After death of dictator Fidel Castro, a wave of repression sweeps over Cuba

Like in all dictatorial regimes, the death of a dictator causes extreme fear and panic among its elite members. They must maintain control at all costs and in Cuba it has not been any different. Since the death of dictator Fidel Castro, the apartheid Cuban dictatorship has unleashed yet another wave of repression on the island.

Via Dissident:

Repression in the Wake of Castro’s Death

This article will be updated as Dissident learns of new developments in these cases or other cases of political repression going on right now. On Sunday, December 4th, VOC will host a candlelight vigil to honor these and other victims of the Castro regime.

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Though the former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has died, the tyrannical regime he built is still very much alive. During this period of forced mourning after Castro’s death, Cuban activists, artists, and ordinary citizens are being detained, harassed, and assaulted by the regime’s state security services.

(12/3) 11:40 Joanna Colombié was released under the warning not to travel outside of Havana until after December 10th.

(12/3) 5:58 Danilo “El Sexto” Maldonado has reported that his food in prison in Guanabacoa was drugged with sleeping pills and that this is why he is not eating any prison food.

(12/3) 4:46 PM: Zaqueo Báez, the activist from the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) who was arrested during the Papal visit for handing Pope Francis a list of prisoners, has been detained. Three other UNPACU activists have also been detained: Yuselín Ferrera Espinosa and Radamés Lozada Sánchez in Santiago and Edel Ruiz Hechavarría in Palma Soriano.

(12/3) 7:34 AM: Joanna Columbié of the group Somos+ has been detained. Her whereabouts are unknown.

(12/2) 4:08 PM: VOC has been made aware that El Sexto has declared a hunger strike until he is freed.

(12/2) 3:22 PM: Leandro Miguel Hernandez Ferreira, a non-activist Cuban, was beaten and arrested for “not mourning.” Because he is not an activist himself, many of his family and friends are concerned he will not have an active network of support to call for his release.

Danilo Maldonado, the graffiti artist who goes by “El Sexto,” was arrested and badly beaten on Saturday after spraypainting the words “he’s gone” on a wall in Havana. He remains in state custody, and because he is an asthmatic, his fiancée fears for his life. El Sexto became internationally known when he was awarded the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent by the Human Rights Foundation in 2015 for his work supporting the freedoms of speech and conscience in Cuba.

Reinaldo Escobar, the head editor of the independent digital publication 14ymedio, who is also the husband of the blogger Yoani Sánchez, was arrested on Thursday along with a Spanish journalist to whom he was giving an interview. The Spanish embassy lobbied for the pair’s release, and they were released four hours later. When Escobar asked what crime he had committed he was told it had been a “prophylactic” measure.

Eduardo Cardet, the national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL), was detained and severely beaten by police. According the MCL’s website, state security has said that he “met with people he shouldn’t have during his trip to the United States last week.” He is accused of contempt of public officials and disrespect for Fidel Castro, and is being threatened with 15 years in prison.

Eduardo Pacheco, an activist from Cárdenas, was beaten so severely that he now needs surgery. However, he does not feel safe having the surgery, as the medical system is state run and has been used in the past to harass and injure political dissidents. His wife was told this morning that he will be charged with a crime; the details are as yet unknown.

Cuban citizens without a history of political activism have also been targeted. Leonardo Miguel Hernández Ferreira, for example, was beaten and arrested on Saturday for “not mourning.” Cases such as these may be especially dangerous because non-activist citizens have not built up the networks of support that experienced activists have.

The police have also put heavy pressure on the opposition in Matanzas province and in other parts of the island, with temporary detentions and warnings not to engage in public protests.

Reports from Cuba: Fidel Castro’s 13 most notorious failures

By Zunilda Mata in Translating Cuba:

Fidel Castro’s 13 Most Notorious Failures

“Now it begins, The Great 10 Million [ton] Harvest.” Fidel Castro promoting the 10 million ton of sugar harvest from 1969 to 1970.
“Now it begins, The Great 10 Million [ton] Harvest.” Fidel Castro promoting the 10 million ton of sugar harvest from 1969 to 1970.
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 30 November 2016 – Cuba’s official press and, oddly, a good part of the international media, never stop repeating that Fidel Castro brought Cubans free education and healthcare for all. Cuba was already, however, one of the most developed countries on the continent before the Revolution, much more so even than some European countries such as Spain. Currently, the healthcare system is in a calamitous state since the USSR and Venezuela suspended their enormous subsidies for Havana, and education, despite being universal and free, is totally at the service of an ideology.

