Fidel Castro Dead At 90

One of the Cold War era's last dictators has finally died.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro, the once aspiring baseball player turned revolutionary leader turned Communist dictator who singlehandedly brought the United States and Soviet Union to the brink of war in 1962 and outlasted every American President from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush, has died at the age of 90:

Fidel Castro, the fiery apostle of revolution who brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere in 1959 and then defied the United States for nearly half a century as Cuba’s maximum leader, bedeviling 11 American presidents and briefly pushing the world to the brink of nuclear war, died Friday. He was 90.

His death was announced by Cuban state television.

In declining health for several years, Mr. Castro had orchestrated what he hoped would be the continuation of his Communist revolution, stepping aside in 2006 when he was felled by a serious illness. He provisionally ceded much of his power to his younger brother Raúl, now 85, and two years later formally resigned as president. Raúl Castro, who had fought alongside Fidel Castro from the earliest days of the insurrection and remained minister of defense and his brother’s closest confidant, has ruled Cuba since then, although he has told the Cuban people he intends to resign in 2018.

Fidel Castro had held on to power longer than any other living national leader except Queen Elizabeth II. He became a towering international figure whose importance in the 20th century far exceeded what might have been expected from the head of state of a Caribbean island nation of 11 million people.

He dominated his country with strength and symbolism from the day he triumphantly entered Havana on Jan. 8, 1959, and completed his overthrow of Fulgencio Batista by delivering his first major speech in the capital before tens of thousands of admirers at the vanquished dictator’s military headquarters.

A spotlight shone on him as he swaggered and spoke with passion until dawn. Finally, white doves were released to signal Cuba’s new peace. When one landed on Mr. Castro, perching on a shoulder, the crowd erupted, chanting “Fidel! Fidel!” To the war-weary Cubans gathered there and those watching on television, it was an electrifying sign that their young, bearded guerrilla leader was destined to be their savior.

Most people in the crowd had no idea what Mr. Castro planned for Cuba. A master of image and myth, Mr. Castro believed himself to be the messiah of his fatherland, an indispensable force with authority from on high to control Cuba and its people.

He wielded power like a tyrant, controlling every aspect of the island’s existence. He was Cuba’s “Máximo Lider.” From atop a Cuban Army tank, he directed his country’s defense at the Bay of Pigs. Countless details fell to him, from selecting the color of uniforms that Cuban soldiers wore in Angola to overseeing a program to produce a superbreed of milk cows. He personally set the goals for sugar harvests. He personally sent countless men to prison.

But it was more than repression and fear that kept him and his totalitarian government in power for so long. He had both admirers and detractors in Cuba and around the world. Some saw him as a ruthless despot who trampled rights and freedoms; many others hailed him as the crowds did that first night, as a revolutionary hero for the ages.

Even when he fell ill and was hospitalized with diverticulitis in the summer of 2006, giving up most of his powers for the first time, Mr. Castro tried to dictate the details of his own medical care and orchestrate the continuation of his Communist revolution, engaging a plan as old as the revolution itself.

By handing power to his brother, Mr. Castro once more raised the ire of his enemies in Washington. United States officials condemned the transition, saying it prolonged a dictatorship and again denied the long-suffering Cuban people a chance to control their own lives.

But in December 2014, President Obama used his executive powers to dial down the decades of antagonism between Washington and Havana by moving to exchange prisoners and normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries, a deal worked out with the help of Pope Francis and after 18 months of secret talks between representatives of both governments.

Though increasingly frail and rarely seen in public, Mr. Castro even then made clear his enduring mistrust of the United States. A few days after President Obama’s highly publicized visit to Cuba in 2016 — the first by a sitting American president in 88 years — Mr. Castro penned a cranky response denigrating Mr. Obama’s overtures of peace and insisting that Cuba did not need anything the United States was offering.

To many, Fidel Castro was a self-obsessed zealot whose belief in his own destiny was unshakable, a chameleon whose economic and political colors were determined more by pragmatism than by doctrine. But in his chest beat the heart of a true rebel. “Fidel Castro,” said Dr. Henry M. Wriston, president of the Council on Foreign Relations in the 1950s and early ’60s, “was everything a revolutionary should be.”

Mr. Castro was perhaps the most important leader to emerge from Latin America since the wars of independence in the early 19th century. He was decidedly the most influential shaper of Cuban history since his own hero, José Martí, struggled for Cuban independence in the late 19th century. Mr. Castro’s revolution transformed Cuban society and had a longer-lasting impact throughout the region than that of any other 20th-century Latin American insurrection, with the possible exception of the 1910 Mexican Revolution.

His legacy in Cuba and elsewhere has been a mixed record of social progress and abject poverty, of racial equality and political persecution, of medical advances and a degree of misery comparable to the conditions that existed in Cuba when he entered Havana as a victorious guerrilla commander in 1959.

(…)

[B]eyond anything else, it was Mr. Castro’s obsession with the United States, and America’s obsession with him, that shaped his rule. After he embraced Communism, Washington portrayed him as a devil and a tyrant and repeatedly tried to remove him from power through an ill-fated invasion at the Bay of Pigs in 1961, an economic embargo that has lasted decades, assassination plots and even bizarre plans to undercut his prestige by making his beard fall out.

Mr. Castro’s defiance of American power made him a beacon of resistance in Latin America and elsewhere, and his bushy beard, long Cuban cigar and green fatigues became universal symbols of rebellion.

Mr. Castro’s understanding of the power of images, especially on television, helped him retain the loyalty of many Cubans even during the harshest periods of deprivation and isolation when he routinely blamed many of Cuba’s ills on America and its embargo. And his mastery of words in thousands of speeches, often lasting hours, imbued many Cubans with his own hatred of the United States by keeping them on constant watch for an invasion — military, economic or ideological — from the north.

Over many years Mr. Castro gave hundreds of interviews and retained the ability to twist the most compromising question to his favor. In a 1985 interview in Playboy magazine, he was asked how he would respond to President Ronald Reagan’s description of him as a ruthless military dictator. “Let’s think about your question,” Mr. Castro said, toying with his interviewer. “If being a dictator means governing by decree, then you might use that argument to accuse the pope of being a dictator.”

He turned the question back on Reagan: “If his power includes something as monstrously undemocratic as the ability to order a thermonuclear war, I ask you, who then is more of a dictator, the president of the United States or I?”

After leading his guerrillas against a repressive Cuban dictator, Mr. Castro, in his early 30s, aligned Cuba with the Soviet Union and used Cuban troops to support revolution in Africa and throughout Latin America.

