My humble opinion on
January 21, 2002
Why the Attraction to Castro?
Anita Snow of the Associated Press
wrote an interesting little story yesterday. Forty "influential
women from Washington State" flew to Havana to meet with Fidel
Castro, the Cuban dictator, or as Snow referred to him, Cuba's
"president" and "head of state." Notice the press
never refers to Castro as "dictator" or "strongman,"
though that's really what he is.
Anyway, these women, who are bankers,
business owners, government officials, and so on, came to Cuba to meet
with Cuban women and understand them better. They later said they were
"impressed by the gains women had made in Cuba," especially
the women they had personally met.
Were these Americans that naive? No
doubt Castro selected the women they met, women sure to sing the praises
of the great Fidel.
But that wasn't the worst of it.
Panted Susan Jeffords, dean of Social Sciences at the University of
Washington: "It was certainly exciting to meet with him (Castro).
He is a very charming and eloquent man."
To be fair, Jeffords isn't the first
American to be snowed (seduced?) by Castro. He's had a host of American
admirers. Norman Mailer said he was the "first and greatest hero to
appear in the world since the Second World War." Abbie Hoffman even
thought he was a phallic symbol, of all things, writing of Castro,
"He is like a mighty penis coming to life, and when he is tall and
straight the crowd is immediately transformed." Democrat
Congressman Charlie Rangel gave Fidel a great bear hug when Castro
visited New York several years ago. Legions of movie stars have traveled
to Cuba, genuflecting before the socialist relic of yesteryear. A
clothing manufacturer recently released a new line called Fidel wear,
and in case you missed the reference, the shirts and pants all
incorporate some element of the Cuban flag.
So what's the big deal? Why are so
many Americans and others enamored with Fidel? It's obvious his own
people aren't so thrilled with him. Over a million Cubans fled the
island in the 1960s, and thousands of others every years brave
shark-infested waters and try to make it to America. Cuba was once one
of the richest Latin American countries; it's now the poorest.
Besides that, Fidel kills people. The
Black Book of Communism estimated that 15,000 to 17,000 people have
been killed under Castro, nearly all of them dissenters or faithful
followers who fell out of favor. Countless others have drowned in the
seas trying to escape. Shortly after seizing power in January 1959, Castro
conducted Stalin-like show trials, purging the government of opponents
or even potential opponents. Historian Paul Johnson in Modern Times
recounts this all-too-typical episode:
"The fist unambiguous act of
tyranny came on 3 March 1959, after forty-four Batista (the dictator
Castro deposed) air force men, accused of 'war crimes,' were acquitted
in a Santiago court for lack of evidence. Castro immediately announced
on TV that the trial was a mistake. There would be another. The
president of the court was found dead. A creature of the Castros was
appointed in his place. The men were retried and sentenced to twenty to
thirty years' imprisonment. Castro announced: 'Revolutionary justice is
based not upon legal precepts but on moral conviction.' It was the end
of the rule of law in Cuba."
Castro employed other methods to
consolidate power, using Lenin and Hitler (he carried a copy of Mein
Kampf around with him as a student) as his models. He monopolized
the government's force, moving the police and army under his control. He
forced rival forces to give up their arms. He forced the provisional
president to delay elections for 18 months, and ruled by decree, the
"Lenin technique," Johnson notes. Castro later canceled all
upcoming presidential elections, claiming that his socialist
dictatorship expressed the will of the people. He abolished all
political parties except his Communist party. He transferred all
legislative powers to his puppet Cabinet, the embodiment of Hitler's
Enabling Law. He took over as Prime Minister and barred the president
from cabinet meetings. As of 1965, Castro himself admitted he held
20,000 political prisoners. In 1968, this so-called progressive leader
decreed that long hair was morally degenerate and forcibly sent all miniskirted
girls who had made "passionate love in their school uniforms"
to forced labor camps. To this day, Castro uses child labor, forcing
schoolchildren to work in the sugar fields. Castro allows little to no
private property. Cuban citizens get paid in worthless pesos while
Castro's government collects valuable dollars, enriching the political
class and impoverishing most of society. Housing is "free," if
you define free as building the house yourself with government-provided
construction materials and paying rent for 15 years. Cuban citizens are
not allowed in many hotels and government buildings - only wealthy
foreigners with dollars are permitted. Castro treats rich tourists
better than his own people, who live off a meager government subsistence
package, and scratch for dollars to buy items off the black market.
Child prostitution is rampant.
These are not the actions of a
freedom-loving democrat. Castro craved power, and he didn't care how
many or who he killed to get it, and he continues to kill and imprison
and torture to maintain power. He has ground the Cuban people under his
heel to satisfy his monstrous ambition.
So I ask again. Where's the
attraction? Why is such a cretin treated like a hero by so many people
who should know better?