These are the 13 most notorious failures of the last 57 years, all attributable to the Maximum Leader.

  1. One of Fidel Castro’s first promises in 1959 was to drain the Zapata Swamp, the largest wetland in the Caribbean islands, and to use it for planting rice. After investing substantial resources and mobilizing a large labor force, the project was abandoned. The failure of this idea of Castro’s was fortunate for the ecosystem, and today the area is included in the National System of Protected Areas and is a breeding ground with more than 10,000 rhombifer crocodiles, a species native to Cuba. A natural resource that would have been lost with the expansion of agricultural crops.
  2. In a public speech in the sixties, Castro said that in a short time there would not be a single marabou bush to be found anywhere on the island. Five decades later, the advance of this invasive plant has hampered agriculture to the point that his brother Raul re-issued the promise in a speech in July of 2007, during the annual commemoration ceremony for the assault on the Moncada Baracks, but the problem remains unresolved.
  3. In the early sixties Fidel Castro promised that milk production in Cuba would be so great that although the population was expected to triple, Cubans would not be able to consume all the milk that was going to be produced. Currently, milk is a rationed product distributed only to children under seven (and those with special medical needs), who receive a kilogram of powdered milk every ten days. In 2007, Raul Castro expressed a desire that all Cubans would be able to “drink a glass of milk” every morning.
  4. The October Crisis, also known as the Missile Crisis, represented a major defeat for the Maximum Leader, when the Soviets ignored him and made an agreement with the United States to withdraw their nuclear arms without considering his opinion. The Cuban people were barely aware of how close they came to perishing in a global cataclysm. In the streets of the island people chanted, “If they come, they stay,” and “Nikita, pansy, what is given isn’t taken back,” (in a rhyming version in the original Spanish), an allusion to the withdrawal of the warheads.
  5. Starting in late 1968 the island began preparing for a 10 million ton sugar harvest in 1970, but managed to produce only 8.5 million tons. The country turned its entire attention to the cane cutting, with the end of year holidays suspended to concentrate on harvesting and sugar production. The economy was left in ruins, fields dedicated to other crops were turned over to sugar, and the damages to the environment were never revealed.
  6. The Alamar neighborhood to the east of the capital, built through a system of microbrigades – people diverted from their normal workplaces to construction brigades – was exposed as the Cuban model of socialist architecture. In Alamar’s concrete blocks would live the “New Man,” an individual without ambitions who would know nothing of markets or exploitation. Today the Alamar apartments represent the lowest price point in the capital’s housing market. Not only for their architectural ugliness, but because this bedroom community lacks an adequate cultural, economic and commercial infrastructure.
  7. In 1967 it was proposed to create what would be called “the Havana cordon” around the capital, with the planting of coffee interspersed with pigeon peas, a miraculous bean to feed cattle. Thousands of Cubans were mobilized for the cultivation and the official press predicted a notable improvement in food supplies. The project was abandoned and its final fate never explained. [Ed. note: Among other problems, Havana does not have a climate conducive to coffee growing.]
  8. In the late seventies it was planned that the Isle of Youth would be Cuba’s first communist territory. Experiments were established to eliminate money and extend free goods and services. Numerous schools were built to welcome students on fellowships from 37 countries. Today most of these schools are abandoned, their hallways and classrooms overrun by vegetation.
  9. The genetically superior cow was one of the most persistent obsessions of the Comandante en Jefe. Crossing Holsteins with native cattle would create the F-1 and later F-2 animals that would guarantee the national cattle herd. The emblematic animal of this project was a single cow named White Udder, which set several records, producing more than 100 liters of milk a day. The year 2015 closed with slightly more than 4 million cows on the island, almost two million fewer than in 1958, while the population had doubled.

Read more

Rosa Maria Paya: Let Cubans choose their future

An editorial by Rosa Maria Payá in The Washington Post:

Let Cubans choose their future

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Rosa María Payá Acevedo is president of the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy.

rosamariapayaThe tyrant is dead, but his tyranny is still alive.

Today on the island, the communist Castro-totalitarianism regime survives the corpse of its most visible head. That is why the repression continues and in fact intensified a few hours after the news of Fidel Castro’s death, with the arrests and harassment of opponents.

