Fidel Castro Has Died

Fidel Castro died Friday, November 25, 2016. He was 90 years old.

Raul Castro has pledged to step down in 2018. What then? The New York Times reports on how the power likely will pass -- to a lot of Raul's children. [More....]

Raúl Castro’s only son and personal adviser, Colonel Castro Espín is in charge of coordinating the military’s and Interior Ministry’s intelligence services.

...General Rodríguez López-Callejas is the father of two of Mr. Castro’s grandchildren...As president of Gaesa, a holding company that controls the military’s business interests, General López-Callejas is one of the island’s most powerful men. Analysts estimate that Gaesa’s holdings – which include the two largest hotel and tourism groups as well as telecommunications concerns, convenience stores and gas stations – account for about 40 percent of the economy.

...Maria Castro Espin...Raúl Castro’s outspoken daughter is a sexologist who has fought successfully to expand gay rights. She became a member of the country’s parliament in 2013, and her liberal bent and candor have led some in Cuba to wonder if she is destined for a greater role.

Sounds like a Trump-style dynasty.

What about Fidel's son Fidelito? The first NY Times article says:

The younger Mr. Castro lived in Cuba until, years later, he was sent to the Soviet Union to study. He became a physicist, married a Russian woman and eventually returned to Cuba, where he was named head of Cuba’s nuclear power program.

Fidel has another five sons living in Cuba: Alexis, Alexander, Alejandro, Antonio and Ángel.

Fidel Castro died on the 17th anniversary of the day Elian Gonzalez was found floating on a raft near Florida. He was the sole survivor of a boat that had capsized after leaving Cuba en route to Miami. His mother, stepfather and 9 others died.

Fidel Castro led marches calling for Elian's return to his father in Cuba. His relatives would not let him go. Here's a photo of Elian walking to school in Miami with his relatives. On April 22, 2000, Janet Reno sent armed federal officials into his relatives' home who seized him from a closet and fired tear gas on the crowd outside. The iconic photo of his seizure is here.

Elian became a national fixation while his case made its way through the courts, which ultimately upheld his return to Cuba. On June 28, 2000, he returned to Cuba to live with his father. He has thrived there, giving several interviews over the past few years, solid in his support of Cuba and Fidel and Raul Castro.

Elian Gonzalez is credited as one of the reasons Al Gore lost the vote in Florida in 2000. Although he broke with Clinton and suggested Elian be allowed to remain with his relatives in Miami (and later that the family courts handle it) some voters viewed this as pandering to the Cuban-American vote, while other Cuban Americans were insistent on Demomcratic payback for seizing Elian. (The punishment vote, or "el voto castigo.") Gore got 70,000 fewer votes than Clinton did four years earlier. The Cuban vote in Miami later reversed itself and went heavily for Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

In an interview with ABC last year, Elian said he would like to visit the U.S. some time -- and that Fidel Castro has called him every year on his birthday. He praised Castro:

"I am his friend but above all i consider him my father, my grandfather,” Elian said. “Fidel, he is an incredible person. Everyone has his own opinion. It is somewhat difficult to refer to Fidel, because everyone thinks of Fidel as a god or those who rejects him call him the devil. But I’ve known one side of Fidel and what I have left to say is he is a normal person. He is a friend. He's someone you can share with, you can laugh with.”

He denied he was brainwashed.

“If they have a way to prove it I invite them to come and run the test on me,” he said. “But I decided to be the way I am because instead of seeing this as a communist, or as a political issue. I believe that everything Fidel has done...Simply I came to know Fidel. I began to see his kindness. The incredible person that is behind him and that is how my character was shaped up,” he said. “I came to realize by myself what was going on.”

Some photos:

Will Trump reverse Obama's executive orders and other regulations re-establishing ties with Cuba? I doubt it. There are too many U.S. business dollars already invested there.

And who is surprised learn that in 1998, Trump allegedly broke the embargo law by exploring business opportunities in Cuba (using another company's name)? Newsweek has the details:

A company controlled by Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings.

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.

....The payment by Trump Hotels came just before the New York business mogul launched his first bid for the White House, seeking the nomination of the Reform Party. On his first day of the campaign, he traveled to Miami, where he spoke to a group of Cuban-Americans, a critical voting bloc in the swing state. Trump vowed to maintain the embargo and never spend his or his companies’ money in Cuba until Fidel Castro was removed from power. He did not disclose that, seven months earlier, Trump Hotels already had reimbursed its consultants for the money they spent on their secret business trip to Havana.

... Without obtaining a license from the federal Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) before the consultants went to Cuba, the undertaking by Trump Hotels would have been in violation of federal law, trade experts say.

...The goal of the Cuba trip, the former Trump executive says, was to give Trump’s company a foothold should Washington loosen or lift the trade restrictions. While in Cuba, the Trump representatives met with government officials, bankers and other business leaders to explore possible opportunities for the casino company. The former executive says Trump had participated in discussions about the Cuba trip and knew it had taken place.

....Shortly after Trump Hotels reimbursed Seven Arrows, the two companies parted ways. Within months, Trump formed a presidential exploratory committee. He soon decided to seek the nomination of the Reform Party, which was founded by billionaire Ross Perot after his unsuccessful 1992 bid for the White House.

