The death of Fidel Castro, for those of us living in the belly of the beast, has meant being forced to endure non-stop lies and hypocrisy from the mass media about Fidel. According to our “free press,” Fidel was a “brutal dictator” who would not allow “democratic” elections like we have here. Two words put the lie to the story that US-style elections bring justice and prosperity: Donald Trump.
Over and over again we hear that Cubans are ground down by poverty, live in hovels, are being starved, and have miserable health care. Yet Cubans live longer, on average, than people in almost every other Latin American country. Cubans live as long as those in many rich European countries. Cubans live as long as we do in the good old capitalist US, and life expectancy in the US is going down. How is it possible that Cubans live so long if the Cuban economy is such a wreck?
We are told that Fidel wanted to keep Cubans ignorant. Yet the first thing his government did was eradicate the illiteracy that Cuba’s former masters had allowed to flourish. Today, illiteracy in the US is still an unacknowledged scourge among the poor. In the bad old days, it was even a crime to teach slaves to read.
We are told that Fidel imprisoned his political opponents. Tell that to Leonard Peltier. Tell that to Mumia Abu-Jamal. Tell that to Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. Tell that to the thousands of black and brown and white prisoners in the nation that has the largest prison population in the world, the nation that accounts for over 20% of all the prisoners in the world.
We are told that Fidel executed a few hundred of the former dictator’s henchmen after the revolution. The US promotes death squads throughout Latin America, maintains deadly domestic police forces that shoot to kill on a daily basis, and kills untold thousands every year through poverty and war all over the planet.
We are told that Fidel allied his country with the Soviet Union. The US allied itself with apartheid South Africa, with the European colonialists, and with dictators and repressive regimes in every corner of the world far too numerous to list here.
We are told that Fidel sent troops to Africa to support independent Angola and to fight South Africa. The US sent troops to Vietnam, to the Dominican Republic, to Grenada, to Panama, to Iraq, to Afghanistan. The US maintains military forces all over the globe, on land, on sea and in the air – the largest military force in history.
We are told that Fidel let the Soviet Union put nuclear weapons in Cuba. The US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and still has thousands of nuclear warheads ready and waiting to destroy civilization at the push of a button.
We are told that Fidel supported guerrillas and revolutionary movements throughout Latin America. The US promotes counter-revolution and terror throughout Latin America. The US treats everything south of the border as its own the backyard, condemning millions to poverty and inequality, intervening only to protect the rich and powerful.
Has Cuba ever invaded the US? It was the US that organized the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
Has Cuba ever occupied any US territory? It is the US that occupies Guantanamo.
Has Cuba ever imposed an economic embargo on the US?
Fidel gave long, long speeches. Our President-elect communicates with 140-character tweets.
Fidel’s real crime, of course, was kicking the Mafia out of Cuba, of nationalizing American corporate holdings, building schools instead of providing cheap labor for the capitalists, organizing a universal and free health care system instead of creating profit centers for medical and insurance companies, slashing rents instead of allowing landlords to get rich, giving people jobs that build up the country rather than jobs that build up the wealth of a ruling class.
If that is “dictatorship,” we need more of it.
This article was first published by San Francisco Bay View.