29 November 2016

Notes from Norm: One Dead Castro Does Not End Cuba’s Suffering

Fidel Castro is dead.

But his despotic regime still oppresses Cuba.

I visited Cuba in 2004 as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Western Hemisphere Subcommittee.  I visited with Oswaldo Paya, a Cuban dissident at his home.

Also present were some of the leaders of “Ladies in White’ – women like Laura Pollan -just one of the wives of some of the 75 dissidents arrested by Castro earlier that year, serving up to 28 year sentences. They would protest after Mass, every Sunday, dressed in white.

Both Paya and Laura Pollan are deceased.  Their deaths resulting from “mysterious circumstances” — most likely murdered by the regime.

There is a reason why hundreds of thousands of Cubans fled from Castro’s tyrannical rule.

President Obama, responded to Fidel Castro’s death by saying that “… we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family…”, but failed to offer condolences to the untold thousands of Cubans who were the target of Fidel Castro’s murderous rule.

The vapid Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, lavished praise on Castro that one normally reserves for leaders of nation who don’t systematically murder, torture, imprison and otherwise terrorize their citizens.

It pains me to suggest that people like Trudeau are “goofballs” for holding Castro up as a paradigm of virtue.  One would hope that the leaders of nations would have spent some amount of time understanding the history of other nations.

I likely have too high of expectations.

After all, our own President ignored the fact that the conflict between our country and Fidel Castro was not some minor and silly disagreement that had lingered for over five decades.

To be fair, President Obama was barely a 1 year old when Cuba nearly melted the world by being the nuclear missile satellite of the Soviet Union.

Perhaps he doesn’t realize that a belligerent nation barely 90 miles off the coast of the United States could have easily slung nuclear weapons into the heart of the United States before he finished writing the 226 words that contained his message of condolences on the passing of Fidel Castro.

There’s this odd myth of those who defend the President and his cozying up to Castro that there’s some reason for praise for Castro.

Even Trudeau talked about Castro’s focus on literacy and health care for his people as a point of justification for his praise of the dead dictator.


It’s the same kind of sickening rationale some might have for Hitler, Mao, Stalin and Saddam Hussein.

As though we should exclaim, “Yes, it’s true they murdered, tortured and imprisoned an untold number of people, nearly destroyed the world and brought their nations to ruin but hey, they had some redeeming qualities we shouldn’t overlook.”

Imagine how other murderous thugs like Kim Jong-Un and Bashar al-Assad must feel knowing that their tyrannical leadership might someday be viewed positively by leaders of the Free World.

Despite the death and destruction, they unleashed against their own people and throughout the world, they can have some confidence that upon their death there could be those who will say, “Yes, it is true they were ruthless despots who killed their own people but they had some worthwhile qualities we should acknowledge.”

Because I know there are some who will hold up Castro as a complicated guy who shouldn’t be totally judged in the context of the Cold War, I offer this link:  https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/26/cuba-fidel-castros-record-repression

It’s not the work of some right-wing group.

It’s Human Rights Watch – a nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization.

Which, upon recognizing the death of Castro, had this to say about him:

“During his nearly five decades of rule in Cuba, Fidel Castro built a repressive system that punished virtually all forms of dissent, a dark legacy that lives on even after his death.”

Yes, it is true that Human Rights Watch recognized that Cuba had “… made important advances under Castro in the progressive realization of some economic, social, and cultural rights such as education and healthcare. .

I’m sure there are many prisons in the US that do well in regard to health care and education-as does the prison island that is Cuba

Prime Minister Trudeau’s heaping of praise on Castro as “A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and health care of his island nation” is the basis of the narrative of many of Castro’s apologists.

But, I imagine he must have not read this paragraph from Human Rights Watch which reads, in part, “The progress on economic, social, and cultural rights was never matched in terms of respect for civil and political rights. The denial of fundamental freedoms throughout Castro’s decades in power was unrelenting, and marked by periods of heightened repression…”

The inconvenient truth for those who glorify Fidel Castro and excuse his merciless rule is that Fidel Castro was evil in life.

His death does not end his evil.

Yes, Fidel Castro can no longer pull the levers of power in Cuba.

But, as long as his brother, Raul, has breath in his lungs, the ideology that led to the death and oppression of Cubans for nearly 60 years will continue.