His willingness to allow the Soviets to build missile-launching sites in Cuba led to a harrowing diplomatic standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union in the fall of 1962, one that could have escalated into a nuclear exchange. The world remained tense until the confrontation was defused 13 days after it began, and the launching pads were dismantled.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Mr. Castro faced one of his biggest challenges: surviving without huge Communist subsidies. He defied predictions of his political demise. When threatened, he fanned antagonism toward the United States. And when the Cuban economy neared collapse, he legalized the United States dollar, which he had railed against since the 1950s, only to ban dollars again a few years later when the economy stabilized.

Mr. Castro continued to taunt American presidents for a half-century, frustrating all of Washington’s attempts to contain him. After nearly five decades as a pariah of the West, even when his once booming voice had withered to an old man’s whisper and his beard had turned gray, he remained defiant.

Mr. Castro continued to taunt American presidents for a half-century, frustrating all of Washington’s attempts to contain him. After nearly five decades as a pariah of the West, even when his once booming voice had withered to an old man’s whisper and his beard had turned gray, he remained defiant.

He often told interviewers that he identified with Don Quixote, and like Quixote he struggled against threats both real and imagined, preparing for decades, for example, for another invasion that never came. As the leaders of every other nation of the hemisphere gathered in Quebec City in April 2001 for the third Summit of the Americas, an uninvited Mr. Castro, then 74, fumed in Havana, presiding over ceremonies commemorating the embarrassing defeat of C.I.A.-backed exiles at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. True to character, he portrayed his exclusion as a sign of strength, declaring that Cuba “is the only country in the world that does not need to trade with the United States.”

From The Washington Post:

Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz was born at Las Manacas, his family’s plantation in the village of Biran in eastern Cuba’s Oriente province, on Aug. 13, 1926.

His father, Angel Castro, was born in Spain and went to Cuba as a soldier in the Spanish army. He became a laborer on a railway owned by the United Fruit Co. Soon he was clearing land for himself in the wilds of Oriente and growing sugar cane, which he sold to the fruit company. In time, Las Manacas comprised 26,000 acres, of which almost 2,000 were owned by the elder Castro.

His son Fidel was well off, but nowhere near as wealthy as some of the boys at the schools to which he was sent, including the prestigious Colegio de Belen, a Jesuit school in Havana.

Behind his back, he was sometimes called guajiro, or peasant. In his authoritative 1986 biography of Mr. Castro, author Tad Szulc quotes this assessment from Enrique Ovares, an old Castro friend: “I think that the worst damage Fidel’s parents did him was to put him in a school of wealthy boys without Fidel being really rich . . . and more than that without having a social position. . . . I think that this influenced him and he had hatred against society people and moneyed people.”

In 1945, Fidel Castro entered the University of Havana. Apparently applying his first-hand experience of social and economic inequality, he immersed himself in the legacy of Cuba’s bygone revolutionaries.

In a country that had often tumultuous relations with the United States since the 1898 sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor sparked the Spanish-American War, Mr. Castro concluded that casting off the hegemony of the United States was more important than mere prosperity.

He joined the Insurrectional Revolutionary Union, and carried a pistol. In 1947, he signed up for an aborted expedition to free the Dominican Republic from the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. In 1948, he went to Colombia to protest a meeting of the Pan-American Union, which was reorganizing into the Organization of American States.

Mr. Castro earned his law degree at the University of Havana and set up a practice in the city in 1950. Two years later, he ran for a seat in the Cuban congress on the ticket of the Ortodoxo Party, a reform group. Mr. Castro’s campaign was cut short on March 10, 1952, when Batista staged a coup and retook the presidency.

Even as a young man, Mr. Castro showed a remarkable ability to persuade people to join him in seemingly impossible tasks — such as his wild scheme to take over the army’s Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba.

Mr. Castro’s plan was to distribute arms from the barracks to the people and overthrow Batista. Mr. Castro was not deterred by the fact that the garrison numbered more than 1,000 soldiers and that he fielded only about 120 followers.

The July 26, 1953, assault went off with almost comic mismanagement. The contingent with most of the arms got lost in the city’s old quarter, and Mr. Castro’s men rushed into what they thought was an arsenal, only to discover that it was a barbershop. Having fired not a single shot himself, Mr. Castro called a retreat. He and most of the others were captured.

Through the intercession of a bishop who was a friend of his father, he was spared immediate execution and put on trial. Although the court proceeding was held in secret, it gave Mr. Castro, who acted as his own attorney, the chance to make what became the most famous speech of his life. Smuggled out of prison, it concluded with the words that became known to generations of Cuban schoolchildren: “Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me.”

Mr. Castro was sentenced to 15 years but was released after less than two under an amnesty declared by Batista. He then moved to Mexico City, where he continued his work with a group calling itself the 26th of July Movement, commemorating what became known as the opening salvo of the Cuban revolution.

The Moncada debacle and its aftermath also ended Mr. Castro’s first marriage. In October 1948, he had married Mirta Diaz-Balart, the daughter of a well-to-do family with close ties to Batista and U.S. business interests. In 1949, they had a son — Fidel Felix Castro Diaz-Balart, known as Fidelito.

On Dec. 2, 1956, Mr. Castro and 81 followers returned to Cuba from Mexico aboard a second-hand yacht called “Granma,” whose name was later adopted by the Communist Party newspaper in Cuba. All but 12 in the landing party were killed or captured almost immediately. Mr. Castro, his brother Raúl and an Argentine physician, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, escaped into the mountains and began organizing a guerrilla army.

In the summer of 1958, Batista launched a major offensive against Mr. Castro’s ragtag group. When it failed, it was clear that Batista’s days in power were numbered. But his announcement to a few close colleagues at a New Year’s Eve party in 1958 that he was leaving the country came as a complete surprise. Mr. Castro and his followers took control of Cuba on Jan. 1, 1959.

He drew support from many intellectuals during the early years of his rule. Among them were Ernest Hemingway, a Castro hero and longtime resident of Cuba; authors Jean-Paul Sartre and Gabriel Garcia Márquez; and Bob Dylan, the troubadour of the American counterculture.

When Mr. Castro took power, he preached democracy and reform. He sought to assuage his critics, insisting that he was not a communist. A wary United States cautiously offered economic aid, which Mr. Castro refused. Economic and political relations grew increasingly more difficult, particularly as his executions of opponents came to light. And within two years, Mr. Castro had expropriated $1.8 billion in U.S. property without compensation and turned Cuba into a bastion of Marxism-Leninism.

In May 1960, Cuba established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, which was soon supplying most of the island’s petroleum needs (and a constant flow of weapons and other military hardware). The government nationalized U.S. and British oil refineries and U.S.-owned banks. In October, the U.S. government imposed an embargo on all trade with the island except for food and medicine.

