You’ll pardon me if I fail to display the appropriate level of bereavement that Fidel Castro has officially smoked his last cigar. The ancient communist dictator, long-celebrated by leftists from Hugo Chavez to Barack Obama for his six-decade war on liberty, finally expired this weekend at the age of 90. And while I’m not happy, per se, over the crusty old monster’s demise, I ain’t exactly crying in my mojito.
Fidel Castro’s death is a lot of things — long overdue comes to mind — but sad isn’t one of them. The world didn’t lose a saint when the bearded authoritarian danced his last lambada; it lost a super-size sinner. While politicians who should probably know better, self-important intellectuals who aren’t capable of knowing better, and media flacks who never knew squat to begin with, proffer praise to Castro, I’m just looking forward to burying the old bastard.
When they throw dirt on Castro’s casket, we can throw dirt on one of the uglier missteps of the Cold War. When Castro sent Fulgencio Batista packing, he forced the people of Cuba to exchange one appallingly corrupt tyrant for another. Batista was a power-mad strongman bent on accumulating as much wealth as possible, no matter the price his country had to pay. Castro was the same, except he traded American largesse for Soviet lucre. In fact, the lone reason I suspect so many free people are mourning his demise is his success in playing the burr under the American saddle for so many years. The guy thumbed his nose at the United States for over half a century, and in the professors’ offices and newsrooms on this side of the Florida Strait, that counts more than actually improving the lives of the people you rule.
There’s nothing else to recommend Castro to the annals of history. Human rights under his regime were neither human, nor rights. Much like his communist brethren, Castro had no time for expressions of dissent, brutally repressing speech and opinion through overt displays of power and a secret police trained by the feared East German Stasi. Neighbors were encouraged to inform on neighbors, privacy a non-existent concept and the so-called “actos de repudio,” in which suspected dissidents are beaten by mobs of their fellow citizens, a part of the social construct. Art, whether painting, poetry or song, required government approval.
Like all communist regimes, Castro’s also maintained an iron grip on the ability of its citizens to have a clue what’s going on outside their unhappy homes. The inward flow of information was choked out by the usual government-enforced media blackouts and propaganda dissemination peculiar to socialist paradises; while the outward flow of information was choked out by the usual government-enforced travel-restrictions and political prisons equally peculiar to socialist paradises. Even casual talk about traveling abroad could earn the “offender” time in prison.
The Cuban healthcare system, as celebrated as it has been by some of the world’s leading leftists lights, is indeed universal; although the “care” it provides is universally awful. Government-controlled healthcare in a prosperous nation can create British dentistry. In Castro’s socialist paradise, it created a level of “care” Americans would consider insufficient for the terrorists we keep in our little slice of Cuban heaven, Guantanamo Bay. Granted, much like the Western liberals who tout its “successes,” Castro never had to concern himself with the quality it offered; his incredible wealth exempting him from waiting in line for substandard care with no patient consent and no remedy for malpractice.
All this week, prominent members of the globalist and liberal elite have thrown rhetorical flowers at Castro’s memory. From a human perspective, they’re bemoaning the passing of Stalin, Mao and whichever member of the North Korean Kim family who hasn’t died yet. I wouldn’t be stunned to see “Viva Fidel” t-shirts become the must-have fashion item of the season for left wing nuts who just learned that Castro was more of a scourge on the species than his terrorist pals like the equally-dead Che Guevara. But I won’t be among them. The people of Cuba still labor under the shackles of tyranny imposed on them by Castro. They don’t get a choice over whether they mourn his passing, but I do.
— Ben Crystal
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