The left’s love af­fair with Cas­tro

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION - Cal Thomas

In a state­ment fol­low­ing the death of Cuban dic­ta­tor Fidel Cas­tro, Pres­i­dent Obama spoke of “the count­less ways in which (Cas­tro) al­tered the course of in­di­vid­ual lives, fam­i­lies, and of the Cuban na­tion.”

That’s an un­der­state­ment as the thousands who have risked their lives over the years to es­cape from Cuba have tes­ti­fied.

The pres­i­dent added: “His­tory will record and judge the enor­mous im­pact of this sin­gu­lar fig­ure on the peo­ple and world around him.”

Why wait on his­tory? We can judge him now.

For six decades the left has lauded Cas­tro as a sec­u­lar sav­ior, see­ing only what they wanted to see and re­port­ing only what the Cuban gov­ern­ment wanted them to re­port.

Ex­am­ples are le­gion, but this one is typ­i­cal: In Fe­bru­ary 1988, the State Depart­ment named Cuba one of the world’s big­gest hu­man rights op­pres­sors. NBC News reporter Ed Ra­bel vis­ited Ha­vana to check it out. Rich Noyes of the Me­dia Re­search Cen­ter, the con­ser­va­tive me­dia watch­dog, writes: “NBC’s con­cil­ia­tory ap­proach al­lowed Cas­tro to spew lies about his drug con­nec­tions and the won­der­ful achieve­ments of the Cuban rev­o­lu­tion.” Ra­bel re­ported, “There is, in Cuba, gov­ern­ment in­tru­sion into ev­ery­one’s life, from the mo­ment he is born un­til the day he dies. The rea­son­ing is that the gov­ern­ment wants to bet­ter the lives of its cit­i­zens and keep them from ex­ploit­ing or hurt­ing one another . ... On a sunny day in a park in the old city of Ha­vana it is dif­fi­cult to see any­thing that is sin­is­ter.”

Over the years, celebri­ties made pil­grim­ages to Ha­vana. Each time they mar­veled at the sup­posed ex­cel­lence of Cuba’s med­i­cal care and qual­ity of ed­u­ca­tion. In the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of Cas­tro’s death, the pat­tern was re­peated. Typ­i­cal was An­drea Mitchell, who gushed on MSNBC: “(Cas­tro) gave his peo­ple bet­ter health care and ed­u­ca­tion.”

Mitchell and other Cas­tro dis­ci­ples ap­par­ently never read a July 2007 ar­ti­cle in Na­tional Re­view ti­tled, “The Myth of Cuban Health Care.” The magazine was among many pub­li­ca­tions that de­stroyed the no­tion of out­stand­ing health care in Cuba, not­ing that the coun­try of­fers three med­i­cal tiers. One tier is for celebri­ties and tourists, re­quir­ing pay­ment in hard cash to help bol­ster the regime. The sec­ond tier is for Cuba’s top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. The third tier is for ev­ery­one else, which the magazine called “... wretched. Hos­pi­tals and clin­ics are crum­bling. Con­di­tions are so un­san­i­tary, pa­tients may be bet­ter off at home, what­ever home is. If they do go to the hospi­tal, they must bring their own bed sheets, soap, tow­els, food, light bulbs, even toi­let pa­per. And ba­sic med­i­ca­tions are scarce ... find­ing an as­pirin can be a chore. And an an­tibi­otic will fetch a for­tune on the black mar­ket.”

As for “ex­cel­lence” in Cuba’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, a Fe­bru­ary 2015 ar­ti­cle in The At­lantic punc­tured that myth: “Un­der Fidel Cas­tro, ed­u­ca­tion be­came uni­ver­sal — but he also stip­u­lated that any­one who re­ceived this ed­u­ca­tion would have to ac­tively pro­mote gov­ern­ment poli­cies both dur­ing and af­ter their school­ing. They would also be re­quired to take gov­ern­ment-ap­proved cour­ses that didn’t tol­er­ate any crit­i­cism of so­cial­ism as a way of life. In other words, ed­u­ca­tion was seen as key to the rev­o­lu­tion tak­ing hold and cre­at­ing a lit­er­ate pop­u­la­tion loyal to the gov­ern­ment.”

The left, so con­cerned about hu­man rights in Amer­ica and other non-com­mu­nist coun­tries, ig­nores their vi­o­la­tions in Cuba. As Hu­man Rights Watch noted ear­lier this year, “The Cuban gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to re­press dis­sent and dis­cour­age pub­lic crit­i­cism. While in re­cent years it has re­lied less on longterm prison sen­tences to pun­ish its crit­ics, short-term ar­bi­trary ar­rests of hu­man rights de­fend­ers, in­de­pen­dent jour­nal­ists, and other crit­ics have in­creased dra­mat­i­cally. Other re­pres­sive tac­tics em­ployed by the gov­ern­ment in­clude beat­ings, pub­lic acts of sham­ing, and the ter­mi­na­tion of em­ploy­ment.”

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s state­ment was more di­rect and ac­cu­rate than Pres­i­dent Obama’s: “To­day, the world marks the pass­ing of a bru­tal dic­ta­tor who op­pressed his own peo­ple for nearly six decades. Fidel Cas­tro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, un­imag­in­able suf­fer­ing, poverty and the de­nial of fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights.”

This should be his­tory’s judg­ment on Fidel Cas­tro, de­pend­ing on who writes it.

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