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Vale Fidel Castro: August 13 1926 – November 25 2016

“A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.”

Fidel Castro Ruiz, leader of the Cuban revolution and hero to generations, has died, aged 90.

The media response has been largely what one would expect, running the gamut from tepid praise for the “controversial leader”, to condemnation/celebration of a “dead communist dictator”.

In the wake of the recent US election it’s fair to say mainstream reporting has been a little more slanted than usual. Jingoism and neo-McCarthyism are rampant in the press, even though Russia has been capitalist for 25 years, and China has morphed into hybrid state-capitalism. Throughout the years of change Cuba has remained a torch bearer for socialism and a beacon of resistance against US imperialism.

It’s no surprise to see the new US president-elect denounce Fidel as a brutal tyrant and murderer of his own people – in his former career as real estate tycoon, Trump would have liked nothing better than to put a chain of Casinos on the island. The irony here is easily lost on our short historical memories. Illegal gambling and prostitution were among the things which drove the revolution 57 years ago. Those who operated the brothels and gambling dens were the first to flee rather than face discipline at the hands of the new regime, many making their way to the Florida coast in rickety boats.

Still the criticisms keep coming from the conservative press and people who really should know better. I awoke on Sunday to find this comment on my facebook wall. “This is the most backward country. They have cars that are from the 1950s era. Not to mention that there is no productivity in general, to speak of. Total oppressive regime [sic]”, to which I responded in short shrift:

What do you think happens to a country when the greatest power on earth, which happens to be Cuba’s closest neighbour, places a completely restrictive trade embargo on it so they can’t even sell their sugar to anyone? THIS IS WHY CUBANS DRIVE CARS FROM THE 50s. This is why people are poor, NOT because of a socialist government who stood up to US imperialism. Do you know what life was like BEFORE Fidel? Have you even heard the name Fulgencio Batista? Have you read history AT ALL or do you just go along with what you hear in the western press? The US has wanted to own Cuba for 200 years. Lincoln wanted to annex Cuba as a holding pen for black slaves. Read the Ostend Manifesto from 1854 calling for war with Spain over the colony. In fact there was scarcely a president up until the American Civil War who didn’t seek to Annex Cuba. Backing the Cuban revolutionaries in 1898 was not about Cuban independence, rather an opportunity for the US to lay the boot into a fading colonial power and make its own debut on the world stage. Kicking the Spanish out of Cuba and taking control of Guam and Puerto Rico was a cakewalk, but seizing the Philippines became a quagmire – America’s first Vietnam – Even warmonger-in-chief Teddy Roosevelt would be left catatonic by the end of it. The US has been invading other countries and overthrowing their governments ever since. Why do you think there is constant war in the Middle East? Do you not see who the aggressor is? Or do you really believe in America’s manifest destiny to spread freedom and liberty throughout the world? Ever considered that other countries might also want the right to independent self-rule – the right to choose their own governments and not be dictated to by US policy makers?

Cubans love Castro because he stood up to US bullying. In spite of strangling economic sanctions, Cuba’s successes have been many. Cubans have the highest literacy rates, best healthcare, lowest infant mortality, and best social services in Latin America and indeed most of the developed world. Cuban doctors were on the frontline responding to the Ebola outbreak. Cuban emergency workers were the first respondents to the Haitian earthquake in 2010 and Hurricane Mathew in 2016. If this still fails to make the point, Cuba currently sponsors an adult literacy program in Wilcannia in north western New South Wales. Not the NSW government. Not the federal government. Cuba. Let that sink in.

There is a certain sense of irony when those who denounce Castro as a “communist dictator” refuse to acknowledge their own slave-like conditions under the dictatorship of capital. Are these not the very same people who complain about the unaffordable cost of healthcare, housing, and the burden of student debt? The same ones who will be condemned to poverty when they’ve outlived their usefulness because pensions have become an ‘unsustainable’ burden on the economy?

When the closest thing to humanist values we can show for ourselves is the guarantee of ‘equal opportunity’ to fend for one’s self or be damned, are we really in a position to criticise others? Does the fact that we imprison would-be migrants in tropical hell holes to stop them “taking our jobs” make us any more civilised than those backward Cubans with their 1950s cars?