...Trump launched his presidential campaign in Miami in November 1999. There, at a luncheon hosted by the Cuban American National Foundation, an organization of Cuban exiles, he proclaimed he wanted to maintain the American embargo and would not spend any money in Cuba so long as Fidel Castro remained in power. At the time, disclosing that his company had just spent money on the Cuba trip, or even acknowledging an interest in loosening the embargo, would have ruined Trump’s chances in Florida, a critical electoral state where large numbers of Cuban-Americans remain virulently opposed to the regime.

“As you know—and the people in this room know better than anyone—putting money and investing money in Cuba right now doesn’t go to the people of Cuba,’’ Trump told the crowd. “It goes to Fidel Castro. He’s a murderer. He’s a killer. He’s a bad guy in every respect, and, frankly, the embargo must stand if for no other reason than, if it does stand, he will come down.”

Why would Trump allegedly lie to Cuban American voters in 1999? Maybe because his businesses were in trouble. Newsweek reports:

... Like the Communist regime, [Trump's] company was struggling, having piled up losses for years. In 1998 alone, Trump Hotels lost $39.7 million, according to the company’s financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Its stock price had collapsed, falling almost 80 percent from a high that year of $12 a share to a low of just $2.75. (After multiple bankruptcies, Trump severed his ties with the company; it is now called Trump Entertainment Resorts and is a subsidiary of Icahn Enterprises, run by renowned financier Carl Icahn.)

Fidel Castro's funeral is set for Dec. 4, following a period of public mourning. President Obama said:

"At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people," he said in a statement, noting his administration had "worked hard to put the past behind us."

I could care less what Donald Trump says today about Castro. He changes with the wind. If he thinks there's an opportunity in Cuba for the Trump Org. to make money, he'll probably be nice to Cubans. No one yet knows if he'll try to make any changes to the Cuban Adjustment Act.

From London's Sunday Observer:

To the end, Castro remained a polarizing figure. For many he was a champion of the poor who along with Ernesto “Che” Guevara made violent revolution a romanticised ideal, a symbol of liberation who overthrew a dictator and brought free education and healthcare to the masses. To exiles who longed for Castro’s demise he personified a regime that locked up political opponents, suppressed civil liberties and destroyed the island’s economy. But, there is no denying that Castro played an out-size role on the world stage for much of the 20th century, all from an island, smaller than the US state of Pennsylvania.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called Castro "a friend of Mexico, a promoter of a bilateral relation based on respect, dialogue and solidarity."

Here is the Havana Times.

Whatever you thought of Fidel Castro, he has just died, and this site has a long-standing policy of not name-calling or celebrating the occasion of one's death. While the news reports that Miami's Cuban community is rejoicing, there is sadness in Cuba and other Latin American countries. He was not universally reviled, and he is recognized as having made improvements in Cuba in education, literacy and health. Here is the statement of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Here's the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau (which has received a fair share of criticism.)

The reality is that Fidel Castro has not been in charge in Cuba for a very long time. His brother is soon to leave power. What happens next in Cuba should reflect and respect the views of Cubans who live there -- the U.S. should not try to remold the island with its brand of "freedom and democracy" or capitalism.

< Clinton Campaign to Participate in Vote Audit and Recount | UnPresident Cheeto Claims He Won Popular Vote >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Love him or loathe him, ... (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sat Nov 26, 2016 at 07:38:42 PM EST
    ... Fidel Castro certainly stands as a towering figure in Latin American history, for being perhaps the only leftist leader to openly defy U.S. hegemony in the region during the 20th century and survive in office. Even then, he had his share of close shaves, surviving numerous assassination attempts, including several by our own CIA.

    Castro certainly wasn't perfect. His own heavy-handed brand of authoritarianism had little tolerance for domestic political dissent. But by almost any rational measure, the Cuban people were better off under Tio Fidel than they were under the Mob-corrupted feudal oligarchy of Fulgencio Batista and his American corporatist friends.

    "At the beginning of 1959, United States companies owned about 40% of the Cuban sugar lands, almost all the cattle ranches, 90% of the mines and mineral concessions, 80% of the utilities, practically all the oil industry, and supplied two-thirds of Cuba's imports."
    - Sen. John F. Kennedy, Democratic presidential nominee, Cincinnati, OH (October 1960)

    Having merely traded one master for another with Spain's departure at the end of the Spanish-American War of 1898, Cuba existed as a U.S. protectorate and quasi-colonial dependency for the next 60 years. Only when Fidel Castro came to power, nationalized American-owned Cuban industries and businesses, and booted the Mafia as well as the rest of us out of the country, did it become truly independent.

    Without question, that independence came at an enormous cost and sacrifice, and Cubans suffered greatly at the hands of both the strict U.S. economic embargo and the authoritarian nature of the Castro regime itself. But today, as U.S.-Cuban relations are being restored for the first time in 55 years, Cuba does call its own shots, a right which it did not have prior to Fidel Castro's ascension to power in 1959.

    May the man rest in peace.

