Remembering Castro’s Crimes

William Doino, Jr., has an article over at First Things on Remembering Castro’s Crimes

The basic facts of Fidel Castro’s fifty year reign-of-terror, now passed on to his equally brutal brother, Raul, are these.

As soon as Fidel emerged from the Sierra Maestra Mountains with his band of revolutionaries, having overthrown the corrupt and widely detested General Fulgencio Batista, Castro was treated as a conquering hero. His romantic image as a liberator of the oppressed convinced many reporters, academics, celebrities and even religious to believe he was a genuine social reformer, when he was anything but that.

As Georgie Anne Geyer reveals in her biography, Guerilla Prince: The Untold Storey of Fidel Castro, Fidel has always been a deceiver, an egoist and a thug. From his earliest days as a radical university student, Castro had an attraction to violence and totalitarianism (modeling himself after Mussolini), and once his ambitions to take over Cuba came true, he put his beliefs into practice.

The first to fall victim to his violent impulses were his political opponents, who were executed en masseafter show trials, by Nazi-like firing squads. But Castro’s long-time allies also became targets. Huber MatosManuel Urrutia and Carlos Franqui—who all worked with Castro to overthrow Batista—were soon demonized, jailed or exiled because they opposed Communism and envisioned an independent Cuba. Castro, who had assured the world in 1959 that he was not a Communist, immediately proved he was exactly that, suddenly announcing he was a Marxist-Leninist and would be till his dying day.

The consequences for Cuba and the world have been profound. Once in power, Castro banned the democratic elections he once promised, expropriated private property, created a one-party Communist state, and ruthlessly suppressed all forms of dissent and opposition. He dismantled the once thriving Catholic Church, crushing its educational system, expelling hundreds of priests, and forcibly indoctrinating baptized believers with atheism and Marxism. It is this fractured and persecuted Church that Pope Francis is now trying to revive, against huge obstacles in a police state.

Having willfully turned the island into a Soviet satellite (and well before America’s ill-advised Bay of Pigs invasion), Castro welcomed the shipment of Soviet nuclear missiles there, provoking a crisis that nearly incinerated the world. He sent his troops to fight—and needlessly to die—for tyrannies abroad, and supported anti-American terrorist and revolutionary movements across the globe. He allowed desperate Cubans to drown at sea, rather than allow them to properly emigrate. And all the while, he lived a life of luxury, even as he bragged about being a champion of Cuba’s poor.

The number of deaths attributable to Castro’s regime is thought to be in the tens of thousands, though some say that is a conservative estimate.

The attempt to erase these memories is a crime, and no one who cares about the Cuban people, past or present, should allow a diplomatic accord to succeed in doing so.