14ymedio, Tania Bruguera, Havana, 1 December 2016 — Today in Cuba, we start a new phase, a phase that requires us to transition (shift) from an anecdote to historic data, from rumor to research, from passion to facts from what was symbolically assumed to what was actually done.
Time has come for us to ask for that archives be opened, to know how many truths were manufactured and to what extent victories were achieved, to know with certainty how many Cubans have died around the world, to understand what social progress we have made and to learn which agreements the government has made on our behalf.
The Cuban people have the right to know its history, all of it, and be able to draw their own conclusions.
Today Cubans have stopped being children waiting for orders.
However, refusing to be underestimated requires understanding other people’s feelings, those that think and feel differently. It means understanding that we are not always right and that the goal of discussion is not to win arguments but to clarify our ideas and send them out for consideration..
We need to stop thinking that only our feelings are valid because the project of The Revolution has been a different experience for each and every one of us, and since they were experiences, all of them are valid. There are things to rescue and things to remove. It would be more interesting to see howpeople have dealt with their experiences, what they have done with them, instead of denying someone to feel in their own terms.
We need to start saying “no” to the things we don’t like, to the things that keeps us from feeling clean and honest, even if this means losing a privileged position, because there’s no money, no professional opportunity, no material comfort that can be compared to feeling free, to being able to speak one´s mind.
How should we memorialize Castro? By freeing Cuba.
He was a tyrant whose death should be welcomed by anyone who loves liberty.
The death of a dictator, not his final memorial, is — and should be — a happy occasion for the people who have suffered his rule. It’s why no one should celebrate the life of Fidel Castro when he is finally laid to rest Sunday.
Instead, we should mark the day reminding ourselves how Castro got the better of us, freedom-loving Cubans, and understanding that his death didn’t end his reign of terror.
Because we shouldn’t kid ourselves: Castro’s departure — long awaited by those of us in the Cuban diaspora, as well as those who still live in our island homeland, even if they’re not free to express it — won’t immediately bring the liberty, democracy and respect for basic human rights that all Cubans long for. Castro’s long convalescence, along with the political indifference of several key nations to his years of brutal tyranny, have, in part, allowed his despotic regime to exist for decades. Long before his death, Castro was afforded the resources he needed to assemble a form of institutionalized self-preservation, his family dynasty, which has existed by exercising its malevolent grip over Cubans in a way that rivals the power of any autocracy known throughout history.
Throughout his cruel reign, Castro benefited from the tacit approval of democracies: He consistently enjoyed a parade of world leaders willing to visit Havana, including three papal visits. Starting in 1991, his regime was welcomed at the Ibero-American Summit. All reminders that the world community has not learned how to defend — with firmness and effectiveness — the values it espouses and represents.All this, despite the fact that Castro backed numerous insurgencies designed to subvert governments that he deemed representative of spurious bourgeois interests. The democrats who went only as far as timidly suggesting a free market, a multiparty approach to governance, and a free press for Cuba? Castro simply saw them as weak.
If Fidel Castro’s death does not soon lead to a global campaign in favor of liberty and democracy for Cuba, the old tyrant will have scored his first posthumous victory. The United States should lead this effort, even during the last days of Barack Obama’s presidency. Western leaders, including Obama, can and should use their leverage to demand specific concessions — freeing all political prisoners, legalizing opposition parties, allowing freedom of the press — from Castro’s brother, President Raúl Castro, in return for the benefits Cuba’s regime now reaps from diplomatic engagement.
The moment is appropriate and critical because it is the only way to open a door for free expression, and to demand meaningful changes on the island that improve the lives of all Cubans, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or ideology. In other words, Fidel Castro’s death is not an occasion to mourn. It’s an occasion to free Cuba.
The photo below taken in Cuba shows soldiers having to push the vehicle carrying the cremated remains of dictator Fidel Castro throughout Cuba. Rumor has it that the jeep pulling the ashes of the deceased despot on the planned parade route where Cubans were ordered by State Security to line up and mourn openly for the cameras or risk arrest ran out of gas. How fitting.
It would be hard to think of a more appropriate image to mark the end of Fidel Castro’s half-century of utter failures and misery in Cuba.
Yes, it was a Cretin Fest of colossal proportions, a veritable Circus of Miscreants.
Even one of the bloodiest of all living tyrants showed up: Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Of course, no one on the Left objected to Mugabe’s presence, since he was there to honor Nosferatu, a despot far worse than himself who is venerated as a saint by all leftists.
A few non-despots and partially non-cretinous buffoons showed up too, but, for the most part, it was the largest assemblage of miscreants in recent world history (or at least since the funeral of Hugo Chavez).