    (Re-posted from the Thanksgiving Day Open Thread, per our host's invitation.)

    what seems to be conveniently forgotten, (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by cpinva on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 12:26:53 PM EST
    amidst all the discussions on his death, is that shortly after ousting our dictator Batista, Castro did reach out to the US. Pres. Eisenhower, on the advice of the CIA, rebuffed him, instead establishing the current US embargo. this is what caused Castro to go to the Soviet Union for support. Had Eisenhower instead agreed to meet with Mr. Castro, it's a pretty good bet the past 60 years would have been at least slightly different.

    Kennedy should probably have put a stop to the already planned Bay of Pigs invasion, a half cocked (and cocked up) CIA operation. instead, he just made it clear there would be zero support for it by US military assets, which doomed it before its start. if you're Castro, and a US funded group has already attacked you, you'd be an idiot to not assume they might do it again. Castro was a lot of things, idiot was not one of them.

    as someone who uniquely lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis (I was living at ground zero of the 1st Marine Division's jump off point, Cherry Point NAS, NC), and got to experience, first hand, all those things the rest of you only saw on films, about preparing for a nuclear attack. I can tell you I was a scared shitless almost 7 year-old, whose Marine Dad was far away, in Iceland. it would have been nice to not have had to go through that.

    my Mom, with three young children of her own to watch out for, was also unofficially tasked, as a senior NCO wife, with helping the younger enlisted wives from completely losing their shit over it. something she'd have rather not gone through either.


    So it was President Eisenhower who caused (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 12:42:09 PM EST
    Castro to murder and imprison all those people? Okay

    Come on, MT. You're better than that. (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 04:52:38 PM EST
    Militarytracy: "So it was President Eisenhower who caused Castro to murder and imprison all those people? Okay."

    I didn't say that, and you know it. Please don't twist my words into a pretzel-like strawman that's worthy of PPJ.

    Again, my point is that our country's own history of high-handed conduct in Cuba, as took place during the entire 60-year period of de facto U.S. hegemony following the Spanish-American War of 1898, ultimately had very serious consequences for our own generation.

    Our wanton and often brutal exploitation of that island nation's resources and its people created the volatile socio-economic conditions which first sparked and then fueled the Castro-led revolution against Cuba's Mafia-corrupted dictator, Gen. Fulgencio Batista.

    In fact, Americans were so very much in bed with Gen. Batista that when his regime suddenly collapsed at the end of 1958, and he and many of his cronies and supporters subsequently fled to Miami, the U.S. government had absolutely no leverage with Fidel Castro and the Communist rebels once they entered Havana and took control.

    Instead, we reacted viscerally to Castro's ascension to power, first by clumsily trying to overthrow him with a grievously ill-conceived military invasion-by-proxy at La Bahía de Cochinos ("Bay of Pigs") in April 1961, and then with several well-documented -- and in retrospect, truly regrettable -- attempts by the CIA to assassinate him.

    We are most certainly not responsible personally for Fidel Castro's various misdeeds and crimes against his own people. But tht said, we also do ourselves absolutely no favors by attempting to absolve our country's own unwitting yet prominent role in first facilitating the man's initial rise to power.

    Further, a very good case can be made that our own subsequent ham-fisted power plays against Castro provided him more than enough incentive and rationale to ruthlessly consolidate his own control of Cuba, by cracking down mercilessly on domestic dissent to his rule.



    I wasn't responding to you Donald (none / 0) (#13)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 07:21:16 PM EST
    Point taken. (none / 0) (#18)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 10:15:20 PM EST
    Then don't twist cpinva's words, because that's not what he said, either.

    Ike at the behest (none / 0) (#7)
    by MKS on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 02:13:56 PM EST
    of the Dulles boys rebuffed Guatemala in 1954 when it was trying to avoid a CIA coup.  The Guatemalan Ambassador to the U.S. made a personal plea to Ike.  

    And, a certain doctor in Guatemala, who wanted a posting in the Mayan countryside, was disillusioned with the CIA coup that overthrew a democratically elected Guatemalan government that had engaged in land reforms.  That doctor fled to Mexico City and learned the lesson that peaceful revolution did not work.  He joined up with Fidel Castro in Mexico City and they planned the ouster of Batista.

    Everyone is responsible for his or her own actions, but what if there had been no coup in Guatemala and Che Guevara had stayed there becoming a feckless, womanizing doctor?


    In 1962, my (none / 0) (#8)
    by MKS on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 02:22:06 PM EST
    Dad was standing on a runway in Massachusetts ready to board with his unit military planes with artillery to invade Cuba.  His assignment was to take and hold an airport there.

    It was the tactical, baby nukes, not the ICBMs that would have doomed any invasion.  The baby nukes were operational and under Che's control iirc, and they could have reached Miami. So, if we had invaded, Che would have nuked half the island and probably Miami.  Nuclear war.  Escalation.



    My father was then working in the Pentagon. (none / 0) (#10)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 05:01:16 PM EST
    At his request, my maternal grandparents flew the family back to Pasadena, CA from our suburban Springfield, VA house during those two weeks. Not that such an effort would have saved any of us in the event of a wholesale thermonuclear exchange between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, but the thought was there.

