Fidel Castro, the former Cuban dictator being euphemistically hailed by the press as a “revolutionary,” died at age 90 on Friday evening.
The longest acting dictator in the Western Hemisphere until turning over the reigns of power to his brother Raul eight years ago, Fidel Castro is virtually being lionized and his oppressive regime — a nearly fifty years stretch from 1959 until 2008 — is being romanticized with double-talk in the U.S. press.Image Credit: Jorge Rey/Getty Images
The news stories from major outlets illustrate the journalistic tactic of inserting romantic language into headlines with false equivocation:
- New York Times: Fidel Castro, Cuban Revolutionary Who Defied U.S., Dies at 90
- Washington Post: Fidel Castro, a spiritual beacon to the world’s political far left, dies at 90
- BBC News: Fidel Castro, Cuba’s leader of revolution, dies at 90
- The Guardian: Fidel Castro: revolutionary firebrand finally defeated by infirmity of old age
- CNN: Fidel Castro’s death brings joy and grief
President Obama’s statement not only gives “condolences” to the Castro family and an assurance that the U.S. is a “friend and partner” to the socialist regime, it glaringly omits strong criticism of the Cuban government.
Pres Obama issues statement on death of Fidel Castro. pic.twitter.com/5eHB2A9DoB
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) November 26, 2016
The lack of outright public condemnation is revealing; it has been largely absent, save for prominent Republicans such as Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and Newt Gingrich.
The press and the Obama administration refuse to give Castro the historical remembrance he deserves; the Cuban dictator would get it if he weren’t, in the left’s biased opinion, on “the right side of history.” Drawing on the words of the socialist revolutionary Alexander Kerensky, the mainstream press and many Democratic politicians can be exposed through awareness of their guiding philosophy there can be “no enemies to the left.”
Yet, it is important to concisely set the record straight without engaging in this thinly veiled romanticization and historical revisionism. The left cherry picks statistics about literacy, healthcare, and equality to paint a falsely rosy picture of Cuba. This is the actual, documented history of the Castro regime.
1. Economic StagnationImage Credit: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images
“With an economy that has basically stood still for more than half a century, it’s often difficult to tell the difference between a present-day photo of Cuba and one that is decades old.”
Photographs of the island nation under Castro and contemporary photos speak much louder than propaganda about the state of the nation.
2. Mass Flight
“For Castro, the flights of so many of his countrymen were international embarrassments, but also a way to unload tens of thousands of unhappy Cubans clamoring for change and a better life than his communist regime could afford them.”
The tens of thousands of dissidents fleeing the socialist nation was another revealing sign that life was not as grand as Cuba’s and the left’s propaganda suggested.
3. Collapsing HealthcareImage Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images
Much like other aspects of Castro’s legacy, images tell the reality much better than the propaganda. The socialized medical system has been touted, no less than by filmmaker Michael Moore, for the equality of treatment and the ideological way it ensures all receive some medical care.
The New York Times even went so far as to lament market reforms that were being introduced by Raul Castro in 2015:
Image Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
“Two countries that are models of effective public health intervention, China and Cuba, have recently embarked on important policy changes, leaving some experts wondering whether citizens will be left worse off. In September, Cuba and the Obama administration began moving closer to normalized relations, which may expose Cuba’s vaunted medical system to powerful new market pressures.”
That “vaunted” medical system is in reality a dysfunctional one with long waiting lines and substandard care. There is false reportage to inflate medical indicators like infant mortality statistics, hospitals in utter disarray, and privileged treatment for Cuba’s elites.
Other than that, the Cuban medical system is ideal.
4. Mass Propaganda, Censorship of PressImage Credit: Keystone/Getty Images
One would think that Castro’s censorship and socialist propaganda would draw vocal condemnation from the U.S. press. One would be wrong.
Amnesty International lists multiple things the government does to infringe on freedom of expression: imprisonment for criticizing the government; a virtual monopoly on print and broadcast media; Internet access is limited and censored; and human rights organizations are denied access.
Nonetheless, not only is the press highly restrained or even silent on these matters, the President of the United States omitted such matters in his statement on Castro’s death.
5. Imprisonment of Political DissidentsImage Credit: Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images
Human Rights Watch lists Cuba as one of Latin America’s most oppressive political regimes. In 2015, the IBTimes summarized HRW’s report:
The group found that political dissidents who criticize the government routinely face criminal prosecution and that government officials use fear tactics including beatings, public shaming and threats of imprisonment to keep naysayers in check.
Reports of arbitrary arrests increased from 2,100 in 2010 to 3,600 in 2013, according to HRW’s 2013 report, which also found that arrest orders are hardly ever presented during arrests and detainees may be held for several hours or even days without outside communication. Political prisoners are commonly denied parole after their minimum sentences are completed, the report found, and Cuba’s prisons are overcrowded and unclean, with prisoners who are often malnourished and suffer from illnesses.
Senator Marco Rubio, a fierce critic of Cuba’s communist government, informed the American people that of the 53 dissidents released by the government in accordance with Obama’s “normalized” relations with Cuba, many of them were re-arrested. In the past, the government carried out mass executions by firing squad, and at least 1,253 extrajudicial killings are attributed to the Castro regime.
6. Discrimination Against GaysImage Credit: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images
Fidel Castro took the blame for a wave of homophobia launched by his revolutionary government in the 1960s, but said it happened because he was distracted by other problems, in an interview published yesterday in a Mexican newspaper.