All of them were there to worship the ashes of a mass murderer, even though no one could be certain that his ashes were really there, in Santiago de Cuba.
Let’s hope and pray that this was indeed the last act in Nosferatu’s tropical Théâtre du Grand-Guignol, and that he doesn’t end up returning as one of the undead, or as the “Man Who Killed Death” once featured at the Grand-Guignol (poster below).
Imagine Nosferatu’s head barking orders or delivering 6-hour speeches at the Plaza of the Revolution…..Aaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
While the freedom-loving peoples of the world, especially the Cuban exile community in the United States, celebrate the death of dictator Fidel Castro, the Cuban government has recruited a who’s who of leftist elites to mourn at his funeral, including delegations from Iran, South Africa, and North Korea.
Fidel Castro — whose rule from 1959 to 2008 was defined by human rights atrocities against political dissidents, Christians, LGBT Cubans, and other “undesirables” — made many friends in the international left along the way, particularly in his own Latin America and in Africa.
The BBC’s list of attendees from Latin America is unsurprising. Nicolás Maduro, dictator of the Cuban colony Venezuela, will be in attendance, as well as socialists Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. Enrique Peña Nieto, the president of Mexico, is also expected to attend.
The Spanish newswire service EFE adds a number of leftist former Latin American heads of state to this list: Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, both currently targets of federal corruption probes, and Uruguay’s José Mujica, who, in attempting to compliment Fidel Castro over the weekend, compared him to the fictional character Don Quijote de la Mancha, an old man who suffered from hallucinations.
Representing Africa will be at least two heads of state: South African President Jacob Zuma and 92-year-old genocidal despot Robert Mugabe.
“God is just ignoring Zimbabweans’ prayers,” one Zimbabwean Twitter user remarked upon learning that Mugabe had outlived Castro.
“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 on Friday. He was 90.” (The New York Times, Nov. 26, 2017)
In fact, the highlighted section of the New York Times headline from 2017 is every bit as BOGUS as the headline from 1957.
Oh…I know…I know….that bit about “Fidel Castro defying 11 U.S. Presidents!” is hardly a New York Times exclusive. Indeed, the meme appears in practically every media mention of Fidel Castro. As a media chant it’s as obligatory as “Cuba’s free and fabulous healthcare!” –and the claim is every bit as facetious and idiotic.
`”Without U.S. help Fidel Castro would never have gotten into power,” flatly stated former U.S. Ambassador to Cuba Earl T. Smith during congressional testimony in 1960. He refers to the U.S. State Department and CIA’s role in aiding the Castro rebels, also to the U.S. arms embargo on Batista, also to the official U.S. order that Batista vacate Cuba. Ambassador Smith knew something about these events because he had personally delivered the messages to Batista.
Castro’s “defiance” of the U.S. at the time also involved his group’s pocketing a check for $5,000 from the CIA operative in Santiago, Robert Weicha. “Me and my staff were all Fidelistas,” boasted Robert Reynolds, the CIA’s “Caribbean Desk’s “specialist on the Cuban Revolution” from 1957-1960.
Then In August of 1959 the liberal U.S. ambassador to Cuba, Philip Bonsal, alerted Castro to a conspiracy against his regime by Cubans. Thanks in part to ambassador Bonsal’s solicitude for a regime then insulting his nation as “a vulture preying on humanity” and poised to steal $2 billion from U.S. stockholders, the anti-Castro plot was foiled, hundreds of the anti-Communist Cuban plotters imprisoned, and the regime that three years later came closest to vaporizing many of America’s biggest cities (including Bonsal’s home) with nuclear missiles, survived.
After the missile crisis “resolution,” Castro’s “defiance” of the United States took the form of the U.S. Coast Guard and even the British Navy (when some intrepid exile freedom-fighters moved their operation to the Bahamas) shielding him from exile attacks.
So, far from “defying” a superpower, Castro hid behind the skirts of two superpowers, plus the British Empire.
The (few) people on earth actually in the know about the history of U.S.-Cuba relations mostly laugh at the media/academic idiocies on this topic. Take “former” KGB Colonel Nikolai Leonov who served as Raul Castro’s case-officer starting in 1954:
Above: Raul Castro and his old KGB-handler Nikolai Leonov, yukking it up while reminisicing about the monkeys they made of the CIA in Cuba and the idiocies the mainstream media habitually spreads about U.S. Cuba relations. (idiocies THEY planted with the media.)
“In 1958 with Cuba under a “U.S.-backed dictator,” with the U.S. “controlling Cuba’s economy,” etc. the staff of the U.S. embassy in Cuba numbered 87, including Cuban employees.
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.
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.
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.
