President-Elect Trump Statement on the Passing of Fidel Castro

Saturday, November 26, 2016
President-Elect Donald J. Trump Statement on the Passing of Fidel Castro

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.

While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.

Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty. I join the many Cuban Americans who supported me so greatly in the presidential campaign, including the Brigade 2506 Veterans Association that endorsed me, with the hope of one day soon seeing a free Cuba.

WaPo: Farewell to Cuba’s Brutal Big Brother

By Yale Prof. Carlos Eire in The Washington Post:

Farewell to Cuba’s brutal Big Brother

One of the most brutal dictators in modern history has just died. Oddly enough, some will mourn his passing, and many an obituary will praise him. Millions of Cubans who have been waiting impatiently for this moment for more than half a century will simply ponder his crimes and recall the pain and suffering he caused.

Why this discrepancy? Because deceit was one of Fidel Castro’s greatest talents, and gullibility is one of the world’s greatest frailties. A genius at myth-making, Castro relied on the human thirst for myths and heroes. His lies were beautiful, and so appealing. According to Castro and to his propagandists, the so-called revolution was not about creating a repressive totalitarian state and securing his rule as an absolute monarch, but rather about eliminating illiteracy, poverty, racism, class differences and every other ill known to humankind. This bold lie became believable, thanks largely to Castro’s incessant boasting about free schools and medical care, which made his myth of the benevolent utopian revolution irresistible to many of the world’s poor.

Many intellectuals, journalists and educated people in the First World fell for this myth, too — though they would have been among the first to be jailed or killed by Castro in his own realm — and their assumptions acquired an intensity similar to that of religious convictions. Pointing out to such believers that Castro imprisoned, tortured and murdered thousands more of his own people than any other Latin American dictator was usually futile. His well-documented cruelty made little difference, even when acknowledged, for he was judged according to some aberrant ethical code that defied logic.

This Kafkaesque moral disequilibrium had a touch of magical realism, for sure, as outrageously implausible as anything that Castro’s close friend Gabriel García Márquez could dream up. For instance, in 1998, around the same time that Chile’s ruler Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London for his crimes against humanity, Cuba’s self-anointed “maximum leader” visited Spain with ample fanfare, unmolested, even though his human rights abuses dwarfed those of Pinochet.

Even worse, whenever Castro traveled abroad, many swooned in his presence. In 1995, when he came to New York to speak at the United Nations, many of the leading lights of that city jostled so intently for a chance to meet with him at media mogul Mort Zuckerman’s triplex penthouse on Fifth Avenue that Time magazine declared “Fidel Takes Manhattan!” Not to be outdone, Newsweek called Castro “The Hottest Ticket in Manhattan.” None of the American elites who hobnobbed with Castro that day seemed to care that he had put nuclear weapons to their heads in 1962.

If this were a just world, 13 facts would be etched on Castro’s tombstone and highlighted in every obituary, as bullet points — a fitting metaphor for someone who used firing squads to murder thousands of his own people.

●He turned Cuba into a colony of the Soviet Union and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust.

●He sponsored terrorism wherever he could and allied himself with many of the worst dictators on earth.

●He was responsible for so many thousands of executions and disappearances in Cuba that a precise number is hard to reckon.

●He brooked no dissent and built concentration camps and prisons at an unprecedented rate, filling them to capacity, incarcerating a higher percentage of his own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin.

●He condoned and encouraged torture and extrajudicial killings.

●He forced nearly 20 percent of his people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea, unseen and uncounted, while fleeing from him in crude vessels.

●He claimed all property for himself and his henchmen, strangled food production and impoverished the vast majority of his people.

●He outlawed private enterprise and labor unions, wiped out Cuba’s large middle class and turned Cubans into slaves of the state.

●He persecuted gay people and tried to eradicate religion.

●He censored all means of expression and communication.

●He established a fraudulent school system that provided indoctrination rather than education, and created a two-tier health-care system, with inferior medical care for the majority of Cubans and superior care for himself and his oligarchy, and then claimed that all his repressive measures were absolutely necessary to ensure the survival of these two ostensibly “free” social welfare projects.

●He turned Cuba into a labyrinth of ruins and established an apartheid society in which millions of foreign visitors enjoyed rights and privileges forbidden to his people.

●He never apologized for any of his crimes and never stood trial for them.

In sum, Fidel Castro was the spitting image of Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel “1984.” So, adiós, Big Brother, king of all Cuban nightmares. And may your successor, Little Brother, soon slide off the bloody throne bequeathed to him.

N.Y. Post Editorial: Castro’s Rotting in Hell, But Cuba’s Not Free Yet

From The New York Post's Editorial Board:

Castro’s rotting in hell, but Cuba’s not free yet

The dancing in the streets of Miami tells you all you need to know: The people who knew Fidel Castro best, and are free to express their opinion, are ecstatic that he’s burning in hell.

He led a revolution promising liberty in the island nation — then instead transformed it into an island prison. Along with the rest of his inner circle, he lived a life of luxury — 20 homes, including a private island, Cayo Piedra, that his former bodyguard called a “millionaire’s paradise.”

He jailed, tortured and “disappeared” countless thousands of his people, including many who’d helped lead the revolution. His utter denial of basic human rights — freedoms of speech and assembly, for starters — drove more than a fifth of Cuba’s population into exile.

Castro deceived from the start, and fools around the world chose to believe the lies long after the truth was obvious. He took power claiming to be a nationalist, then came out as a fervent Communist — with firing squads for any who complained.