    Similarly (none / 0) (#12)
    by MKS on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 06:16:01 PM EST
    when my Dad was stationed in West Germany, the then strategy for defense against a Soviet invasion was for our conventional forces o fire and retreat, fire and retreat.  The Soviet conventional forces vastly outnumbered the NATO forces.

    To make up for that deficit, it was made known to the Soviets that in addition to a strategic retreat of conventional forces, we would nuke them.

    My Dad had my Mom keep a suitcase in the trunk of the car at all times.  In the event of an attack, the idea was to meet in Spain in whatever was left of the world.

    On a couple of occasions, my Dad's armored units were right on the Czechoslovakian border when a Soviet Armored Division rolled right up the West German border and both sides stared at each other a couple of hundred yards apart eyeball to eyeball.

    We no longer live in that world of brinksmanship--but Trump wants to be "unpredictable."


    Loathe (none / 0) (#2)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 01:52:37 AM EST
    Well, there was a lot to loathe. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 02:41:22 AM EST
    Fidel Castro was, to be blunt, a despot and a tyrant. But as Jeralyn noted, there are a lot of people in Cuba itself, and throughout Latin America and the world who just as strongly feel otherwise, seeing in him a hero who successfully defied the United States. In fact, Castro was a rather complicated man who defies simple categorization and in his case, the terms "dictator" and "patriot" are not mutually exclusive.

    And quite frankly, as an historian, I could make a very good case that it was our fellow countrymen's own insolent and high-handed behavior in Cuba throughout the first 58 years of the 20th century, which ultimately provided the catalyst for the revolution that brought down the corrupt Batista regime and elevated Castro and the Communist Party to power in Havana.



    I understand many people adored him (none / 0) (#4)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 10:52:23 AM EST
    Before we all got therapy. And then there is Stockholm Syndrome.

    No, MT. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 05:15:34 PM EST
    There exists, however, a very stubborn refusal on our part to admit that our country's own taciturn and ruthless behavior in Latin America has all too often belied our own self-perpetuating myths, one of which is that the very existence of the United States is somehow the Lord's gift to mankind.

    And in that regard, Castro's successful defiance of the U.S. over the course of many decades proved an inspiration to many people across Latin America and across the Third World who feel aggrieved at our world-wide economic and military presence, and further gave the man a lot of fodder for his own regime's efforts to mythologize their leader.



    I don't buy this BS Donald (none / 0) (#14)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 07:26:58 PM EST
    I just don't. It's like suffering from beaten wife syndrome. Somehow our actions are responsible for the abusive murdering man that was Castro. It is Bull, just Bull. And it is denial of our true powerlessness.

    I only care about the people of Cuba. I don't give two $hits about anyone part of the oppressive power structure. Nor am I responsible for the losing of their own souls they signed up for.


    No, it's not like battered wife syndrome. (none / 0) (#17)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 10:12:36 PM EST
    Look, I get it -- you really don't like Fidel Castro. And I'm not questioning what's otherwise a perfectly valid emotional response on your part, because while he was personally charismatic to many people, he was also a very polarizing figure on the world stage.

    But that said, you need to stop looking at the occasion of Castro's passing strictly through the prism of your own emotions, and not be so dismissive and belittling of other people whose thoughts and opinions about him differ from your own.

    It's very arrogant for you to equate others' feelings of loss with a psychological disorder, by which you're essentially telling them that such feelings aren't necessarily valid unless they coincide with your own. As I said earlier, you're better than that.



    Polarizing? (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 10:30:32 PM EST
    He murdered people, he imprisoned and tortured people for disagreeing with him, he kangaroo courted his competition. When he came to power he told the world Cuba would hold elections, then they didn't.

    Too many Lefties want everything. You can't fault Presidents for having relations with Saudi Arabia and then fault the same people for not having relations with Cuba. But Monday morning quarterbacks do that all the time and claim that if those in power would have only done the exact opposite thing...the world would be perfect.

    For those who really cared about Cubans so much that they would have had something different done. Why weren't you all spending your vacations off shore rescuing the people who attempted to flee that evil POS and bringing them to the US. How could any of them have drown with all of you caring that the right thing be done?


    The topic here is Fidel Castro. And I'm not discussing what our country could have done in Cuba that might have been different. Rather, I've merely recounted what we did in fact do down there, which was to prop up and support a corporatist fiefdom while turning a blind eye to the Mafia's influential and corrupting role in Havana.

    Being a "Leftie" has nothing to do with any of it. Rather, we ought to be able to face the hard truth about our own not so flattering history of our country's involvement in Cuba. We need to learn our lessons from some very obvious mistakes on our part, so that we can restore a healthy relationship with Cuba on the basis of equality between nations, and a newly fostered respect for that country's sovereignty.



    I am talking about purists around here (none / 0) (#23)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 11:41:50 PM EST
    Monday morning quarterbacks, who meltdown or clutch pearls over US relations with Saudi Arabia and claim that given Saudi Arabia human rights violations we have no business engaging in business with Saudi Arabia. But when a conversation about Cuba comes up suddenly the same individuals drum up opposite principles.

    Fidel Castro was a murderer, a torturer, a dictator who censored the press with death. I get sick of the Castro myth. And it's okay if I do.

