|“||A revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a fight to the death between the future and the past.||„|
|~ Fidel Castro, The Second Declaration of Havana, 1962.|
Fidel Castro (August 13th, 1926 - November 25th, 2016) was the leftist leader of Communist Cuba for nearly five decades, first as Prime Minister from 1959 to 1976, then as President from 1976 to 2008. His 49-year tenure as the head of state of Cuba makes him the longest-ruling non-royal head of state of the 20th and 21st centuries.
One of the most controversial political leaders of all time, Castro both inspired and dismayed people across the world during his lifetime. The Observer stated that he proved to be as divisive in death as he was in life, and that the only thing that his enemies and admirers agreed upon was that he was a towering figure in world affairs who transformed a small Caribbean island into a major force in world affairs. The Daily Telegraph noted that across the world he was either praised as a brave champion of the people, or derided as a power-mad dictator.
Regarded by many as one of the most oppressive and authoritarian dictators of his era, Castro's leadership style has warranted comparisons with totalitarian leaders like Mao Zedong, Hideki Tojo, Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, and Benito Mussolini. His regime jailed and tortured political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin’s regime during the Great Terror, murdered more Cubans in its first three years in power than Nazi Party murdered Germans during its first six and came closest of anyone in history to starting a worldwide Nuclear war. In the above process Fidel Castro converted a nation with a higher per-capita income than half of Europe and a huge influx of immigrants into one that repels Haitians and boasts the highest suicide rate in the Western Hemisphere.
He was an ardent believer in communism who was known for his egalitarian beliefs and his hatred of fascism. However, his rule was considered as completely indistinguishable from fascism welfare, socialism, and no businesses. His idea was to have the government control all manufacturing. While many believed him to be a hero who was combating conservatism, he actually abused his powers.
Born in Birán, Oriente as the son of a wealthy Spanish farmer, Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, launching a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. He had been known to try to assassinate the leader as well. He allied with the Soviet Union, and the CIA tried to assassinate him, including the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. After the CIA failed, the Soviet Union gave Cuba permission to use nuclear missiles. This resulted in the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the United States eventually needed to agree that it would never invade Russia and Cuba and that they would never use the missiles.
There is much that is not known of Castro's rural youth. However, it is generally conceded that his father was Ángel María Bautista Castro y Argiz and his mother Lina Ruz González. Official biographies are essentially hagiographies and the more extreme of his many detractors portray a wild and irregular life typical of the worst elements of his class. Castro has numerous siblings of various combination of parentage; for instance, it is widely believed that Raul Castro has the same mother but is not a son of Fidel Castro's father. The most accepted biography is that of Geyer 2002 while a new series biographies by Norberto Fuentes 2004, and later, a former propagandist for the Cuban Government, are attracting attention.
During his student years Fidel Castro was deeply involved in lethal violence. This violence also extended overseas to his involvement in the 1948 Colombian Bogotazo. Castro was trained as a lawyer studying at the University of Havana. In 1953 he led the first of many assaults against the ruling military regime of general Fulgencio Batista. A 1953 attack against military barracks in Santiago de Cuba was a failure, and Castro, alongside his brother Raul, was captured they, unlike a number of his companions, were spared irregular execution by intervention of Roman Catholic Church members. In a courtroom speech in his defense (heavily edited in published form, and titled "La Historia me absolverá", or "History will absolve me"), Castro outlined his plans for reforms, demanding a return to the 1940 constitution, the ending of corrupt practices and a more equal distribution of land. There was no formal death penalty in Cuba at the time. After three years of incarceration on the Isle of Youth (then Isle of Pines), both Castro brothers were released during an amnesty.
Upon release, the Castro brothers relocated to Mexico to avoid imminent reprisals from paramilitary groups affiliated with the Batista regime, lead by former Communist and long time rival of Castro Roland Masferrer. In Mexico Castro organized a group of revolutionaries to return to Cuba and overthrow Batista. They became known as the 26th of July movement. This group included the Argentinian Che Guevara. In December 1956 Castro and 81 others boarded the Granma yacht, sailed to eastern Cuba, and began the armed struggle against the current regime.
