By Adrianna Cole
In case it was overshadowed by the fires in Tennessee or the incident at Ohio State University, a political figure died on November 25. Some, such as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, remember him “fondly.” Others, such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, praise him for being a “larger than life” leader who “served his people.”
Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, paid the best tribute overall, calling this leader a “beacon of light all over Latin America.”
I, along with other Cuban-Americans, refer to this political figure as the Caribbean Hitler.
Fidel Castro was not a leader who served his people. He was a leader who served himself. If he radiated any form of light, it would be compared to the anglerfish that deceives its prey with a pretty light before causing their downfall. That is the Castro I know.
This power-hungry, communist dictator came to power on Jan. 1, 1959. He was seen as a revolutionary who would change the country for the better. He did the opposite.
For the last 57 years, Castro has forced about 20 percent of Cubans into exile, sending them floating through shark-infested water on rafts. Thousands died on the week-long journey without food or water, while others tried to avoid the possibility of having to return to the country if they were caught at sea.
Concentration camps were built on the island for members of the LGBTQ community as well as other “undesirables.”
In the memoir Before Night Falls, which is about these prison camps, Reinaldo Arenas, an openly homosexual Cuban author, wrote, “Gays were not treated like human beings, they were treated like beasts. They were the last ones to come out for meals, so we saw them walk by, and the most insignificant incident was an excuse to beat them mercilessly.”
It can be said that this was in the past and that Castro apologized for his mistreatment. However, in November 2010, Cuba was the only Latin American country to support the removal of “sexual orientation” from a list of prejudicial motives for murder at the United Nations.
He sent out his apology for his mistreatment of the LGBTQ community a few months before this vote was cast. Only a fool would say he meant it.
The ones praising him fell for his claim that his repressive measures were necessary to keep his “free” social projects. They easily forgot about Fidel’s 20 properties, private island, yacht, and all the other big, personal expenses he used government funds to buy.
The school systems he set up were not focused on educating students, especially because the educated were the first to be persecuted by this regime. Instead, these schools thrive on indoctrinating students with their political, Communist beliefs. The regime will also incarcerate any parent who teaches their children contrary doctrines.
Those with “poor” political standings, meaning that they are not in agreement with the government beliefs or its practices, are blacklisted and unable to further their education.
Radio personality Tariq Nasheed tweeted that he’d be better off living in Cuba than in the United States. If he sent out the same tweet but bashed Cuba while living on the island, he would be hauled off to jail.
Fidel imprisoned and killed over 100,000 of his own people. He began shortly after gaining power.
In the summer of 1959, a Cuban family was in the customs line at the airport in Havana returning from vacation, when a military personnel looked around for a “Ruben Lamadrid.” The father said, “I am Ruben Ortiz Lamadrid, but not Ruben Lamadrid.” The officer said, “You’re not the one we’re looking for,” and he left.
At the age of 15, my grandfather almost witnessed his father, my great-grandfather [Ruben Ortiz Lamadrid], arrested for working as a journalist.
That was the moment they knew they would not be safe if they stayed, so they fled the island with nothing but the clothes on their back.
Now, you tell me, does that sound like a man that can be remembered “fondly?” Does that sound like a man who “served his people?” Can it even be argued that “he did so much for health care” when it was a two-tiered system with inferior care for most Cubans and superior care for himself and his oligarchy?
If we begin to praise a dictator who lead through fear and selfish motives, then we are accepting his values and what his regime has done to its people.