“The difference between socialism and communism is time.”
[Note: Presidential front-runner, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist from Vermont, has been trying to defend his 1985 and 2015 comments on the communist government of Cuba since the debate in Nevada last week. Sen. Sanders kind-of, sort-of, said that Mr. Castro went too far, but he did some wonderful things. Hogwash. On the occasion of the death of Mr. Castro on November 25, 2016, I wrote a brief history to remind our progressive friends of some inconvenient facts. MG]
Fidel Castro is dead. The darkness that ruled his life is not.
The American dilettante left, led by the cheer-leading New York Times, and a who’s who in the entertainment-media complex, are busy rewriting – softening – the history of this ruthless, depraved life. He was a cold-blooded killer who destroyed everything he touched in his long and miserable existence.
He is treated in some circles as though he was a genuine leader (the George Washington of Cuba!), not the vicious criminal he most demonstrably was. It is pretended that there was some residual value that he left “his” nation with, despite the mountain of bones and poverty that prove he left them only with wretchedness.
Ascribe all the various psychological diagnoses you will, but the earliest history of Fidel Castro is the history not of a great man, but rather a violent thug who used his power to kill and loot. (According to Forbes Magazine, Fidel Castro had a net worth of $900 million!)
He was born to relative privilege and later married into wealth. He turned his mind to radicalism and murder early. He was fascinated with power, and yet had no actual knowledge of its productive use. He was eager to lead and however knew next to nothing about that those whom he proposed to lead. His love for his country was his vanity.
The first murders committed by Castro that we know about happened when he was at the University in Havana as a 22 year old law student in 1948. He ambushed two students who were rivals for campus leadership. He shot both from behind. One student, Manolo Castro (no relation), died, and the other, Leonel Gomez was shot through the throat but survived. The murder was witnessed by a campus police officer, Fernandez Caral, but before he could testify against him, Fidel murdered the man while he sat on his porch with his young child, according to Castro’s father-in-law.
While Castro presented himself as a nationalist, with classic communist deception, he was clearly already comfortably allied with the broader communist movement active throughout the Americas after World War 11. That same year, 1948, he was among the ringleaders in a communist led riot in Bogota, Columbia, where 1,500 people died. He later returned to Cuba to run for a seat in Parliament, only to be in time for a coup staged by former Cuban President (and a thug himself), General Fulgencio Batista, who suspended the elections. Subsequently, Castro served 15 years in a Cuban prison for his part in a failed counter-coup against Batista.
Finally, released from prison, Castro met the infamous mass murderer and madman, the Argentine physician turned communist, Che Guevara. Together they planned a guerrilla revolution in Cuba. In 1959, after a surprisingly feeble resistance against a remarkably small band of rebels, Fidel and Che hit the jackpot – Cuba was theirs, literally.
Fidel Castro made a great public show of being a reasonable sort of guy after he entered Havana – where he was met with genuine enthusiasm by a population sick and tired of the corrupt Batista government. He promised his jubilant countrymen that there would be elections within three months and that their private property was secure. He also promised the U.S. that the relationship between the two counties would be strengthened. Based on those words, President Eisenhower quickly recognized the new government.
But in a pattern used frequently by communists, Castro used the time his soft words had purchased to consolidate the power of the military and the government. Within three months, the jails were overflowing with prisoners, and the firing squads had already dispatched, by some estimates, 1,000 Cubans.
[Che eventually ran several Cuban death camps, and according to defecting guards, loved to personally use his pearl-handled .45 automatic to shoot prisoners in the back of the head. There is a picture you don’t see on any Viva Che! tee-shirts.]
Over the course of a year, the extensive TV, radio and newspaper industry on the Island was under the direct control of Castro. All U.S. owned businesses were “nationalized” after six months, and thousands (some estimates put the number at 6,000) of private Cuban-owned companies were taken with no compensation within the first year. Large landowners and small farms were next, and their properties were likewise stolen without compensation.
All of this delighted the New York Times, which editorialized; “This promise of social justice brought a foretaste of human dignity for millions who had little knowledge of it in Cuba’s former near-feudal economy.”
But, as with so much of the American radical left, this was simply a calculated – deliberate – lie.
In fact, despite the Batista dictatorship, Cuba in 1959 was a very productive country with a substantial middle class. The Island had a higher standard of living than any Latin American country and rivaled some European economies at the time.
It was not as portrayed, a rural economy, driven by greedy landowners. In fact, only one third of the population lived in rural areas. Nor were there primarily only large landholders; in a population of 6.2 million in 1958, nearly 160,000 farms were averaging 140 acres, similar to Europe averages, and smaller than the average U.S. farm at 195 acres. Even Cuban farm wages were comparable to many Western countries and about three-quarters of U.S. daily farm wages.
A United Nations (UNESCO) report in 1957 noted that the Cuban economy included proportionally more workers who were unionized than in the U.S. The report also stated that average wages for an eight hour day were higher in Cuba than in “Belgium, Denmark, France, and Germany.” Also, “Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 68 per cent.”
Even the notoriously liberal Public Broadcasting System (PBS) explained in a 2004 retrospective, that;
“Havana [prior to Castro] was a glittering and dynamic city. Cuba ranked fifth in the hemisphere in per capita income, third in life expectancy, second in per capita ownership of automobiles and telephones, first in the number of television sets per inhabitant. The literacy rate, 76%, was the fourth highest in Latin America. Cuba ranked 11th in the world in the number of doctors per capita. Many private clinics and hospitals provided services for the poor. Cuba’s income distribution compared favorably with that of other Latin American societies. A thriving middle class held the promise of prosperity and social mobility.”
There was poverty, and there was racism in Cuba beyond any question. (Even the mixed race Batista was denied membership to Havana’s exclusive clubs.) But there was much to recommend Cuba, and you didn’t have to shovel snow.
Castro’s destruction of Cuba cannot be over dramatized. He looted, murdered, and destroyed the nation from the ground up. Just one factoid explains it all; Cuban’s once enjoyed one of the highest consumption of proteins in the Americas, yet in 1962 Castro had to introduce ration cards (meat, 2 ounces daily), as food consumption per person crashed to levels not seen since the 1800s.
Not only did Castro and his cronies personally loot the nation’s private wealth, but they also murdered citizens in untold and unknowable numbers. The guesses as to how many the Castro gang murdered ranges widely, but even at the low end, it is staggering proportional to population.
The late Harvard educated economist Armando Lago, also co-founder of Cuba Archive, estimates up to 100,000 victims. Some 30,000 were put to death by firing squads alone. How many Cubans were drowned at sea trying to escape the Island will never be known. Also, fully 10% of the Cuban population has spent time in Castro’s jails – figures that percentage-wise rival Stalin and Hitler.
No, liberal America, the facts stand as an indictment for themselves. Glorifying Fidel Castro, in any manner and for any reason, is to condone what this one man did to serve the darkness that defined his life.