Paul Kengor at Catholic World Report asks an interesting question: how many people did dead Communist dictator Fidel Castro kill?
So, for starters how many people were killed by Fidel and his communist dystopia?
Unfortunately, no one truly knows, akin to how no one knows how many poor souls he tossed into his jails, from political dissidents to priests to homosexuals. Fidel’s prison-state has never permitted human-rights observers, reminiscent of how he never permitted the elections he repeatedly promised in the 1950s. That said, many sources have tried to pin down numbers and have generated some common estimates:
“The Black Book of Communism,” the seminal Harvard University Press work, which specialized in trying to get accurate data on the enormous volume of deaths produced by communist tyrants, states that in the 1960s alone, when Fidel and his brother Raul (Cuba’s current leader) established their complete control, with the help of their murdering buddy Che Guevara, an estimated 30,000 people were arrested in Cuba for political reasons and 7,000 to 10,000 were believed to have been executed. Even then, that was merely the start.
From the late 1950s to the late 1990s, it’s estimated that Castro killed between 15,000 to 18,000 people, whether victims of long-term imprisonment or outright execution by bullets.
That is a lot of people for a small island. And it isn’t all.
Cuba is a surreal island of no boats, where boats are banned—because people with boats flee. Thus, untold numbers of citizens have attempted the treacherous nearly 100-mile swim to Florida in shark-infested waters. An estimated 100,000 have risked the journey. Of those, perhaps as many as 30,000 to 40,000 died from drowning. As they bob for breath, the Castro government sends military helicopters to drop large bags of sand on them from high above.
Yes, actually drop sandbags on them.
So, Fidel Castro is responsible for a lot of death.
But here, too, these numbers do not capture the level of Fidel’s brutal madness. Consider the actual millions he badly wanted to kill, especially here in America.
If Fidel Castro had his way in October 1962, the United States would have been leveled by atomic bombs and so would little Cuba, which would’ve ceased to exist. The fact is that Fidel recommended to Nikita Khrushchev that Cuba and the USSR together launch an all-out nuclear attack upon the United States, literally igniting Armageddon.
This is no secret. Castro admitted it. In an open forum discussing the Cuban Missile Crisis 30 years later, Castro told Robert McNamara, JFK’s secretary of defense: “Bob, I did recommend they [the nuclear missiles] were to be used.”
In total, said McNamara, there were 162 Soviet missiles on the island. The firing of those missiles alone would have led to (according to McNamara) at least 80 million dead Americans, which would have been half the population, plus added tens of millions of casualties.
That, however, is a conservative estimate, given that 162 missiles was far the sum total that would have been subsequently launched. The United States in turn would have launched on Cuba, and also on the USSR. President Kennedy made that commitment clear in his nationally televised speech on October 22, 1962: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” In response, of course, the Soviets would have automatically launched on America from Soviet soil. Even then, the fireworks would just be starting: Under the terms of their NATO and Warsaw Pact charters, the territories of Western and Eastern Europe would also erupt.
Once the smoke cleared, hundreds of millions to possibly over a billion people could have perished, with Western civilization in its death throes. If Fidel Castro had gotten his way, he would have precipitated the greatest slaughter in human history. (Che Guevara also wanted to launch the nukes.)
The Soviets were horrified. Their ambassador to Cuba, Alexander Alekseyev, was so stunned at what Castro told him that he stood frozen, speechless, crushed. Without waiting for an answer from the numb ambassador, Castro started writing his feelings on paper, which Alekseyev saw as a kind of “last testament, a farewell.” Continue reading
Then there was Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau. The 46-year-old leader fondly recalled that his father, Pierre, when he was prime minister, had frequently visited with Castro. The younger Trudeau lauded Castro for supposed advances in health care, education, and literacy and described him as “a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century.” He confesses that he felt “deep sorrow” at Castro’s death, adding, “While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante.’”