On Jan. 3, 1961, diplomatic relations with the United States were broken. This set the stage for one of Mr. Castro’s greatest triumphs, the defeat of the CIA-organized invasion by Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs, which U.S. intelligence officials thought would set off a popular revolt against Castro.

The invasion by about 1,350 CIA-trained fighters was put down by Mr. Castro’s forces, and about 1,200 of the invaders were captured.

The following year, Mr. Castro abetted the nuclear confrontation between Washington and Moscow, which ended when Khrushchev agreed to withdraw his missiles and promised not to use Cuba as a base for offensive weapons. In return, the United States pledged not to invade Cuba and to remove missiles it had stationed in Turkey.

The U.S. promise to forgo force after the Cuban Missile Crisis was a major victory for Mr. Castro, but for years he lived under the threat of various CIA assassination plots.

Mr. Castro cited U.S. threats to justify a massive military buildup, and he tried to export his revolution to countries across Latin America, including Nicaragua, El Salvador, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia (Guevara was killed leading an uprising in Bolivia in 1967).

In the mid-1970s, Mr. Castro sent thousands of troops to wars in Angola and Ethiopia. In addition, Cuban military training missions and thousands of physicians and teachers operated in more than a dozen other countries, from West Africa to North Korea.

In the early 1980s, he gave economic and military assistance to the leftist government of Grenada. President Ronald Reagan argued that an airport under construction on the island would be used to support communists in Central America and, in 1983, ordered an invasion. Nineteen Americans and 24 Cuban soldiers were killed, the only time that U.S. and Cuban troops fought each other.

The Miami Herald also has an extensive obituary, but the real story out of Miami, of course, is the reaction of the Cuban-American community to a long-anticipated day:

Fidel Castro died, and Cuban Miami did what it does in times of community celebration: It spilled onto the streets of Little Havana — and Hialeah, and Kendall — to honk horns, bang pans, and set off more than a few fireworks, saved for exactly the sort of unexpected special occasion that proved worthy of their detonation.

The scene across Miami-Dade County, the cradle of the Cuban exile community, was one of pure, raw emotion. This time, after decades of false alarms, Castro’s death was real.

“I wish my dad was here to see this,” 27-year-old Abraham Quintero cried just before 2 a.m. Saturday.

Wearing an “I love Hialeah” T-shirt, he stood on West 49th Street and Ludlam Road, where police quickly set up watch posts to make sure impromptu revelers stayed safe.

“Beautiful madness,” 29-year-old Christopher Sweeney said, describing the scene.

Passing cars honked incessantly. People waved huge Cuban flags. Parents carried their children and puppies. A few people appeared clad in pajamas and, in one case, flamingo slippers, jolted out of bed — and out of their homes — by the late-night news.

Shortly after midnight, Cuban leader Raúl Castro announced on state television, his voice trembling, that his older brother had died at 10:29 p.m.

“Toward victory, always!” he said.

The streets in Havana, where a nine-day mourning period was announced, appeared to remain quiet. Not so in Miami, the city across the Florida Straits shaped by exiles who fled Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.

Calle Ocho remained closed to traffic, from Southwest 35th to 37th Avenues, to accommodate the elated crowds gathered at Versailles Cuban restaurant, the iconic exile hangout, to cheer and wave signs — no matter how unseemly it might be to revel in an old man’s death.

Some even yelled profanities about Castro.

“Fidel, tirano, llévate a tu hermano,” they chanted outside Versailles. Fidel, tyrant, take your brother. There was also a variant: “Raúl, tirano, vete con tu hermano” (Raul, tyrant, go with your brother).

Someone outside the restaurant brought a portable karaoke system, and the crowd sang Cuban star Willy Chirino’s exile anthem, “Nuestro día ya viene llegando” (Our day is coming), as the scent of long-saved Cuban cigars burned at last.

“Libertad!” young and old yelled. Liberty.

People were still popping champagne bottles in the middle of the street after 4 a.m. — an eruption of jubilation that remained peaceful throughout the night and into Saturday morning.

“I don’t think we’ve made any arrests and don’t expect to have any violence due to this long awaited day,” said Miami Police Officer Rene Pimentel.

Pimentel, a Cuban-American whose family tried for 15 years to leave the island, said he awoke early Saturday to text messages alerting him of Castro’s death — news he was eager to share with his father, who moved the family out of Cuba on Sept. 29, 1975.

“It was a great feeling to wake my dad and tell him that the day so many of us had been waiting for was finally here,” he said. “Fifteen long years to get to this great country.”

Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado deployed himself to Versailles after midnight and was there when the sun came up, chatting up the crowds and conducting interviews in what has become the unofficial media staging ground for capturing Miami’s reaction to major Cuban news.

The Cuban-born mayor, whose father served 14 years in prison under Castro, said there was little use in trying to steer the celebration toward any sort of official venue or event.

“Everything has been spontaneous,” said Regalado, 69, who came to the United States in 1961 under the Pedro Pan program. “The only thing that the city has done is accommodate the people.”

“The written plans are no good because people do what they want,” he continued. “I’ve gotten calls from some organizations saying how they want to organize an event. But to tell people to go to a specific place, you can’t. People go where they want to go.”

A relative hard-liner on U.S.-Cuba relations — Regalado opposed putting a Cuban consulate in Miami but didn’t object to the idea of running Havana-bound ferries out of Port Miami — the mayor said the Cuban people should feel a sense of unity in the celebrations on Miami’s streets.

“I think what’s happening right now is a sign of solidarity with the people of Cuba,” he said.

As the crowd swelled to hundreds outside Versailles’ cafecito window in the predawn hours, a panoply of Latin American immigrants who have followed Cubans to Miami, including Venezuelans, Colombians and Puerto Ricans, turned out in a show of support.

The mood was festive, with periodic outbursts of anger at Raúl Castro.

“One down, now comes the other,” yelled Enrique Rodriguez, 58, to cheers. “He can go to hell just like his brother.”

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t speak ill of the dead, even people I disagreed with vehemently. I tend to make exceptions, though, for someone like Castro, a dictator who modeled his regime in the footsteps of Josef Stalin through his maintenance of a vast system of political prisons where opponents of the regime were tortured and held for decades on non-existent charges all for the “crime” of opposing the Castro regime or protesting government policies. The brutality of that regime was perhaps best captured in Against All Hope, the autobiography published thirty years ago by Armando Valladares, perhaps the best-known dissident from Castro’s regime of his era. In the book, Valledares describes the early years under Castro and his activity as a dissident which led to his arrest and imprisonment in one of Cuba’s notorious political prisons, where he was held, usually in horrible conditions, and tortured repeatedly until his release in 1982. The parallels to Stalin’s Gulags is unmistakable. Through this and other accounts of life in Cuba after Castro came to power, it is clear that his passing is no more of a tragedy than the passing of Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu or Libya’s Gaddafi. Like those two men, Castro was at the end a bad man who brought little but pain and misery to his people, much of which he justified by claiming that any suffering the Cuban people experienced was due to the U.S. embargo. His passing, which comes after a life that was far longer than he deserved and rumors of death in the past that had proven to be untrue, won’t necessarily lead to the immediate liberation of the Cuban people — that won’t happen until Castro’s brother Raul and the cronies that the two men have put in power over the past 56 years have passed from the scene, at least not yet. However, it does bring that day closer and for that reason alone it’s something worth celebrating.