This is a time of mourning for the Cuban people, and a time for the rest of us to reflect. How did the United Sates, a nation built on the principles of individual liberty and popular self rule, become the greatest imperialist power the world has ever seen? What right does the West have to impose its will on other countries? Cuba has eliminated homelessness and child malnourishment, given the world 4 vaccines against cancer and become the first country to eliminate mother to child transmission of HIV – all whilst in the choke hold of a crippling US embargo. What might this poor Latin American county of 10 million people have achieved without this intervention?

Newt Gingrich, likely pick for Secretary of State in Trump’s new cabinet, says he wants to reinstate the House Un-American Activities Committee. But perhaps instead of trembling in terror at a reanimated “red scare” in all its cartoon-like absurdity, we should instead confront what was widely known in the late 19th century as The American Peril. At a time when the jackboot of US imperialism poses such an enormous threat to human endeavour, Cuba stands as a beacon of hope, thanks to the courage and vision of a great man.

Vale Fidel Castro, and Vive la Revolución!


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  1. townsvilleblog

    Castro made sure that the United States was on the road to ruin before he allowed himself to go. As soon as trump won, he knew he could move on.

  2. Matt

    Thanks Sean,

    An interesting article, with some informative history included.

  3. Keitha Granville

    Was he a dictator, yes but at the behest of the people of Cuba, they had a revolution to give him the power. I don’t think you can go past the healthcare, the chidcare and the fact that no-one in Cuba is homeless. How dare we complain about Fidel. When we can boast those same three achievments then we may have a grizzle. Better we send someone to Cuba to find out how they do it.

  4. presser#1

    Like your correspondent I too have a memory and the ability to read history, so thank you for a more balanced appraisal of Castro than the dribbling hypocrisy currently emanating in the US media from the grandsons and daughters of Batista’s brothel keepers.

  5. helvityni

    I second Keitha Granville’s post; I’m starting to hope that we too will have a revolution in Oz , and soon…

  6. helvityni

    Good point, townsvilleblog 🙂 Well observed.

  7. Freethinker

    I born in South America and know very well the history of the countries under the dictators protected by USA.
    Castro start the Latin America revolution and USA was unable to stop him but managed to help new dictators in many other countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay (plan Condor)all under the direction and supervision of Kissinger a “Noble Peace Prize” winner.
    IMO there are many ways to classifying what it is a dictator or dictatorship regime and USA have dictated for many decades who will run in many South American countries with the support of many friendly countries like England.
    The fascism is coming back again, first in Paraguay and now in Brazil. I hope that the people will be able to stop it again.
    R.I.P. Fidel, you will be for ever on the hearths of the South American people, those that do are not greedy to live exploiting the poor, the black the natives and the working class.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Like pretty much every regime, Castro did both good and bad things – health and education being two great successes as has been mentioned.

    Life expectancy at birth in Cuba is about the same as in the US, despite healthcare spending per capita one 20th the size with one contributing factor being their concentration on preventative health measures – we could learn a lot there. They have more doctors per head of population than many far richer countries and, despite the poverty contributed to by the US embargo, and are ranked 67 out of 188 countries on the UN’s human development index, which measures health, education and living standards, putting them in the “high human development” category.

    Press freedom is another matter.

    One thing I will say, it isn’t only America that has interfered in the government of other countries. Throughout history we have been appropriating other countries or installing sympathetic regimes and there have been many parties complicit. The whole Middle East got divided up between England and France as did much of Asia and Africa with the Dutch getting their share too. Not to mention forays by Germany, Russia and China. And our tagging along whenever we’re called.

    Even Castro interfered abroad, supporting anti-imperialist revolutionary groups and backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua, and Grenada, and sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur War, Ogaden War, and Angolan Civil War.

    Very few countries have clean hands.

  9. paulwalter

    Deadly accurate as usual, is Sean Stinson.

