Cuba’s deceased dictator Fidel Castro was a fretful coward, not a courageous leader

Despite the revisionist, romanticized version of Fidel Castro many in the media have been peddling since the announcement of his death, the truth is that Cuba’s totalitarian dictator was nothing but a coward. Far from being a brave revolutionary, Castro was in reality a fearful and petty man driven not by courage, but by cowardice.

Andres Oppenheimer in The Miami Herald:

Far from a courageous leader, Fidel Castro was a coward

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It’s not nice to criticize somebody who has just died, but watching the eulogies from leaders around the world exalting the alleged bravery of just deceased Cuban ruler Fidel Castro, it has to be said loud and clear: Castro was anything but a courageous leader. On the contrary, he was a coward.

First, he was a coward because he didn’t allow a free election in 57 years, since he took power in 1959. Only somebody who fears losing his position doesn’t allow it to be challenged in free elections.

Second, Castro was a coward because he never allowed one single independent newspaper, radio or television station in Cuba. His critics were not even granted a few seconds a year on any radio or television show.

He only granted interviews to sympathetic reporters or sports figures or models-turned-journalists. And the few interviews he gave to serious journalists were monologues, in which he spoke all the time and reporters could only ask him a few questions.

I remember that in the late 1980s, when I asked Colombian Nobel Prize laureate Gabriel García Márquez — a good friend of Castro — to ask the Cuban leader to grant me an interview, García Márquez shrugged and told me with a smile: “Why would you want to interview Fidel? He has never said in an interview something he hasn’t said in his five-hour-long televised speeches.”

Castro’s fear of losing face was such that he prohibited his state-controlled media from talking about his private life. He had to be portrayed as larger than life. For decades, the name of his wife was a state secret.

In a trip to Cuba in the early 1990s, a senior journalist for the government-run Juventud Rebelde newspaper told me he had been reprimanded by his boss for trying to publish a picture of Castro eating at a dinner party. The comandante could never be shown eating, the journalist was told.

Even the circumstances of Castro’s death may have been a government-staged event. Cuba’s state-controlled media say he died on Nov. 25, which happens to be the same day in which Castro and his fellow guerrillas left from Mexico’s port of Veracruz aboard the Granma yacht in 1955 to start their armed insurrection in Cuba.

The Cuban regime is likely to depict Castro’s death as a heroic venture, in which he will be sailing into the sunset, much like when he started his revolutionary expedition six decades ago.

Third, Castro was a coward because he didn’t allow any political parties. Under the Castro-drafted Cuban constitution, only the Communist Party — over which he presided for decades — is allowed on the island. Any other party is illegal, and its leaders can face many years in prison.

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