Cuban dictator Fidel Castro passed away at the age of 90 on Friday, and leftists have been lionizing Castro as some sort of admirable revolutionary figure. In reality, Castro was a murderous, evil tyrant who turned Cuba into a desolate, poverty-stricken police state.
Here are seven things you need to know about Castro.
1. Castro took over Cuba in 1959. Castro and his right-hand man Che Guevara organized opposition groups to dictator General Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, promising to end corruption and uphold the values of free speech and private property. Castro overthrew Batista's government through the use of guerrilla warfare, forcing Batista to seek refuge in the Dominican Republic.
2. Castro imprisoned, tortured, and murdered thousands of people. According to Humberto Fontova, "Castro jailed and tortured political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin during the Great Terror" and "murdered more Cubans in his first three years in power than Hitler murdered Germans during his first six."
Guevara, the main executioner on the Castro regime, spurred the idea of a judicial process, declaring that it was "an archaic bourgeois detail" that was not needed in the revolution. The result: numerous members of the opposition, journalists, and homosexuals were sent to forced labor camps, where many perished due to the "grimy, inhumane and tortuous conditions" they faced, per the Daily Wire. Countless others were executed by the firing squad, where Castro and Guevara were beyond the pale.
Most firing squads feature only a couple of soldiers firing actual bullets, while the remaining were blanks. Castro's firing squads featured bullet fire from all ten of the firing squad members, where they taunted their victims as they writhed in agony from gunfire before facing death. Here is one example, via Discover the Networks:
"Kneel and beg for your life!" Castro's executioners taunted the bound and helpless William Morgan as he glowered at Castro's firing squad in April 1961.
"I kneel for no man!" former Rebel Comandante Morgan snarled back, according to eye witness John Martino in his book, I Was Castro's Prisoner.
"Very well, Meester Weel-yam Morgan," replied his executioners, who were aiming low, on purpose -- "FUEGO!"
The first volley shattered Morgan's knees. He collapsed snarling and writhing. "See, Meester Morgan?" giggled a voice from above. "We made you kneel, didn't we?" Over the next few minutes as he lay writhing, four more bullets slammed into Morgan, all very carefully aimed to miss vitals. Finally an executioner walked up and emptied a Tommy gun clip into Morgan's back.
Discover the Networks also has this as an example of Castro's barbaric cruelty:
Humberto Sori Marin was arrested in April of 1961 as a counterrevolutionary and his brother Mariano went to visit Castro, pleading clemency for his brother. If for no other reason than "for old times sake," pleaded Mariano, recalling when Fidel and Humberto had been Revolutionary comrades.
"Don't worry Mariano," a smiling Castro said while slapping him affectionately on the back. "In the Sierra I learned to love your brother. Yes, he's in our custody, but completely safe from harm. Absolutely nothing will happen to him. Please give your mom and dad a big hug and big kiss from me and tell them to please calm down."
The next day Mariano collapsed at the sight of his brother Humberto's mangled corpse in a mass grave. Castro's firing squad had pumped over 20 shots into his brother's body that very dawn. Humberto Sori Marin's head was almost completely obliterated, his face unrecognizable.
Castro and Guevara also liked to record their barbarity for "media-shock value," per Fontova.
3. Castro transformed Cuba from a vibrant island into a poor, desolate country. Castro first began implementing communism into Cuba through what was dubbed as "land reform"–importing the Soviet Union's model of seizing land while pledging to give it those in need, only to remain in the hands of the government. Castro also "stole 5,911 businesses worth $8 billion from U.S. stockholders," per Fontova.
The people in Cuba barely get by on their average of $20 a month in wages, and Cuba's two-tiered peso system has locked out its people for years, as there is one peso used for tourism and another used for the rest of Cuba, and the latter is barely worth anything. Cuba did announce an end to the two-tier system in 2013.
According to Discover the Networks:
In 1958 Cuba had a higher standard of living than any Latin American country and half of Europe. A UNESCO report from 1957 said: "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class. Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers....the average wage for an 8-hour day in Cuba 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 68 per cent. 44 per cent of Cubans were covered by Social legislation, that's a higher percentage than in the U.S. at the time."
In 1958 Cubans had the 3rd highest protein consumption in the hemisphere. But in 1962 Castro's government introduced ration cards that persist to this day.
In fact, Castro's government rations food at a higher rates than what was rationed to slaves in Cuba in 1842.
But statistics alone do not capture the true desolate nature of Cuba's economy. Matthew Totten visited Cuba and recalled his experience in City-Journal, per the Daily Wire:
Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.
Castro, on the other hand, lived a very decadent and luxurious lifestyle, as he "had more than 20 ornate houses, a dophinarium, a turtle lagoon, yachts, and several mistresses, all of which he afforded by turning himself into a drug kingpin, shuttling cocaine through Cuba and into the United States," according to Rare.