The former Cuban president told La Jornada the persecution of gays, who were rounded up at the time as supposed counter-revolutionaries and placed in forced labour camps, was a “great injustice” that arose from the island’s history of discrimination against homosexuals.
As with other myths of socialism, the belief that social progress runs in parallel with state economic control has been proven time and time again not only to be a myth, but a dangerous misconception that can lead to social repression of minorities.
7. Racism Against BlacksPortrait of boxing champ Joe Louis (1914 – 1981) alongside Fidel Castro during a visit by the Joe Louis Commission, a delegation composed predominantly of African American business and media leaders, Havana, January 1960. Image Credit: Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty Images
Despite President Obama’s attempt to normalize relations with Cuba, ironically, black activists have recently condemned the island nation. As reported succinctly in a first-person account in The New York Times:
Racism in Cuba has been concealed and reinforced in part because it isn’t talked about. The government hasn’t allowed racial prejudice to be debated or confronted politically or culturally, often pretending instead as though it didn’t exist. Before 1990, black Cubans suffered a paralysis of economic mobility while, paradoxically, the government decreed the end of racism in speeches and publications. To question the extent of racial progress was tantamount to a counterrevolutionary act. This made it almost impossible to point out the obvious: racism is alive and well.
The Cuban propaganda that “racism is ended” is not only misleading, it is an insult to reality. That hasn’t prevented Americans from being used by Fidel Castro to give the regime the facade that it supports racial equality.Actor Danny Glover walks in the lobby of ‘Hotel Nacional’ December 10, 2002 in Havana, Cuba. Image Credit: Jorge Rey/Getty Images
The left continues to praise Cuba’s commitment to “free, universal education” as a boon for literacy and gender equality, while ignoring that the U.S. and other free nations boast higher quality of education, more widespread access to such education, and more opportunity for women.Three women perched on the bar at the Cabaret Kursal nightclub in Havana, Cuba, circa 1950.Image Credit: Herbert C. Lanks/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
As the Berkeley Center at Georgetown University put it in a piece on “The Truth About About Gender Equality in Cuba”:
This culture of machismo is deeply embedded in Cuban society and indicative of deeper, institutionalized gender inequalities as well.
In actuality, employed women in Cuba do not hold positions of power—either political or monetary. The Cuban Congress, although elected by the people, is not the political body that truly calls the shots. The Cuban Communist Party—only about 7 percent of which is made up of women—holds true political power
Another purported gain of the “revolution” turns out to be just more socialist propaganda without bearing in reality.Image Credit: Niurka Barroso/AFP/Getty Images
9. Exporting ‘Revolution’
The Cuban government effectively fostered support of socialist revolution throughout Latin America and South America under Fidel Castro, both independently and on behalf of The Kremlin. As the Cold War Studies website summarizes:
Castro’s comments about the export of revolution were ambiguous, however. Even though he claimed that revolutions were inevitable, he argued that “Cuba cannot export revolution. Neither can the US prevent it.”
Nevertheless, Cuba supplied key material assistance to the Sandanista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) during the anti-Somoza struggle in Nicaragua, and later stepped in to shore up the regime of Maurice Bishop in Grenada…
Castro’s government also supported national liberation movements and “progressive” governments in Angola, Guinea-Bisseau, Mozambique, and Congo-Brazzaville in the course of the decade.”
Despite Cuba’s role in bringing socialist governments to power that were often responsible for repression and human rights atrocities, such media outlets as Reuters have insisted that the world shouldn’t “focus” on Cuba’s export on revolution, but rather on its export of “teachers” and “doctors.”Image Credit: Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images
In other words, people should take the Castroite government’s propaganda at face value.
10. Propping Up Oppressive Regimes
Fidel Castro had a lasting influence throughout Latin America and South America by providing both as an inspiration for–and backer of–repressive socialist regimes. Fellow dead socialist Hugo Chavez and current dictator Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua are but two prominent examples.Image Credit: Adalberto Roque/AFP/Getty Images
As Time reported, Daniel Ortega has “admitted to murdering a National Guardsman in 1967, been convicted of bank robbery, been accused by a stepdaughter of sexual abuse and by Miskito Indians of genocide.” And yet leftist intellectuals still lament the Reagan administration’s hostility to the repressive Sandinistas.
Human Rights Watch characterized Chavez as an authoritarian who concentrated power and wealth, and had an “open disregard for basic human rights guarantees.” In another case of socialist nepotism, Hugo Chavez’ daughter Mariela Gabriela is the richest person in Venezuela with a net worth of an estimated $4.2 billion, among staggering poverty and revolt.Image Credit: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo Photography/Getty Images
In the final analysis, Castro put the Cuban people–among other nations–back fifty years by stifling economic opportunity and growth, oppressing free speech and dissent, restricting and infringing upon human rights, carrying out systematic discrimination against minorities, and exporting misery through its dysfunctional communist model of government.
The left’s need to exonerate socialism by eliding its failures will continue to be exposed through events like the death of a communist dictator. It is a most useful illustration of why the mainstream media cannot be trusted to be the final arbiters of “objective” or “real news.”
Instead of whitewashing the Castro regime’s real record, the American people deserve the historical truth. Fidel Castro died. The world should not romanticizing the death of this communist dictator.