The landing was preceded in Santiago and the rest of Oriente Province by an armed rising of the 26 of July urban Militia, a non-Communist organization, lead by Frank Pais. In the mountains the guidance of the bandit Cresencio Perez, and a few Communist sleepers who had been placed in the Sierra for some time under the direction of stalinist agent Fabio Grobart was important. Some local guajiros in the remote Sierra Maestra region joined in to became the nucleus of the critical scouting and picketing force of Escopeteroswho screened the better armed Castro main force. The support and guidance from revolutionary groups in the cities of Santiago, Havana, elsewhere in Cuba and overseas was critical. The support of the U.S. State Department, mediated by William Weiland (aka Guillermo Arturo Montenegro) was significant from the time of the Bogotazo, through the Bay of Pigs.
By 1958, military attacks against Batista's army were having some success, and the revolution was gaining national support. Castro maintained a position of diplomatic neutrality among various revolutionary factions, which included upper and middle class liberals, guajiros, and agricultural workers, communists and others, and hence was able to assume the position of director of the revolution. He was also largely successful in courting international support via astute and careful use of the media. Officials within the CIA and the United States government were divided over whether to support Castro. Some believed that Batista had become a liability, and that his overthrow was inevitable. Other officials feared the influence of known Communists in Castro's camp including Guevara, though Castro himself repeatedly claimed that he himself was "not a Communist".
The revolution finally succeeded in late 1958, and on January 1, 1959, Batista left the country. Castro had chosen exiled leaders Manuel Urrutia Lleó and José Miró Cardona, both anti-Communist liberals with good relations with the U.S., to head the new government. Castro himself became head of the new armed forces. However, the increasing presence of Communists in the decision making process created an early split in the government. Castro and Urrutia both insisted publicly that they had relations with each other, but Urrutia and Miró resigned only months later, and Castro, with support from mass organizations, assumed the position of prime minister. Osvaldo Dorticós Torrado, a former Commodore of the Cienfuegos Yacht Club became president and head of state.
The process of obtaining permanent power was dramatic, traumatic and bloody. From 1959 on, mass killings of dissidents were carried out as a matter of course by the infamous "firing squads." Immediately after the Communist take-over, some 2,500 army officers were rounded up and shot dead. Che Guevara reportedly stayed up late into the night signing death warrants for defenseless "reactionaries." Tens of thousands were sent to concentration camps. Desperate crowds of weeping daughters and shrieking mothers were clubbed with rifle butts as they pleaded for their family members to be spared. One of Castro's exiled opponents describes it this way:
"The Castro regime came to power by deception and terror, resulting in what can only be described as a state of war against the Cuban people. Executions, labor camps, forced re-locations and exile, and the imposition of a repressive military police force to exercise control over civilian society."
As prime minister, and then president from 1976, Castro ruled the country in line with Stalinist policies, seizing private property and eliminating free speech and free press. He was infamous for his overly long speeches, often rambling on for hours, which can be seen as an example of Liberal style. He was also virulently homophobic and heavily prosecuted homosexuals to the point where even his own advisers tried to reign in his homophobia, to no avail.
Castro, who had been in regular contact with the KGB since 1956 and who used Soviet arms during his guerilla war, welcomed the presence of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba to deter an American attack. This decision precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis, a major confrontation in the Cold War that nearly resulted in the cataclysmic death of millions. According to Guevara: "If the Soviet nuclear rockets had remained, we would have used them all and directed them against the very heart of the United States, including New York." Nikita Khrushchev wrote that, according to Castro, "we needed to immediately deliver a nuclear missile strike against the United States a proposal that placed the planet on the brink of extinction." Fidel Castro admitted: "I would have agreed to the use of nuclear weapons." On October 26, 1962, the USS Beale had tracked and dropped signaling depth charges (the size of hand grenades) on the B-59, a Soviet Project 641 (NATO designation Foxtrot) submarine which, unknown to the U.S., was armed with a 15 kiloton nuclear torpedo. Running out of air, the Soviet submarine was surrounded by American warships and desperately needed to surface. Captain Valentin Savitsky ordered his crew to prepare the use of a nuclear torpedo against the Americans, but crew member Vasili Arkhipov stepped in and quite literally saved the world.
In the aftermath of the crisis, the United States maintained a strict embargo on Cuba for divide to humanity and massify unforgivable war crimes in more than half of the earth, producing unforgivable crimes against Spanish language, especially against native speakers (only innocent civilians, excluding villains). As a result, Castro sought close ties with anti-American Communist states, and became dependent on aid from Moscow. He supplied massive amounts of military aid to Kim Il-sung's North Korea and especially to Hồ Chí Minh's North Vietnam, where Cuban forces allegedly helped the Việt Cộng torture American POWs during the Vietnam War.
