Sunday, March 30, 2008

Who will stand up for Cubans?

Who will stand up for Cubans?
Lance Robinson
Saturday, March 29, 2008

By Lance Robinson

Back in 1959 Fidel Castro and his band of guerillas in Cuba headed down
from the Sierra Maestra mountains and shot his way to power on the wave
of popular discontent with dictator Fulgencio Batista.
Although initially having the blessings of the United States, Castro
wasted no time in consolidating his revolution into a fully fledged
totalitarian communist state, executing thousands of his countrymen
while nationalising all private property.
Today, the world hails Fidel Castro as the great liberator of his once
oppressed people who suffered under Batista. But in pursuit of fairness
and balance, the question must be asked whether the people of Cuba are
enjoying any greater freedom than they did under Batista. The answer has
to be a categorical no.
Good leadership in any country in its ultimate form is what can be
accomplished to improve the lot of the people living in that country,
certainly not the continued aggrandisement or hero worship of the
leader. But who will stand up for the 11 million people of Cuba? Many
have been jailed, shot and oppressed over the years for things which
were considered to be normal in other countries. They have had neither
opportunity nor voice in their sad quest for self-actualisation, but
have suffered in silent fear and intimidation. Never once have any of
the great socialist stalwarts, locally or internationally, even stood up
for or mentioned the plight of the Cuban people, but instead indulged in
an ongoing orgy of praise and adulation for Castro, a leader who was
never chosen by the people nor who even showed the slightest regard for
their individual rights or freedoms.
Reports coming out of Cuba indicate that the people are crying out for
freedom: freedom to assemble, freedom to speak, freedom to access
information on their television sets or their computers, freedom to
start their own businesses, freedom to travel, freedom to worship,
freedom to own property, etc. So for various apologists to be showering
praise and adulation on Fidel Castro, the dictator who has prevented
these things for most of their lives, is to treat these people with
extreme disdain.
Because of totalitarian dictatorship in Cuba over the years, the best
interests of the Cuban people have by definition always been at odds
with Fidel Castro and his hold on power. An honest analysis of the last
50 years in Cuba can lead only to the conclusion that the Cuban
Revolution came into being mainly for the acquisition and perpetuation
of personal power for Fidel Castro. For this reason there has always
been dissent, resentment and attempts at escaping from what many regard
as a human tragedy devoid of hope.
The world also applauds the health and education systems in Cuba which
are said to rival most in the region. Here again, the question must be
asked whether an oppressive totalitarian dictatorship was needed to
accomplish that. Are there not many countries in the region and the
world with equivalent or better social systems who live in free and
prosperous democratic societies with freedom of choice, movement and
speech? What about Chile, Costa Rica, Bermuda or The Bahamas in our
region or Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong a little further afield?
It never ceases to amaze how the socialist pundits in our midst, in
pursuit of their ideological cleavages, can so blatantly avoid being
objective, fair and balanced in their analysis of events in Cuba. They
speak of the great love and adoration of the Cuban people for Castro
while conveniently forgetting the Mariel boatlift in 1980 when 125,000
Cubans fled the island. When so many people, given free choice, decide
to flee their homeland in those numbers, it could hardly be called an
act of love for their leader.

Fidel Castro, through strict control of information flowing in and out
of Cuba, has over the years very skilfully manipulated world opinion
into believing the myth of his socialist paradise. This has been at the
expense of the Cuban people. In due course, however, the truth of the
Cuban revolution will manifest itself to the world, when multi-party
democracy, a free press and human rights return to that country. The
facts will bear out that during his time, Fidel Castro was nothing more
than a ruthless dictator. The people of Cuba deserve a much better break
than has been afforded them by the people of the world. We can
rightfully celebrate with them the change that must come sooner rather
than later.

- Lance Robinson is a freelance journalist.

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