Fidel Was No Hero

I have a mathematician colleague, a leftist, who, for many years, proudly displayed the collected works of Stalin on his office shelf. I am pretty sure this fellow actually admired Stalin for the way he transformed the Soviet Union from an agricultural country to an industrial power — an admiration I find completely incomprehensible, in the same way that I find admiration of other murderous totalitarians incomprehensible. Che Guevara is another one that, to my mind, does not deserve to be revered. When I see someone wearing a Che t-shirt, I want to shake them and say, “Do you actually know what this guy did?”

Now that Fidel Castro is dead, I am sure there will be a lot of Castro hagiography on the left. Castro, we will be told, was responsible for universal health care, literacy, and improved education in Cuba. But probably few will talk about the thousands killed by Castro, killed simply because they opposed him politically. Few will talk about his mass imprisonment of dissidents, or about the hundreds of thousands that fled his illegitimate regime. Cuban refugees are celebrating today because Castro was a tyrant, a megalomaniac, a mass murderer, and a thug. I believe on judging a person on their complete record, but Castro’s evil deeds far outweighed any positive effects he may have had on Cuba.

For those who want to read the stories of the murdered and imprisoned, visit the Cuba Archive.


  1. colnago80 says

    Even the most evil of dictators are not totally negative. Consider the dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. He built the Autobahns, set up the Volkswagen company and reduced unemployment a lot more then FDR did.

  2. says

    I want to shake them and say, “Do you actually know what this guy did?”

    Yeah, I actually know what he did. He was a complicated guy – he opposed some dictators while supporting others, and lived his life according to his judgement of what was right and wrong. Don’t we all?
    The effects of Castro/Guevara were to bring a lengthy campaign of economic warfare down on them by the US. Is that what you’re referring to? Nobody’s hands are clean in that sort of thing.

    • shallit says

      Guevara? He was a thug. He summarily executed people. Admitting that, which is supported by the historical record, is not an attempt to whitewash the US’s behavior in Cuba, Latin America, or Africa.

      • Jesus H. Christ says

        The Catholic Church shuffled pedofile priests around for decades, and in distant times was involved in Crusades and witch burnings.

        But it has also fed the hungry and housed the homeless.

        People, institutions, and nations have complex and at times contradictory stories. The U.S. enslaved a race of people for over a hundred years. We performed heinous medical experiments on them. We’ve dropped atomic bombs, we imprisoned Japanese Americans for being Japanese.

        All should be judged by the whole story……So try to calm down about Che, dickwad.

        • shallit says

          Surely it is different, and facile, to compare an institution and a nation with a man. The Left’s fascination with Che is unethical.

          • Jesus H. Christ says

            Institutions and nations have, historically, been founded by men and made of men. And you offered no sound reasoning for judging them differently.

          • shallit says

            I’m sorry, it was so obvious that it didn’t need to be spelled out. Institutions and nations are made of thousands and millions of people, with differing attitudes and behaviors. If a nation kills a single person unjustly, it is not reasonable to hold each person accountable for that behavior. But when a single person kills hundreds unjustly, we can reasonably hold them accountable.

  3. Mike Huben says

    Maybe he wasn’t a hero to you, but he definitely was to large numbers of Cubans. He was a big improvement on the dictator he overthrew, Batista, even if later Castro committed some of the same atrocities. And I suspect that most of those who fled did so because they were involved in the enormous corruption of Batista.

    • shallit says

      Yeah, if you didn’t claim Fidel as a hero in Cuba, you lost your job, you were imprisoned, or shot. Pointing out that Castro killed thousands doesn’t excuse Batista. And if you think all Cuban exiles were involved in Batista’s corruption, you have not talked to them. Exiles included prominent intellectuals, as well as thousands of ordinary people.

  4. Kreator says

    And if you think all Cuban exiles were involved in Batista’s corruption, you have not talked to them. Exiles included prominent intellectuals, as well as thousands of ordinary people.

    Bah, they either benefitted from it indirectly or were too cowardly to stay and fight. Those fuckers helped get Donald Trump elected, and they can all go to hell.

    PS: I’ve actually been to Cuba a few times. They don’t like Castro, but they do love Che. And as others have pointed out elsewhere, without the embargo it’s possible that Castro wouldn’t have lasted this long. BTW, the education is as good as they say, but the medicine is not, but again: embargo.

    • shallit says

      That’s a load of horseshit. Were the Jews under Hitler too cowardly to stay and fight?

      The Left’s fascination with Che is not ethical.

      • secondtofirstworld says

        With all due respect, some of your conclusions are wrong. Being economically or socially liberal/progressive is a global thing, so no such claim can be made that the left, as a political ideology has a fascination with Che Guevara, Marxists worship him, and they don’t represent the entire left, nor could it be claimed that all Marxists worship him either, as there are those, who truly believe, their system can be realized without bloodshed. Had Castro had not banned him from Cuba for being uncontrollable, he would have ended up in prison anyway. Even with the knowledge of the time, they were aware, that a Cuban like revolution isn’t real in Latin America, that the CIA had a tight grip on local governments, the question wasn’t if he dies, rather when he dies.