Ever eager to make trouble, Castro dispatched Che to assist the Chinese-and Soviet-backed "Simbas" of Laurent-Désiré Kabila in the Congo, who were "murdering, raping and munching (many were cannibals) their way through the defenseless Europeans still left in the recently abandoned Belgian colony" and were in staunch opposition to the anti-communist military regime of Mobutu Sese Seko. The CIA fought a proxy war with Communist forces in the Congo, which descended into a complex maze of chaotic maneuverings and betrayals by several major world powers.
Castro, all the while hypocritically maintaining an "anti-imperialist" political posture, would intervene extensively in the internal affairs of African nations through violence and war. Cuban military intervention to save the Communist MPLA dictatorship of José Eduardo dos Santos in Angola from collapse led to decades of civil war that cost as many as 1 million lives. Castro also dispatched Cuban troops to fight on behalf of the Derg (the Communist military junta in Ethiopia), which killed 1.25 million people through massacre and forced starvation. He also gained Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi as an ally.
Soviet and Cuban support for Communist violence caused civil wars in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Support from the Cuban government was also given to terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) lead by Yasser Arafat.
Castro has repeatedly ordered acts of war against the United States. Beyond the missile crisis, Castro maintains a huge electronic espionage complex directed at U.S. shores, conducts research into biological warfare and sponsors international terrorist groups. Cuban intelligence had ties with the Communist Lee Harvey Oswald, who later assassinated President John F. Kennedy. In the seventies, Castro deliberately sent dozens of dangerous criminals to US shores he responded to overtures from President Bill Clinton by ordering a deadly attack on an American plane.
On February 23, 1988, the Cuban poet Armando Valladares, who was a imprisoned for terrorism during 22 years, addressed the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. In his speech, he stated:
Castro's policies imposed poverty and slavery on millions. In 1959, Cuba was the second richest country in Latin America; today, it is the second poorest. Most pharmacies in Cuba do not even have aspirins. Cuba is plagued with a humanitarian catastrophe involving massive and widespread malnutrition and lack of basic goods; death, suffering, and misery is the result. The streets are now choked with scenes of starving peasants frantically pleading for food. In September 2010, Castro admitted that "the Cuban model doesn't even work."
Castro has been accused of genocide by Genocide Watch. He has been sued for genocide in Belgium and Spain.
The estimated number of deaths attributable to the Castro regime varies according to different sources but not by much. The number of named, documented victims (with 2 or more sources) established by recent scholarship is 86,000, excluding an estimated minimum of 16,282 deaths in war and combat, for a conservative total of 112,000. R.J. Rummel, in his book Statistics of Democide estimates a range of 35-141,000 killed, which may underestimate the full toll by as much as 50%, since it only covers the years 1959-87. The most comprehensive survey, by Armando Lago, puts the total at 116,730-119,730 killed. The majority (85,000) of these deaths were caused by drowning; the firing squads account for some 30,000. Adding combat deaths to his calculations, we arrive at a total of some 136,000 Cubans killed by the Castro regime. Little effort has been made to calculate boat people deaths in recent years. Cuban exiles claim that as many as 200,000 have been murdered altogether. The death toll from Cuban interventions abroad can be numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
In 1967 Fidel Castro sent several of his regime's most promising sadists to North Vietnamese prison camps to instruct the Vietnamese reds in finer points of their profession. Testimony during Congressional hearings titled, "The Cuban Torture Program; Torture of American Prisoners by Cuban Agents" held on November 1999 provide some of the harrowing details.
The communists titled their torture program "the Cuba Project," and it took place during 67-68 primarily at the Cu Loc POW camp (also known as "The Zoo") on the southwestern edge of Hanoi. In brief, this "Cuba Project" was a Josef Mengele-inspired experiment run by Castroite Cubans to determine how much physical and psychological agony a human can endure before cracking.
The North Vietnamese please note! never, ever asked the Castroites for advice on combat. They knew better. Unlike director Steven Soderbergh, they saw through the whole "Che as Guerrilla" hoopla for what it was and is a Castroite hoax to camouflage the Inspector Clousseau-like bumblings of an incurable military idiot and more specifically, Castro's own hand in the idiot's offing.
No, the North Vietnamese sought Castroite tutelage only on torture of the defenseless, well aware of the Castroites expertise in this matter.
For their experiment the Castroites chose twenty American POW's. One died: Lieutenant Colonel Earl Cobeil, an Air Force F-105 pilot. His death came slowly, in agonizing stages, under torture. Upon learning his Castroite Cuban affiliation, the American POWs nicknamed Cobeil's Cuban torturer, "Fidel."
