…Who put him in power? It wasn’t the Soviet Union.
For most of the 20th century, the United States supported, backed and imposed fascist dictatorships across Latin America, the Carribean, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. Overthrowing democratically elected and popular governments was standard practice, all on the name of “US interests”, which inevitably meant corporate business interests. Most of those fascist dictators were trained at Fort Benning, Georgia. The US taught them not just methods of torture and oppression, but how to quell and destroy those opposed to them – including, and especially, pro-democracy activists.
Fulgencio Batista of Cuba was one of those dictators. For years he received support from the US government (financial, logistics, weapons, etc.) which helped him arrest, imprison, and kill tens of thousands of Cubans in order to retain power. And while he did it, US corporations and 1%ers of the day were turning Cuba into what the US is becoming now, a country of financial extremes, the very rich (mostly foreigners) owning nearly everything, and the poor barely surviving. Is it any wonder that the Cuban people turned to communism, turned to Castro to save them from fascism? It was the only option they had when the US intentionally destroyed attempts at a peaceful change to democracy.
It is hypocritical to criticize Castro’s actions between the revolution and now without addressing how he came to power. That’s akin to criticizing Saddam Hussein while washing away the US’s history of supporting, arming and training him. Or the Shah of Iran. Or Somoza in Nicaragua. Or Pinochet in Chile. Or Marcos in the Philippines. Or Suharto in Indonesia. Or the Duvaliers in Haiti. Or Syngman Rhee in South Korea. Or the military junta in Greece. Or…. The spread of communism during the Cold War and islamic extremism since the 1960s have one commonality: they were both backlashes against dictatorships imposed by foreign colonialists. The US even backed communists, such as the Cambodian dictatorship responsible for the Killing Fields.
People always prefer to be free, but when forced to choose between two oppressors, they will always choose “the devil you know”. Criticizing that decision is telling them to choose “the devil you don’t”.
And to anyone who says, “Castro destroyed the Cuban economy”, go blame US trade embargoes instead. Nicaragua can tell you all about the effects of embargoes (read: anti-capitalist activities), and of giving in to the US (vis-a-vis the election of a right wing government so corrupt that right wing politicians supported the re-election of Daniel Ortega).
Justin Trudeau has been vilified for his words on Fidel Castro by those who support and are seeking a push to the far right (politicians and corporate media), in some cases pushing for fascism within their own borders. Justin’s (*) comments were mealymouthed (no surprise there), but at least he acknowledged the fact that there were two sides to Castro’s story, unlike those who want to rewrite and ignore history. Unfortunately, that’s the only positive I can say about Justin.
Fidel Castro attended the funeral of Pierre Trudeau in 2000, standing alongside Jimmy Carter and a wide variety of political figures from many countries, and of many ideological stripes. Justin has shown again that he is not half the man his father was, announcing he will not attend Fidel Castro’s funeral. His father would have not given a damn about popular or media opinion and gone anyway if the situations were reversed.
(* When I speak about people, I refuse to use titles but will use their surnames out of respect. Referring to him only as Justin is a sign that I don’t due to his actions and failures to act.)