    Cuba has traded with many other nations though, please notice that none of that trade benefitted the little people. The best thing we could export to Cuba are some of these new sea canoes we are cranking out.

    Even the Cuban healthcare system for all is a myth.


    My grandfather (none / 0) (#27)
    by TrevorBolder on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 06:15:28 AM EST
    would work in pre Castro Cuba for several months a year, for many many years. He loved the country and its culture. (Grandpa was born in Spain).

    Once Castro took over, those business trips abruptly ended. I still vividly remember my grandfathers reaction whenever Castro was shown on television, he was not pleased to see that dictator on TV. I never asked him what happened to his friends and acquaintances in Cuba , but now can only imagine what prompted his vitriol.


    I met a Conservative Cuban couple (none / 0) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 06:48:09 AM EST
    From Miami who both came to the US as children. There's a lot of trauma there. Hearing them, not being able to speak to their family that remained was likely the thing that prevented most of us from understanding.

    They have been home now. The problems are more complicated than those of us who aren't Çuban care to understand. I see a lot of pain in there eyes though for what their family has lived through and they escaped.


    It's not often that we agree MT, (none / 0) (#30)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 12:31:24 PM EST
    but this is one of those times.

    My Catholic elementary and HS in NJ had a number of Cuban children who had parents, relatives, etc., who were "disappeared" during the revolution along with the homes and and businesses they'd spent their lives building.

    This weekend I see my childhood friends' comments on FB.

    Fidel and Che are not heroes in any respect.


    I don't think there's (5.00 / 1) (#32)
    by NYShooter on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 12:43:05 PM EST
    any debate about it, is there?

    Fidel Castro was a mass murderer. Estimates I've read: 10,000 to 100,000.....mostly in the 75 to 100K range.

    Between those who met their end, "up against the wall," torture, starvation, prison sickness,
    and drowning trying to escape, the only debate are the ratios.

    A monster, it's not debatable.


    I'm not debating that at all. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 01:57:26 PM EST
    It's a strawman argument. In fact, I've acknowledged Castro's despotic behavior and crimes repeatedly in this thread. But as Jeralyn noted originally, there are a lot of people in Cuba and across the world who continue to admire the man nonetheless, for whatever their reasons.

    It doesn't show us in a good light, nor does it serve us well, when we react to those feelings in kneejerk fashion and dismiss these people as delusional or worse. That's making a personal political statement based upon emotion, rather than offering a rational explanation based on reason.

    And as I pointed out, it's also very important for us to understand the reasons why Fidel Castro ever rose to power in Havana in the first place. Yes, for many of us, he was a ruthless tyrant who persecuted and purged his political opposition. But in the eyes of most of his own people, Castro was also a patriot who freed Cuba from the quasi-colonial headlock in which the United States had held his country for the better part of six decades.

    I simply suggest that those two seemingly divergent opinions of the man are not mutually exclusive.



    what the hell do you mean, (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by NYShooter on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 03:59:34 PM EST
    "strawman argument?"

    It's not an argument of any sort, it's simply a statement of fact. It has nothing to do with any of your esoteric, tangential, yet factual comments. Whatever else Pol Pot was, he was a mass murderer. Ditto Fidel Castro.

    There were millions of people who worshipped Stalin, Mao, Hitler, etc. Castro, like all those other despotic rulers was many facetted. Of course there were those who considered him a patriot, although, I'm not so sure about, "most." He's had over half a century to indoctrinate his beleaguered citizens to his philosophy, yet, they continue to die by the thousands trying to row and swim to Florida.

    I don't have an argument with any of your history, it's just that, like Charles Manson, knowing what he was, I'm not all that interested that he also played a mean guitar.

    I just don't see an argument here.


    It's a strawman argument because ... (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Tue Nov 29, 2016 at 06:32:23 AM EST
    ... you're certainly not arguing with me, since in my very first post in this thread -- not to mention repeatedly thereafter, I noted the Castro regime's authoritarianism, brutality and despotism. You're really not telling me something that I don't already know and further, it's something which I've already acknowledged on multiple occasions.

    Rather, at least from my perspective, I had mistakenly thought MT was actually addressing me above, when she was instead taking issue with her own deliberate misinterpretation of what cpinva said TO me, and I acknowledged my error. As for myself, I've never offered the opinion that Fidel Castro wasn't a tyrant, because such an absurd statement would be laughable on its face, given all the evidence otherwise.

    That said, putting words in another person's mouth as a means to first imply and then refute a point that was never actually advanced by that person in the first place, is the very definition of a "strawman argument." And as I said to MT then, it's a cheap rhetorical stunt that's worthy of you know who. I'd really like to think that we're better than that.

    We don't do ourselves any favors by taking out of context only those portions of the historical record which support our contentions, while conveniently ignoring the rest of the story because it doesn't necessarily comport with our preferred narrative.

    Rather than watch others simply bash Castro as a bad man as though he were a rhetorical piñata, I want people to truly understand and appreciate the 60-year-long series of events in Cuba -- particularly the role of the United States as that country's virtual colonial master -- which actually facilitated Castro's rise to power, because his ascent certainly didn't occur in a vacuum.