Not everyone is celebrating the passing of a dictator, of course. Even in death Castro still has his defenders, most especially in Europe, where it has never seemed as though anyone was willing to recognize the truth about Castro’s regime. Additionally, some forces on the political left in the United States have been noting the supposed ‘good’ things about Castro, such as the fact that he overthrew an authoritarian leader in 1959 and the manner in which he modernized Cuba’s economy and health care system. As a result, there’s been something of a bizarre debate on social media where an entire group of people are willing to ignore the evil that Castro did in order to score political points. Yes it’s true that Fulgenico Batista was a horribly authoritarian leader who used Cuba to enrich himself and his cronies, but that does not justify anything that Castro did once he came to power, nor does it remove from history the fact that Castro was orders of magnitude worse than a Batista, Pinochet, or any other Latin American dictator that apologists have been mentioning online today. Additionally, the comments about the Cuban health care system are the equivalent to the old line about Mussolini making the trains run on time. The fact that there may have been something “good” about Cuba under Castro does not, and cannot, justify his tyranny.

The fact that there may have been something “good” about Cuba under Castro does not, and cannot, justify his Stalinist rule or the oppression that the Cuban people continue to suffer in his name. The only good thing that can be said on the occasion of his death is that, hopefully, it will hasten the day when the Cuban people will finally be free to choose their destiny and the truth will come out about Castro’s brutal reign of terror. In the meantime, these people who struggle to find the ‘good’ in Castro, or criticize those of us who are happy he’s dead, are mourning a Stalinist dictator who operated an extensive system of political prisons where people were tortured, and are still being tortured, for decades for no reason other than the fact that they oppose his Stalinist regime.  For some reason, there are millions of idiots in Europe and elsewhere who consider this monster a hero. They are entitled to their opinion, as stupid and ill-informed as it might be. those who know the truth, or at least as much of it as has been made public, are entitled to consider them to be no better than someone who would have defended Hitler, Stalin, Ceausescu, or Gaddafi. Fidel Castro was a dictator just like these men were. He hated individual freedom and feared even the smallest expression of dissent. He imprisoned people who opposed his regime, along with homosexuals, AIDS victims, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and followers of various Afro-Cuban faiths that had been part of the island’s culture from the time that Spain first began colonization.

The fact that there may have been something “good” about Cuba under Castro does not, and cannot, justify his Stalnist rule or the oppression that the Cuban people continue to suffer in his name. The only good thing that can be said on the occasion of his death is that, hopefully, it will hasten the day when the Cuban people will finally be free to choose their destiny and the truth will come out about Castro’s brutal reign of terror. In the meantime, these people who struggle to find the ‘good’ in Castro, or criticize those of us who are happy he’s dead, are mourning a Stalinist dictator who operated an extensive system of political prisons where people were tortured, and are still being tortured, for decades for no reason other than the fact that they oppose his Stalinist regime.  For some reason, there are millions of idiots in Europe and elsewhere who consider this monster a hero. They are entitled to their opinion, as stupid and ill-informed as it might be. those who know the truth, or at least as much of it as has been made public, are entitled to consider them to be no better than someone who would have defended Hitler, Stalin, Ceausescu, or Gaddafi. Fidel Castro was a dictator just like these men were. He hated individual freedom and feared even the smallest expression of dissent. He imprisoned people who opposed his regime, along with homosexuals, AIDS victims, Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Afro-Cuban priests and others he considered threats to his hold on power. He used American opposition to his regime to justify oppression. And, he ruled a nation that still longs to be free like it was a prison camp. For all of that, he deserves neither respect nor honors in his passing, even though he will sadly get both. 

FILED UNDER: General, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Pch101 says:

    Castro was orders of magnitude worse than a Batista, Pinochet, or any other Latin American dictator that apologists have been mentioning online today.

    Chile has recognized at least 40,000 political prisoners during the Pinochet regime who were tortured. And of course there were others who didn’t survive the experience.

    You can decide for yourselves whether this sounds like fun:

    https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/09/life-under-pinochet-they-were-taking-turns-electrocute-us-one-after-other/

    I would recommend avoiding the temptation to indulge in a competitive ranking of dictators.

    In any case, some are unfortunately inclined to defend Castro because he symbolizes resistance against American imperialism in general and in Latin America in particular. They are wrong to do that, but the embargo has only provided those critics with ammunition and it has not served US interests. Americans now have one less reason to defend a counterproductive policy that helped to Castro in power for decades; old age proved to be more powerful than many American presidents.

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    Someone finally put a stake through his heart

  3. Slugger says:

    I hope that this occasions a thoughtful assessment of proper US policy toward the small nations within our immediate orbit. It is human nature to challenge the big dog. To some extent our actions shored up rather than undermined the Castro regime. What should we have done differently?
    We now need to act in a manner that will enable a more just regime in Cuba. Francoism died with Franco; we should ensure that Castroism dies with Fidel.
    I knew a U of Havana alumnus exile. He was on the baseball team with Fidel who was a good pitcher. My friend thought that a nice contract with the Yankees would have had a good impact on history.

  4. john430 says:

    @Slugger: “ My friend thought that a nice contract with the Yankees would have had a good impact on history’

    Although a bullet thru his head would have been cheaper. I hope he and Che’ burn in hell..

  5. Reason reader says:

    Castro did not “modernize Cuba’s economy and healthcare system.” He took it back to the stone age.

    Not only do Cubans drive antique, 1950’s era cars, they have lousy healthcare. Before Castro took over, their healthcare system was the best in Latin America. As Reason Magazine notes:

    “In 1959 Cuba had 128.6 doctors and dentists per 100,000 inhabitants, placing it 22nd globally—that is, ahead of France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Finland. In infant mortality tables, Cuba ranked one of the best in the world, with 5.8 deaths per 100,000 babies, compared to 9.5 per 100,000 in the United States. In 1958 Cuba’s adult literacy rate was 80 percent, higher than that of its colonial grandfather in Spain, and the country possessed one of the most highly-regarded university systems in the Western hemisphere.”

