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    A child plays in front of a mural of late former Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the market in Managua, Nicaragua November 27, 2016.

    Fidel Castro's Legacy and the Hypocrisy of His Detractors

    © REUTERS/ Oswaldo Rivas
    Opinion
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    John Wight
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    Fidel Castro's death, at 90, has sparked a fierce debate in the West over his legacy. I specifically mention the West as elsewhere there is no debate: Castro is lauded as one of history's great emancipators, a man who led a revolution that succeeded in throwing off the yoke of US imperialism.

    But in the West the liberal commentariat has united as one in denouncing Castro as an evil tyrant and torturer who ruled Cuba for over five decades with an iron fist, quashing the human rights of the Cuban people, who in the wake of his death can now look forward to the future safe in the knowledge that freedom and democracy beckons.

    People place candles beside a picture of Fidel, as part of a tribute, following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras November 26, 2016
    © REUTERS/ Jorge Cabrera
    People place candles beside a picture of Fidel, as part of a tribute, following the announcement of the death of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras November 26, 2016

    When we talk about Castro's critics, it is worth pointing out that we are talking here people who live in societies where poverty has been unofficially criminalized and the poor demonized, despised, and abandoned to a fate of destitution and despair.

    We are talking, in the main, the kind of men and women who walk or drive past the ever-growing army of homeless who colonize the streets of towns and cities throughout the West, casualties of a neoliberal economic system that is the real tyrant in our world, without batting an eyelid.

    In other words, we are talking people whose condemnation of Fidel Castro is suffused with hypocrisy, the kind that is common among those who have imbibed the received truths of empire.

    The most fundamental of those truths is that the West has been divinely ordained with the task of colonizing a Third World — culturally, economically, and geopolitically — that consists of peoples of lower cultures, civilizations and human worth.

    Dozens of people are bringing flowers to the Cuban embassy in Washington on Saturday to honor the memory of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who passed away on Friday night
    © Sputnik/ Liudmila Chernova
    Dozens of people are bringing flowers to the Cuban embassy in Washington on Saturday to honor the memory of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, who passed away on Friday night

    The metric by which Castro's legacy should be judged is the transformation of Cuba as a result of the revolution he led and inspired. And in this regard one salient fact shines forth more than any other — namely that the only place in the world where you will find homeless Cuban children today is Miami.

    Let us take a moment to examine in detail the legacy of the "tyrant" Fidel Castro:

     

    • Cuba is today the only country in the Americas where child malnourishment does not exit (UNICEF).
    • Cuba has the lowest child mortality rate in the Americas (UNICEF). 130,000 students have graduated from medical school in Cuba since 1961
    • Cuba has eliminated homelessness (Knoema)
    • 54% of Cuba's national budget is used for social services. Cuba has the best education system in Latin America
    • Cuba has sent hundreds of doctors and nurses on medical missions across the Third World
    • Cuba was the first country to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV (World Health Organization)

     

    If only the Haitian people or the people of the Dominican Republic had such a tyrant ruling their countries. If only the poor in the US and UK had such a tyrant at the head of their respective governments.

    When it comes to the accusation that homosexuals were persecuted in Cuba after the revolution, there is no doubt that LGBT rights were non-existent in Cuba in the sixties and for most of the seventies, just as they were non existent throughout much of the world.

    Homosexuality, for example, was decriminalized in Cuba in 1979, which compares favorably to Scotland and Northern Ireland in the UK, where it was decriminalized in 1980 and 1982 respectively. Moreover, same-sex sexual activity was only made legal across the entire United States in 2003. It is also worth bearing in mind that homosexuality today is criminalized in Saudi Arabia — a close UK and US ally and a society in which women are treated as chattel and people are routinely beheaded — where it is punishable by death.

    The fact is that the existence of homophobia in Cuba predated Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution by around five centuries. It was entrenched as part of the cultural values of Cuban society, indeed the cultural values throughout the Americas, courtesy of the Catholic Church. Fidel Castro was a product of those values and to his credit later renounced them, awakening to the justice of LGBT rights. Today his own niece, Mariela Castro, plays an active role in the Cuban LGBT community, leading the country's annual gay pride parade in Havana last year.

    As for torture, meanwhile, the only place on the island of Cuba where this can be found is at the US military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

    The key point to be borne in mind when it comes to Cuba and its state of development is that countries and societies do not exist on blank sheets of paper. In the Third World their development cannot be divorced from a real life struggle against the huge obstacles placed in their way by histories of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and imperialism, responsible for retarding their progress in service to the exploitation of their human and natural resources.

    The legitimacy of the Cuban Revolution lies in its survival in the face of the aforementioned US blockade, designed to starve the country to its knees for daring to refuse to be slaves of global capital. To understand what that would look like all we need do is cast our eyes over to the aforementioned Haiti or Dominican Republic, countries of comparable size located in the same region. Compared to them Cuba stands as a beacon of dignity, social and economic justice, and sustainable development. 

    The lack of political rights in Cuba throughout Castro's lifetime is directly attributable to the US embargo and threat of invasion and subversion by the most destructive superpower the world has ever known, whose record in destroying Third World countries is inarguable. Numerous acts of US-sponsored terrorism have been committed against Cuba and the Cuban people over the years, yet the lack of invective being directed at Washington stands in contrast to the amount unleashed against Castro and his legacy. Funny that.

    Fidel Castro was no dictator. On the contrary, he dedicated his life to resisting Washington's dictatorship of the Third World. As a result of the Cuban Revolution the right to be homeless, illiterate, and to go without healthcare no longer exists in Cuba. In their place have come the most fundamental human rights of all — the right to be educated, to healthcare that is free at the point of need, and the right to live with dignity and pride in being the citizen of a small island that has stood over decades as a beacon of justice in an ocean of injustice.