        Second of all, no, Castro did not overthrow Batista. Much like the Bolsheviks, his troops too had besieged a hollowed out stronghold, and like Kerensky, Batista had long left for abroad. Sure, Cuba has an abundance of Che statues, representing the ideal he allegedly stood for, which is closer to locals, than Lenin statues would be, I should know, I lived in a country with a lot of statues of so called revolutionary heroes with a checkered past from both sides of the aisle.

        There was an other claim, about his power being illegitimate. Actually, once a country can enter the UN, or reenter it, then it’s pretty much a legitimate power on the international field, how it was acquired is a different thing.

        Lastly, yes, people have fled and try to flee the regime with valid reasons. I said try to flee, since the wet feet dry feet policy is quite the charmer. In a state, filled with Cuban Americans, they still managed to partially demolish a bridge to de facto separate it from the American mainland, so anybody who lands there, most probably exhausted will be returned, courtesy of the land of the free. And yes, though many of them are intellectuals, they still vote mostly Republican, so their zeal to seek out and destroy anything leftist in its intent can be compared to Havana.

        I can’t write an “on the bright side” remark this time, as Cuba does not have a tradition of democracy, and neither do the exiles, as they support ideals, that at least economically would bring back the golden ’50s with some new Trump casinos, that might not go bankrupt this time. There’s no viable timetable for treating Black Cubans as equal citizens, and it’s doubtful that people like Rubio would be its front runner anytime soon.

        As for the Jews in the Third Reich, many, who lived in the USSR and avoided summary execution and deportation, remained to fight… only to fall victim of post war pogroms, and forced to emigrate to Israel.

        • shallit says

          You seem to be responding to people other than me, since I never said anything about Batista being overthrown.

          As for your comment about Jews, it is non-responsive to anything being discussed. The vast majority of Jews in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, were killed by the Einsatzgruppen. The fact that some escaped this fate and lived to fight has nothing to do with the issue, which was the propriety of blaming those who leave to escape dictators. We don’t blame the Jews for fleeing persecution, and it is quite unjust to blame those who fled Castro for doing so.

          • secondtofirstworld says

            I did not put blame on them either, merely pointed out, that those remaining and deciding to fight fell victim to pogroms, if they weren’t lucky to aaliyah to Israel. It’s a different matter, that one of their descendants, Liebermann denies the right for others to exist, who isn’t like him.

            I responded to the claim, that Fidel had overthrown Batista, when in fact, he hadn’t, they have purposefully omitted, that he could and did leave, and a lower general gave over power, which is the same with what happened with the Bolsheviks.

            Now, as for living in a dictatorship, which I had the misfortune of being born into… one side of the coin is to romanticize characters, like Fidel or Che, but on the other hand, it’s not like said freedoms just fell out of the sky. When Cubans and Hungarians, or the then Indochinese fled their countries for a freer life, colonial empires still existed, and segregation was going on, so in historical context, it was a free world by name only. The famous exchange, where Khrushchev said “but you beat black people” only highlighted, that both are true, and that neither wishes to change it.

            I concede, it’s very possible not all Cuban Americans voted for Trump, but Rubio got still reelected, the same guy who said microcephaly should not be a reason for not bearing a baby, and on the national, and to an extent on the international level, he and Cruz are the voices of their community. Cherishing actual freedom would have meant dumping these guys a long time ago, as they think little about the freedoms and liberties of those, who don’t vote for them.

      • colnago80 says

        Actually, some 2/3 of the Jews who were resident in Germany in 1932 had left the country by the time of Kristallnacht, according to the Holocaust museum in Washington.

  5. Great American Satan says

    Whatever le verdict on him, I have to imagine he died looking at the USA and thinking, “I was right about democracy…”

  6. logicalcat says

    Hey another thread filled with leftist fawning over some horrible assholes and ignoring, even demonizing, the refugees who ran from all that evil. Imagine that.

    You seriously do not know what you are talking about. A lot of refugees were among the poor exploited by Batista, who even supported Castro until he revealed his true colors and fucked them all over. It is clear you never actually talked to any Cuban refugees. Not all of us voted Trump. Some of us see him as a dictator in waiting, just like Fidel used to be.

    • shallit says

      Yes, it’s pretty sad. Some people don’t appreciate the freedoms granted to them in a free country, and have no idea what it’s like to live in a dictatorship.

  7. Nathanael says

    Thousands? I guess Castro was a piker. Obama has killed more innocent people than that, for goodness sake.

    If you can’t admire murderous thugs like Stalin for their *other* positive qualities, you must have very few politicians or government leaders ever in all of history who you can admire. I guess that’s one way to view the world, but I’d be interested to hear your alternatives to government as-it-has-always-existed.

    • shallit says

      This is false equivalence in spades.

      Anyone Obama “killed” was as the democratically-elected leader of a state. You might as well indict Roosevelt for fighting the Nazis.

      Neither Castro nor Stalin were democratically-elected leaders. Their killing was not to ensure the safety of a state, but to enshrine their own power and stifle dissent.

      I hear Hitler was nice to his dog. Maybe you admire him, too.

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