Why the world mourns Fidel Castro

By   /   November 28, 2016  /   29 Comments

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When he dismissed Fidel Castro as a “brutal dictator” Donald Trump again showed how out of touch he is. Most of the world is mourning the death of Cuba’s revolutionary leader.


When he dismissed Fidel Castro as a “brutal dictator” Donald Trump again showed how out of touch he is. Most of the world is mourning the death of Cuba’s revolutionary leader.

Fidel was widely admired for resisting every attempt by America to overthrow his revolutionary government in a small country situated just 125 kilometres south of Florida. As Mikhail Gorbachev said in his tribute, “Fidel stood up and strengthened his country during the harshest American [economic] blockade” and took “a path of independent development.” French president Francois Hollande took a similar tack, saying Fidel “represented, for Cubans, pride in rejecting external dominantion.”

America wasn’t trying to depose Fidel because he was a “brutal dictator”. In the first few decades of the Cuban revolution, the United States was supporting right-wing military dictatorships across Latin America. Fidel’s “crime” was to nationalise American firms in Cuba and set out on a socialist path.

The good outcomes for Cubans have been widely recognised by world leaders. Ireland’s president, Michael Higgins, said “Cuba achieved 100% literacy many years ago and built up a health system that is one of the most admired in the world. With economic growth rates similar to many other Latin American countries, inequality and poverty are much less pronounced in Cuba than in surrounding nations.”

Higgins said Fidel Castro also sought to offer an alternative global economic and social order. He recalled Fidel “speaking of how it was possible to eliminate global hunger and the enormous burden international debt was placing on impoverished nations” saying: “Let us pay the debt to humanity, not the debt to the banks.” Such talk didn’t go down well in New York or Washington.

British Labour leader Jeremyn Corbyn referred to “Cuba’s record of international soldidarity abroad. Castro’s achievements were many. For all his flaws Castro’s support for Angola [which included troops] played an crucial role in bringing an end to Apartheid in South Africa.” South African president picked up the same theme, saying that Castro “inspired the Cuban people to join us in our own struggle against apartheid.”

Cuba is appreciated by most governments for its sacrifices to help others, including sending thousands of doctors to many less well-off nations, including in the South Pacific.

Recognising Cuba’s achievements and helping it end the US economic blockade will also improve its democracy. Some of the political restraints evident in Cuba today are in reaction to the blockade and reflect Fidel’s long-standing fear of division when Cuba confronts threats from its northern neighbour.

At time of writing I haven’t found a NZ government tribute to Fidel Castro. It would be a shame if they can’t say something good about him, a couple of weeks after National rammed through Parliament a motion welcoming the election of Donald Trump.

Perhaps John Key say something similar to the Irish president Michael Higgins, who said: “Fidel Castro will be remembered as a giant among global leaders whose view was not only one of freedom for his people but for all the oppressed and excluded peoples on the planet.”

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  1. jay says:

    100% 🙂

  2. countryboy says:

    jonky unt zer trumpenator making comments re Castro brings to mind two lovers, gazing into each others eyes as they hold hands while whispering sweet nothings as they lean over a rotting corpse.

  3. DennyPaoa Takere says:

    Great piece Keith!

    In contrast. Is Cuba’s Social Policys the cure for NZ’s Health, Education, Poverty & Homelessness issues??
    Worthy of a serious discussion aye?

    • Patrick says:

      60 odd years of President Castro Bros guidance and health care is probably far superior to any other developing country and literacy, they say, is 100% – but hey it’s not 100% in NZ so a grain of salt perhaps.
      But this 60 years of Socialism has only delivered an official average wage of around US $25 per month, and this with a smallish population of around 12 million. While many have to make a lot more than this I wonder if this is a result to be proud of.
      SE Asian developing nations, for example, with populations many times bigger and land areas so many times the size – with the large infrastructure issues that this brings – have fared so much better in increasing the wages and welfare of their people.
      I don’t think New Zealanders would thank any government who swapped their system for ours.
      Superann of US $10 per month?
      Can’t really see that as being an election winner here.

    • DennyPaoa Takere says:

      Said by the Alt-Right Cuban scum in Florida who are the children of the overthrow attempt(s) by the US. I think they’re misstaking Fidel for Batista, General Monteagudo, Gerardo Machado. With the continued US intervention in Cuban politics the nation was never able to determine the own path, Mana Motuhake, until Che, Fidel …. 11 US presidents failed to overthrow the nation.

    • Sally's Husband says:

      David, will you also remember Batista’s victims? Or don’t they count??

      • david says:

        Didn’t know Bastista died yesterday? But sounds like Bastista was a nasty, nasty greedy piece of work who deserves all the opprobrium. His victims matter just as much as Castros. The platitudes for this despot Castro is galling and telling of peoples values. On this blog, if there is choice between a left-wing totalitarian state and democracy; democracy is the loser.
        Of all the dictatorship states in Latin America from the 1950’s; Cuba is only one remaining. Today we hear the loudest tributes from states such as North Korea, China, Vietnam, Russia, and Venezuela.
        The emperor is naked, the left-wing has used human-rights as fig-leaf to cover their authoritarian impluses. These Castro apologists have been unmasked. Any murmurs of the ‘horrors’ of a surveillance state in NZ, and dirty politics must be just laughed at.

        • DennyPaoa Takere says:

          Got a cure for Homelessness, Poverty, a Poor Health Care system, a poorly performing Ed system since 2008. A lack of trained Teachers, Doctors, Nurses and a measure of wealth too??

