After more than fifty years of torture, murder, and imprisonment, Fidel Castro has died and most of the world has breathed a collective sigh of relief. In Miami, the large community of exiled Cubans took to the streets, singing ‘he’s gone, he’s gone!’, unable to contain their joy and sheer exultation at the news.
Since his death, there have been some surprisingly flattering sentiments expressed about Castro by certain parties, namely various leaders of the free world. Canadian Prime minister, Justin Trudeau eulogised that the dictator was a ‘larger than life leader and a ‘controversial figure’, who had a ‘tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people.’ Meanwhile, over in the European Union, Jean Claude Juncker lamented the fact that ‘the world has lost a man who was a hero for many’, and the President of Ireland learned ‘with great sadness of the death of Fidel Castro.’
These wilfully pernicious rejections of the truth about Castro are unforgivable. He was a wicked individual who transformed Cuba into a giant gulag, killed thousands of his own people, and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust in 1962, all in the name of revolution. These facts tell us that he had neither ‘love’ nor ‘dedication’ for the people of Cuba.
It has been estimated that between 1952 and 2012, the death toll amounted to 10, 500 souls, but nobody really knows the exact number. Many of those died at sea in an attempt to escape the horrors of life, taking to a variety of highly unsuitable and ill-equipped vessels to get the United States. When Cuba was going through its ‘special period’ in 1994, which was essentially a period of mass starvation, 72 people boarded a tug boat headed for the US. Castro found out, ordered its sinking and drowned 41 men, women and children.
Fidel littered the country with concentration camps and prisons, jailing a greater number of his citizens than Stalin. His free school and healthcare systems, which continue to be cited as examples of ‘success’ by left- leaning enthusiasts, were in fact, abject failures. Cuban children received indoctrination, not education. There was not one, but two healthcare systems. The first was for the masses, who felt compelled to take their own bedding to hospitals on account of the filth that greeted them upon arrival, and the second for Castro and his cronies, who naturally had access to the best of the West.
During his dictatorship, nearly 20% of the population was forced into exile. Castro destroyed the middle classes and did his utmost to annihilate religion.
Economically, his policies were disastrous for the average Cuban and he single- handedly impoverished his country. Before his revolution, living standards used to be near the world average. Now the average Cuban is at half the world average.
It would serve Trudeau and friends well to examine the cold hard facts about Castro before continuing to propagate the socialist- utopian myth. They are clearly hoping that the innumerable crimes he committed against humanity will be buried with him, but they won’t.
Dr Bella d'Abrera is the Director, Foundations of Western Civilisation Programme at the Institute at Public Affairs.