  10. Freethinker

    Kaye, the difference between Cuba backing and supporting other country governments were that those governments like in Chile were democratically elected.
    Allende government was nationalist and upset USA corporations which lobbied the government when Allende nationalized the cooper mines.
    The same applies to Cuba in Africa which supported those that were against exploitation.
    USA was the country that was involved in removing Allende and also was involved in the other countries that I have mentioned.
    IMO the positive things that Cuba have done in other countries by sending hundreds of medical teams are more that those negative policies.
    As an example,in Uruguay alone (there are another 14 countries that I am aware), Cuban eye specialist performed 50000 free operations .
    Between 2005 and 2007 2027 people were send to Cuba to have the operations done, all free including the return trip.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Yes Freethinker. That is a wonderful contribution, the extent of which I was not previously aware. Not only do they have a doctor for every 170 residents, they have exported doctors through United Nations programs and bilateral arrangements for decades, providing more medical personnel than any other country. They are doing a deal with PNG as we speak, to the chagrine of some unemployed PNG doctors.

    As for the overseas interventions, I make no judgement….just mentioned that we all do it.

  12. jimhaz

    “Cuba currently sponsors an adult literacy program in Wilcannia in north western New South Wales. Not the NSW government. Not the federal government. Cuba. Let that sink in”

    It does not sponsor – it was designed by Cubans and perhaps other Sth Americans

  13. Zathras

    Interesting to know that Cuba’s international indigenous literacy programme benefitted some residents of Wilcannia when it was used there.

    Eventually, history will be much kinder to Castro when all the facts are known.

    For example, the so-called JFK Missile Crisis “show-down” was really solved diplomatically behind the scenes and was not quite the Hollywood script story is has been made out to be and it was the Americans who drove Castro to gain support from the USSR (who he detested) when they forbade the UK from selling him weapons after the failed Bay of Pigs attack.

    People also forget that revolutions are not spontaneous events and are a reaction to oppressive regimes that usually deserve to be overthrown.

    He was certainly a dictator but at least he remained independent of US influence for his entire reign.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Good finding jimhaz

    “In 2012 a pilot of this model began in the western NSW Aboriginal community of Wilcannia, funded by the Commonwealth WELL program. In 2013-14, the pilot was extended to two more communities in the same region,with funding support from the Commonwealth and NSW governments.”

    They have basically eliminated illiteracy in Cuba so it is worthy of praise, but we should be factual about funding.

  15. Freethinker

    As I am aware, and can be wrong, the education method is created by Cuba and called Si Yo Puedo, mean Yes, I can.
    Aboriginal Land Council base in Wilcannia started the campaign pilot with the backing of the Cuban Government and the collaboration of the Wilcannia Central School, the University of New England (UNE) and the Australian Government.
    Everything started by the Aboriginal community controlled health sector that the training of Aboriginal Health Workers that become aware of the Cuban assistance in Timor.
    A Cuban trainer lived for quite few months in Wilcannia establishing the system.

    Just doing some search about the method, in Wikipedia is the following information, quote:
    o date, this method has been used in 29 nations allowing over 6 million people to develop basic literacy. End of Quote

    Very impressive indeed.

  16. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well done, Sean Stinson.

    Vale Fidel Castro! I applaud his strength of character in standing up to American Expansionism and global neoliberalism.

    Usually I am interested in Bernard Keane’s political observations, but on Twitter he remarked upon my disappointment that such a proud socialist and anti-American Expansionist had died, with the pointed question regarding the alleged Castro human rights abuses against political opponents.

    Castro’s legacy will be greater than any living leader in current times by a million miles but it will also cause division between normal allies.

  17. Frederick Froth

    Meanwhile while Castro was being demonized the USA sponsored death squads that operated throughout Central and South America during the Reagan years and beyond were being trained at this “freedom” loving institution.

  18. Freethinker

    Yes Frederick and before Regan as well the Nixon and Ford administrations were well involved as well with Kissinger as the man in charge.
    By the way, the French were involved as well under the presidency of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who collaborated with the Argentinian dictator Videla.

  19. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Exactly Frederick Froth.

    Do they think we forget CIA’s puppet leaders in South American countries and CIA $$ pouring in to kill ordinary people in those South American countries?

  20. Kaye Lee


    Castro’s human rights abuses should not be forgotten – executions, political prisoners, surveillance, censorship.