(Probably not in the public spot of yesterday’s obscene ritual, but rather in some hidden spot where they cannot be easily desecrated).
The Castrophilia on display over the past week was hard to take, but one dimension of the adulation that was especially galling was the way in which Fidel’s hatred of religion was ignored.
Here is a brief overview of this aspect of Fidel’s legacy.
From The National Catholic Register
Fidel Castro’s War on Religion
COMMENTARY: Among the worst of Castro’s crimes and legacies, consider what he did to religious faith in this once-great Catholic nation.
by Paul Kengor
Fidel Castro, from 1959 to 2006 the world’s longest-running Marxist dictator, is dead at the age of 90. He was no friend of the Cuban people, or of Cuban Catholics. He was a brutal leader who was responsible for the deaths of thousands, and who silenced the prayers and voices of many more.
Sadly, one would never know this from President Barack Obama’s statement on the death of Castro.
“We know that this moment fills Cubans — in Cuba and in the United States — with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families and of the Cuban nation,” said Obama. “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
It is not clear if Obama meant this as a negative or positive. Reading the statement in full, it could easily be interpreted as positive. The official statement makes no mention of a single negative regarding Castro.
Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban emigrants, best described the president’s statement as “pathetic.” If you think that’s harsh, then you know nothing about Cuba under Fidel Castro. And among the worst of Castro’s crimes and legacies was what he did to religious faith in this once-great Catholic nation.
Being a devoted communist, Fidel Castro was possessed with a hatred of religion. In Cuba, like everywhere else, communists launched their standard war on faith. From country to country, no ideology has so consistently and viciously attacked Christianity like communism — starting with the Bolsheviks in 1917 and resounding throughout the century ahead. As Mikhail Gorbachev put it, communists launched a systematic “war on religion.”
Cuba was no exception. From the moment that Castro took hold in January 1959, churches were in trouble. The regime quickly launched a propaganda campaign against the faithful, describing Catholics as “social scum.” By the late 1960s, Christmas was banned on the island. Churches were shut down. Priests and their parishioners were silenced, arrested or placed under tight surveillance, with every word of every service or homily monitored by government church-watchers infiltrating the pews. Any criticism, especially of the Marxist regime, was very dangerous. One could not be a member of the Communist Party in Cuba (the only party legally permitted, including for any government jobs) without professing a belief in atheism.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.]
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.
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.
In the Netherlands, for instance, the Nazi occupiers retaliated to all condemnations by Catholic bishops by rounding up and executing Catholic lay people at random.
In Poland, the Catholic Church was dismantled, and it is estimated that over 1,800 priests died in concentration camps.
Pope Pius XII’s silence led to him being called “Hitler’s Pope.”
Now we have Pope Francis, who is no one’s captive, and who could speak freely about repression in Cuba without fear of brutal reprisals, even within Cuba, for the Castro regime now depends on the Catholic Church for many social services.
Yet Francis, who is not just silent, but overtly speaks and acts as if he has a fondness for the Castro regime, has yet to earn the title “Castro’s Pope.”
This double standard is examined by Father Dwight Longenecker.
Remember when the secular Catholic hating media started crowing about Pius XII being “Hitler’s Pope”?
Funny how they thought it was wonderful when Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, B16 and Francis all paid a visit to Cuba and knocked on Castro’s door.
History is now showing that Pope Pius XII put up stout resistance to the Nazis as he was able.
Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis have taken a more diplomatic approach to Castro’s regime–visiting the murderous tyrant and hoping by diplomacy to do some good.
Pope Francis went so far as to express “sorrow” at the death of Castro.
Pius XII handled Hitler with diplomacy as well, but think of the brouhaha if Pius XII would have written to the Hitler family at the dictator’s death expressing “sorrow” at his loss.
To be consistent, shouldn’t the secular media be finger pointing and name calling Francis as “Castro’s Pope”?
But no, in True (deau) style most of them are giving the Cuban Mao a hero’s send off and presumably think Pope Francis is a marvelous fellow.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Pope Francis struck the right tone in being personal and pastoral, but it wouldn’t go amiss in the days to come if our Catholic leaders and media people were a bit more clear about Castro’s horrible legacy.
Furthermore, in addition to the personal condolences to the family of the deceased it would be great to hear an official statement from either the Vatican or the Cuban bishops along these lines:
“While we greet the death of any person with sadness, and offer sincere condolences to the family of Fidel Castro. We pray for the repose of his soul, hoping that in his final hours he may have turned to Christ Jesus in repentance and faith.
We also offer our prayers and condolences to the families of those he and his regime imprisoned, tortured and murdered. We pray that with his departure the shadow over Cuba might be lifted and true freedom and prosperity will be established for all Cubans.”
