Cuban revolutionary and former Communist Dictator Fidel Castro died last night of natural causes at the age of ninety. The world reacted in many various ways to the news. Many world leaders such as prime ministers of Mexico and Canada Enrique Peña Nieto and Justin Trudeau expressed their condolences and appreciation for his work in Cuba. United States President Barack Obama expressed his condolences to the Castro family and pledged friendship with Cuba. Others were far more jubilant in their response. Cuban-born residents in “Little Havana”, Miami celebrated late into the night at Castro’s passing, finally feeling free from his oppression and ruthless justice. President-Elect Donald Trump did not mince words in his statement this morning, saying:
“Today, the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
This is a far cry from President Obama’s statement which glossed over Castro’s wicked legacy:
“History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
So according to Barack Obama history will judge. This begs the question: are we as students of history to judge this man’s life? I suppose that decision is entirely up to you, the reader. One can hear of his passing, decide it does not affect him, and move on with his life. I would call you to observe the facts, come to an understanding of who he was and decide how he will remembered and how it affects your view of Communism and current political affairs. The following is a short list of three of Fidel Castro’s greatest crimes against his country, the United States, and the world at large.
Fidel Castro’s Firing Squads
Since he came to power through a violent revolution on January 1, 1959, Castro’s regime conducted 3,615 firing squad executions to enforce discipline, punish followers deemed disloyal or intimidate potential opposition. These victims were not given any form of due process but were given a mock trial of sorts, taken out to a post and promptly shot. Ernest “Che” Guevara, Castro’s chief enforcer said, ” “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution. And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate.” It’s interesting to note that President Obama in his statement said:
“During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us..”
However here is a photography of Raul Castro, the brother of Castro and Cuba’s current dictator blindfolding one of these firing squad victims. Are we really to put the past behind us or are we to understand that this man has just as much blood on his hands as his late sibling?
The 13 de Marzo massacre
In July 1994, a group of 72 Cubans boarded a state owned tugboat named the 13 de Marzo and attempted to guide it to freedom in retalition to Castro’s regime. About 45 minutes into the trip the Cuban state ordered the boat to be attacked. Despite the pleas of the passengers, the boat was sunk and forty-one people died, many of them being women and children. The surviving passengers were whisked away to the Villa Marista Detention Center where the men were held and the women and children were released. This massacre of his own people proved Castro’s resolve to keep his people imprisoned in his self-serving regime, regardless of their human rights.
Castro Shoots Down American Civilian Aircraft
In February of 1996 The United States had agreed to accept 25,000 Cuban refugees annually via a visa lottery and Fidel Castro’s government had agreed to prevent rafters from from fleeing. During this time a Miami-based humanitarian organization called “Brothers to the Rescue” made up of Cuban exile pilots had been spotting rafters, dropping water and other supplies to them and coordinating Coast Guard rescues. On February 24, 1996 was not Cuban Airforce MIG jets shot two unarmed civilian aircraft out of the sky over international waters killing all four aboard. Castro admitted responsibility for the attack. The New York Times even condemned this attack stating:
“The Cuban Government made prophets of its most caustic critics Saturday by shooting two American civil aircraft out of the sky. There can be no justification for deliberately killing four civilians who posed no military threat to Cuba.”
His mistreatment of the Cuban people and the world at large
Castro persecuted the Cuban people in his authoritarian regime with extreme prejudice, ripping families apart, oppressing them religiously, imprisoning those who disagreed with him, and forcing many Cuban citizens into labor camps also known as UMAPs. He also sought to reduce America’s influence on the Latin American world by nationalizing American-dominated industries such as sugar and mining, introduced land reform schemes and called on other Latin American governments to act with more autonomy. He also formed relations with the Soviet Union during the Cold War causing the United States to sever relationships with the Cuban regime. This led to the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
There’s a lot more that could be said of the Castro regime and its influence on domestic and international affairs. For example we could talk about his espionage on the people of Cuba and America as well as his foreign interventions that led to thousands of deaths but one thing is for sure–Fidel Castro was a violent and wicked dictator whose ultimate goal was to impose Communism on the world. He oppressed his people, robbed Cuba’s economy, and engaged in hostile relations with the U.S. that nearly led to nuclear war. When the leaders of the world offer their condolences and gloss over the aggressive and freedom-encroaching legacy of this Cuban dictator they demonstrate the weak leadership that crumbles democracies and aids in the creeping nature of Communism that manifests itself in these democracies even today.