    It does not change the rightful legacy in health and education but it would be dishonest to sweep the rest of it under the carpet.

  21. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I was not aware I was sweeping Castro’s wrongs away actually.

    Please don’t assume I would condone anybody’s human rights abuses by association!

  22. Kaye Lee

    Ummm…I don’t think I said that. I was responding to your comment about Bernard Keane. I didn’t mean you were being dishonest, just that I can understand his comment.

  23. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Unfortunately, his and your comments both come across as moral supremacy.

  24. Glenn K

    it always bothers me when Castro is referred to as a “dictator” because in our western eyes and ears there is a lot of implied meaning in dictator, which is unfair and wrong. Certainly he was the leader of a single party state and he held ultimate and absolute authority – generally the saying is true that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”. However, I do believe that in Castro’s case, absolute power did not corrupt. This is what makes his leadership so exceptional and one of the reasons why her is revered in so many parts of the world where the poor and exploited have suffered so badly.
    Were all the leaders of the world to be cut from the same cloth as Castro, we would live in a peaceful and prosperous and fair global society.
    Never underestimate the tensions of living beside the most powerful country in the world that wanted nothing more than to crush you. His legacy is an exceptional one (not withstanding some of those boring and tedious and loooooong speeches)

  25. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Glenn K.

    Cuba has had America breathing down its neck for centuries.

    In fact, America considered Cuba its colony when Castro’s predecessor, Batista (aka the American puppet rentboy) was in power.

  26. Freethinker

    I do not support human rights abuses but at the same time before pass judgment people have to become aware of the history of Cuba and for that matter the problem with corruption in Latin America where it have become an acceptable behavior.
    Castro was ruthless with the enemy of the revolution and the revolution lasted until today because that.
    Castro lived more than 600 murder attempts because he did not trusted people in a face value. Che was naive and was killed because a poor farm worker sold him out to the enemy.
    Perhaps people have to study from a neutral source the history of Cuba to see the problems there.
    A short article is here: and about Batista here:

  27. Freethinker

    Jennifer I guess that we can say about the revolution alleged atrocities is that back then was something like ” if I do not kill you soon or later you will kill me” Sad really….

  28. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    things may have changed in that immediate brutality is not the currency.

    However, if it were not for Castro’s determined stance, there would not be the socio-economic rights and expectations that Cubans enjoy such as free health care, free higher education and accessible housing for every citizen.

  29. Freethinker

    I agree Jennifer, Cuba before 1959 was a like a melting pot of casinos, brothels, slavery, and human exploitation as a norm among other things for the benefit of the few including the mafia.
    The ones that were not killed went to Miami or other countries in South America which were under friendly dictators like Batista.
    Batista if I recall correctly went to Portugal.

  30. Zathras

    Perhaps Castro’s smartest move was in response to America’s demand that he release a significant number of people wanting to leave Cuba after the revolution.

    Apparently he emptied the prisons and some asylums and sent the inmates to Florida, where some went on to establish organised crime gangs (probably inspired in part by previous Havana Mafia connections) and that legacy still persists today.

  31. Matt

    Kaye Lee,

    Regarding: “executions, political prisoners, surveillance, censorship.”

    Is there evidence of executions? As for political prisoners and censorship, I can see that as a ‘lesser of two evils’ possibly, given that the CIA is great at stirring up local disruptions for people in power (see Indonesia for example, where they also diposed an elected government). It would be very to hold the ship together in Cuba, and there would be plenty of people (and governments) prepared to create political chaos to try and create the type of regime/fake democracy (or whatever) that was their pet political system. I bet if Castro had not done these things the whole apple cart would have been upturned at some point, and Cuba would now be a US capitalist outpost.

    As for surveillance – we are probably among the best in the world at that these days.

  32. Kaye Lee

    The executions were more when the coup was staged

    “The newly victorious rebels executed hundreds – some say thousands – after seizing power in 1959. Debate still rages over whether this was a legitimate settling of accounts with Fulgencio Batista’s henchmen or kangaroo court-sanctioned atrocities.”

    And perhaps the tight rein was necessary but I certainly wouldn’t want to live that way.