Such willful blindness spurred other Twitter users to launch the tag #trudeaueulogies to mock the clueless Canadian leader. “While controversial, Darth Vader achieved great heights in space construction & played a formative role in his son’s life,” quipped Jason Markusoff, a correspondent for Canada’s Maclean’s magazine. Canadian sports commentator Mike Hogan added: “Today we mourn the loss of Norman Bates, a family man who was truly defined by his devotion to his mother.” Australian news columnist Rita Panahi wrote, “Although flawed, Hitler was a vegetarian who loved animals, was a contributor to the arts & proud advocate for Germany.”
Trudeau’s comments infuriated Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the former chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee. Ros-Lehtinen had to flee Cuba as a small child with her family after Castro’s takeover. Speaking on CNN, she directly addressed Trudeau: I’ve been reading his sickening love letter to dead Fidel Castro and I’m thinking, ‘Sure, you did not lose a loved one to an execution squad. You did not lose a loved one to the gulags in Cuba. . . . The only thing that Fidel has been successful in has not been health or education, or human rights or democracy, it’s been holding on to power — which is easy to do when you don’t have elections.
The debate over Castro will rage on, but arguments over him should take account of how unusual a dictator he was. My colleague Andrew Stuttaford has noted at NRO that during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, Castro wanted to start a nuclear war. He urged Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to launch a first strike against the United States. In a letter, Khrushchev felt compelled to talk his ally off the ledge thusly: Cuba would have burned in the fires of war. . . . We struggle against imperialism, not in order to die, but to draw on all of our potential, to lose as little as possible, and later to win more, so as to be a victor and make Communism triumph.
Lastly, for all of Castro’s ranting about the exploitive nature of capitalism, it takes a truly mercenary mind to come up with the schemes his regime employed to garner hard currency — from drug-running, to assassinations to, well, vampiric behavior. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported in 1966 that 166 Cuban prisoners were executed on a single day in May of that year. But before they were killed, they were forced to undergo the forced extraction of an average of seven pints of blood from their bodies. This blood was sold to Communist Vietnam at a rate of $50 per pint. Those who underwent the bloodletting suffered cerebral anemia and a state of unconsciousness and paralysis. But that didn’t stop the executions; the victims were carried on a stretcher to the killing field where they were then shot.
Rod Serling was a political liberal, but he had Castro’s number in the above episode of the Twilight Zone that aired on October 20, 1961.
Fidel Castro, who turned his island homeland into a vast prison of which he was the Warden, died yesterday at age 90. My usual rule after someone dies is De mortuis nil nisi bonum, but I can think of nothing good about the life of Castro other than it now has ended. Under his regime millions of his countrymen risked death at sea rather than submit to his rule, and I can think of no more damning indictment for any ruler. A squalid dictator of the worst sort, Castro always received good press in some of the media in the West from leftists who were willing to forgive any sin if the proper Communist platitudes were spoken. Castro leaves behind him a broken nation of slaves. May they soon rise up and bring a new day to a free Cuba.
For more than six decades Fidel Castro has been running an anti-Capitalist experiment. The results should be clear to all except Michael Moore and his ideological think-a-likes. Michael Totten gives us the grim details:
I walked toward the center of town from the somewhat remote Habana Libre Hotel and found myself the only foreigner in a miles-wide swath of destruction.
I’ve seen cities in the Middle East pulverized by war. I’ve seen cities elsewhere in Latin America stricken with unspeakable squalor and poverty. But nowhere else have I seen such a formerly grandiose city brought as low as Havana. The restored part of town—artifice though it may be—shows all too vividly what the whole thing once looked like.
It was a wealthy European city when it was built. Poor nations do not build capitals that look like Havana. They can’t. Poor nations build Guatemala City and Cairo.
“Havana” Theodore Dalrymple wrote in City Journal, “is like Beirut, without having gone through the civil war to achieve the destruction.” Actually, it’s worse even than that. Beirut pulses with energy. Parts of it are justifiably even a little bit snobbish like Paris. Even its poorest neighborhoods, the ones controlled by Hezbollah, aren’t as gruesome as most of Havana.