And it is why the universal value of the right to decide our future must now take center stage. This is a right that belongs to all Cubans by virtue of our humanity. It is a right that has been violated for more than half a century and that today is denied to us by the Cuban constitution, which prohibits us, as a people, from determining the economic, political and social system under which we want to live.

One after another, the world’s authoritarians have proclaimed their mourning for Castro. From them, we expected it. But it is always disappointing, if not surprising, to see presidents of democratic countries and world religious leaders join the likes of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in sentiments of regret for Castro’s passing.

Castro died without facing the consequences of his actions, with impunity, but that record cannot be erased and should not be ignored. He is directly or indirectly responsible for the deaths of more than 97,000 people, a number that accounts for only a part of the documented cases.

Among them is my father, Oswaldo Payá, who in 2012 was run off the road by agents of the Castro regime. Castro had vowed to take measures against my father, winner of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, when the time was right. “We will act, come what may and whatever it costs,” he told Spanish intellectual Ignacio Ramonet.

And so we Cubans confront the double challenge of peacefully ending an orphaned dictatorship and dealing with the hypocrisy disguised as protocol from a good portion of the international community, including the European Union, the United States and the young Canadian leader Justin Trudeau. That’s part of the reason we have turned to basic values and undeniable principles to shape our future.

The Cuban people still live under a regime tailored by the Castro clan — communist and exclusionary. It is the same one that engendered and incubated Latin America’s so-called Socialism of the 21st century, the euphemism used to disguise and propagate authoritarian regimes in our hemisphere, with the support of the Cuban intelligence apparatus and petrodollars provided by Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. Now, it is believed that its portion of the Colombian-Venezuelan drug trade, if it isn’t doing so already, will be the next source of sponsorship of Cuban totalitarianism.

That is why the Cuba Decide initiative invites everyone, including the mourning international leaders, as well as presidents-elect and incumbents, to support holding a binding plebiscite in Cuba on the option of exchanging tyranny for a democratic system. It is the only tool remaining to guarantee that all of our citizens will be able to design their own future, and so to start a transition that cannot truly begin until all Cubans are a part of it.

Continue reading HERE.

The ‘accomplishments’ of Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba nothing but a load of B.S.

For decades, the media and academia have been parroting Castro propaganda and touting the many “accomplishments” in Cuba made by the Cuban dictatorship and its so-called revolution . In reality, all the accomplishments celebrated by the apartheid Cuban regime and its sycophantic supporters in the U.S. and throughout the world is nothing but a load of bullshit.

Marian Tupy at Human Progress:

Castro’s ‘Accomplishments’ in Cuba a Load of Nonsense

Justin Trudeau sure as heck stepped in it, hasn’t he? Of course, the Canadian prime minister was not alone in praising Fidel Castro’s “significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.” Here is a compilation of the usual suspects (CNN, MSNBC, NBC, etc.) fawning over the dead dictator’s “legacy.” And, since fish stinks from the head down, let’s not forget President Obama’s lionization of the Castro brothers’ “accomplishments” when he visited Havana earlier this year.

Sure, our 44th president acknowledged that Cubans are pathetically poor and lack basic human rights, but then he took the sting out of his condemnation of the Cuban dictatorship by saying that the Cuban government “should be congratulated” for giving each child basic education and every person access to healthcare. I wonder if our president would perform a similar rhetorical summersault when talking about General Augusto Pinochet, whose economic policies have turned the once backward Chile into Latin America’s richest country in one generation.Looking on the bright side, at least nobody has claimed that Cuban education and healthcare are of world-beating quality. That Cubans should be literate is to be expected. All communist dictatorships taught their people how to read and then they gave them all the reading material that the government propaganda ministries have managed to print.

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When it comes to healthcare, let’s get a few things straight. All socialist regimes have had a two tier healthcare system—one for the senior communist party members (with excellent and motivated doctors, and western drugs and medical equipment) and one for the hoi polloi (with apathetic medical staff and shortages of, well, everything). I know this because I grew up under socialism and spoke to Cubans, whose stories are very similar to my own.

And to drive my point about healthcare and socialism home, here is a New York Times story about Venezuela’s socialist healthcare entitled, “Dying infants and no medicine: inside Venezuela’s failing hospitals.”

As I keep telling my progressive friends, all you need to know about a country is whether foreigners are trying to get in (viz. USA) or natives are trying to get out (viz. Cuba). Incidentally, while Justin Trudeau’s Canada is a beautiful place, stories like this one, “Canadian Politician Comes to U.S. for Heart Surgery,” do not inspire much confidence in Canada’s government-run healthcare system.