    To grasp the complete and true essence of Castro, both the decent and the awful, one has to first understand and acknowledge the significant misdeeds of his mobbed-up predecessor Fulgencio Batista, and then further account for the not-so-happy history of Cuban-American relations between the years 1898 and 1958, during which that island was held as a protectorate in name, and in indentured servitude by practice.

    It's well past time for us to admit what has for too long been an inconvenient truth, which is that Fidel Castro liberated Cuba from its American corporate and Mafia overlords in 1958-59, and then defied and survived any and all subsequent attempts by the U.S. to oust him and re-impose the old order upon the Cuban people. Because once we do that, we'll finally come to understand why so many of his fellow countrymen revere the man as a patriot, and are thus willing to overlook his many sins and transgressions.

    Now, I've said all that I'm going to say on the subject of this thread, having framed my discussion to keep faith with Jeralyn's admonition that we not speak ill of the dead on the occasion on their passing -- even if the deceased so happens to be Fidel Castro.



    I know Castro (none / 0) (#40)
    by MKS on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 05:21:38 PM EST
    executed many by firing squad.  But not on the same level as Pol Pot.

    Not that that makes Fidel worthy of praise.  But if were are going with facts and not exaggeration, one needs to not overdo it.


    I (none / 0) (#42)
    by FlJoe on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 06:28:07 PM EST
    think that's the point, among brutal tyrants of the  20th century he is not even top 20, probably not even as bad some we supported.

    Not defending Castro in any way, but he probably has been over demonized by the "history" generated by the decades long propaganda machine.

    His popularity is understandable, again "history" whitewashes the covert (and often brutal)  colonialism that we engaged in. Of course he was a hero to the people who suffered our(maybe once removed) oppression.

    Sure Castro has blood on his hands, but so do Dulles, Kissinger and Cheney just to name the worst, I would say over all our body count is an order of magnitude higher, and our some of are surrogates were arguably worse than Castro in his brutality.


    What are the definitions of these levels? (none / 0) (#43)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 08:00:45 PM EST
    Is it number based? Should there be a ratio between population available to be murdered vs. how many were murdered. Also, I need an algorithm for an ocean imprisoned populace too because that increases the fear and terror when you torture people and disappear people. There is no place to hide, there are no friends across a border to flee to.

    Peace be upon them (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 05:31:40 PM EST
    I'm obviously not Cuban. It was sad in my adulthood discovering I had mostly been fed propaganda about Castro depending on which political party was speaking "truth" to me. I'm not interested in Murikasplainin Castro. I'll listen to and hear Cubans on this. I'm not interested in the whitewashed history of Castro.

    A long lost TL poster, Slado, gave us (5.00 / 2) (#46)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Nov 29, 2016 at 12:32:20 PM EST
    the following link to a 2014 report on Cuba,

    The Last Communist City: A visit to the dystopian Havana that tourists never see

    In the United States, we have a minimum wage; Cuba has a maximum wage--$20 a month for almost every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.) Sure, Cubans get "free" health care and education, but as Cuban exile and Yale historian Carlos Eire says, "All slave owners need to keep their slaves healthy and ensure that they have the skills to perform their tasks."

    In a fairly long set of exchanges led by TalkLeft Star fishcamp, conditions on the ground in Cuba are discussed in a December 6, 2014 open thread.

    fishcamp - what can I say?  I listen.


    There are no angels (none / 0) (#15)
    by pitachips on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 08:21:04 PM EST
    When it comes to foreign policy. We allowed Castro to come to power by getting into bed with Bautista. Blowback 101 - wasn't the first time and won't be the last.

    Not everyone in the US was in bed (none / 0) (#16)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 09:15:51 PM EST
    With Batista. Many Americans were empathetic to the struggle of Cubans. Eisenhower took a wait and see and stance and did nothing until Castro had killed and jailed even those who fought Batista. It is BS that the United States made Castro jail, torture, murder, dictate

    And now we "allowed" Castro

    Everyone has their own spin on how it is all our faults. Baloney


    ... a wait-and-see attitude, MT. Throughout the late 1950s, the U.S. armed the Batista regime in order to crush Castro's rebellion. We proved ourselves abjectly hostile to Castro from the very outset.

    In fact, no less than then-Sen. John F. Kennedy himself -- then campaigning for the presidency and who, I think you'd agree, was certainly no admirer of Fidel Castro -- decried Gen. Batista's cozy relationship with the U.S. government during this period. During the final weeks of his 1960 presidential campaign, In a speech to Democratic supporters in Cincinnati, OH on October 6, he directly criticized the Eisenhower administration's unflinching supporting of the Batista regime:

    "[P]erhaps most disastrous of our failures was the decision to give stature and support to one of the most bloody and repressive dictatorships in the long history of Latin American repression. Fulgencio Batista murdered 20,000 Cubans in 7 years - a greater proportion of the Cuban population than the proportion of Americans who died in both World Wars, and he turned democratic Cuba into a complete police state - destroying every individual liberty.

    "Yet, our aid to his regime, and the ineptness of our policies, enabled Batista to invoke the name of the United States in support of his reign of terror. Administration spokesmen publicly praised Batista - hailed him as a stanch ally and a good friend - at a time when Batista was murdering thousands, destroying the last vestiges of freedom, and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Cuban people, and we failed to press for free elections.