Yet the bones of Cuba’s capital are unmatched in our hemisphere. “The Cubans of successive centuries created a harmonious architectural whole almost without equal in the world,” Dalrymple wrote. “There is hardly a building that is wrong, a detail that is superfluous or tasteless. The tiled multicoloration of the Bacardi building, for example, which might be garish elsewhere, is perfectly adapted—natural, one might say—to the Cuban light, climate, and temper. Cuban architects understood the need for air and shade in a climate such as Cuba’s, and they proportioned buildings and rooms accordingly. They created an urban environment that, with its arcades, columns, verandas, and balconies, was elegant, sophisticated, convenient, and joyful.” Continue reading
Michael Totten reminds us why we might wish to thank God this Thursday that we were not born in Cuba:
Private Internet is banned. You can only get online in hotels, Internet cafes, and government offices. Regular citizens are effectively prohibited from accessing the Web by the price. It cost me seven dollars an hour to use a dial-up connection. The government caps Cuban salaries at 20 dollars a month, so it costs a citizen ten days of income just to get online for an hour. Once they do get online, the connection will be so slow that surfing around is impossible. It took me the better part of my hour to get connected, to open my inbox, and to send a single email to my wife telling her I had arrived safely and without incident.
The government strangles the Internet because it fears free information. There can be no other reason. That’s also why they vet journalists in advance and require special visas. Information can barely get in and barely get out. There can be no Twitter or Facebook revolution in Cuba’s near future.
And there are apparently no real newspapers or magazines, at least none that I saw. No International Herald Tribune. No Newsweek and Time in the dentist’s office. No Google News since there is no Google. Certainly not the Wall Street Journal or The Economist.
I hadn’t even been there a full day and I already felt umbilically severed from the rest of the planet. My awareness of the world narrowed to what I could see right in front of me. I felt as though I had lost one of my senses. I had no real access to the Internet. No CNN, no New York Times. No blogs, not even my own. Nothing at all. I could not use my iPhone. I may as well have been at the bottom of the ocean.
That, by the way, is the most outrageously named newspaper I know of. The English translation of Juventud Rebelde is Rebel Youth—as if it’s Cuba’s version of Rolling Stone. But God, no. It’s not that at all. Rebel Youth indoctrinates young people with the zombie ideology of walking dead men. Youthful and rebellious it ain’t. It is the most tired, stale, old, and establishment “newspaper” in the hemisphere. Continue reading
“When the world had given us up for dead, the interview with Matthews put the lie to our disappearance.”
Che Guevara, January 1958
Alas, if the mainstream media had only been half as questioning of Castro as the late Stuart Novins was when Castro appeared on Face the Nation on January 11, 1959. Novins published several stories detailing Castro’s embracing of Communism and the blood stained methods he used to sustain his rule. In short, Novins was a serious journalist interested in reporting the facts and alerting the American people to developments in Cuba.
Most of his colleagues had a different story to tell about Castro as detailed in Humberto Fontova’s book, The Longest Romance: The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. In writing this book Fontova certainly has rich examples to choose from. Go here to view a sample of pro-Castro reporting over the decades in the US media.
It could be argued that Castro became dictator in Cuba largely due to the favorable coverage he received in The New York Times, courtesy of Herbert Matthews:
“When people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing — they believe in anything.”
G. K. Chesterton
Ah poor Ireland. As the Faith has become weaker in the Emerald Isle, strange new gods are arising, and one of the strangest is Che Guevara, deceased Argentinian revolutionary and hero of politically correct fools everywhere. In Galway of all places the local government passed a measure approving of a memorial to Castro’s Himmler.
The minutes of Galway City Council’s meeting of Monday, 16 May 2011, include the following proposal: ‘That Galway City Council commit itself to honoring one of its own, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, descendant of two of our Tribes, the Lynch family of Lydican House, and the Blakes. The project to be furthered by liaising with the Argentinean and Cuban Embassies.’