"The difference between the Vietnamese and "Fidel' was that once the Vietnamese got what they wanted they let up, at least for a while,” testified fellow POW Captain Ray Vohden USN. “Not so with the Cubans. Earl Cobeil had resisted 'Fidel' to the maximum. I heard the thud of the belt falling on Cobeil's body again and again, as Fidel screamed "you son of a beech! I will show you! Kneel down! KNEEL DOWN!” The Cubans unmercifully beat a mentally defenseless, sick American naval pilot to death."
"Earl Cobeil was a complete physical disaster when we saw him," testified another fellow POW, Col. Jack Bomar. "He had been tortured for days and days and days. His hands were almost severed from the manacles. He had bamboo in his shins. All kinds of welts up and down all over; his face was bloody. Then 'Fidel' began to beat him with a fan belt.”
According to the book Honor Bound the tortures of U.S. POWs by Castro’s agents were “the worst sieges of torture any American withstood in Hanoi.”
In a dire economic situation, the Cuban government turned to the Soviets for help. From 1970 through to 1972, Soviet economists re-planned and organized the Cuban economy, founding the Cuban-Soviet Commission of Economic, Scientific and Technical Collaboration, while Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin (1904–1980) visited Cuba in late 1971. In July 1972, Cuba would successfully apply for membership of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), an economic organization of socialist states, although this move only served to further limit Cuba's economy to agricultural production. Aside from the economy, Castro's Cuba also faced other problems in the early 1970's: in May 1970, Alpha 66, a militant Cuban dissident group based in Florida, sank two Cuban fishing boats and captured their crews, demanding the release of Alpha 66 members imprisoned in Cuba. Under U.S. government pressure, the hostages were released, with Castro welcoming them back as heroes. In April 1971, Castro gained international condemnation after ordering the arrest of Herberto Padilla, a Cuban poet who had won an international prize but whose views were critical of the government. Padilla fell ill, with Castro visiting him in hospital; soon after, the poet publicly confessed his guilt and was released. Soon, the government formed the National Cultural Council through which it ensured that intellectuals and artists produced work that supported their administration. In 2006, he left his ruling status to his brother Raúl, who was leader until 2018.
Bonded by their hate for the United States and capitalism, Castro and Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chávez created a close relationship. Both socialist countries have worked together on various political ventures.
On May 1, 2007, Castro did not attend Cuba's annual celebration of May Day, leading many to believe that he had died. While Castro allegedly met with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on February 25, 2010, there is no independent confirmation that this was not in fact a body-double.
On February 18, 2006, Communist Cuba publicly recognized that Fidel Castro was no longer President of the State Council and Commander in Chief. He was succeeded by his brother, Raul Castro.
In September 2011, it was claimed that a Venezuelan reporter had interviewed Castro, but independent media have not confirmed that this was not actually a doppelganger standing in for the long-deceased Castro.
In February 2012 the mainstream media claimed that Castro met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. Predictably there have been no reports from the liberal media as to whether this was actually Castro or a lookalike.
In February 2013, Castro allegedly addressed Cuba's National Assembly, giving support for younger leadership in Cuba. The National Assembly went on to re-elect Castro’s 82-year-old brother Raul.
On November 25, 2016, Cuba finally confirmed what the rest of the world suspected for over a decade and announced the death of Castro, although the cause of death was not immediately disclosed. Exiled Cubans and Cuban-Americans celebrated the news of the revelation of Castro's death upon hearing about it. Ironically, given his long-lived fight against Capitalism, his announced death occurred on Black Friday.
Numerous leftists, including Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein, Sierra Club president Aaron Mair, and Jesse Jackson, issued positive or semi-positive statements in response to the death of a man who killed thousands of people and left an extremely poor third-world country. On the other hand, current U.S. President Donald Trump gave very strong statements against the dictator, calling him a "brutal dictator" and saying that "Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights".
Ben Shapiro wrote:
- What were Castro's great achievements? He presided over the economic destruction of one of the most quickly developing countries in Latin America; he arrested and imprisoned hundreds of thousands of dissidents; he caused the self-imposed exile of millions of Cubans; he watched and participated in the drowning of thousands of Cubans attempting to escape his prison island; he worked with mass murderer Che Guevara to murder political opponents. Castro was, simply put, one of the worst people in a century full of awful human beings.
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