Yes, he removed US influence over his country — and sold it to the Soviet Union. His bid to host a Soviet atomic arsenal on the island brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

He outlawed not only private enterprise, but also labor unions, and put gays in concentration camps.

His policies impoverished what had once been the most prosperous nation in Latin America. The regime blamed the US embargo, without ever noting that the rest of the world hadn’t joined in: The problem was that Castro’s Cuba had next to nothing to export — beyond mercenaries, terrorism and secret police.

By the 1990s, he was even bragging about Cuba’s legions of prostitutes, who served the tourist trade he’d been forced to embrace to replace the subsidies he lost with the fall of the USSR.

In 2006, ill health forced him to hand power over to younger brother Raul, who continues the oppression.

So, while you cheer the death of one of history’s bloodiest tyrants, temper your joy: Cuba is not yet free.

WSJ Editorial: Fidel Castro's Communist Example

From The Wall Street Journal's Editorial Board:

Fidel Castro’s Communist Example

He turned a developing Cuba into an impoverished prison.

Fidel Castro’s legacy of 57 years in power is best understood by the fates of two groups of his countrymen—those who remained in Cuba and suffered impoverishment and dictatorship, and those who were lucky or brave enough to flee to America to make their way in freedom. No progressive nostalgia after his death Friday at age 90 should disguise this murderous and tragic record.

Castro took power on New Year’s Day in 1959 serenaded by the Western media for toppling dictator Fulgencio Batista and promising democracy. He soon revealed that his goal was to impose Communist rule. He exiled clergy, took over Catholic schools and expropriated businesses. Firing squads and dungeons eliminated rivals and dissenters.

The terror produced a mass exodus. An April 1961 attempt by the CIA and a small force of expatriate Cubans to overthrow Castro was crushed at the Bay of Pigs in a fiasco for the Kennedy Administration. Castro aligned himself with the Soviet Union, and their 1962 attempt to establish a Soviet missile base on Cuba nearly led to nuclear war. The crisis was averted after Kennedy sent warships to intercept the missiles, but the Soviets extracted a U.S. promise not to invade Cuba again.

The Cuba that Castro inherited was developing but relatively prosperous. It ranked third in Latin America in per-capita daily calorie consumption, doctors and dentists. Its infant mortality rate was the lowest in the region and the 13th lowest in the world. Cubans were among the most literate Latins and had a vibrant civic life with private professional, commercial, religious and charitable organizations.

Castro destroyed all that. He ruined agriculture by imposing collective farms, making Cuba dependent first on the Soviets and later on oil from Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. In the last half century Cuba’s export growth has been less than Haiti’s, and now even doctors are scarce because so many are sent abroad to earn foreign currency. Hospitals lack sheets and aspirin. The average monthly income is $20 and government food rations are inadequate.

All the while Fidel and his brother Raúl sought to spread their Communist revolution throughout the world, especially in Latin America. They backed the FARC in Colombia, the Shining Path in Peru and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Their propaganda about peasant egalitarian movements beguiled thousands of Westerners, from celebrities like Sean Penn and Danny Glover to Secretary of State John Kerry, who on a visit to Havana called the U.S. and Cuba “prisoners of history.” The prisoners are in Cuban jails.

On this score, President Obama’s morally antiseptic statement Saturday on Castro is an insult to his victims. “We know that this moment fills Cubans—in Cuba and in the United States—with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation,” Mr. Obama said. “History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.” Donald Trump, by contrast, called Castro a “dictator” and expressed hope for a “free Cuba.”

Mr. Obama’s 2014 decision to normalize U.S.-Cuba relations has provided new business opportunities for the regime but has yielded nothing in additional freedom. Americans can now travel and make limited investment in Cuba but hard currency wages for workers are confiscated by the government in return for nearly worthless pesos. In 2006 Forbes estimated Fidel’s net worth, based on his control of “a web of state-owned companies,” at $900 million.

The hope of millions of Cubans, exiled and still on the island, has been that Fidel’s death might finally lead to change, but unwinding nearly six decades of Castro rule will be difficult. The illusions of Communism have given way to a military state that still arrests and beats women on their way to church. China and Russia both allow more economic freedom. The regime fears that easing up on dissent, entrepreneurship or even access to the internet would lead to its inevitable demise.

Castro’s Cuba exists today as a reminder of the worst of the 20th-century when dictators invoked socialist ideals to hammer human beings into nails for the state. Too many Western fellow-travelers indulged its fantasies as long as they didn’t have to live there. Perhaps the influence of Cuba’s exiles will be able, over time, to reseed the message of liberty on the island. But freedom starts by seeing clearly the human suffering that Fidel Castro wrought.

Statement on the Passing of Cuban Dictator Fidel Castro

(For more information, please contact Rudy Mayor, info@uscubapac.com)

Statement by U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC:

Fifty-seven years ago, Fidel Castro betrayed the democratic aspirations of the Cuban people and installed a totalitarian dictatorship. His passing serves as a historic opportunity to bring closure to the extraordinary suffering and repression his regime has caused. The Cuban people deserve nothing less than the same freedoms and representative democracy as the other nations of this Western Hemisphere. It's time to close the tragic chapter of the Castros and, consequently, of dictatorships in the Americas.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration, the incoming Trump Administration and the U.S. Congress should make it unequivocally clear that -- regardless of the Cuban dictator's first and last name -- codified sanctions will only be lifted upon the release of all political prisoners; the recognition and respect of fundamental human, civil and political rights as prescribed by international covenants; and the legalization of opposition parties and an independent media.