Cuba’s former dictator, Fidel Castro, has died at the age of 90.
When I woke up on Saturday morning to see the news, I was surprised by the reaction of many friends on social media, as well as the national media. The New York Times headline read, “Cuban Revolutionary Who Defied U.S., Dies at 90.” In writing on Castro, Aljazeera read, “Castro: The Making of a Legend.” Others on Facebook and Twitter seemed saddened by the death of a “revolutionary.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, called Castro a “remarkable leader.”
Let’s be clear—Fidel Castro was not a good person.
His ideas were not good.
His policies destroyed the liberties of millions of Cubans.
His government is responsible for the murders of tens of thousands of people.
His “legacy” should be one of pure shame.
I won’t delve into the history of Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba—but those lamenting the loss of such a “great leader” would do well to crack open a history book, or at least spend a solid 90 seconds reading Wikipedia. As opposed to restoring the freedoms lost under the U.S.-backed dictator that Castro ousted, he crushed them.
In his first decade in power, Castro’s government instituted a variety of “progressive” reforms. His backers point to programs aimed at literacy and equality. Film maker Michael Moore foolishly lauded Cuba’s medical system in the the film Sicko.
What these individuals tend to ignore, however, is the cadre of human rights abuses inflicted by the hands of the Castro regime. Systematic mass executions of ex-government officials, the internment of homosexuals in Cuba, and the implementation of mass government surveillance programs are all a part of the Castro story. This is not to mention the myriad of show trials, executions, and punishing of any dissent from average citizens, writers, academics, journalists, and artists.
Castro’s body count varies depending on who you ask. The Cuba Archive Project has one of the most reliable data sets. The group’s records cover a period from May 1952 to the present. In order to be counted, the stories of each victim must be verified by two independent sources. To date, the Archive attributes some 10,723 deaths to the regime. Including nearly 1,000 deaths linked to “disappearances,” more than 2,000 extrajudicial killings, and over 3,100 people killed by firing squad. Some 100 minor children have been murdered by the regime via beating, the withholding of medical attention, and other methods. In addition to these killings, some 78,000 people are estimated to have died while trying to flee the country.
To those unconvinced by mass murder that Castro was a lamentable dictator, consider his government’s practice of forced blood donation. This can range from taking a persons blood forcibly without their consent to coercing individuals to offer their blood.
The Cuba Archive has credible information on at least 11 cases of forced blood extraction prior to execution. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of States (OAS) 1967 report regarding the practice at Havana’s La Cabaña prison, an average of seven pints of blood were forcibly taken from prisoners on their way to be executed, causing “cerebral anemia and a state of unconscious paralysis.” (For perspective, the average adult has around 10 pints of blood in their body.) Victims would then be taken to the firing squad on a stretcher.
The Cuban government would then sell the blood to the North Vietnamese for around $50 a pint.
Today, Cubans are required to “donate” blood before even minor medical procedures. Year-round media campaigns encourage citizens to donate in an effort to “save lives.” In reality, the Cuban government has kept up with its history of exporting blood products. According to Cuba’s Oficina Nacionel de Estadísticas (National Office of Statistics), the country exported some $622.5 million—an average of $31 million per year—of blood products between 1995 and 2014. (It’s worth noting that these numbers may very well be understated. Other products made from blood derivatives may not be classified as blood products when exported.)
In the event that mass murder and force blood donation don’t quite do the trick, see the following.
Click here for a general discussion of the regime’s atrocities.
Click here for information on the use of “Military Units to Aid Production”—forced labor camps for conscientious objectors, homosexuals, and other “enemies of the state.”
Click here to learn about the sinking of the 13 de Marzo tugboat which killed 41 fleeing Cubans, including 10 children.
Click here for a breakdown of the murders committed by the Castro regime between 1959 and January 2012.
When celebrating “revolutionary” thinkers, we would do well to actually know what it is that we are discussing. When it comes to Castro, those mourning his death reveal their complete and utter ignorance for history or show their total lack of appreciation for even the most basic human rights—including life.
Fidel Castro died peacefully as an old man. The same cannot be said for the thousands of Cubans who died violently and prematurely at the hands of his regime.