    As the progressive economist Brad DeLong admits (he calls it “hideously depressing”):

    “Cuba in 1957–was a developed country. Cuba in 1957 had lower infant mortality than France, Belgium, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had doctors and nurses: as many doctors and nurses per capita as the Netherlands, and more than Britain or Finland. Cuba in 1957 had as many vehicles per capita as Uruguay, Italy, or Portugal. Cuba in 1957 had 45 TVs per 1000 people–fifth highest in the world. . . Today? Today the UN puts Cuba’s HDI [Human Development indicators] in the range of . . . . Mexico. . . . Thus I don’t understand lefties who talk about the achievements of the Cuban Revolution: ‘…to have better health care, housing, education.”

  6. Tyrell says:

    @Slugger: Hopefully this will speed up the development and modernization of Cuba and the leaders will institute immediate reforms that include civil liberties and basic respect to the citizens there. From what
    I see one priority would be some American car dealers. Those people are driving antiques. Cuba could use some resorts, modern hotels, and some American restaurants. Is a major league baseball team in the near future ?
    The Yankees could have used some good pitching then. The Dodgers had the best: Koufax, Drysdale.

  7. Gustopher says:

    Not everyone is celebrating the passing of a dictator, of course. Even in death Castro still has his defenders, most especially in Europe, where it has never seemed as though anyone was willing to recognize the truth about Castro’s regime

    An entire continent, with a free press, is unable to see the truth? Writing something like that should be a pretty clear warning sign that you have consumed a whole lot of propaganda that makes you unable to think clearly about a subject.

    I have little to say about Castro, other than to note that he was in the mold of half a dozen Latin American dictators save for his sponsor. He did a bit better for the poor, and that’s something.

  8. wr says:

    @Gustopher: Well, at least he got to see the end of American democracy before he dies.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    It doesn’t matter but the Fidel in the headline is spelled with a second ‘L’ rather than an ‘i.’

  10. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: He’s dead, he won’t notice.

  11. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Reason reader:

    As the progressive economist Brad DeLong admits

    Off topic, I’ll grant you, but I’m not sure that I would call Brad if-only-the-poor-would-get-married-they-would-be-better-off-because-married-couples-have-higher-incomes-on-average DeLong a “progressive economist.”

  12. Paul Hooson says:

    Castro started out as a young baseball player and lawyer, but then started on a path of murder and radicalism. He took one of the most wealthy countries in South America with one of the strongest economies, second only to the United States in television ownerships and other measures of achievement and ruined this country into one of the worst economies in the region lowering the average income down to around $20 a month for most persons, and keeping needed imports out of the country with outrageous taxes of 200% or more on most goods, where only the government would benefit from imports, not the people. This was truly a bad person who paved his way to hell one stone at a time. Few people have caused this much suffering to his own people. Even the old regime he replaced felt such a duty to the poor, that extensive free medical services and more were available to help the poor, compared to the empty hospitals without even bandages or medicine that Castro replaced these services with. That’s quite an achievement, to destroy one of the best economies in South America, and replace it with one of the poorest nations with few consumers goods, few imports and a $20 a month income…

  13. Pch101 says:

    @Reason reader:

    Yeah, things were so incredibly awesome in Cuba under Batista that there was a revolution to overthrow him.

  14. john430 says:

    @Paul Hooson: Yeah, kinda like Venezuela is going.

  15. Fred says:

    How can Trump be taking credit for Castro’s death?

  16. wr says:

    @Pch101: Don’t you realize? The best kind of democracy is one run by and for mobsters who will take care of the people so that no one notices how completely they are looting the country.

    Well, if you can’t understand how that worked under Batista, just keep your eyes open for the next four years…

  17. Jack says:

    Fidel Castro

    Imprisoned homosexuals, executed dissidents, burned books, restricted free speech and association – everything they accuse Donald Trump of wanting to do, yet loved by liberals everywhere.

  18. An Interested Party says:

    I hope he and Che’ burn in hell..

    Oh I’m sure they will…along with Pinochet, the Somozas, and the Dulles brothers, among many others…

    Fidel Castro…loved by liberals everywhere.

    What is this bull$hit…that’s like saying that Pinochet is loved by conservatives everywhere…

  19. Dave D says:

    Here is a good Radiolab about people in Cuba intentionally contracting HIV, as a last resort for some semblance of freedom in the camps.

  20. Franklin says:

    @Fred: Yeah, we should be blaming crediting Obama … he’s chalked up one final villainous leader.

  21. JKB says:

    Castro is dead. The quality of human life on earth has been much improved.

    “He hated individual freedom and feared even the smallest expression of dissent.”

    So Castro was the very model of a modern American Democrat.

  22. JKB says:

    @Fred: How can Trump be taking credit for Castro’s death?

    Many on the socialist/DemProg side are finding that with Trump’s win, there is apparently no reason to go on.

    I expect many of Castro’s supporters at the US State Department are very despondent. Not only is their hero dead, but soon their horror will be inaugurated.

  23. MBunge says:

    @Pch101: In any case, some are unfortunately inclined to defend Castro because he symbolizes resistance against American imperialism in general and in Latin America in particular.

    I don’t think you can read the statement from the Canadian Prime Minister and think his fulsome praise of Castro has a thing to do with American imperialism.

    Mike

  24. RGardner says:

    I’ve been slightly watching Cuba since I happened on a Cuba Libre protest in Florida in 2002. The Cuban Americans had a passion against the dictator . A couple of observations:
    – Europeans and Canadians have been going to Cuba for decades on vacation/holiday. The place isn’t as cut off as most Americans think – but the tourists go to separated tourist tourist towns for the most part..
    – One European (NATO country) friend went there on vacation in 2000 – he is a University of Moscow graduate ~(Masters 1992) and so was allowed outside the tourist corridor as he had classmates from Cuba. He loved it because it was dirt cheap but he said he felt he was always being watched. Yep, Police state. A real one.
    – Cuba has become a backwater. Seriously, Cuban cigars and rum are sub-par. They were great in 1960, but not in today’s world, with much better products.out there. Cuba has lots of catching up to do. Much of their status was that it wasn’t legal/obtainable. Their top rum is/was Bacardi, not exactly top shelf today.. I’ve sen a few post of FB today awaiting Cuban cigars and rum.
    – Legal quagmire. on ownership of lands and industries. Then you have the more recent European investments, that haven’t done much due to the system.
    – For the Cuban-Americans, Cuba today isn’t what their parents/grandparents left. Some of them don’t seem to understand that. They can’t just return and take charge.
    . .The wicked Witch of the West is dead, but his brother the Witch of the East (Raul) is still around and in charge (for now, 85).

    CNBC has done a couple of the better pieces over the past few years on Cuba.
    This isn’t going to be simple.