Will we hear that, or will we be presented with some wishy washy Liberation theology mumbo jumbo?
And, in case you wish to compare Father Longenecker’s wishful rendition of a proper papal message (above in light purple font) to the one actually sent by Papa Che to King Raul upon the death of Fidel, here is the full text:
On receiving the sad news of the death of your dear brother, His Excellency Mister Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, former president of the State Council and of the Government of the Republic of Cuba, I express my sentiments of sorrow to Your Excellency and other family members of the deceased dignitary, as well as to the people of this beloved nation. At the same time, I offer prayers to the Lord for his rest and I entrust the whole Cuban people to the maternal intercession of our Lady of the Charity of El Cobre, patroness of that country.
The National Catholic Register is the oldest national Catholic newspaper in the United States.
Its influence is immense.
Victor Gaetan, who has followed the plight of the Catholic Church in Cuba for years, provides the world with a very enlightening essay in the most recent issue of the Register.
The subject is the tangled history of Fidel’s relations with that Church and of the Church’s response to all of his abuse.
Highly, highly recommended reading, and a much-needed counter-balance to all of the laudatory ordure that has polluted the atmosphere in the past week.
The Death of a Dictator: Fidel Castro (1926-2016)
NEWS ANALYSIS: Cuba’s strongman brutally persecuted the Church.
by Victor Gaetan
At least three popes prayed for his soul, but Commandante Fidel Castro, the Jesuit-educated dictator who tyrannized Cuba for almost 50 years, resisted their merciful intercessions.
His death at age 90 on Nov. 25 was announced defiantly on Cuban TV by his brother, President Raul Castro, 85.
Nine days of public mourning features mass rallies in Havana and Santiago de Cuba, but no Mass of Christian burial for this baptized Catholic, whose revolution of 1959 targeted the Catholic Church as an enemy.
In fact, churches on the island have been visited by Communist Party bureaucrats and asked to cancel Mass, Eucharistic adoration and any musical programs. (The response has been rightly uncooperative.)
Fidel’s relationship to the Catholic Church was known for its ambiguity. He saw the Church in utterly opportunistic ways, desperate to co-opt its moral authority in the 1990s, after demolishing it for more than 30 years.
To the end, he gave signs of fascination with God, religion and Christianity’s powerful attraction, but his ego seemed unable to confess sin or seek reconciliation.
Cubans directly affected by Fidel Castro’s guerilla insurgency against President Fulgencio Batista’s military dictatorship in 1959 emphasize that Castro took power deceptively, claiming he would advance freedom against oppression. Yet he deployed violence and intimidation within two years of overthrowing Batista — revealing his true identity.
In 1950s Cuba, Juan Clark was involved with Catholic Student Youth and Catholic Action, an international movement encouraging priests and laypeople to work for social justice. He and his colleagues thought Castro, like them, wanted a more democratic, uncorrupt government.
As Castro’s tactics became increasingly totalitarian — Catholic bishops issued a pastoral letter in August 1960 condemning the “growing advance of communism,” describing its ideology as irreconcilable with the Catholic creed. Clark escaped to the United States in 1960, joining a group of men intent on resistance.
He returned to the island in 1961 as a paratrooper with the ill-fated, U.S.-backed Bay of Pigs invasion — and ended up in a Cuban jail for 20 months, until the U.S. government paid Castro $53-million ransom for more than 1,000 men.
“Fidel Castro was a diabolical genius,” Clark told the Register in a 2011 interview.
“He was a unique case, probably, in the history of the world,” Clark said. “He came to power with a lot of charisma and positive publicity generated in Cuba and the United States,” especially by The New York Times.
“He came to power with one banner. In the beginning, he even had support from the Church hierarchy,” Clark remembered.
“Less than two years later, Castro switched to another banner, an unpopular one — communism,” the former professor continued. “Although, having spent my life researching this, I believe the Soviet Union was involved with Castro even when he was in the Sierra Maestra Mountains” in the late 1950s.
The relationship between Castro and the Church continued to disintegrate through 1961: In May, the vast network of Catholic schools was confiscated and seminaries closed, including the Catholic schools Fidel had attended.
In September, he forced almost 20% of the island’s remaining priests and religious (including a bishop), onto a boat and expelled them.
Among the priests Fidel evicted was a high-school teacher and mentor, Jesuit Father Amando Llorente, who disguised himself as a shepherd to reach the revolutionary while he was still in the Sierra Maestras and challenge the younger man’s behavior.
Other priests were sent to labor camps in 1965, including Cardinal Jaime Ortega, who served as Havana’s archbishop from 1981 to 2016.
Rosa María Payá Acevedo is president of the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy.
The 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.