    "In October 1958 just a few days before Batista held a rigged and fraudulent election - Secretary of State Dulles was the guest of honor at a reception held by the Batista Embassy in Washington. The reception made only the social pages in Washington; but it made the Havana--and it was used by Batista to show how America favored his rule.

    "We stepped up a constant stream of weapons and munitions to Batista - justified in the name of hemispheric defense, when, in fact, their only real use was to crush the dictator's opposition, and even when the Cuban civil war was raging - until March of 1958 - the administration continued to send arms to Batista which were turned against the rebels - increasing anti-American feeling and helping to strengthen the influence of the Communists.

    "For example, in Santa Clara, Cuba, today there is an exhibit commemorating the devastation of that city by Batista's planes in December of 1958. The star item in that exhibit is a collection of bomb fragments inscribed with a handshake and the words: 'Mutual Defense - made in U.S.A.'

    "Even when our Government had finally stopped sending arms, our military missions stayed to train Batista's soldiers for the fight against the revolution - refusing to leave until Castro's forces were actually in the streets of Havana."



    Donald...yes they did (none / 0) (#21)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 10:56:02 PM EST
    And they also refused to sell arms to Batista!

    Sorry, but the evidence says otherwise. (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 11:46:53 PM EST
    Earl T. Smith, former U.S. ambassador to Cuba (1957-59), testified before a Senate committee in 1960 that that "[u]ntil Castro, the U.S. was so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that the American ambassador was the second most important man, sometimes even more important than the Cuban president."

    Ambassador Smith further noted that nearly "all aid" from the U.S. to Batista's government during his own time in Havana "was in the form of weapons assistance, which merely strengthened the Batista dictatorship and completely failed to advance the economic welfare of the Cuban people." When the U.S. finally cut off the flow of arms to Batista in late 1958, only a few months before his regime's sudden collapse, the ambassador offered the following observation to the committee:

    "If we are to intervene sufficiently to bring about the overthrow of dictatorships, then we should intervene to whatever extent is required to fulfill our purpose. Otherwise, in my opinion, we must wait for the normal self-development of a people and not assist revolution. And we must be prepared to receive the criticism of supporting friendly governments recognized by the United States, although they have been labeled dictatorships. To make my point more clear, let me say that by cutting off arms to Havana, we helped to overthrow the Batista dictatorship, which was pro-American, only to install the Castro dictatorship which is pro-Russian."

    Essentially, the U.S. government became a willing co-conspirator in the dubious arrangement with Gen. Batista because of the latter's strong opposition to communism which, in the warped prism of U.S. diplomacy during the Cold War, seemed best able to maintain business stability and a pro-U.S. posture on the island. We continued that relationship even though, as Ambassador Smith pointed out to committee members, Batista was "a hopelessly corrupt despot."

    And for 55 years, the Cuban people paid a steep price via the embargo for some rather remarkably obtuse policy calls in Cuba by successive U.S. administrations during the first half of the 20th century, exacerbated afterward by our own stubborn failure to admit our mistakes and take the necessary and pro-active steps to rectify the situation.



    ... to the Batista regime in March 1958, and not later in the year as I mistakenly wrote above. My bad.

    The mob was influential (none / 0) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Nov 27, 2016 at 11:52:42 PM EST
    I think JFK estimated that about 40% of Cuban businesses were US influenced before Castro took power. That does not change the fact though that the Eisenhower Administration came to the conclusion that they could no longer support the Batista regime. And then they didn't. They refused to arm Batista further, that was part of what weakened him and took the regime down.

    ... was the fact that his regime enjoyed no popular support within Cuba itself, save from a relative few who perceived themselves as having benefited personally from his despotic rule. Once we withheld our own military support for the entire corrupt enterprise, it collapsed like a house of cards in a matter of months. It's not unlike what happened 17 years later in South Vietnam.

    And couldn't it be said that the US... (none / 0) (#36)
    by gbrbsb on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 03:28:39 PM EST
    ... did "intervene sufficiently" to bring about the overthrow of not only dictators but even democratically elected governments that didn't fit with their vision of the world not least through Operación Condor which despite a few years break in activity was continued even through the 80s of Reagan's presidency.

    And I am no historical analyst so I may well be barking up the wrong wars but couldn't this be compared, even if with a lot of nuances, with what happened in Iraq, Libya, and would have happened even in Syria but for Obama, imo wisely, deciding to keep out.


    The wiki for Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz (none / 0) (#29)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 11:02:58 AM EST
    is here.

    I joined the people; I grabbed a rifle in a police station that collapsed when it was rushed by a crowd. I witnessed the spectacle of a totally spontaneous revolution... [T]hat experience led me to identify myself even more with the cause of the people. My still incipient Marxist ideas had nothing to do with our conduct - it was a spontaneous reaction on our part, as young people with [Jose] Martí-an, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and pro-democratic ideas.

    I forgot he was still alive (none / 0) (#31)
    by jbindc on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 12:35:15 PM EST

    Does it bother (none / 0) (#33)
    by Ga6thDem on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 01:08:16 PM EST
    anybody here that Bernie praised Castro and tried to meet with him?

