After the death of Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro, many celebrities and politicians gave fond condolences to Castro on social media, remembering Castro’s “humanity and love for his people.” In my opinion, these positive eulogies are ignorant and totally unacceptable grave insults in the face of the Cuban people. Castro was a huge enemy to civil rights and free speech and is responsible for the death and imprisonment of thousands of innocent people.
How should a man like Fidel Castro be remembered? Not as a controversial figure, but as a man who oppressed an entire country and people – an enemy to civil rights and freedom.
Fidel Castro, who died this month, governed the Republic of Cuba from 1959 to 2008 after leading a revolution that overthrew the previously U.S. backed Cuban President Fulgencio Batista.
Many people have praised Castro for resisting U.S. imperialism and for developing a world class health care system and the best education system in the continent. Both of these claims are wildly inaccurate. Cuban hospitals under Castro were poorly maintained. Ambulances were extremely slow to respond to emergencies and citizens had to wait for dangerously long amounts of time before receiving any medical attention. Most doctors were wildly inexperienced, and the most skilled doctors tended to leave Cuba for better pay. Many patients in hospitals had to bring their own pillows, sheets and medications, as hospitals were so under stocked. Doctors who would try to speak out against the poor conditions of hospitals and their abysmal salaries would be threatened with the prospect of arrest. Many doctors and healthcare providers were arrested for this exact thing.
The notion of the Cuban education system being world class is largely a result of propaganda. Communism was taught as the only acceptable political ideology in Cuban schools under the Castro regime. The Cuban education system did a bare minimum to ensure that no Cuban was illiterate, only teaching students how to read Cuban propaganda and sign their own names. Universities were free, but Cuban universities were of poor quality and the degrees students earned from them turned out to be useless. Many speculate that Cuba’s claimed 100 percent literacy rate was a fabricated statistic in the first place.
The Cuban people under Castro could not vote. 10,500 deaths are estimated to have occurred by the hands of the Cuban state, including 3,615 individuals being executed by firing squad for having dissenting beliefs. Castro also incited and supported violence in other countries, creating Columbia’s national liberation army, a terrorist organization that is still kidnapping and murdering innocent Columbians to this day.
Fear tactics and detentions have been used in Cuba for Castro’s entire reign. Police beatings and threats of long prison sentences were used to intimidate journalists and anyone who spoke out against the government. In the 1960s, before political prisoners were executed their blood would be extracted against their will. In order for family members to visit condemned Cuban prisoners, they had to donate their own blood.
Political prisoners were often tortured, starved and placed in solitary confinement. Castro closed Cuban prisons to human rights advocacy organizations, so it is hard to know for sure all that occurred in these prisons. On July 13, 1994, Cuban police murdered 37 innocent Cubans simply for trying the flee the country on a tugboat.
Because of these human rights violations, it is morally reprehensible to praise Castro for certain good things he claims to have done for Cuba. Because of Castro, many Cubans suffered in poverty and oppression or had to leave their homes, facing the risk of imprisonment and death to search for a better life elsewhere.
Supporting Castro is being against freedom of speech and expression, quality health care, education and human rights. I am very saddened to see so many celebrities and politicians giving their positive condolences to Castro and Cuba out of complete and total ignorance as to what the Cuban people have been through for the last half of a century.