Fidel Castro, Cuba’s Máximo Lider died Friday at the age of 90. The murderous dictator took the world to the brink of nuclear war, and might have unleashed it had not the saner heads of his Russian masters prevailed.
Castro was a megalomaniac who enslaved his nation and made paupers of all Cubans but his Communist party cronies.
He was as ruthless a despot as Stalin, mercilessly trampling the rights and freedoms of his people and ruling them with repression and fear. Throughout his many decades in power, Castro never once gave his Cuban people a chance to control their own lives, and even at the end of his reign he chose to transfer power to his brother rather than to the people he claimed to love.
When Cubans endured state-imposed periods of deprivation, Castro blamed the United States and its embargo. What was there the U.S. could offer that his country could not get from Canada or Europe, I wonder. Was it charity? Was it foreign aid? It certainly was not food, clothing or medical supplies, all of which were available to Cuba from nations who did not enforce an embargo against it. Although, I suppose, antagonizing the Americans to the point they cut sugar imports from Cuba, forcing Castro to seek markets elsewhere, must have taken its toll on the island’s economy.
Castro, however, once boasted Cuba “is the only country in the world that does not need to trade with the United States.” So why blame America and its embargo for the pitiful plight of Cuba’s 11-million people?
Cuba did find a new market for its sugar, of course. For years the Russians bought all the island could produce. But, although the other Caribbean sugar producing nations tried their best to diversify their economies, Castro stubbornly refused to do so, deciding instead to continue with one main crop, sugar, and selling it to one main buyer, the Soviet Union—a short-sighted policy that would cost his people dearly.
Cuban society under Castro only ever thrieved when it was receiving huge Communist subsidies—$5-billion a year has been reported by reliable sources—from Russia and significant economic support from Venezuela. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, however, the Cuban economy virtually imploded, forcing the old hypocrite to temporarily legalize the hated Yankee dollar.
In his wake, Castro has left a legacy of wretched poverty and political persecution, however, to be fair he also leaves something approaching racial equality and several medical and educational advances, which help balance the scales somewhat to his benefit. In sum, though, he leaves his people no better off than they were when he won his revolution on January 8, 1959. Such a tragic waste.
And it’s such a man that our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has praised and lionized as a “remarkable leader” and “larger than life.” Is it not extraordinary how much admiration PM Trudeau seems to hold for dictatorships like Cuba and China?