Some loved him, some hated him, and of course when someone like him dies, the comments come pouring out in all directions and allow for some interesting analyses.
For instance, some comments about him being a brutal dictator have aligned him with people like Stalin, Mao, Salazar, Franco. Why was Hitler left out? Why was Mussolini left out, Greek dictators, South American dictators - the list is endless. And of course the overthrow of the Batista regime which was certainly more brutal than anything which followed.
On the other hand, universal health care, free education for all, hospitals with excellent facilities, medical research surpassing some of the best in the world - so many other worthwhile social successes - and of course plenty of failures and disasters.
Castro sent troops to support the government in Angola in its fight against South Africa. The South African apartheid regime was not having any communist countries on its borders because communists in South Africa supported the African National Congress in its attempts to overthrow the apartheid regime. With the collapse of the USSR and aid from them to Castro drying up, Castro was no longer able to support Angola and the war there became an ongoing disaster because of opposition groups in Angola siding with South Africa to overthrow the Angolan government.
Ultimately the apartheid regime collapsed and the Angola war raged on endlessly, fighting over resources such as oil and diamonds and other minerals.
Report from CounterPunch:
12 December 2016
Over and over again we hear that Cubans are ground down by poverty, live in hovels, are being starved, and have miserable health care. Yet Cubans live longer, on average, than people in almost every other Latin American country. Cubans live as long as those in many rich European countries. Cubans live as long as we do in the good old capitalist US, and life expectancy in the US is going down. How is it possible that Cubans live so long if the Cuban economy is such a wreck?
We are told that Fidel wanted to keep Cubans ignorant. Yet the first thing his government did was eradicate the illiteracy that Cuba’s former masters had allowed to flourish. Today, illiteracy in the US is still an unacknowledged scourge among the poor. In the bad old days, it was even a crime to teach slaves to read.
We are told that Fidel imprisoned his political opponents. Tell that to Leonard Peltier. Tell that to Mumia Abu-Jamal. Tell that to Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Tell that to the thousands of black and brown and white prisoners in the nation that has the largest prison population in the world, the nation that accounts for over 20% of all the prisoners in the world.
We are told that Fidel executed a few hundred of the former dictator’s henchmen after the revolution. The US promotes death squads throughout Latin America, maintains deadly domestic police forces that shoot to kill on a daily basis, and kills untold thousands every year through poverty and war all over the planet.
We are told that Fidel allied his country with the Soviet Union. The US allied itself with apartheid South Africa, with the European colonialists, and with dictators and repressive regimes in every corner of the world far too numerous to list here.
We are told that Fidel sent troops to Africa to support independent Angola and to fight South Africa. The US sent troops to Vietnam, to the Dominican Republic, to Grenada, to Panama, to Iraq, to Afghanistan. The US maintains military forces all over the globe, on land, on sea and in the air – the largest military force in history.
We are told that Fidel let the Soviet Union put nuclear weapons in Cuba. The US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and still has thousands of nuclear warheads ready and waiting to destroy civilization at the push of a button.
We are told that Fidel supported guerrillas and revolutionary movements throughout Latin America. The US promotes counter-revolution and terror throughout Latin America. The US treats everything south of the border as its own the backyard, condemning millions to poverty and inequality, intervening only to protect the rich and powerful.
Has Cuba ever invaded the US? It was the US that organized the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
Has Cuba ever occupied any US territory? It is the US that occupies Guantanamo.
Has Cuba ever imposed an economic embargo on the US?
Fidel gave long, long speeches. Our President-elect communicates with 140-character tweets.
Fidel’s real crime, of course, was kicking the Mafia out of Cuba, of nationalizing American corporate holdings, building schools instead of providing cheap labor for the capitalists, organizing a universal and free health care system instead of creating profit centers for medical and insurance companies, slashing rents instead of allowing landlords to get rich, giving people jobs that build up the country rather than jobs that build up the wealth of a ruling class.
If that is “dictatorship,” we need more of it.
This article was first published by San Francisco Bay View.