    This, in truth, is the reason 'they' despise him. And this, in truth, is why millions of Cubans will come out and pay tribute to his life and legacy on the day of his funeral. For them he will forever be 'El Comandante'.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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    Tags:
    legacy, revolution, human rights, politics, Fidel Castro, United States, Cuba
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    • avatar
      Archibald
      The Catholic Church has not promoted persecution or discrimination of gay people. It considers that it is counter-natura, which is something very different.
    • avatar
      double bonus
      [In other words, we are talking people whose condemnation of Fidel Castro is suffused with hypocrisy, the kind that is common among those who have imbibed the received truths of empire.]

      Not really. It would be hypocrisy for anyone not left of Socialist Commies [like Bernie or Obama] to ever praise Castro for anything. Talking up his healthcare and educations achievements, is like celebrating Soviet Communism because
      the trains still ran on time, even after the collapse.
    • avatar
      julcas
      OK, so according to you Stalin was bad, Castros are good. Really ?, FYI Castro is guilty of 100 criminal lies to cuba, destroyed the economy with his stupid wimps and personality cult, sent to jails any one that dared to opposed his stupid economical disasters; we can list at least 100 stupid expensive desctructive decisions made by #1, NO ONE could contradict his iganorance; TALK ? oh yeah, as a lawyer he was better than Obama and JFK, no doubts, maybe only Musolini came close. The Castros are a mafia of thieves, that made the people work for the revolution and now people sale their children and the castro mafia owns bars, marinas, clubs, restaurants, etc, and if you say anything about it, you go to jail or get beaten up by mobs managed by the Dog alias Ramirito Valdes. Get your facts together, it is very eassy to USE Castro mafia to proove your point, but , dont be so ignorant, move to Cuba, live there as a cuban for 3 years, and then come back and talk... lol
    • avatar
      belgradetower
      Let Castro rest in peace because I'm afraid that legacy for imperialism (modern colonialism) will be quite dark.
    • avatar
      julcas
      In 1958, the average wages in Cuba was $6 / hour, place #7 in the world just behind usa, canada, norway, sweeden, norway, new zeland, In Castro mafia Cuba, a doctor makes $29 a month!, food cost the same as in USA as it comes frozen from there; And yes, there was prostitution in Cuba, as much as in London, NY, Moscow, China, just now Castro and his friends the Generals, sale the cuban children to foreigners protected by the Castro pollice,, dont believe it?, go live in Cuba 6 months, Castro #2 and his family all of the sudden own all the hotels and Marinas in Varadero, while force the people to work on those hotels for a $1 a day, and if they want more income, they can sale themselves to the dirty tourists with their american money. In the 1900s LENIN SAID "" Poltiics, is the Concentrated Expression of the Economy", The wimps and Ignorance of the Egomaniac Castro #1 destroyed Cuba non stop during 56 years, It will take a miracle, to make that Island to stop NOW been a prostitution ring for the Castros , the Generals and alike. Castro #2 makes a big effort trying to show you a baby face, but he is the one that killed the people, while the other just talked..., yeah, lawyer like Obama, bla bla bla, "We Can Change" Obama said lol, Changed what ?, At the end , is ALL a shame, a beautiful island it was back in 1958, has become a disaster thanks to the ignorance and represion established by Castros, Ramirito and the like. Today there are lots of people highly educated in Cuba that could change the country, but not while Castro's family and Generals hold all the positions in the economical decision making. There was never Socialism in Cuba, only Castrism. How many cubans were sent to die in Angola ?, do you know ?, do you know that the Soviets gave the Castros $2 billion dollars a year ?, do you know where that money is ?........ for sure is not in Cuba's economy....
    • avatar
      julcas
      It took Castro #1 10 years to destroy what cubans built during 60 years after kicking the spaniards out of the island, with the ignorant and submisive support of his repression tools so called Castro #2 and the Dog, alias Ramirito Valdes from Santa Clara,. those 2 are guilty of supporting ALL idiotic economical disasters Castro #1 brought to Cuba, from Planting Coffee trees in Habana to psico deciding Cuba could produce 10,000,00o tons of Sugar Cane, although many told him it was not possible, and ALL of them either were sent to jail for being CIA agents, or demoted from post like the former Minister of Sugar Isidro Borrego, Shame on this mafia that has murdered 10,000+ cubans in the mame of the mother land while ALL they did was ROB the national treasure and place under their name and family ALL cuban Hotels, Marinas in Varadero, Disco Dancing Clubs like the one on Calle 24 ; Shame, these criminals must be removed by elections, and all they have taken is to be sold and placed in the national treasure, together with the $ they are trying to get from the so called Embargo; Yes, the Castro mafia talks about Embargo, in the same way the Obamas talk about closing Guantanamo, And by the way, Egomaniac Castro #1 made all of us swear , that as long as the USA was in Guantanamo Cuba would never talk with the dogs of the empire, but that only went until the Castro Mafia started to collect $ from the USA goverment for using Guantanamo, Embargo ? lol ......
    • avatar
      julcas
      Castro #1 never shoot a bullet, he sent Camilo Cienfuegos and Che Guevara to push Batista out of Cuba, then while Castro #1 was hiding in a cave with girl friend of the days, and watched by #2. Then Camilo became a problem, and allegedly, Castro #2 put a bullet in his head, and #1 invented the story that Camilo had vanished in an strom created by the CIA; later on did the same to Che, kicked him out of the country and allegedly sent the CIA to kill him, only Castro new where Guevara was, and #2 of course, as well ad the Dog , Ramirito Valdes from Santa Clara
    • avatar
      Randall Lee Hilburn
      Many thanks for a very well done article.
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