
Elsewhere, in print, The New York Times recounted how he “dominated his country with strength and symbolism” — another way of saying he ruled through oppression and relentless propaganda.
Of course, all of these things are the kinds of lies and euphemisms used by left-leaning journalists to cover up for Castro’s many crimes against humanity. And it’s not limited to these few recent examples.
ABC’s talk-queen Barbara Walters had what amounted to a middle-aged school-girl crush on Fidel. Film maker Oliver Stone, perhaps styling himself a latter-day Hemingway, revered Fidel’s macho swagger and made a much-derided documentary about him, “Comandante.” And Michael Moore, in his film “Sicko,” swallowed Cuba’s propaganda about its health care system hook, line and sinker.
We could go on. The list is long.
What you won’t hear from any of these media mavens is that, at his death, Fidel Castro leaves a Cuba far worse off in almost every way than the one he took over in 1958. His brother, Raul, who is 85, has been the actual power in the country since Castro fell seriously ill in 2006. Cuba has improved under him, but not much.
After taking power in 1958, the then-youthful revolutionary Fidel vowed that no Cuban mother would “shed a tear” over violence from then on. But once he consolidated power after defeating Cuba’s then-leader Fulgencio Batista, Fidel Castro set out on a course of extraordinary revolutionary violence.
He murdered thousands upon thousands. The late R.J. Rummel, a University of Hawaii professor who tracked mass-killings by governments around the world, estimated as many as 141,000 people were murdered by the Castro regime. And that was just through 1987. Since then, of course, thousands more have been killed.
Genocide Watch says it “holds the Castro regime responsible for the death of thousands of people (executed and died trying to flee the regime).” Both Belgium and Castro’s homeland, Spain, have leveled genocide charges against the Jefe Maximo.
Sadly, Castro’s Cuba isn’t at all unusual for Communist regimes, as noted by Rummel. “Clearly, of all regimes, communist ones have been by far the greatest killer,” he said.
What’s especially galling is the suggestion — present in almost every story on Castro’s demise — that he took an impoverished, oppressed nation and turned it into a kind of socialist paradise, with education, social services and health care for all.
This is an utter and complete lie. But don’t take our word for it.
“One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class,” the Geneva-based International Labor Organization said in a 1957 report. “Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8 hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6%. In the U.S. the figure is 70%, in Switzerland 64%. 44% of Cubans are covered by Social legislation, a higher percentage than in the U.S.”
Remember, this is before the revolution.
Numbers taken from the most comprehensive global data base available — created by the late economist Angus Maddison — show that in 1958, real GDP per person was $2,406. At the time, that was second highest in Latin America. But by 2008, that had risen to just $3,764 a person, a mere 1.2% annual growth rate. Cuba has the worst economy in Latin America, outside Haiti and Nicaragua.
And much of that “growth” was due to massive subsidies from the former Soviet Union, which traded badly needed oil to Cuba for sugar at highly favorable exchange rates. Cuba’s growth was a mirage, although in recent years modest market based reforms have helped increase incomes for some Cubans.
Before the revolution, Cuba had the 13th-lowest infant mortality rate in the world. It was lower than France, Belgium and West Germany. Today, it ranks about 40th. That still looks respectable, until you consider how it was accomplished: Cuba has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. At the first sign of any trouble when a woman is carrying a baby, it is aborted — regardless of the parents’ wishes.
That’s why their infant mortality rate isn’t even worse.
But surely health care for all is a major accomplishment, right?
No. As has been noted in many other places, Cuba has three separate health care systems. One for paying customers from places like the U.S., who go to Cuba for discount treatments of cosmetic surgery and the like.
There’s another for Cuba’s ruling Communist elite, also a good system. This is the health care system visiting journalists are taken to see, and that they later glowingly report on.
But there’s still another system for the rest — the average Cubans. It is abysmal, and even that might understate how bad it is.
“Cubans are not even allowed to visit those (elite) facilities,” according to the Web site The Real Cuba. “Cubans who require medical attention must go to other hospitals, that lack the most minimum requirements needed to take care of their patients.”
It goes on: “In addition, most of these facilities are filthy and patients have to bring their own towels, bed sheets, pillows, or they would have to lay down on dirty bare mattresses stained with blood and other body fluids.”
As for doctors, well, they make an average of about $25 to $35 a month. Many have to work second jobs to make ends meet, using substandard equipment. Drug shortages are rife. As a result, one of Cuba’s ongoing problems is that doctors leave as soon as they can for other countries, where they can make a decent living.
The country has over 30,000 doctors working overseas officially. Why? Out of kindness? No. The Castro regime earns an estimated $2.5 billion a year in hard currency from doctors working elsewhere, which means Cuba’s poor must go without decent care or access to doctors.
As for “universal literacy,” please. Primary and secondary schools are little more than Marxist indoctrination centers, where students are taught only what the state wants them to know. That’s how they keep people quiet.
Then there’s Cuba’s higher education, in which “universities are training centers for bureaucrats, totally disconnected from the needs of today’s world. To enter the best careers and the best universities, people must be related to the bureaucratic elites, and also demonstrate a deep ideological conviction,” notes Colombian journalist Vanesa Vallejo, of the PanAm Post, a Latin American news site.
Nor is it “free.” In fact, those who graduate from college must work for a number of years for the government at a substandard wage of $9 a month. They are in effect slave labor. As with most “free” things the socialists offer, the price is very high and nonnegotiable.
In sum, Castro took a healthy country and made it sick. Those who glorify him deserve the scorn they get for propagating such a longstanding lie.
“A less megalomaniacal ruler would have considered (Cuba’s pre-revolution economy) a golden goose landing in his lap,” wrote Humberto Fontova, a Cuban exile and author of “Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant.” “But Castro wrung its neck. He deliberately and methodically wrecked Latin America’s premier economy.”
How about race relations? By Cuba’s own estimates, roughly 36% of the country is black or “mixed.” Other estimates put it much higher, as high as 50%.
Nonetheless, a study five years ago by the online journal Socialism and Democracy found “black and mixed populations, on average, are concentrated in the worst housing conditions” and tend to work in lower-paying, manual-labor jobs.
We’ll save for a later date Castro’s many crimes and 58 years of silent war against the U.S., his allowing Soviet nuclear missiles on his soil in order to threaten the U.S., his repeated intervention in other countries, his assassinations, and his obscene theft of hundreds of millions of dollars of Cubans’ wealth to line his own pockets.
Suffice it to say, as Castro departs the scene for the last time, he leaves a Cuba far worse off in almost every way than the one he took over in 1958. Donald Trump, with his impeccable anti-PC skills, summed it up about right, calling Castro a “brutal dictator.”
“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights,” Trump said in the statement. Exactly right.
Don’t believe Trump? OK, here’s Fidel’s daughter, in an interview with the Miami Herald, describing dear old dad: “When people tell me he’s a dictator, I tell them that’s not the right word,” Alina Castro said. “Strictly speaking, Fidel is a tyrant.”
Fidel’s brother, Raul, who is 85, has been the actual power in the country since Castro fell seriously ill in 2006. He’s done little better.
So, for now, though Fidel is dead, there is little hope of change. But one can hope that Cubans will one day throw off the yoke of communism and live as free human beings.
In the meantime, the American media should be deeply ashamed for lionizing and celebrating a cruel tyrant such as Fidel Castro.