August 9, 2006
Cuba as Fidel Faces the Heat
For a brief moment this week, excitement filled the streets of both
and Miami when word got out that aging Cuban dictator Fidel Castro was
handing power over to his brother Raϊl while he had intestinal surgery.
It seemed as if the long suffering of the Cuban people might finally be
nearing an end. And perhaps that still is the case. Not having seen
either Castro brother in public the last few days, it's hard to know.
(Given the inherently secretive nature of that totalitarian regime and
its control of the press, who knows for certain what the situation is?)
For now, one can only hope that this is finally the moment when the
longest-standing dictatorship in the world comes crumbling down.
And if I may be so impetuous to engage in a premature
retrospective, I have to wonder why so many people had (and some still
have) a fetish for this communist thug. He took an island that by all
rights and the good fortune of geography should have been rich off
American tourist dollars alone, and has kept it in a dirt-poor late
1940s time warp for the duration of his repressive rule. And if anyone
tried to leave this gulag littered with outdated vehicles and goods, or
spoke out against the ridiculous conditions in which they were forced to
live, they and their families could count on Fidel's minions taking
revenge. Imprisonment, violence and even worse could be expected.
Once his Soviet sponsors disappeared with the fall of the Berlin
Wall, things really got bad in
much so that we were treated to almost comical attempts by the Cuban
people to turn anything that would float into a boat capable of reaching
90 miles north to Miami. Except that the sheer desperation evident in
these endeavors should have told us just how awful life under Castro
really was, and made us do anything but laugh.
Which brings us to the other thing that still props Castro
up--western ignorance and lack of will. Some of the stupidest
ultra-liberals actually praise Castro, for things like "universal health
care" (universally cruddy, that is, unless you're one of his favored
folks). Notice, however, that none of these people are willing to move
to that socialist paradise they so adore. Perhaps because they know that
the place they describe is but a fantasy. Just as East Germans could
never be convinced of the supposed superiority of Marxism because they
could just look across the border at how much better their West German
brethren had it and know it was all a farce, so too should it be with
Cuba so close to America. Yet somehow, the myth stubbornly persists.
The west should have had the moral strength to eliminate Castro a
long time ago, if not immediately following his initial coup d'etat,
then certainly after he let the Soviet Union park missiles there in
October 1962 for the express purpose of threatening and/or blackmailing
America. Yet here we are, some 44 years later, and there he still is,
making the Cuban people suffer even as he ails. It doesn't speak well of
our belief in the firm rightness of our supposed principles that we were
unable to ever lance this boil on humanity.
The least we can do is to re-discover our resolve now, in this
moment, and ensure that Cuba doesn't have to suffer a 45th year of
political repression, economic depression and just plain isolation from
the world. We must do whatever it takes to get the Castro family deposed
from power for good and let long-overdue freedom finally come to a
people most deserving of it. Let baseball spring training be held
there. Let MTV Spring Break be held there. Let the world's best
cigars, talented baseball players and great salsa music be exported from
there. Let the people of Little Havana in Miami return to their
homeland and rebuild it, as they are so eager to do. Let Cuba join the
rest of the free world in the 21st century instead of being a communist
island prison with its calendar stuck on 1947.
And as for Fidel himself, if he is still alive, he should be making
his peace with the Almighty. Given the evil he's done in his time on
Earth, I don't think his immediate future looks very bright. Hot, on the
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