But let’s turn back to Cuba and note the ultimate, almost comical, irony of the Castros’ rule. Everything good that has happened under communism would, almost certainly, happen under a different social and economic system. While verified data are difficult come by and need to be cleared from the fog of Cuban propaganda, the U.S. Department of State tried to do just that, by comparing improvements in human wellbeing in Cuba between the 1950s (i.e., the last decade of the hated Batista regime) and 2000.

Continue reading HERE.

A message of hope left behind in Cuba despite Fidel Castro’s miserable legacy of communism

Spyridon Mitsotakis visited Cuba and witnessed firsthand the legacy of pain and misery left behind by Fidel Castro and his apartheid communist dictatorship. Before he left however, he left a message of hope on the beach of the Bay of Pigs.

Via Conservative Review:

Seeing Fidel Castro’s legacy firsthand, communism was all I feared it to be

woman-looking-in-dumster-havana

In March of 2014, I spent two weeks in working-class areas of Cuba. I went as a visitor, but was not a tourist. I wanted to see communism for myself — and it was all I feared it to be.About a year later, with Obama administration’s embrace of the Castro brothers, I wrote at Brietbart.com about a Cuban worker who explained to me that while they hear endlessly from the government about the “American embargo against Cuba,” the real problem is the “internal embargo” — the embargo that the government elite has imposed on the Cuban people to keep them from participating in the economies of the elite and the outside world.

[…]

Now, however, I would like to add one more experience I had to the record. One of the things I wanted to do while I was in Cuba was visit the Bay of Pigs. For years I’ve had to listen to those brave men of Brigade 2506 be smeared, when in reality Cuba would be a much better place had they succeeded.

So I went, and after visiting the government’s propaganda museum to see their “victory of socialism” version of the event (trust me, the Bay of Pigs Museum in Miami is much more interesting), I went to the beach where the freedom fighters of Brigade 2506 landed, and left a message in the sand. It is the message you see in the photo I took before leaving: LIBRE.

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Read more of Spyridon’s experience in Cuba HERE.

Cuba’s LGBT concentration camps and Fidel Castro’s horrific gay rights record

Far from being the “gay paradise” the apartheid Castro regime would like you to believe it is, Cuba under the jackboot of the Castro dictatorship has been a veritable hell for LGBT Cubans.

James Kirchick in The Daily Beast:

Fidel Castro’s Horrific Record on Gay Rights

Concentration camps for gays. Political prisons where they were treated like ‘beasts.’ Listen up, liberals: Before you go celebrating the life of Castro, remember his victims.

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Fidel Castro was many things: a revolutionary, a communist, a garrulous orator. Amid the fawning encomia released upon his long-overdue death at the age of 90, it should never be forgotten that he was also an oppressor, torturer, and murderer of gay people.

“We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant,” Castro told an interviewer in 1965. “A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant communist should be.”

In the eyes of Castro and his revolutionary comrade Che Guevara—who frequently referred to gay men as maricones, “faggots”—homosexuality was inherently counterrevolutionary, a bourgeois decadence. To a traditional Latin American machismo that viewed gayness pejoratively, they married an ideological fixation treating it as politically undesirable.

It wasn’t long after Castro came to power that police began rounding up gay men. In 1965, the regime established prison work camps known as Military Units to Aid Production (UMAP), into which it deposited homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other “undesirable” elements. Alert to this news, the Mattachine Society—one of the earliest gay rights organizations in the United States—held demonstrations outside the United Nations and the White House successively over two days. Four years before the world-famous Stonewall riots, these were two of the first gay rights protests held in the United States. That same year, Allen Ginsberg was expelled from Cuba for spreading rumors that Raul Castro—Fidel’s brother and successor as president—was gay and claiming that Guevara was “cute.”

Putting gays into concentration camps is not the only practice Castro borrowed from the Nazis. During the Cuban missile crisis, according to recently released German intelligence files, this so-called anti-fascist attempted to hire former SS officers to instruct his army.

Though the Cuban regime closed down the UMAPs in the late 1960s, it continued to repress gay men as ideologically subversive elements. Openly homosexual people were prevented from joining the Communist Party and fired from their jobs. One of the country’s most distinguished writers, Reinaldo Arenas, recounted the prison experience he and countless other gay men endured in his memoir Before Night Falls. “It was a sweltering place without a bathroom,” he wrote. “Gays were not treated like human beings, they were treated like beasts. They were the last ones to come out for meals, so we saw them walk by, and the most insignificant incident was an excuse to beat them mercilessly.”

