Communism Again Gets A Free Pass – Setting The Record Straight On Castro
With well over 100 million direct casualties and countless other social, economic and environmental disasters under its name, communism is arguably the worst human experiment in history. And yet, how many communist leaders have been formally prosecuted in a court of law for their crimes?
This week with the passing of Fidel Castro – another “distinguished” butcher comrade with all the assorted hypocrisies – we were reminded of how that scourge of humanity got a free pass yet again. The world by and large missed a great opportunity to set the historical record straight.
The bulk of international media and Western leaders for the most part reminded us of his important deeds and contribution to 20th century history. In fact you could almost be forgiven for thinking that it was Ghandi who had passed away.
The top prize for adulation undoubtedly went to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the glamour poster boy of Western progressivism, who wrote “Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century.”
Perhaps he should have detailed exactly what “service” Castro performed. That Cuba is a tropical version of totalitarian hell is beyond dispute. One in five Cubans left their homeland by any means possible after Castro took over power – eventually including his own daughter. Those who stayed behind either played along or ended up in jail, joining thousands of other dissidents. Homosexuals were assaulted and persecuted, as documented in movies such as “When Night Falls” (with an awesome performance by Javier Bardem in the leading role).
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Castro’s alignment with the Soviet Union brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. It was actually a miracle that it did not happen, largely due to last minute actions of cool headed individuals. And while the US embargo blocked goods from entering Cuba, it did little to prevent the spread of the Cuban Revolution throughout the world.
To put this in perspective we will look at a couple of episodes where Castro played a pivotal role – and perhaps because of that now risk being forgotten by history.
Castro Targets Colonial Portugal
The Soviets skilfully employed Castro’s charisma – and mercenaries – in propping up insurgencies to replace the last remnants of European presence in Africa. Portugal, which played a formative role in countries like Angola, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique over nearly half a millennium, became a prime target for these communist movements soon after Castro’s rise to power.
You may wish to skip this paragraph if you have a weak stomach. The “liberation” of Portuguese Africa started in the early 1960s with the targeting of civilian families, many who had been living there for generations. In one attack Portuguese children were dismembered and their torsos kicked around like footballs in front of their parents, before they were summarily executed. This brutality was a common trait of communist insurgents, throughout the world in fact, who had no problems in resorting to terrorism and barbarism to achieve their goals.
The Portuguese regime fully mobilized and eventually became embroiled in a bloody war on three fronts across Africa, lasting more than a decade and blighting an entire generation in the process. Portuguese casualties per capita were higher than America’s in the Vietnam War, fought in similar tropical conditions.
It all ended with the Carnation Revolution in 1974. Portugal’s regime was abruptly overthrown along with its centennial presence in Africa. Almost a million refugees were forced to return to Europe, many completely destitute. Then the Portuguese Communist Party completely took over power and promptly set in motion a destructive chain of events which bankrupted the country shortly after.
But the former colonies fared far worse. A brutal civil war erupted soon after the Portuguese were expelled, lasting decades. As a result, they were relegated to the very bottom of various global development indicators, reflecting the misery and death their people were subjected to. Castro on the other hand was handsomely rewarded by his fellow communists who prevailed in the end, including having his many homes adorned with the finest hardwoods from Angola.
So how did the Portuguese Parliament react to Castro’s death? With two official motions to mourn his passing, one proposed by the Portuguese Communist Party which – if you can believe it – are now part of government. The thousands of patriots who gave their lives fighting his minions must have been turning in their graves.
Latin America in Turmoil
But it was on the other side of the Atlantic where the Cuban Revolution reached its most virulent expression.
Capitalising on the disenchantment of populations all over Latin America after decades of failed promises and failed economies, Castro ended up delivering more of the same but under the banner of “power to the people”. His affiliated freedom fighters were let loose across much of Central and South America, raping, pillaging and butchering along the way. It took equally distasteful and repressive dictatorial regimes to stop them.
