You might hear some voices chiding Cuban exiles for rejoicing publicly over the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, forgetting, willfully or not, their lives of suffering over the country he destroyed.
It’s important to remember, however, that whether done in exultation, in anger, or in sober reflection, the job right now is to constantly remind the world of the damage this one man and his communist ideology wreaked on an entire country and its millions.
This must be done to prevent his family from remaining in power. That should be front and center of any comments that are made or actions that are taken following the death on Friday of a 90-year-old dictator who was, on this earth, a very, very bad man.
Fidel’s younger brother Raul is leader now, but at 85, the actuarial tables don’t look good for him. More ominously, Raul’s son Alejandro is waiting in the wings to take the reins of political power. Economically, the son-in-law Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez Calleja is in charge of around 90 percent of the economy.
The policy that President Barack Obama and his young deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, have doggedly pursued, despite all the evidence to the contrary, has led only to a greater concentration of power in the hands of the new generation of Castros.
A new communist dynasty, a la North Korea, is taking hold 90 miles away because of Obama’s policies. This is something President-elect Donald Trump must prevent by rolling back, as he has promised, the unilateral concessions that Obama has made.
The job right now is to constantly remind the world the damage this one man and his communist ideology wreaked on an entire country and its millions.
The military monopolies run by Rodriguez are displacing “self-employed” workers, the so-called cuentapropistas. There are fewer of these licensed “self-employed” workers in Cuba today than in 2014. One of the military-run tourist monopolies, Gaviota S.A., has announced that revenue had grown 12 percent in 2015 and expects to double its hotel business this year.
As for the dissidents, the Obama administration has abandoned them. Many have told me they feel betrayed by our president, and by extension, by the United States. Guillermo Fariñas, especially, has a reason to feel betrayed, as Obama promised him personally at a meeting in 2013 that he would take no step toward re-establishing relations with Cuba without prior consultations with the opposition. This did not happen.
And dissidents have suffered the consequences. Political arrests have intensified since December of 2014. Throughout 2015, there were more than 8,616 documented political arrests in Cuba.
And in 2016? There already had been over 8,505 political arrests during the first eight months, and they are expected to top 10,000. This represents the highest rate of political arrests in decades and nearly quadruples the tally of political arrests throughout all of 2010 (2,074), early in Obama’s presidency.
These figures come from the Cuban Committee for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, which is recognized by Amnesty International, Freedom House, and other major human rights groups.
And because Cuba’s communist leaders cannot allow Cubans to be in free contact with the outside world, internet connectivity has dropped. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has something called the Measuring the Information Society Report, which is the world’s most reliable source of data and analysis on global access to information and communication.
Last year, the International Telecommunication Union dropped Cuba’s ranking to 129 from 119. This means that Cuba actually has lower internet connectivity than some of the world’s most infamous suppressors of the internet, including Zimbabwe (which is 127), Syria (which is 117), Iran (91), China (82), and Venezuela (72).
The Castros, in other words, cannot let go of communism unless they’re pushed to do so. They have been in power for 57 years, more than 10 percent of Cuba’s history since Columbus’ discovery.
In that half-century, Cubans have been thrown into fetid and rat-infested underground dungeons, when not killed, for speaking their minds, organizing, and selling their own belongings—or attempting to flee their country to exercise these basic rights abroad.
Cuba’s gross domestic product per capita in 1959 was higher than those of Ireland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, most of Latin America, Asia, and Africa, according to the United Nations’ statistics. Today, it is a pauperized state.
If Trump wants to drain the swamp in foreign policy, Castro’s death affords him a wonderful opportunity.
If there’s one person of whom it can truly be said that he leaves a better world behind for his departure, it is the Cuban dictator who died Friday. Whatever fate he’s dealt in the afterlife, we can safely say that Fidel Castro was no good on this earth.