Gays comprised a significant portion of the 125,000 Cubans (“worms,” in Fidel Castro’s words) permitted to leave the island for the United States as part of the 1980 Mariel Boatlift. (The 1984 documentary Improper Conduct, which tells the stories of gay and straight Marielitos, remains one of the starkest indictments of the Castro regime.) When the Human Immunodeficiency Virus hit the island’s gay community in the mid-1980s, the regime’s response was to quarantine all HIV-positive people in sanitariums, referred to as “pretty prisons” by the founder of the World Health Organization’s Global Program for AIDS.

No doubt attuned to the way in which gay rights has become central to the agenda of a global left increasingly sensitive to the claims of identity politics, the Cuban regime in recent years has tried to fashion itself as being in the vanguard of homosexual liberation. In 2010, Fidel Castro belatedly admitted that his revolution’s treatment of gays constituted “a great injustice.” It was, however, a sin of omission rather than commission, transpiring only because he was distracted, too busy fighting off Yankee imperialists to prevent the atrocities being committed in his revolution’s name. Today, Fidel’s niece (Raul’s daughter) Mariela Castro has emerged as an LGBT activist, helming an organization called the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. Coincidentally, she is the focus of a documentary, Mariela’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution, premiering Monday night on HBO.

Continue reading HERE.

Reports from Cuba: Authorities attempt to impose mourning on Cuban churches

Rev. Mario Lleonart in Translating Cuba:

Authorities Attempt to Impose Mourning on Cuban Churches

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What is happening to the poor people of the island – as the also deceased former president of El Salvador, Salvador Flores, might have once told Fidel Castro to his face —  is utterly intolerable. It is as though the authorities want to impose, almost by decree, a period of mourning that very few Cubans want to observe. They have already had to endure so much suffering during the lifetime of the deceased. And to top it off, they are now expected to endure public expressions of grief when it is more likely, judging from history, that they have more than enough reasons to celebrate, as their brothers and sisters in Miami have been doing in an atmosphere of freedom. That is what multitudes of people on the island would really like to be doing.

It is not just that alcohol sales have been suspended during the period of national mourning, presumably in an effort to make sure no one who has had a few too many dares to give full reign to his repressed desires. Popular festivities such as the celebration in the town of Taguayabon have also been cancelled, an action which led its residents to express their displeasure. It is not as though the tyrant had not already disappeared from their lives back in 2006 when he transferred power to Raul.

In the realm of religion, what is happening far and wide throughout of the island today is unprecedented, making what those of faith had to endure from the early 1960s until the present seem small by comparison. Many churches are self-censoring, foregoing the routine use of music in religious services out of fear. Congregations which have not done this “voluntarily” are receiving official reprimands of one sort or another.

Several pastors related stories like the one below, though I prefer not to reveal their identities out of concerns for their safety:

Things remain complicated here, my friend. Today, I received news that many churches have suspended adoration and prayer services and that others are singing without accompaniment out of “respect for national mourning.” Just as Daniel prayed three times a day with the window open in the manner to which he was accustomed,* so we celebrate our Sundays as usual, though we now only use a piano and play it softly so as not to seem disrespectful of those who “feel the loss.”

The president of the local Ministry of Justice and one of her officials showed up between Sunday school and Mass, asking to speak to me. They told me that they were bringing me orders to cancel Mass that day and suspend all other services we had scheduled through December 9 because of the country is in mourning. Can you imagine? You know what I told her?”

“You can go fetch the police or anyone else you want but I am not going to suspend any masses and we are not going to stop singing. We sing and hold adorations even when one of our own dies. That does not show a lack of respect. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is God’s. Kill me, jail me, but we are not going to suspend Holy Mass.”

We talked a bit more, they softened their tone and she finally said, “Well, at least tone it down.”

I quickly told the everyone in the church about it (some 200 of us). I told them my response and added that, if anyone wanted to leave Mass, they could go home. Everyone replied “Amen” to everything I said and no one left. IT WAS A GLORIOUS SERVICE, LIKE IN THE EARLY CHURCH.” Praise be to God!!! Keep praying for us. Blessings and hugs.

