Fidel Castro – From Liberator to Dictator

fidel castro

America, the great democracy, could never find a dictator it did not like. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules, and the exception is Fidel Castro.

Too bad, the man who “liberated” Cuba from the America mafia of gambling, prostitution, and plantation slavery went on to become its new dictator.

No one can deny that Castro did many good things for Cuba. He re-invented its education, making sure every Cuban regardless of age or location is able to have basic education. He did the same thing, introducing basic health care system that is envy to many countries around the world especially developing countries, and he ended the practice of slavery in the sugar plantation.

Of course, Fidel Castro inspired “revolutionary leaders” around the world mainly in Latin and Central America, which for the most parts were ruled by the dictatorship that America loved and sponsored. A dictatorship that killed hundreds of thousands, looted the country, putting all the stolen wealth in a safe haven in South Florida. However, his success ended here.

Castro did not loot the country for his own private purpose, and he did not take over plantation or expropriated properties for himself or his families and did not have secret accounts in Zurich or Panama. He looted the country on behalf of the state, with the state becoming the owner of the entire country, ending private ownership. He nationalized anything and everything, keeping the poor, poor and making the rich poor, equality of misery and needs, Soviet style.

While he liberated the people of Cuba from colonial and neoliberal capitalism, he did not provide his people with the vision, nor the standard of living of the “socialist-capitalist” states, such as in Scandinavia, where the quality of life is high and where government services are exceptional, including quality education and health care, and where productivity is unmatched. He could have done that, but he didn’t. His style of Communism put Cuba in a time machine that stopped in 1962.

While delivering to Cubans the “safety net” all societies must have, he robbed Cubans of the very freedoms they fought for. Freedom of speech, assembly, elected and accountable government. Every right must be processed through Cuba’s Communist Party.

The Cuban community of South Florida is anti-Castro not because of the rights and liberties it lost, but because it lost many of the privileges it had during the Batista regime.

Castro is not the only dictator to rule, but he ruled longer than any other dictator. Many dictators ruled for a generation, and exercised the right to rob and steal, to loot and jail, and to exile, assassinate and murder; dictators like Anastasio Somoza of Nicaragua, General Pinochet of Chile, Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, Assad (father and son) of Syria, Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, Ali Saleh of Yemen, General Suharto of Indonesia, Noriega of Panama, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Bin Ali of Tunisia, and of course Yasser Arafat, a fraudster who looted billions and came back only to manage the Israeli Occupation.

All of these dictators were the darlings of either the US or the Soviet Union. No need to mention many of the petty dictators of Africa — the likes of Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, José dos Santos of Angola, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Jean-Pedal Bokassa, and of course the infamous Mobutu Sese Seko of the Congo — sponsored by the colonial powers of France and Belgium and the US. Dos Santos was a big ally of the former Soviet Union and an ally of Fidel Castro who sent Cuban troops to fight along his side.

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Not Just Run of the Mill Dictatorships

Lee Kuan Yew

Lee Kuan Yew

As Castro was an exception to the rule for America’s fondness for dictators, there were two other dictators who were the exception to America’s rule about dictators; and they were exceptional in many ways, in that they did not rob, fleece or loot their country and did not create a “personality cult” around them — they built their nation, rather than destroying it. These exceptions are:

General Park Chung-Hee ruled South Korea for many years with an iron fist. He did not make the jails overflow with prisoners and dissidents, and he did not loot the country and deposit its wealth in a Swiss bank account; but he is credited as the one who made South Korea into the industrial power it is today. He ushered the Korean Tiger economy by supporting capital investment in heavy industries, such as steel, shipbuilding, electronics and consumer goods through the establishment of an Economic Planning Board, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Finance, all working together to make South Korea the economic tiger it is today. Of course, as a dictator he was assassinated, not because of corruption, but because of his heavy-handedness in running the state. South Korea continued on its path of industrialization irrespective of its political upheaval, but nothing so serious that would make South Korea a failed state.

Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore was truly an exceptional leader and exceptional dictator. When he took the lead to split from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore was a sleepy port town with a major waterway, the gate to the Orient. In short years he made Singapore into a world global power in commerce, finance, and transport. Under his guidance and leadership, Singapore became the 3rd largest foreign exchange market, the 3rd largest finance center, and the 3rd largest oil refining and transport hub.