Billy Cameron, an Irish Labor Party councillor in Galway, has scoffed at the claims made by fellow city councillors that they didn’t know they had voted to approve a monument in honor of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara.
That last comment is rich. What business is it of Ireland to honor a man who helped install a brutal tyranny in Cuba? Of course this is being done because nature abhors a vacuum, and without a belief in Christ, people will search for substitute religions and for many in the West Leftism of various stripes is the favored choice. It is gratifying that this attempt to honor “Saint” Che is drawing such fire. Castro’s hangman deserves it: Continue reading
In a Time magazine interview Ozzie Guillen, major league baseball manager of the Miami Marlins and home to the largest number of Cuban expatriates, said that “I love Fidel Castro–I respect Fidel Castro.”
Fidel Castro, along with Che Guevara, have committed countless murders of innocent civilians, incarcerated many more, and the rest exiled to America. Needless to say Castro is a monster that will take his place on the ash heap of history quite soon.
He apologized but the damage is done. He denounced Castro, but it’s almost meaningless. Of course I take him in his sincerity and accept the apology, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to escape punishment.
There are some pundits and reporters say that this is America and we do have a right of free speech, so the Miami Marlins shouldn’t fire Guillen. That’s where these pundits and reporters get it wrong, yes, Guillen has a right to free speech, but so do the Miami Marlins have a right to fire him in expressing their free speech as well.
The concept of free speech is that the U.S. allows it and they shouldn’t be persecuted for it by the U.S. government, but a private enterprise can do what they want.
Fire the guy. He’s known to be a loud mouth and he had time to articulate his thoughts in a sit-down interview with Time magazine. Plus the fact that he is from Venezuela where Hugo Chavez rules with impunity and is the Fidel’s BFF. So I can see where his “love” for Castro is emanating from.
Apparently, he’s staying busy.
SuburbanBanshee has two very good posts on the topic– the first has the great opening of “seldom have I enjoyed myself more watching a speech at an airport.” The second one is on what he said at Mass, with the bonus of an honorary mention of the Swiss Guard Ninja Death Squad Elite. (Which doesn’t exist.)
Have I mentioned lately that the fellow has guts?
Pope Bendict has a simple message for Castro:
Speaking on the plane taking him from Rome for a five-day trip to Mexico and Cuba, the pope told reporters: “Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality.
Responding to a question about his visit to the island, a communist bastion off the coast of the United States for more than 50 years, Benedict added: “In this way we can no longer respond and build a society. New models must be found with patience and in a constructive way.”
“We want to help in a spirit of dialogue to avoid traumas and to help move forward a society which is fraternal and just, which is what we desire for the whole world,” the pope added. Continue reading
An English translation of the first portion of the above video.
Fidel Castro: Comrades, our nation is completely bankrupt! We have no choice but to abandon communism!
Castro’s Aide #1, Castro’s Associates: [sigh]
Fidel Castro: I know, I know, I know… but we all knew from day one this mumbo jumbo wouldn’t fly! I’ll call Washington and tell them they won.
Castro’s Aide #1: But presidente, America tried to kill you!
Fidel Castro: Ah, they’re not so bad. They even named a street after me in San Francisco!
[Aide #2 whispers something into his ear]
Fidel Castro: It’s full of what?
Hattip to the Babalu Blog, the go to blog on the net to keep advised of the follies of the Castro regime in Cuba. It seems the Bearded One views the Tea Party as “fascist”:
Fidel Castro, the soon to be late dictator of Cuba, proclaims what most Cubans have known since he took over Cuba two years after my birth. Journalist Jeffery Goldberg of the Atlantic asked him if the Cuban economic model was something he believes should be exported. The failed baseball player said that the Cuban economic model didn’t even work for Cubans. Go here to read the story.
The “Cuban economic model” as far as I can tell basically consisted of reducing most of the population to the status of state slaves to support the nomenklatura of the Cuban Communist party. The system only “worked” because huge subsidies from the Soviet Union propped it up. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the elimination of the subsidies, the Cuban economy went into freefall as detailed here. Continue reading