*Translators note: A reference to the biblical passage, Daniel 6:10. “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”

Cuba’s Fidel Castro: The death of a dictator and a tyrant

The Editors of the National Review:

Fidel Castro: Death of Cuban Dictator, a Tyrant

fidel-castro-death-tyrant

The headline over the Associated Press story read, “Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Who Defied U.S. for 50 Years, Dies at 90.” Actually, he defied it for closer to 60 years, in that his regime is still going. In any case, the headline expressed a view of Castro that many people have, all over the world: Castro as defier of the yanqui colossus and its imperialism. But that is a U.S.-centric view. Oddly, Cubans tend to view Castro as their dictator.

Or former dictator, or, now, late dictator. Their current dictator is the younger Castro brother, Raúl.

The Castros and their compadres fought their revolution in the 1950s and triumphed on New Year’s Day 1959. Many good and democratic Cubans hailed them at the Hotel Nacional in Havana. They were hoping for a better, and more democratic, day. And they had been promised one.

Yet the Castros, Che Guevara, and that gang quickly turned the island into something all too familiar in the world: a one-party dictatorship with a gulag. People streamed out of the country, if they were able. One of them was Juanita Castro, who had fought alongside her brothers.

Explaining her defection, she said, “I could not remain indifferent to what is happening in my country. My brothers Fidel and Raúl have made it an enormous prison surrounded by water.”

Cuba was quickly impoverished, of course. There is an old joke about socialism: If the Eskimos adopted it, they would soon have to import ice. Well, Cuba, for a while, had to import sugar.

In an interesting touch, Fidel Castro banned Christmas, from 1969 to 1998. Absolute dictators can do that. Cuba was, among other things, Fidel’s personal fiefdom. And it was a “republic of fear,” to borrow a phrase from Kanan Makiya, who used it to describe Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Many Cubans were too afraid to utter Castro’s name. They gestured toward their chin, indicating a beard.

He and his gang killed tens of thousands, surely. The exact number is hard to pin down. Maria Werlau and her colleagues, at their Cuba Archive, have done noble and conscientious work. Over the years of the Castro regime, 1 million Cubans have gone into exile. Some Cubans have been shot in the water, in their attempts to flee.

On one day — July 13, 1994 — there was an infamous massacre, the Tugboat Massacre: Castro’s forces killed 37 would-be escapees, most of them children and their mothers.

What kind of regime does this? What kind of regime would rather kill people, in cold blood, than see them leave? Than see them have a free life? The Castro regime, and it has been very popular, though not in Cuba.

Fidel Castro was the most popular dictator in the free and democratic world. Stalin lost his luster after the Secret Speech in 1956. Mao lost his luster, or some of it, in the wake of honest accounts of his rule (by his doctor, Li Zhisui, for example). Ho rode high for a while, but not after the reeducation camps and boat people.

But Castro? In 2002, Carole King, the American singer-songwriter, crooned to him her hit song “You’ve Got a Friend.” He certainly did, a great many of them.

Continue reading HERE.

H/T Jack Fowler

In death as in life, Cuba’s dictator Fidel Castro continues to enjoy the praise of useful idiots

One can only imagine if Fidel Castro would have even lasted a year in power if not for the useful idiots who defended, supported, and covered for him during his nearly half-century reign of terror.

Jonah Goldberg in The Los Angeles Times:

Fidel Castro died as he lived — praised by useful idiots

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Fidel Castro died as he lived: to the sound of useful idiots making allowances for his crimes. (That’s not my term: It was Lenin who called liberal apologists for Communism “useful idiots.”)

The gold medal in the Useful Idiot Olympics should probably go to Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada. In a statement, he expressed his “deep sorrow” upon learning that “Cuba’s longest serving president” had died.

One can only imagine what George Orwell could do with that one word, “serving.” Castro did not serve, he ruled a nation of servants, often cruelly, while making obscene profits for himself and his family.

“Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century,” Trudeau continued, repeating that word. “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.’”

Again, where is Orwell’s red pen?

“El Comandante”: The term drips with affection, doesn’t it? Castro’s “detractors”? Would those be the families of the thousands he had executed? The survivors of Castro’s Caribbean gulag? Those who didn’t drown trying to escape?

Trudeau’s expression of “deep sorrow” was typical of a whole genre of Castro eulogies. His apologists have tended to romanticize the “revolution” and parrot Cuban state propaganda – literacy rates! Free healthcare! – while dispensing antiseptic euphemisms for the brutal reality of what the revolution wrought.

