Saturday, 26 November 2016

Fidel Castro: Hero of Villain

Nobody seemed to split opinion quite like Fidel Castro who survived a reported 600 plus attempts on his life only to die of old age in his own bed. 
Nobody would disagree that the Batista Government that Castro and his cohorts removed was a brutally oppressive dictatorship, even John F Kennedy said that he approved of Castro's call for justice to rid Cuba of Batista and was 'in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries'.
Some of the first laws Castro introduced was to provide equality for black Cubans and greater rights for women but the problem seems to be what he did next.
Castro resented the backing that the US Government gave to the Batista Government and when he nationalised all U.S. property in Cuba, the Americans responded by freezing all Cuban assets on American soil, severed diplomatic ties and launched its long running sanctions on Cuba and backed an armed counter-revolutionary assault with the aim of ousting Castro.
All this forced Castro into the arms of the Soviet Union and cemented him and his regime as America's enemy on its doorstep. 
Castro undoubtedly raised living standards, reduced infant mortality and massively improved education, literacy and health care for all while the Cuban economy tanked but while raising living standards, in other ways he failed the very people he was freeing from tyranny with increasingly repressive tactics to enforce his grip on the country.  
His regime locked up thousands of homosexuals and dissenters in camps so it is hard to argue that what he replaced Batista with was much better.
What historians can and will argue about is how much he was to blame for the economic struggles that saw crime and prostitution rocket and force many thousands of others to flee and die via the perilous sea crossing to Florida.
The argument is that he was forced to become more hard line by the numerous failed CIA operations to topple him and America's economic and political sanctions to isolate Cuba.
Impossible to argue that American led sanctions didn't contribute to the country's economic failure but the argument is also being made that the blame falls squarely on Castro's shoulders for mismanaging the economy and he was far from a revolutionist who was always going to use the repressive policies to keep his iron grip on the country.
That is for Historians to argue over but the bottom line is at the end of his time did he improve things for his countrymen and in some ways he very much did but in some other ways he toppled a nasty, repressive regime only to replace it with another nasty, repressive regime.
To many on the left he is a hero purely because he continually foiled and thumbed his nose at the overbearing Americans but that is to overlook his many failings but to many of the right he was an evil villain but that overlooks the many successes and improvements he bought to his countrymen.


Anonymous said...

vile villain

Anonymous said...

Why should Fidel get a pass on any of his very many transgressions?

Historic US leaders (white males) are universally discounted and derided to zero value unless they were in the Democratic Party since 1920, Abe Lincoln, or Geo Washington.

Falling on a bruise said...

He shouldn't get a pass but he also shouldn't be universally slated as a despot either. He was not up there with Chavez but he was not down there with Pinochet either.