Stop the armed revolution that is, but certainly not the communist movement. How? Through the well coordinated efforts of its leaders in the region, where Castro – who else – played a crucial role yet again.
Alarmed by the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, Brazil’s Lula da Silva with the invaluable support of Castro brought all the lefties together under the newly founded Foro de São Paulo, an immense organization with members from all countries in the region. How should they continue the revolution? Instead of resorting to arms, this time they followed the guidelines of Antonio Gramsci and his peers at the Frankfurt School, adopting subversion as their main method to reach power.
And subvert they did. Everything from labour unions, academia, soccer clubs, army officials, criminal gangs, local and regional political parties and especially the media were gradually converted to a ‘soft’ communist ideology. The Catholic Church, which had been infiltrated by communists decades earlier hoping to destroy it from within, would now be used as a mouthpiece across the region whenever possible.
The strategy was hugely successful. Little more than a decade later key members of the Foro rose to power across much of Latin America: Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the Kirshners in Argentina, Evo Morales in Bolivia and of course Lula in Brazil, among others. They returned the favour to Castro, financing many infrastructure projects and providing natural resources to Cuba at heavily subsidized rates. Brazil funded the US$957 million construction of a deepwater port west of Havana while much of its own domestic infrastructure is in appalling conditions.
As always the people who elected them were promised all sorts of wonders and prosperity. What they got was totally different. Not even the boom in commodity prices could mask the resulting devastation of their economies and rise in crime and social conflicts. Utopia next time.
Venezuela now has turned into a full totalitarian state, and despite its enormous oil reserves its citizens are going hungry. But there is little hope that communist president Nicolas Maduro will relinquish power, blaming the US all along as his country goes up in flames. At this rate he will feel right at home once he re-joins Castro, his dear idol, in the afterlife.
Yet Another Free Pass
Communism did not go away with the fall of the Soviet Union. The latter was an instrument of the former, not the other way around. That’s a crucial distinction. Like the Foro de São Paulo, it merely changed tactics and emphasized much more subversive methods.
Even in the West we have our own flavour of communism fomenting social upheaval across the board. You may be less familiar with the term “Cultural Marxism”, but for sure you will have heard of its two main components: multiculturalism, in essence the removal of traditional Western values from society, and political correctness, which vilifies and silences any dissenting views.
And there is a growing, angry and very vocal group of people with their own political, intellectual and media pundits who strongly adhere to this ideology. They may not view themselves as communists, only high minded moral people; but that’s what they truly are. Whether this is the reason why communism keeps getting a free pass in supposedly free societies that should reject it in all its variations is subject to debate.
But let’s revisit the question we posited at the beginning. That perhaps is the most salient point out of all of this. How many communist leaders stood trial?
As far as we can tell, only the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia were convicted for the horrible atrocities they committed. Everywhere else their communist comrades – you guessed it – got a free pass.
In Russia high ranking party members simply became oligarchs; a former KGB officer now runs the country. Mao’s cultural and economic revolutions killed tens of millions of Chinese, but his party is still in power; and who cares about human rights when they make really cheap iPhones? The Kim family still rules North Korea with an iron fist and is now threatening Japan with weapons of mass destruction. Eastern European communists simply swapped their allegiance to the European Union and that was that.
And then there is Castro, who unlike his countless victims died peacefully at the age of 90, outlasting 11 US presidents. Such “perseverance” had been recently rewarded by President Obama with the very one sided agreement to end America’s embargo of Cuba; basically another free pass for all the misery he caused Americans and millions of others over the years, including his own people – who along with Castro’s family are the only ones who deserve a worthy mention here.
Perhaps if all these “inspirational” communists had stood trial like the Nazis at Nuremberg their actions, legacy and abhorrent cultural offshoots would all have been properly analysed and eradicated. Instead, we get Trudeau loudly singing their praises.
Communism should never again get a free pass. Indeed, our hard earned social cohesion and prosperity may depend on it.