    “The revolution’s defenders called the oppression a survival strategy for a small Caribbean island besieged by a hostile superpower which deployed spooks, stooges and would-be assassins. Detractors called it tyranny.

    Over ensuing decades Castro used threats, jail and banishment against critics, including intellectuals, journalists and former allies. State media became a mouthpiece for the leader.

    Officials heavily censored books, newspapers, radio, television, music and film, stunting discourse even while promoting arts and culture. Only a few Cubans were trusted with full internet access. Havana ranked near the bottom of Reporters Without Borders’ press freedom index.

    Peaceful attempts at democratic reform, such as the Varela project, triggered swift crackdowns, including the so-called Black Spring in 2003.”

    And I agree about the surveillance….if I type the word “bananas” the white van has pulled up at the door. Send help.

  33. Matt

    Thanks Kaye Lee,

    “if I type the word “bananas” the white van has pulled up at the door. Send help.” – I am sure if they do show up it just to protect us all from a hostile super power, oh hang on – who could that be!.


  34. Kaye Lee


    The really sad thing is that the white van is very much in use in Australia. They turn up in the middle of the night to drag refugees and temporary visa holders off to incarcerate them indefinitely. They take young Aboriginal children hundreds of miles away from their families and lock them up on remand, once again without any definite time frame – that’s if they survive the trip in the back of the van.

    So we really aren’t in a position to decry someone else’s oppression

  35. Harquebus

    I am not knowledgeable enough on this subject to make a definitive comment however, I have read Sean’s submission and have been following all of the subsequent comments.
    Thank you all for the history lesson.

  36. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear MN

  37. James Mason

    Heaps of thanks for a real look at a great human being .. Excellent article Sean.

  38. OrchidJar

    Castro as an enemy of capitalism?
    I read that his net worth as of a decade ago was 900million. I presume that figure is substantially higher now.
    Hardly the stuff of either the Scriptures, Morelly, or Marx;
    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”

    It’s a sad and common failing for partisan ideologues to try to mask the errors of their own behind the errors of their adversaries; that there’s no need to interrogate your own failings because that guy’s failings, over there, are always bigger, always worse.
    Not only is that a disgraceful revisionism but it also demonstrates the myopic tendencies of the radical, be they left or right.

  39. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    Castro was a stalwart against American Expansionism.

    If Australia wasn’t littered with Lib/Lab wimps over and over again (except Gough and his comrades of earlier Labor when they were True Believers), we wouldn’t be the neoliberalist bunch of twats that we are now.

  40. Freethinker

    OrchidJar that information come from Forbes in 2006, believing in the source it like believing what thr MSN editors are writing.
    Forbes cites unnamed former Cuban officials who “insist Castro, who travels exclusively in a fleet of black Mercedes, has skimmed profits”
    Forbes. in the article admits however, that “these estimates are more art than science.”
    Castro replied: “If they can prove that I have a bank account abroad, with $900 million, with $1 million, $500,000, $100,000 or $1 in it, I will resign,”

    We are still waiting for Forbes to come with the proof.

    By the way, the Mercedes is the Government car like Turnbull use the BMW here.

  41. helvityni

    Jennifer, we don’t weep when we lose our PMs by drowning or by losing elections…Most times we celebrate; good riddens of Abbott…and open a bottle Champagne…

    I was overseas when we lost Whitlam; hearing the news I was a bit teary for once…

  42. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    True, Helvi

  43. Barry

    Castro was an enigma within an enigma. Portrayed to us outside Cuba by governments and media as a murderous, vengeful thug as he undoubtedly was to certain sections of society. Having said that, imagine a government in Australia that had the bottle to implement some of the things he did. No, I’m not advocating a dictatorship but a society where everyone is equal when it comes to healthcare, education, a hand up when you’re down, support in your declining years or in effect, a return to the good old fashioned fair go.

  44. Freethinker

    It will be a dream, it only can happen if the Australian people go trough the same suffering that the Cuban people went trough for more than 60 years or more.

