The dark side of Fidel CastroTuesday, December 06, 2016
Cuba’s pre-Castro economy was overly reliant on sugar exports and left many in poverty, and the post-1961 US-imposed trade embargo did not help the revolution prosper. But Fidel himself did the lion’s share of damage, impoverishing the island through a programme of total State control, occasionally punctuated by his own grandiose schemes — from the ill-fated 10-million-ton sugar harvest in the 1960s to the brutally austere "Special Period" after Soviet subsidies ended in the 1990s.
Under his rule, too, Cuban public health and literacy indicators were significantly better than those of many other Latin American States (though that was also true pre-revolution).
If this were a just world, 13 facts would be etched on Fidel Castro’s tombstone and highlighted in every obituary:
• He turned Cuba into a colony of the Soviet Union and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust.
• He sponsored terrorism wherever he could and allied himself with many of the worst dictators on Earth.
• Under his rule thousands of executions and disappearances occurred in Cuba that a precise number is hard to reckon.
• He brooked no dissent and built concentration camps and prisons at an unprecedented rate, filling them to capacity, incarcerating a higher percentage of his own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin.
• He condoned and encouraged torture.
• He forced nearly 20 per cent of his people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea while fleeing from him in crude vessels.• He claimed all property for himself and his henchmen, strangled food production and impoverished the vast majority of his people.
• He outlawed private enterprise and labour unions, wiped out Cuba’s large middle class and turned Cubans into veritable slaves of the State.
• He persecuted gay people.
• He censored all means of expression and communication.
• He established a school system that provided indoctrination rather than education, and created a two-tiered health care system, with inferior medical care for the majority of Cubans and superior care for himself and his oligarchy, and then claimed that all his repressive measures were absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of these two ostensibly "free" social welfare projects.
• He turned Cuba into a labyrinth of ruins and established a society in which millions of foreign visitors enjoyed rights and privileges forbidden to his people.
• He never apologised for any of his acts and never stood trial for them.
Tens of thousands of Cubans in Miami, Florida who fled the Castro regime are celebrating his death and for good reason.