  25. Stephen Bloom says:

    @MBunge: I am a Canadian. I just wrote my MP (LPC) to tell him of my utter contempt for the words written by our PM concerning Mr. Castro’s demise. He was a vile communist tyrant and Soviet dupe.

  26. Pch101 says:

    @Stephen Bloom:

    Unlike Bunge, your Liberal MP probably knows that Trudeau went to Cuba last week as part of a broader Canadian pivot toward Latin America.

    Your MP probably also knows that Canada has devoted the last 50+ years to distinguishing its policy toward Cuba from American policy.

    Having Americans call Trudeau names probably has the net effect of improving Trudeau’s stature in Latin America. So Trudeau is probably quite pleased that Trump shot off his mouth about Castro and Ottawa. I fully expect Canada to respond to Trump by marketing itself to the world as the more honest broker in North America., and Trump is only going to inadvertently help Trudeau to achieve that.

  27. stonetools says:

    I have not voiced an opinion on Castro, because I thought we should hear from Cubans-all the Cubans, not those who fled to the USA.But then Doug, an American conservative blogger who apparently only reads conservative news magazines, decide to weigh in. By way of response, here is an opinion, from a Caribbean immigrant who reads beyond Reason and Commentary.
    There is no doubt that Castro has an appalling record on human rights. But IMO from the point of view of Latin American leaders in the last half of the 20th century, Castro is in the semi finals as the running for best Latin American leaders.
    Some context. One of Castro’s neighbors was Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic for 31 years. He was a racist, corrupt dictator who conducted several pogroms against Haitian immigrants to the Dominican Republic, massacring thousands in 1937. Another of his neighbors?Francois Duvalier (Papa Doc) , a dictator so monstrously evil that some Haitians thought him at the incarnation of Baron Samedi, the Haitian god of the dead.
    There were several military dictatorships during Castro’s regime. The one in Argentina “disappeared ” 30,000 Argentinians ( favorite method: tossing them out of airplanes at high altitude). Castro never slaughtered Cubans en masse like that.
    More?A military junta in El Salvador slaughtered tens of thousands in a dirty war against Salvadoran insurgents, including assasinating the Archbishop Romero while he was at Mass. Next door, in Guatemala, that regime may have slaughtered up to 100, 000 members of its oppressed Indian majority. We hear a lot of the flight of Cubans from Cuba because of Castro: we hear a lot less of the flight of Salvadorans and Guatemalans from those regimes-possibly because Reagan supported and armed them.
    I could go on, but I think the point is made: that in context, Castro looks like one of the best of a bad lot. He did try to uplift his people , rather than just tyrannize and rob them. His methods: imposing Marxist Leninism-was dead wrong and counterproductive, and his oppressive tactics were evil, but he did try.
    Internationally, Africans praise Castro, because he sent troops to Angola to forestal an invasion of guerrillas backed by the apartheid South African regime. Castro opposed apartheid and called for Nelson Mandela’s release, when the US supported that South African regime. Castro was right on that.
    Castro’s legacy is complex: not quite the unrelieved black Doug paints. A least to this observer.

  28. Pch101 says:

    @wr:

    Don’t you realize? The best kind of democracy is one run by and for mobsters who will take care of the people so that no one notices how completely they are looting the country.

    Reason is a finalist in the Most Ironic Website Name competition.

  29. michael reynolds says:

    @RGardner:

    You are quite right about Cuban cigars. I travel fairly often to the UK where I pick up Cubans occasionally. Perfectly fine cigars, but in no way categorically superior to Nicaraguan or Honduran. It’s the rarity and the feeling of transgression that make Cubans popular.

  30. michael reynolds says:

    Castro was a piece of sh!t. So were Trujillo and the Duvaliers and Pinochet and pretty much every government ever in Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. The main difference is longevity, and Castro’s meddling on the international stage. Pinochet just murdered his own people, Castro worked to spread his evil into more of Latin America and Africa.

  31. @JKB:

    “He hated individual freedom and feared even the smallest expression of dissent.”

    So Castro was the very model of a modern American Democrat.

    I will refrain from using the word that truly comes to mind, but you really are being a jerk.

  32. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: The body of the OP also contains a long paragraph that ends in an uncompleted sentence then is repeated with the intended ending. The lack of regard for the reader who wants to follow coherent thought from beginning to conclusion is one of Mr Mataconis’ characteristic.

    Dr Eric Loomis at Lawyersgunsmoneyblog has a shorter post on Mr Castro’s death that actually has some mention of America’s Cuban policy from the 19th century to the Batista era as a way of understanding events during the Castro era. For those who don’t find satisfaction in pointing fingers and saying in a loud, manly tone: BAD! BAD!

  33. JohnMcC says:

    @michael reynolds: I read a fabulous article many years ago about Cuban cigar makers and tobacco growers who risked their lives smuggling tobacco seeds out of Cuba in the years following the revolution. Couldn’t find the original but noticed that ‘cubancigarseeds-dot-com’ has some reference to it. I bet those Honduran cigars are from those smuggled seeds. (They were sewn into the cuffs of pants, as I recall).

  34. MBunge says:

    @Pch101:

    Just so everyone knows what Pch101 is excusing, here is Trudeau’s official statement.

    “It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

    “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

    “While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.

    “I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother President Raúl Castro during my recent visit to Cuba.

    “On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”

    http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/11/26/statement-prime-minister-canada-death-former-cuban-president-fidel-castro

    No one who excuses that kind of amoral garbage has any business whining about the “normalization” of Donald Trump. It’s one thing to argue Castro may have been the best of a bad lot. What Trudeau did and what Pch101 is defending is another thing entirely and should be remembered the next time either of them get on their high horse about something.

    Mike

  35. Pch101 says:

    @MBunge:

    You must reside on a naive, innocent planet where realpolitik does not exist.

    Calling people names is good fun on the internet, but it rarely makes for good international diplomacy.

  36. Stonetools says:

    I wonder what Doug and others would say if I described Reagan as a sh!t who pandered to racists and religious bigots for electoral gain and who demonized and screwed the poor to the advantage of the rich and the powerful? I suspect that Doug and Mike would say there was more to Reagan than not this and they would be insisting on nuance and context. Ah well.

  37. wr says:

    @MBunge: “No one who excuses that kind of amoral garbage has any business whining about the “normalization” of Donald Trump. ”

    Oh, please. Our government does that all the time, as long as “that kind of amoral garbage” happens to be on our side politically.

    Your moral outrage is duly noted. I’m sure you were also frothing at the mouth every time the US government lionized some right wing dictator.

  38. wr says:

    @Stonetools: Perhaps you might also mention the thousands of Central American peasants murdered by death squads trained in the US under Reagan’s administration. This notion that our hands are perfectly clean of any stain while those of any ruler we oppose are nothing but blood-drenched is the kind of childish fantasy that destroys critical thinking in this country.