  45. Matt

    Kaye Lee,

    “They take young Aboriginal children hundreds of miles away from their families and lock them up on remand, once again without any definite time frame – that’s if they survive the trip in the back of the van”

    Well if that is true – and I have no reason to doubt you – then that is appalling. I cannot criticise the stance against our refugee policies taken by the protestors in parliament either. Eventually, if things continue to decline, then parliament will be meaningless anyway, and our politicians will find themselves droning on impotently and irrelevantly. That is not a threat from me, but rather a deduction of the one of the consequences of the inevitable collapse we are facing globally.


  46. OrchidJar

    Point taken Freethinker. I am unperturbed though. The point being that if he died with more than a pollies pension then we have a big problem with this incessant 5 day syrupy narrative of Castro as a socialist revolutionary beacon.

    Speaking of challenges, I also read that he threatened to sue Forbes if they continued to publish.
    He didn’t.

    But let’s not worry about it too much, that’s probably also an sub editors dastardly insertion.

  47. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    do you question Putin’s wealth and nepotism to his rich insider crony mates, as much as you imply Castro’s self-interest?

  48. Freethinker

    OrchidJar, obviously your have your opinion based in what you read, I have my opinion coming from South America and knowing people that being in Cuba for few years on the on the very early 1960’s and after that.
    Do not compare Castro or any of his team that risked their life for their country to the pollies from here, USA or many other countries. Politicians in “democratic” countries send others to risk their life for the benefit of them and there mates.
    By the way what was Castro pension, was your source Forbes which is busy publishing the parties in Miami?
    Perhaps you are reading articles based on Juan Reinaldo Sanchez?

  49. helvityni

    Freethinker, we were having lunch and looking for some books at Berkelow Books at Berrima today; we met a nice Uruguayan family, whose daughter had lately moved to the area.

    They were keen to talk and so were we, unfortunately the two little girls were getting irritable and had to be taken home to sleep…

    Pity, as we were interested to find out their views on Castro…

  50. Freethinker

    helvityni all depends of their age to have a strong opinion or not. I lived those years in South America and know very well of people lived in countries under dictators like Batista.
    New generations have their opinion formed by information from others and it is different to the one of my generation.
    There are many thousands of Uruguayans here that are political refugees or run away from there because their future or life was not very good.
    Those Uruguayans come here from 1968 to the late 1980’s.
    El Che, Fidel Raul and Camilo Cienfuegos together with thew other 80 or so people that start the revolution in Cuba are heroes to many of us.

    PS, I love Berrima,

  51. OrchidJar

    Jennifer, I question any politicians wealth gained through graft, corruption, nepotism, dictatorship, fraud, abuse.
    I tend however to question less those who suckle at the teat of capitalism. I don’t expect much from them. And i doubt there’ll be a million words written about them at their death about how they shone as guiding lights for an international solidarity of workers and peasants in the eternal Hegelian dialectic, Marx’s drama of labour and capital.

    Freethinker, i’ve read enough to believe that Castro died a very wealthy man. That’s enough for me to excuse myself from the adulation.
    However, if you have access to his accounts and can dissuade me that opinion, I’m all ears.

  52. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    Castro appreciators such as myself are not Castro adulators.

    Your one size fits all does not work here.

    Castro showed there was an alternative route to Western Expansionism, especially the American variety.

    Like I said before, if Australia still showed that same vaginal and ballsy commitment, we would not be satisfied with the Lib/Lab floosies now.

    We would already have the fast-rail going North-South across the continent and West-East in different trajectories from current lines.

    We would not have neoliberalism ruling our every move.

    We would have un-threatened Medicare, universal free higher education and no homelessness.

    We even could have full employment and everyone could expect to own their own home if they so chose.

    Tell me that those expectations are wrong.

  53. Freethinker

    Agree with you Jennifer, it is nothing to do with adulation, it is respect and agree with the people of Cuba and their leaders that greed and capitalism economy theories that benefit few and separate classes do not are welcome there.
    Those against the revolution cannot accept the dedication of people involved in the revolution to bring education, health and even standard of living for all.
    Those people are formed under neoliberalism, capitalism and greed where competition and rule of the strong applies.
    I do not bother to keep dialog with them, I have different values and will never arrive to a consensus.

