by Zack Downing, Staff Writer
Dating back to the reign of Fulgencio Batista, Cuba has historically been a communist nation neck deep in turmoil and suffering.
Most Americans know Cuba for their missile crisis, their cigars, and their Area 51-like restriction to visitors.
However, the name that comes to mind when most people think of Cuba is the bearded dictator Fidel Castro, who rose to power after Batista.
On Black Friday this year, Castro finally passed away after living to the ripe age of 90, but when I woke up the next morning, I was surprised to see a fair amount of praise being given to the worst dictator the Western Hemisphere has ever seen.
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Senator Bernie Sanders, and even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have had somewhat positive things to say about Fidel Castro.
My question is: Why?
We’re a generation that grew up after the USSR crumbled and after Mao Zedong died, so as a result it’s kind of “cool” nowadays to have communist political views.
The fact that we sell T-shirts of Che Guevara, a communist rebel, is evidence of this.
Communism itself isn’t the worst thing in the world, but history has shown us that it doesn’t work, and it usually leads to chaos and tragedy.
It’s one thing to believe in communism, but it’s another to praise an awful dictator that used it to ruin a country.
Here’s how Castro came into power: prior to the 1960s, Cuba was an independent country running on a broken form of government that wasn’t awful, but ultimately wasn’t very good.
Fidel Castro, along with other revolutionaries like Che Guevara, overthrew the government and came into power.
His dictatorship immediately began with brutality. After seizing power, he and his men executed hundreds of their opponents, and declared Cuba a communist-led country.
Castro’s regime threatened the United States with nuclear missiles, starved its citizens after multiple economic collapses, removed liberties like independent media from its people, and imprisoned anyone who spoke out against him.
Conditions were so bad that thousands upon thousands of Cubans fled to Florida to seek refuge.
What did Castro do about this? He sent state forces to murder people trying to escape.
One such instance was the Canimar River Massacre, in which 52 adults and 4 children were mowed down by a firing squad while trying to flee via the river.
At the same time, Castro took advantage of the mass exodus by shipping mentally ill and gay people off with the refugees, in a eugenics-style cleansing of the nation.
In the 90’s, Cuba’s economy fell apart after the USSR, Cuba’s greatest ally and America’s greatest enemy, collapsed.
After that, Castro finally lifted the weight of certain rules and bans, and Cuba has been slowly climbing out of its hole since.
So why is anyone praising this man?
Well, one thing that Castro supported is universal health care, which is being embraced by many countries today.
He also invested a lot of money into education, and as a result, Cuba had the highest literacy rate next to America.
The Cuban communist economy also had some glimmers of hope in between their canyons of failure.
Okay, so we have a dictator who mistreated his citizens and mostly ruined a country’s economy, but because of a couple good ideas we can call him “a strong leader with some flaws”? No.
Fidel Castro’s name belongs at the bottom of the barrel, not among other controversial leaders like Netanyahu.
He ruined his country and killed his citizens, while removing their freedom through communist policies. No good ideas can change that.
You know who else poured lots of money into education and supported universal healthcare? Hitler. We don’t defend him.
Ask Cuban citizens how much they valued free healthcare when they had their starving children in a rowboat to Florida as bullets from Cuban guns whizzed past their heads.
So now, Fidel is dead, and Cubans are rejoicing. His brother Raul Castro is in office, and while he isn’t a big improvement, Cuba is still on a better track.
For the first time since Fidel’s reign, Cuba is receiving new cars, tourism is possible, and the lives of the citizens aren’t under military watch.
Communism is nearly wiped from the earth, and Cuba could be one of the last to lose it.
The next step is North Korea, a country with universal healthcare and missiles aimed at America. Seems to be a communist trend.