    No. Next question? (none / 0) (#39)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 04:29:55 PM EST
    And don't spare the hyperbole.

    George Will: (none / 0) (#38)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Nov 28, 2016 at 04:28:40 PM EST
    Fidel Castro and dead utopianism - The Washington Post, 11-26-2016

    Soon after Castro seized power in 1959, Jean-Paul Sartre, the French intellectual whose Stalinist politics were as grotesque as his philosophy was opaque, left Les Deux Magots cafe in Paris to visit Cuba. During a drive, he and Castro stopped at a roadside stand. They were served warm lemonade, which Castro heatedly said "reveals a lack of revolutionary consciousness." The waitress shrugged, saying the refrigerator was broken. Castro "growled" (Sartre's approving description): "Tell your people in charge that if they don't take care of their problems, they will have problems with me." Sartre swooned:

    "This was the first time I understood -- still quite vaguely -- what I called 'direct democracy.' Between the waitress and Castro, an immediate secret understanding was established. She let it be seen by her tone, her smiles, by a shrug of the shoulders, that she was without illusion. And the prime minister ... in expressing himself before her without circumlocution, calmly invited her to join the rebellion."

    The Cuban history lying behind an old door (none / 0) (#45)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Nov 29, 2016 at 11:42:11 AM EST
    The Cuban history lying behind an old door in Mexico City

    Once both brothers were in Mexico City, Raúl introduced Fidel to "Ernesto at María Antonia's apartment" on Calle Emparán, writes López-Levy. In his biography of Guevara, writer Jon Lee Anderson wrote that the Argentine and Castro "hit if off immediately."

    Jeep Carrying Castro Ashes Dies, is Pushed (none / 0) (#47)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Dec 04, 2016 at 03:44:26 PM EST
    the final miles to the site of El Comandante's interment, inside a large granite boulder at the Santa Ifigenia cemetery.

    Castro's naturalistic memorial was dwarfed by Marti's mausoleum and other elaborate edifices at the cemetery. The stone is a few steps from a monument to rebels who died fighting in the Moncada attack in Santiago, which started the revolution.
    -  By Sarah Marsh and Diego Oré, Reuters, December 4, 2016, Santiago, Cuba

    Pics of the granite boulder and the interment from Radio Cadena Agramonte

    Castro: Right About US Role in Latin America (none / 0) (#48)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Dec 05, 2016 at 06:25:12 PM EST
    OpEd by Mark Weisbot, The Hill, 12-2-2016

    From the New York Times subhead of its obituary for Fidel:

    Mr. Castro brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere, bedeviled 11 American presidents and briefly pushed the world to the brink of nuclear war.

    Let's look for a moment at one piece of this unintentional humor: Just who brought the Cold War to this hemisphere?

    Africa Un-Conflicted about Castro's Legacy (none / 0) (#49)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Dec 05, 2016 at 06:28:49 PM EST
    - Lynsey Chutel, Quartz, 11-28-2016

    It was perhaps Cuba's willingness to fight side-by-side with Africans that made him such a towering figure on the continent. In 1975, as Angola gained independence from Portugal, it offered a safe haven to then liberation movements hunted in their own countries: the African National Congress, the Zimbabwe African People's Union and Namibia's South West African People's Organization.

    When the apartheid government, aided by the United States, attacked Angola, it was Castro who came to the Africans' aid. He sent 36,000 troops who succeeded in pushing the South African soldiers back while also training African fighters. Cuban troops remained in Africa until 1988, when an apartheid South Africa agreed to withdraw and grant independence to Namibia.

    Castro: Gabriel Garcia Marquez' editor? (none / 0) (#50)
    by Mr Natural on Tue Dec 06, 2016 at 02:51:39 PM EST
    Gabriel Garcia Marquez Used To Send His Manuscripts To Fidel Castro For Edits - Kristian Wilson, Bustle, December 6, 2016

    Many people say that Fidel was an eager reader ... He would read all the time. You would give him a book one night and the next day he would have read it and have excellent comments on the book and great constructive feedback on it. And so, he even became one of the first reviews sometimes of Gabo's books. [sic]

    Leonard Cohen in Castro Ruz Cuba (none / 0) (#51)
    by Mr Natural on Wed Dec 07, 2016 at 09:57:38 AM EST
    In 1961, two years after the Castro-led 1959 revolution, Leonard Cohen spent two months in Cuba. Cohen's literary mentor, the Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, once spent three months in Cuba and Cohen was now determined to have the same experience.

    In tribute to Castro's co-revolutionary, Che Guevara, Cohen started wearing khakis and grew a beard. He told a biographer, "I thought maybe this was my Spanish civil war, though it was really mostly curiosity and a sense of adventure."

    From this experience Cohen later composed a poem and song, Field Commander Cohen, where he pictured himself as a spy "urging Fidel Castro to abandon fields and castles." Cohen's Cuba trip made him realize that he wasn't a revolutionary, but rather, he "was exactly the kind of enemy the Fidelistas were describing: bourgeois, individualistic, a self-indulgent poet."

    - Bernard Mendelman, The Suburban, 12/7/2016