by WorldTribune Staff, November 27, 2016
Progressive lawmakers and the elite media were quick to heap praise on the “courageous” Marxist leader who they insist created a socialist paradise in Cuba. Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer was having none of it – characterizing Fidel Castro as an “egocentric coward who never dared to allow his people the most basic rights.”
Oppenheimer’s piece was a far cry from what was coming out of progressive circles after Castro died on Nov. 25 at age 90.
“Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire. Presente!” U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein tweeted.
Stein joined former U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in praising Castro.
“Sorry, but I’m not impressed by the romantic narrative of Castro being a courageous revolutionary who defied 10 U.S. presidents and survived countless assassination attempts,” Oppenheimer wrote on Nov. 26, despite his stated preference to not speak ill of the dead. “Castro was anything but a courageous leader. On the contrary, he was a coward.”
Oppenheimer continued: “First, he was a coward because he didn’t allow a free election in 57 years, since he took power in 1959. Only somebody who fears losing his position doesn’t allow it to be challenged in free elections.
“Second, Castro was a coward because he never allowed one single independent newspaper, radio or television station in Cuba. His critics were not even granted a few seconds a year on any radio or television show.
Third, Castro was a coward because he didn’t allow any political parties. Under the Castro-drafted Cuban constitution, only the Communist Party — over which he presided for decades — is allowed on the island. Any other party is illegal, and its leaders can face many years in prison. According to Cuba’s non-official Human Rights and National Reconciliation Commission, documented political arrests have soared from 6,424 in 2013 to 9,125 so far this year.
“Fourth, Castro was a coward because he never allowed international financial institutions to monitor or verify Cuba’s optimistic official statistics. Castro bragged about Cuba reducing poverty and improving health and education, and much of the international press took those claims at face value. But unlike most other countries, Castro never allowed the World Bank or other international monitoring groups to conduct independent studies on the island.
“Fifth, Castro never allowed international human rights groups to conduct on-site investigations into human rights abuses. According to the Cuba Archive research group, Castro was responsible for 3,117 documented cases of executions and 1,162 cases of extrajudicial killings. In any other country, he would have been declared a mass murderer long ago.”