Fidel Castro Blew It!
An Editorial Opinion
The body of Fidel Castro is dead. The indigenous peoples of the Americas should not honor his passing. Because he never apparently repented for the hundreds of thousands of deaths that he and his Marxist zealots caused in Latin America, he can only be remembered as a man, who changed history, not a good man. North Americans cannot imagine the misery that the four decades of warring between Marxists and Latin American government troops created among the impoverished Native peoples there. Virtually all the victims were the Indians and Mestizos that Castro claimed to be “saving” from Yankee Imperialism.
Fidel Castro was no George Washington. At the point of time that Freedom Fighters had won the Cuban Revolution, Castro was at a fork in the road. He could have chosen the spiritual path of being a servant of the people, which would have enabled him to make the lives of millions of people in the Americas better. Instead, he chose the path of self-worship, unbridled power and militarism. He made himself a dictator and demagogue.
First, dirty little secrets often left out of the history books
Many Latin Americans like to blame the United States for all that’s wrong in their societies. As many of you know, I adore the positive aspects of Latin American culture and my first love was a Mexican senorita, but that’s horse manure! Feudalistic Spain created the rigid class system in which indigenous Americans and mestizos did most of the work and light-skinned Crioles families held most of the money and land. Yes, insensitive, greedy Yankee capitalists jumped into some of these countries and made excessive profits from them, but Yankees did not create their oppressive societies.
The same can be said about Cuba before its revolution. Cuban Marxists used North American industrialists and casino owners as scapegoats, but the injustices in Cuban society began the first day that Christopher Columbus landed on its shores.
Both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the founders of “Marxism,” were from wealthy capitalist families, who owned factories. Marx lived off the wealth exploited from those industrial workers, while writing “Das Kapital” . . . the unholy bible of Marxism. The Castro Family owned a plantation, in which the wealth was created by the hard work of people, who were little better than serfs. Che Guevara was from a wealthy family in Argentina. These “revolutionaries” were spawned in societies in which the few dominated the many. The Communism they created became a different few, dominating the many. In all fairness though, Castro’s regime has drastically improved the healthcare and educational systems of Cuba . . . at the cost of almost everyone being poor, except the Communist Party cadre.
It could have been otherwise
In January 1959, Fidel Castro Ruz was a national hero IN THE UNITED STATES and Europe. He was naively seen as a modern day George Washington. Hundreds of thousands of young people in North America, Europe and wealthier countries in Latin America tried to get visas to come to Cuba to help create an economically egalitarian form of democracy. Those, who did get into Cuba during the first few years, helped with the sugar cane harvests, treated the sick, repaired the buildings and dug wells. Almost all went home, when they saw Cuba becoming a totalitarian satellite state of the Soviet Union.
When visiting New York City in 1959, Castro spoke enough English to make North Americans think that he was a populist. He glowed in the crowd’s adulation, and made no effort to explain that by far the greatest suffering had occurred among two Pro-Democracy Cuban revolutionary groups, who had fought in the cities. In fact, it was their sacrifices that enabled his “26th of July Movement” to make a triumphal march across the length of Cuba. Once Castro had concentrated all power into himself and his immediate circle, the Pro-Democracy revolutionaries were persecuted, imprisoned or executed.
Fidel Castro was a very intelligent man, but perhaps his understanding of societies outside of Cuba was warped by his provincial upbringing on a rural Cuban hacienda. He could not discern the difference between the handful of capitalists and Mafiosi that become partners in dictator Juan Batista’s corrupt regime in Cuba and the 150 million members of the United States’ middle class, who enthusiastically supported Castro’s publicly stated dream of a prosperous, egalitarian Cuba. Middle class Americans assumed that dream would be accomplished through a progressive democracy modeled after Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands or Sweden.
That was not to happen. Simultaneously, Castro began to view all Americans as Cuba’s enemies. He did not understand the seriousness of embracing America’s arch-enemy 90 miles from the territory of the United States.
The Russians immediately picked up on Fidel Castro’s tendency toward narcissism. They flattered him and manipulated him. They made him think that he was a “Big Shot” on the world political scene. Over 600,000 Cuban soldiers and airmen have fought and often died overseas to promote Soviet imperialism. It was only recently learned that 500 Cuban tank crews fought on behalf of Syria in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The Soviet Union paid the full cost of ferrying them to Syria. Most of them were ultimately killed or wounded by the Israeli Defense Forces.
In his egotism, Castro failed to realize that he had caused Cuba to become a colony of the Soviet Union, far more controlled and dependent on the Russians economically than Cuba had ever been under the presence of “Yankee Imperialists.” He had made Marxism his religion and thus is often common with religious zealots, in 1959, he began trying to export his religion through violence to other countries of the world. Somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,000 Indians and Mestizos in Latin American (maybe more) died because of attempts to proselytize violently Sr. Castro’s religion. Relatively few of the upper middle class, from which Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were spawned, yet hated, have been killed in these failed revolutions. Yes, indeed, there was much blood on Fidel Castro’s hands, when he died.
The Big Chill
The Soviets began cutting back on financial aid to Cuba because of the economic drain of their involvement with Afghanistan in the 1980s. When Soviet Communism collapsed in 1991, Cuba was instantly weaned of Russian economic support with catastrophic results to the Cuban people. They almost starved to death. What remained was the shambles of a neurotic economic system based on the assumption that Daddy Russia would always send a monthly allowance. Fidel Castro was no longer Mr. Big Shot, but increasingly viewed as a failed has been. Ever since then Cuban Marxists have been in a state of denial. Their precious revolution became little more than an exchange of economic ties with the USA with total economic dependence on the Soviet Union. Fidel Castro betrayed the ideals of his own revolution.
Cuba is beginning to dig out of its self-created shambles by opening its society to foreign tourists, foreign investors and free enterprise. However, it has yet to create a solid industrial and agricultural base, which is necessary for economic sovereignty. Perhaps the passing of Fidel Castro will hasten the process of Cuban ideologues realizing that pure Marxism is equally oppressive as the fascism that the Cuban Revolution overthrew. Both economic systems require police states to protect the few in power from the powerless majority. Perhaps in the not-too-distant future, the egalitarian benefits of universal education and healthcare from the Castro years can be yoked with an entrepreneurial democracy to create a prosperous, hybrid society . . . which Cubans thought that they were getting in 1959.
Viva Cuba Libre!
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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