Thanks to this man, Singapore ranked 11 in the UN Human Development Index, beating many European countries, and is ranked first in Asia in education, health and quality of life; certainly first in personal public safety and quality housing.

More important, Singapore is considered the least corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International, beating the US and many European countries. The late Mr. Yew is known to have said, “ending corruption starts at the top” and this is what many countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, and Europe fail to understand. Singapore is a model society, where multi-racialism flourishes, and where “meritocracy” takes its true meaning.

One has to wonder, if Fidel Castro had been more like Singapore’s Yew, what could he have done for Cuba and its people. But then there are dictators and there are dictators.

Keeping in mind until the very recent past, Europe has it own dictatorships, such as General Tito, whose death participated the break up of the Yugoslav Republic and precipitated one of the ugliest civil wars in Modern European history. And we remember the infamous Oliveira Salazar, who ruled Portugal with an iron fist, jailing and murdering tens of thousands of people. And we remember General Franco of Spain, who handed over the reins to the young Juan Carlos; while the Spanish Civil War between Royalists and Republicans cost one million lives.

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5 Responses to "Fidel Castro – From Liberator to Dictator"

  1. frog  December 9, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Sami, I think your assessment of Castro is way of the mark.
    All Cuba had was sugar and tourism, which was undermined by the most powerful nation on earth, the USA.
    It used it’s influence to stop other nations from trading, and tried to assassinate Castro over 600 times.
    Free health care,free education, dental, higher infant mortally rates than the US, these are human rights as well.
    He may have thought about elections earlier on, but when your country is under siege, these are normally curtailed, just like elections where curtailed in Britain when Germany was looking at invading, and same in the US during the war, After 50 years the aggression on Cuba by the most powerful nation on earth, a thaw at last. But I wouldn’t trust America again. Scandinavia/Singapore didn’t have this problem.

    • Sami Jamil Jadallah  December 9, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Frog, thanks, I did not forget the US siege and boycott of Cuba which continues today with modest changes. However Cuba was open to the world, only the US and only because the Cuban exile lobby which is perhaps the second most powerful lobby after AIPAC, Castro could have used the goodwill to engage his people over a generation to develop governing institutions that gave much bigger participation to his people. Dictators rules alone because they are on an ego, they are selfish, do not trust people and have contempt for the people. Forget about Scandinavia, let us talk the South Korean model. Korea made top education quality that allowed to create a viable and industrial economy. Cuba has basic education but not top education. Of course, the US implement a criminal and illegal siege and boycott. No different from the one Israel exercise over Gaza.

  2. paul becke  December 9, 2016 at 4:09 am

    Sami Jamil Jadallah, remember the words of one-time Mexican dictator, Porfirio Diaz : ‘Poor Mexico… so far from God… so near to the United States.’ And then think, ‘Cuba’.

    Would not that not suggest that the practical reality is that Castro’s options re the Scandinavian model, were non-existent ? ‘Needs must, when the devil drives’.

    Most people are very politically naive, and I’ll bet many of them who paddled to the US on Lilos and the like, ended up homeless and ‘sleeping rough’. But there are so many ways in which the US might have undermined Castro’s Cuba, had he adopted the Scandinavian model. They probably tried most of them, anyway(s)*

    * For American readers.

    Our Lady of Guadaloupe and St John Diego pray for the Cuban people, the people of S America and for us all.

    • Sami Jamil Jadallah  December 9, 2016 at 9:19 am

      Paul, thanks for your feedback. At one point in time, dictators must do their best to create sound governing institutions that can keep the state safe and accountable to the people. If these dictators failed to do that then they failed in their missions of transforming the state. I understand the extreme unconscionable blockade the US exercised ever since the revolution, but Castro missed the chance to transform Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

  3. Worker Bee  December 9, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Could Castro really have done better under the circumstances of the US undermining the country in every way possible due to the lobbying of a few ex oligarchs in Florida (blame the Electoral College for their undue influence in Washington)?

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