Who the hell was this guy?
I’ve been reading so much nonsense about Castro on both sides of the equation. Everybody has an angle on this and they typically present a cartoonish biased version of history to make a point or advance some political agenda. This does nobody any favors.
To some he is a revolutionary hero, to others he’s an evil dictator. In a sense, both views are correct.
To get a balanced picture of both Castro and what life under his régime was actually like, one might take a look at what life is like in other Caribbean and Latin Countries, as well as what was going on in Cuba prior to Castro.
Only viewing Castro through the simplistic view “our side” of the cold war is to ignore the things that have happened in Cuba that are positive, or that many Cubans who were around during the Batista era might have regarded Castro as a step up. Here’s the opinion of someone who might be regarded as something of an expert on Cuba:
“Fulgencio Batista murdered 20,000 Cubans in seven years … and he turned Democratic Cuba into a complete police state—destroying every individual liberty. Yet our aid to his regime, and the ineptness of our policies, enabled Batista to invoke the name of the United States in support of his reign of terror.
Administration spokesmen publicly praised Batista—hailed him as a staunch ally and a good friend—at a time when Batista was murdering thousands, destroying the last vestiges of freedom, and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Cuban people, and we failed to press for free elections.”
This was Senator John F. Kennedy criticizing the Eisenhower administration, so he also has an axe to grind as well. And (as the Bay of Pigs fiasco would seem to indicate) he failed to recognize the opportunity to re-think US foreign policy.
It would also be worth taking look at the economic situation in Cuba: it’s health care system or literacy rate. One might find the conditions most Cubans live under would rival those in other Caribbean, and Latin American Countries.
If we only view history through a lens that renders things in black and white, we mainly see what we want to see and this can lead us to fail to see the consequences of our own mistakes. Or even admit they happened.
I’m no fan of Fidel, I see him as the typical autocrat who sees hanging on to power as his main objective, and only considers the needs of his people to the degree necessary to remain in power.
100 years from now I think Castro will be historically bundled with other dictators (Such as Batista) who exploited the messy disintegration of the Age of Imperialism and were able to leverage the cold war into obtaining and then holding on to power. Assad, Nasser, The Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein would be a modern examples in a similar mode.
The failure to take a realistic stance on how we should approach the future by being honest about the past has resulted in a bi-partisan foreign policy unhinged from any rational outcome, long term goals, or realistic appraisals of our chance of success. We repeatedly start wars with no real or practical exit strategy. This pretty well sums up our military adventures over the last 5 decades.
I think Andrew Bacevich recently put this long term failure into perspective:
“The folly and hubris of the policy makers who heedlessly thrust the nation into an ill-defined and open-ended ‘global war on terror’ without the foggiest notion of what victory would look like, how it would be won, and what it might cost approached standards hitherto achieved only by slightly mad German warlords.”
It doesn’t look like we’ll get involved in Cuba, as far a supporting a “war of liberation”. But President-Elect Trump and the running mate seem Hell-bent on putting the largely-a-failure embargo back in place. Pence said he supports a democratic Cuba. Given the US history in Cuba, that just might no be heard as comforting to Cubans……. As least not the ones who still live in Cuba.