4. Castro's apologists praise Cuba's healthcare and education system. These are bogus talking points. Ben Shapiro notes:
As Jay Nordlinger of National Review put it, “Hospitals and clinics are crumbling. Conditions are so unsanitary, patients may be better off at home, whatever home is. If they do have to go to the hospital, they must bring their own bedsheets, soap, towels, food, light bulbs — even toilet paper. And basic medications are scarce…. Doctors have been known to reuse latex gloves — there is no choice.” As for the infant mortality rate, it’s low because Cuba aborts kids who are in distress in the womb.
According to Nordlinger, Cuba's healthcare system resembles their two-tier peso system–there is good quality healthcare available for government elites and their allies, as well as tourists. But the rest of Cuba is stuck with poor quality healthcare in which they "have to bring their own medicine, sheets, and iodine to the hospital, most of which they have to get on the black market," per the Daily Wire. There is also a shortage of doctors on the island, which is to expected in a government-run healthcare system: without a profit motive, there is less incentive for doctors to enter the grueling field of medicine, especially with the influx of demand that is bound to follow. Cuba's doctors typically earn only $25 a month, and they try to escape when Castro sent them on "humanitarian missions" to other countries in order to puff up his image.
Cuba is also riddled with diseases that advanced Western countries eliminated through the use of vaccines, such as "tuberculosis, leprosy, and typhoid fever," per Nordlinger.
The talking point about Cuba's education is meaningless; as Totten pointed out, authoritarian regimes need their populace well-read in the government's propaganda in order to maintain their iron fist on the country.
5. Castro allied himself with terrorist regimes and organizations and plotted terror attacks against the United States. Castro was obsessed with the idea of launching a nuclear war against the U.S., and he almost did it. Castro was ready to launch nukes into the U.S. during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, but was stopped by Soviet Union dictator Nikita Khruschev, who was propping up Cuba's economy with a subsidy, as Khruschev thought it was silly to start a war over Cuba. Che Guevara admitted in 1962 that they "would have used them against the very heart of the U.S., including New York City" had Khruschev not stopped it.
Additionally, Castro and Guevara had planned on launching a 9/11-esque attack on Black Friday in 1962 through the use of "a dozen incendiary devices and 500 kilos of TNT," according to the Daily Wire, in various notable mall in Manhattan, but the FBI was able to squash the plot before it came to fruition. Fontova notes that had Castro and Guevara pulled it off, "9/11 might be remembered as the SECOND deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil."
Castro had aligned himself with the likes of Iran and Yasser Arafat, and had trained various terrorist groups, including "Al Fatah, the Sandinistas, El Salvador's FMLF, the Tupamaros, the Weather Underground, the IRA, and Spain's ETA," per Discover the Networks.
6. Castro was able to hold onto power for so long due to John F. Kennedy botching the Bay of Pigs assassination attempt of Castro. Kennedy refused to provide air cover and help to the Brigidista freedom fighters in 1961, who ended up standing no chance against Castro's army. Since the assassination attempt failed, Castro was able to trigger the Cuban missile crisis, and while he didn't get the nuclear holocaust he was hoping for, Castro was able to secure what the Soviets wanted–U.S. missiles out of Turkey and an agreement not to interfere with Castro's regime, thereby cementing Castro's grip on the island and sentencing the people of Cuba to years of tyrannical, desolate darkness.
7. The left has always raved about Castro. Many people were rightfully angry over leftists whitewashing Castro's evil history when his death was announced, and the left has been gushing over for years. Fontova has a compilation of leftists raving about Castro over the years:
“Viva Fidel! Viva Che!” (Two-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Jesse Jackson, bellowed while arm in arm with Fidel Castro himself in 1984.)
"Fidel Castro is very shy and sensitive, I frankly like him and regard him as a friend." (Democratic presidential candidate, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, and “Conscience of the Democratic party,” George Mc Govern.)
“Fidel Castro first and foremost is and always has been a committed egalitarian. He wanted a system that provided the basic needs to all Cuba has superb systems of health care and universal education…We greeted each other as old friends.” (Former President of the United States and official "Elder Statesman” of the Democratic party, Jimmy Carter.)
“Fidel Castro is old-fashioned, courtly–even paternal, a thoroughly fascinating figure!” (NBC’s Andrea Mitchell.)
“Fidel Castro could have been Cuba’s Elvis!” (Dan Rather)
"Castro's personal magnetism is still powerful, his presence is still commanding. Cuba has very high literacy, and Castro has brought great health care to his country." (Barbara Walters.)
“Fidel Castro is one helluva guy!” (CNN founder Ted Turner.)
But Castro's rise to power would not have been possible without the fawning coverage of New York Times reporter Herb Matthews, who spun Castro "as an 'anti-communist' democratic revolutionary" per Townhall, and stubbornly stuck with his support for Castro even as he began his tyrannical, Marxist rampage throughout the country. Castro even said, "Without the help of the New York Times, the Revolution in Cuba would never have been," as he gave Matthews a medal.