At least when people note that Hitler built the autobahn and Mussolini made the trains run on time, they’re usually being ironic. To listen to some Castro defenders, you’d think the scales of justice can balance out any load of horrors, so long as the substandard healthcare is free and the schools (allegedly) teach everyone to read.

As much of the American left is openly mooting whether or not the American president-elect is a dictator in waiting, one has to wonder whether they would take that bargain: No more elections, no more free speech, no more civil liberties of any kind, but socialized medicine and literacy for everyone! American political dissidents, homosexuals, journalists and the clergy, just like in Cuba, can languish in prison or internal exile, but at least they’ll be able to read the charges against them.

Such un-nuanced arguments always make leftist eyes roll. As University of Rhode Island professor Eric Loomis put it, “Castro: It’s Complicated!” cautioning against thinking “in terms of simplistic moral judgments.” It seems to me that when people want to ban simplistic moral judgments, it’s usually because simple morality is not on their side.

Continue reading HERE.

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s ‘revolutionary’ champion of the proletariat, lived a life of luxury and excess

In Cuba, all animals are equal, except for some animals (the Beast of Birán, for example), who are more equal than others.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady in The Wall Street Journal:

The Secret Life of Fidel Castro

A former security agent shows the leader lived large while preaching revolutionary sacrifice.

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For 17 years Juan Reinaldo Sánchez was part of the elite team of Cuban security specialists charged with protecting the life and privacy of Fidel Castro. But in 1994 his loyalty came into question when, with a daughter already living abroad, a brother jumped on a raft for Florida. Castro fired him.

Sánchez was imprisoned for two years and tortured. In 2008 he defected to the U.S., making him the only member of el maximo lider’s personal escort ever to flee the island.

Last month Sánchez died, weeks after he published “The Double Life of Fidel Castro,” an English-language version of “La Vida Oculta de Fidel Castro,” first published in 2014 in Spain. The timing of his demise has some wondering if the long arm of the dictatorship did not reach out to exact revenge for his tell-all about his former boss. The official cause of death has been reported as lung cancer.

The legend of Castro as a great revolutionary who sacrifices for his people is preserved by keeping the details about his life a state secret. Sánchez’s account shows the real Castro: vengeful, self-absorbed and given to childish temper tantrums—aka “tropical storms.” “The best way of living with him,” Sánchez wrote, “was to accept all he said and did.”

The book is timely. The Obama administration has just removed Cuba from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism amid sharp criticism from exiles. Their concerns are sensible: Though Castro is now rumored to be feebleminded, the intelligence apparatus he built—which specializes in violence to destabilize democracy and trafficks in drugs and weapons—remains as it has been for a half century.

Sánchez witnessed firsthand Castro’s indifference to Cuban poverty. The comandante gave interminable speeches calling for revolutionary sacrifice. But he lived large, with a private island, a yacht, some 20 homes across the island, a personal chef, a full-time doctor, and a carefully selected and prepared diet.

When a Canadian company offered to build a modern sports-facility for the nation, Castro used the donation for a private basketball court. Wherever he traveled in the world, his bed was dismantled and shipped ahead to ensure the comfort he demanded.

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Ice Cream Flavor of the Day – Burn in Hell Fidel

I’ll take three scoops, please!

By Laine Doss in the Miami New Times:

Burn in Hell Fidel Is a Flavor at Azucar Ice Cream Company

burn-in-hell-fidel-ice-cream-azucar-miami-newtimes

When the death of Fidel Castro was announced by his brother Raúl, much of Miami cheered. The hated dictator who broke up families, imprisoned his own citizens, and essentially placed the island nation of Cuba into a time capsule, is finally dead at the too-ripe age of 90.This weekend, people took to the streets, and many restaurants celebrated by offering complimentary Cuba Libres to patrons.

Now comes Azucar Ice Cream Company‘s sweet revenge. The Calle Ocho ice-cream shop has created a flavor to commemorate Castro’s demise: Burn in Hell, Fidel!

Azucar, located in the heart of Little Havana, has long served frozen treats with a Cuban flair. Here, instead of finding French vanilla and bubblegum, you’ll savor flavors such as café con leche, plátano maduro, and Abuela María, the last named for owner Suzy Battle’s grandmother, who was born and raised in Cuba.

Battle says of the shop’s latest addition: “This ice cream is specifically for Fidel’s death. May he burn in Hell is the inspiration.”

Continue reading HERE.