  54. OrchidJar

    Jennifer – November 30, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    The adulation I was referring to were the reams of editorials and eulogies issued these past 5 days in unadulterated praise of the man and his legacy.

    As for the rest of your post, I hereby present you with the AIMN’s inaugural “Post Truth’ Award.

    I honestly wouldn’t know where to begin to address such homespun myopic nonsense as that.
    The greatest tragedy for me is that we are both on the left.
    As far as I’m concerned I have two battles to fight – against the rapacious conservatives and their brutal ideology of privilege, and against dim left authoritarian ideologues who have a distinct aversion to politics, history, and facts.
    Often it hard to know which is worse.

    But that’s the left for you, worlds apart.

    To Freethinker, perhaps you’d like to take up the argument with Amnesty?
    i belong to the George Orwell school of reality vs idealism. When presented with the rationalising cliche of Soviet horror:
    “you can’t make an omeltte without breaking a few eggs”, he responded by asking “where’s the omelette?”

  55. Zathras

    The stories of Castro’s amassed wealth (as well as his fleet of yachts and bevvy of women) seemed to have come out of nowhere and without foundation.
    Why would he need money and where could he spend it? It’s not like he was going to leave Cuba for another State and live in exiled luxury.

    Saddam Hussein however, allegedly fled with a lot of cash but in his case, some of it came from our own Wheat Board.

    In fact as far as dictators go we seem to tolerate and support them for our own convenience but jump on the propaganda bandwagon at the behest of our allies.

    Pinochet’s greatest supporter was Margaret Thatcher and the selective support for oppressive Chilean and Panamanian regimes are a matter of history, as was the highly suspect invasion of Grenada.

  56. Matt

    Whatever people think of Castro and the way he ruled, the truth is that Cuba is an example that we should all be very interested in. During the special period it showed that you can sustainably produce and distribute food without chemical fertilizers, poison sprays, without massive industrial farms but rather based on large numbers of small farms and local markets. Cuba was permaculture on a national scale. Maybe you can argue whether we should be living like Cuba did under a democracy or a dictatorship, or whatever, but the truth is we all need to reduce our resource use, get healthier and repair our damaged environment. The current path we are on is leading to a mathematically certain disaster, and the main thing stopping change is self-interest, an attitude tightly associated with modern capitalism. Cuba showed that you can have privately run farms, markets etc on a grand scale, thus in the special period Cuba ironically was more of a free market system than America with its small oligarchy of massive food companies as depicted in Food Inc.

    Therefore the main lesson/issue here is not about capitalism or dictatorships it is about how we can have a fair system where everyone is looked after, educated and we are not destroying our environment or participating in foreign wars. Cuba under Castro – partly through design, partly through unexpected circumstance – showed how this is possible.

  57. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Matt.

  58. Matters Not

    Both Fidel and Che were doctors and health was given a very high priority:

    In the article from The Lancet, Arjun Suri points out that despite spending one tenth per capita of what the US spends on health, Cuba’s infant mortality rate is better than the US and that the two countries have equivalent life expectancy.

    I think it is fairly clear that the Cuban success derives from two main features. The first is that Cuban Health Care is based in the community and not in hospitals and is focussed on prevention. The second is that Cuba has been spared the devastation of private health insurance which makes US healthcare the most expensive in the world with extremely poor health outcomes.

    Perhaps we have much to learn? In Australia, we bleed medical graduates from needy third world nations because of poor planning. On the other hand, Cuba exports doctors all over the world.

  59. Freethinker

    Correction, Fidel was a lawyer graduate on the Havana University.
    Che, yes was a Physician

  60. helvityni

    MN, maybe the Cuban diet is also better, not so much sugary drinks and fattening fast food…?

  61. Matters Not

    Yes freethinker, while he graduated as a Doctor he wasn’t a medical doctor. My error.

    Graduating in 1950 as a Doctor of Law, Castro began his legal practice. He started a legal partnership with Jorge Azpiazu and Rafael Resende, focusing on helping poor Cubans assert their rights but poor finances let to the closure of the firm.

    helvityni, I think it might be the Cigars. Or maybe the Rum? LOL.

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