  39. Stonetools says:

    @wr:
    Indeed. Not only were tens of thousands of Central Americans slaughtered in those Reagan supported wars but when refugees from those wars came to the US the Reagan Administration denied them refugee status. My guess is that Doug and MBunge are completely unaware of all of this because they don’t do history or if they do it it’s the conservative version where America did no wrong.

  40. Gustopher says:

    @Reason reader:

    Not only do Cubans drive antique, 1950’s era cars,

    They really are beautiful cars. Less safety features than modern cars, but beautiful. And, when maintained, worth more than most modern cars. Are you really trying to say that Cuba is a land of great taste and wealth?

    Also, a lot of the economic problems of Cuba stem from the embargo. Teasing apart the effects of the embargo from the effects of the regime is likely impossible at this point, but the purpose of the embargo was not to directly punish Castro, but to try to make the citizens so unhappy they would overthrow Castro. The embargo was aimed at the people.

  41. Pch101 says:

    @wr:

    The wingnuts and their useful idiot brothers-in-arms don’t understand that the net result of US aggressiveness toward Cuba is that it coats the Castro government with Teflon.

    When the US thumps its chest about Cuba, it makes the US look like a bully.

    When the US thumps its chest about Cuba, it provides the Castros with an Other that can be blamed for the Castros’ failed policies.

    When the US thumps its chest about Cuba, it bolsters Latin American opposition to the United States by placing relations on an us-versus-them playing field.

    And if the US is going to insist on playing bad cop (in spite of what should be the obvious failure of that policy), then it helps the US to have Canada in a position to serve as a good cop when necessary.

    At this point, chest beating over Cuba only serves to make insecure right-wing Americans feel better about themselves. And I’m not one to think that using American foreign policy to soothe the feelings of hard-right neurotics is such a great idea for the United States.

  42. Gustopher says:

    @JKB:

    “He hated individual freedom and feared even the smallest expression of dissent.”

    So Castro was the very model of a modern American Democrat.

    In American politics, I think we can find the most thin skinned on the right — as the recent performance of Hamilton has shown. You yourself have shown a certain ire when people do not refer to your ferret-wearing shitgibbon or his filthy brood with the fealty or respect you think they deserve. Protests are called riots, etc.

    Let me remind you, millions more Americans voted for Clinton than Trump. He is a historical aberration, like his unusual skin tone, and his policies are supported by a minority of voters. He is, in any moral sense, illegitimate. Your gilded manchild may have the office of the presidency someday soon, but he is still a racist carnival barker and a fraud, and he was rejected by America.

  43. @Pch101: Agreed. US policy very much helped the Castros, especially in the decade or so after the Cold War ended.

  44. john430 says:

    @Pch101: LOL! Tantrums and name-calling are not the hallmarks of a civilized person. Can you hear Venezuela calling? BTW: The Electoral College was designed to prevent you goose-steppers from gaining control through mob rule.

  45. john430 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Go ahead and use the word, Steven but put the English spelling to it, which is “arsehole”.

  46. john430 says:

    @michael reynolds: Jeez, Michael be careful. We actually agree on something.

  47. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If I were Raul right now I’d be thinking this is the worst possible time to have any sort of opening to the Americans. I’d be thinking crackdown. And I would use the Idiot-Elect’s threats plus the over-the-top reaction in Miami to justify a return to party loyalty and patriotism.

  48. Pch101 says:

    @john430:

    It’s frankly bizarre that the political wing that is clamoring for mass deportations and internment camps is accusing everyone else of being the Nazis.

    Then again, this isn’t that surprising coming from the group that defines a “racist” as “someone who doesn’t want to be subjected to racism.”

  49. An Interested Party says:

    Speaking of amoral garbage, it looks like history may well be repeating itself 36 years later…I’ll see your lefty Castro admirers and raise you the righty excusers of dictators and death squads…like this lovely blast from the past…

    Jeane Kirkpatrick, soon to be Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, told a reporter from the Tampa Tribune in December. “The nuns were not just nuns, they were political activists. We ought to be a little more clear about this than we actually are. They were political activists on behalf of the Frente and someone who is using violence to oppose the Frente killed these nuns.” She was asked if she thought the government was behind the murder. “The answer is unequivocal. No, I don’t think the government was responsible.”

    It isn’t too difficult to imagine Trump and his minions downplaying the same kind of behavior from today’s dictators and death squads…

  50. john430 says:

    @Pch101: What color is the sky in your world? Are you the only person in it?

  51. Guarneri says:

    May he burn in hell.

  52. Eric Florack says:

    @Stonetools: he’d probably say you were full of s***. And he would be exactly right

  53. Eric Florack says:

    @JKB: exactly so. No surprise then that the people who are defending his history and mourning his death are invariably Democrats.

  54. Eric Florack says:

    And finally I note with Amusement that the man who spent his entire life fighting capitalism except his own decided finally to kick on Black Friday.

  55. Eric Florack says:
  56. MBunge says:

    @Pch101: You must reside on a naive, innocent planet where realpolitik does not exist.

    And you guys wonder why you lost to Trump?

    Go read Obama’s statement on Castro’s death. That was diplomacy. Trudeau was licking the balls of Castro’s corpse and spitting in the face of every man, woman and child who suffered under his regime.

    Oh, and you obviously don’t know this but Castro is not considered some sort of secular saint throughout Latin America. He has his admirers and his critics, so a little realpolitik may be appropriate. But NO elected official in a democracy should ever say things like that about a dictator who spent most of his life denying people their basic political and human rights.

    Mike

  57. MBunge says:

    @Stonetools:

    Thanks for publically adding yourself to the list of morally corrupt liberals. It’ll save time to know we can just ignore all your future bleatings about the awfulness of Ronald Trump.

    Mike

  58. MBunge says:

    @wr:

    Hey, Pch101! Here is an actual idiot who needs someone to explain realpolitik.

    Mike

  59. Pch101 says:

    @MBunge:

    So Trump came in second place because the Canadians do business with Cuba.

    Thanks for that fantastic bit of, er, wisdom.

  60. MBunge says:

    @Pch101: At this point, chest beating over Cuba only serves to make insecure right-wing Americans feel better about themselves.

    And just to wrap things up, Pch101 and company can have all the pretend debates with the voices in their heads that they want. This debate is about the death of a dictator who turned his country into a prison people weren’t allowed to leave. Who tortured and killed people for their political opinions. And who was unrepentant about it all to the moment of his death.

    The funny thing about all this is that Pch101, stonetools and wr are all probably too young to even understand why they feel the way they do.

    Mike

  61. Pch101 says:

    @MBunge:

    It’s nice that Trump has given you permission to finally admit that you are an uneducated right-wing fruitcake, not a Sanders supporter.

    Your internet persona is wearing thin.

  62. Pch101 says:

    Oh, here’s what Trump’s best friend Vladimir Putin had to say about Castro’s passing:
    _________________

    “I offer my deepest condolences to you and the entire Cuban nation over the death of your brother, the leader of the Cuban revolution Fidel Castro.

    The name of this remarkable statesman is rightfully viewed as a symbol of a whole era in modern history. Free and independent Cuba built by him and his fellow revolutionaries has become an influential member of the international community and serves as an inspiring example for many countries and peoples.

    Fidel Castro was a sincere and reliable friend of Russia. He made a tremendous personal contribution to the establishment and progress of Russian-Cuban relations, close strategic partnership in all areas.

    This strong and wise man always looked into the future with confidence. He embodied the high ideals of a politician, citizen and patriot who wholeheartedly believed in the cause, to which he devoted his life. Russians will always cherish his memory in their hearts.

    In this mournful hour, I ask you to pass on my words of sympathy and support to all members of your family. I wish you courage and tenacity as you face this irreparable loss.”
    _________________

    That one sure puts the Zero Hedge fans and other members of the Trump fan club between a rock and a hard place.

  63. Tyrell says:

    @Pch101: zThis should be seen as a real opportunity to move forward, not dwell on the past. The president’s visit opened the door just a bit. We need to work with the leaders to help development: resorts, entertainment, food, communications. All of these can help the people down there and provide opportunities for investors.
    Those are the thongs that we should look at.

  64. michael reynolds says:

    @MBunge:
    What do you suppose was the purpose of Obama’s restrained and ‘diplomatic’ statement? Think maybe he was avoiding handing Raul a good excuse for cracking down? Think maybe he considered it carefully and decided the well-being of the Cuban people was of primary importance and that we should not offer what amounts to indirect support for repression?

    And what was the purpose of Trump’s blurt? Same as always: look at me! Look at me! Look how tough I am!

    We’ve been bullying Castro since the 1950’s and his regime endures. Trump wants more of the same – or I should say he babbled something he doesn’t understand and may change his position in 20 minutes. And you seem to think more of the same – more communist oppression in Cuba — is just the ticket.

  65. Pch101 says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Surely, you must have figured out by now that “introspective right-winger” is an oxymoron.

    These fruit loops on the right guys don’t care that they have helped the Castros to stay in power. They just enjoy hearing themselves complain.

    If the Castros didn’t exist, then the hard right would have needed to invent them.

  66. Eric Florack says:

    After the statement of moving forward, the context of that statement can be found out any stable floor and lesser quantities and smelling a great deal better.

    Let’s learn a little piece from history shall we?

    “In your cable of October 27 you proposed that we be the first to carry out a nuclear strike against the enemy’s territory. Naturally you understand where that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike, but the start of a thermonuclear world war.

    Dear Comrade Fidel Castro, I find your proposal to be wrong, even though I understand your reasons.

    We have lived through a very grave moment, a global thermonuclear war could have broken out. Of course the United States would have suffered enormous losses, but the Soviet Union and the whole socialist bloc would have also suffered greatly. It is even difficult to say how things would have ended for the Cuban people. First of all, Cuba would have burned in the fires of war. Without a doubt the Cuban people would have fought courageously but, also without a doubt, the Cuban people would have perished heroically. We struggle against imperialism, not in order to die, but to draw on all of our potential, to lose as little as possible, and later to win more, so as to be a victor and make communism triumph.”

    (Nikita Khrushchev to Fidel Castro — October 30, 1962, linked in comment below)

    ~~~~~

    The animal to whom specimens like Jimmy Carter and Justin Trudeau have devoted their respects had to be restrained from nuclear abandon by the likes of *Khrushchev*, who — himself — had been a toiler in the Soviet abattoir before he gained the respect of a sick world in his pretense as a statesman.

    There is no Center ground with this kind of animal. No compromise. If you think there is, then you’re part of the problem. If you cant identify evil when you see it, you’re part of the problem.

  67. Eric Florack says:
  68. grumpy realist says:

    Raoul supposedly isn’t as crazy as Fidel is.

    The U.S. was in the position of trying to talk the anarchist-with-the-bomb to Put The Bomb Down and Get Off The Ledge.

    Our going back on our opening to Cuba would be an awfully stupid idea. 50 years of embargo didn’t do anything, so another 50 years will? Silly silly silly.

    Someone once described Fidel’s Cuba as “a police state with health care for the poor” and that’s a good description in my opinion. The “economy” was propped up by the Soviets until the USSR implosion, after which Cuba was just, well, drifting.

    I still would say that Cuba has a better chance of returning to normal than Venezuela, which is at the moment in free-fall, with everyone around them ignoring the mess because of “national integrity” and wondering how it will all work out. At least with Cuba there’s a path. Venezuela is still too much in the hands of greedy and corrupt idiots and will probably have to go through a period as a totally failed state….not good for anyone.

    (And no, Venezuela isn’t “the end result of socialism”, much as self-proclaimed conservatives like to label it as such. Venezuela is the end result of corruption.)

  69. Eric Florack says:

    @grumpy realist: so your attitude is if you can’t beat them join them and to hell with both principle and consequence?

    Seems to me that that attitude is hardly unique in history except insofar as its unproductiveness

  70. Pch101 says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I suppose that it didn’t occur to you cranks that it would be smarter for the US to stop behaving in ways that make it easy for the Castros to fault the US for Cuba’s problems, so that world opinion would eventually turn against the Castro regime.

    But no. You’re too busy using the n word on your blog to bother with something as sensible as that.

  71. Eric Florack says:

    @Pch101:

    suppose that it didn’t occur to you cranks that it would be smarter for the US to stop behaving in ways that make it easy for the Castros to fault the US for Cuba’s problems, so that world opinion would eventually turn against the Castro regime

    Which is sort of like the Democrats blaming the Republicans for the problems the Democrats cause

    If you think that’s overstated, I suggest you look into who it was in the whitehouse in October of 1962

  72. Eric Florack says:

    @grumpy realist: observe

    https://www.rt.com/news/368510-brazilian-football-team-plane/

    You can blame Socialism or not as you like, but this is a government created shortage either way

  73. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Are planes run by American companies that crash and indictment of capitalism?

  74. Eric Florack says:
  75. Eric Florack says:

    @Grewgills: how often do they run out of fuel?

  76. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Did you even read the article? It states that the pilot dumped the fuel prior to impact to prevent an explosion. Your ideology blinds you.

  77. Eric Florack says:

    @Grewgills: uh huh.
    Sure.

    The first fatality in that incident was the truth