          Whereas, International recognition for curing these essential “Human Rights” acheivements are bestowed upon Cuba.
          How about here in little ole NZ? Or the US?
          Any takers in the West??

          I think your drunk?….pandering to a populist cult like constituency in the LSM Bubble will have people like you spouting the same ole same ole BS propaganda as any Right-Wing/Alt-Right scum do.

          As a moderate. I do acknowledge not all of Castro-Cuba’s history was perfect but where in the West can you say that its been better?? Absolutely nowhere? There are a few exceptions, like in the colder northern climate in those socialist european countrys?

          The (Miami sourced) scum publishing this bs should be proud of been identified as such if they are willing to live up to their convictions! Donald is and does!

          A nation that has survived 11 US Presidents, 330 million Amercians and all its might, embargoes, sanctions, Military covert/overt actions against a small island nation of 11 million healthy, well educated wealthy people is evidence in itself that they’ve got it right, mostly. Compared to most of the West.
          As well its been relatively stable for over 60 years.
          When was our last crash? 2008/09 before that, 2003/2004 and before that 1997/1998 & before that …..

          They’ve proven to the world that the people of Cuba can’t be wrong.

          • david says:

            See below for nice evaluation of Cuba’s system. Without too much ideological bias.


          • Patrick says:

            As a matter of fact I don’t think a moderate would ever accuse you of being a moderate.
            Where in the West has human rights been better than Cuba?
            Are you serious?
            While the number of executions, political prisoners and torture victims are in dispute, depending on whose figures you want to believe, they were not insubstantial.
            I would respectfully suggest that New Zealand and a host of other western countries have a better human rights record than Cuba.
            To suggest otherwise indicates an inability to deal with reality.
            I also suspect that most of the people who post on this blog have never actually seen extreme poverty – no access to clean drinking water or water for bathing, health care, electricity, rice, proper education, bamboo shacks with no ability to stop rain in the wet season, hope etc. It’s heartbreaking to see.
            I don’t believe that there is any poverty like in Cuba, but to say that there is no poverty is ridiculous, just as to say there is none in NZ – it’s just on a different scale.
            Castro is dead but let’s not cast him as a saint. Wrong word, I guess, as he was an atheist, but you get my drift.

  4. Afewknowthetruth says:

    One of the biggest crimes anyone is capable of in the eyes of the fascistic capitalists who control the western industrialised nations is to oppose fascistic capitalists who control western industrialised nations; hence the demonization of Putin in recent years and the vicious assaults on the opponents of the Dakota pipeline in recent months etc.

    Not generally known was Cuba’s development of permaculture, power-down and non-pharmaceutical medicines following the US blockade and the fall of the USSR, resulting in one of the most sustainable complex societies anywhere on Earth.

    Sadly, the last phase of Cuba’s history will be the embracement of capitalism via tourism and consumerism, and the exploitation of off-shore gas and oil fields in the short period before the global economic system goes kaput and the global environment goes kaput.

    As a mouthpiece for, and promoter of, rapacious fascistic capitalism, Trump is behaving much as expected. And I think we can also expect Trump, in the short period before the global economic and environmental systems go kaput, to revitalize American support for brutal dictators, which has characterized US foreign policy since the end of WW2.

    Everything is ‘cooking up nicely’ at both ends of the planet now, with Arctic and Antarctic ice cover both well below average:




    And atmospheric CO2 is surging, of course:

    Daily CO2
    November 26, 2016:  405.40 ppm
    November 26, 2015:  400.79 ppm

    Since permaculture, power-down and sustainability are an anathema to global capitalism, they will be stamped on and stamped out wherever global capitalism’s tentacles reach. Including NZ, of course.

    • CLEANGREEN says:

      Yes and the monthly rate is now predicted to accelerate even faster than before and could double to 8 or 10 points annually so in five years we will be involved with catastrophe with failing crops and animal losses plus human impacts felt on a global scale of a lack of health and increased disease due to declining oxygen levels as CO2 uses up the oxygen levels far quicker than previously.

      Health conditions involving cancer and immune dysfunction will occur from “oxidative stress” and breakdown within our cellular systems.

      Not going to be very pretty in future as we enter the final planetary collapse.

  5. Rob Glennie says:

    It is true that Castro did help Cuban literacy; did help build up their medical services and did help generously with aid around the world.

    Unfortunately it is also true as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have pointed out, that Castro hated freedom of expression – especially when it was against him. And lots of people went to jail for daring to express their opinions. And there were executions.

    No justification Keith, as you well know, for executions.

  6. rjs131 says:

    Keith you seriously believe that the people of Cuba have freedom? They have freedom of speech? they have freedom of assembly? They have freedom to vote? they have freedom not to have rationed food? They have freedom to join a trade union”? freedom to join a political party? freedom to be openly gay? I bet they cant even read your post in Cuba as the internet is censored!

  7. Sure, let’s talk about Cuba’s many achievements, such as “the legacy of a caudillo who spent the first decade of his rule rounding up gay people for “re-education” in labour camps.” And let’s do it without “glossing over the many things Cubans have every right to complain about”:

    “Any political activity outside the Communist Party of Cuba is a criminal offence. Political dissent of any kind is a criminal offence. Dissidents are spied on, harassed and roughed up by the Castros’ neighbourhood vigilante committees. Freedom of movement is non-existent. Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented 8,616 cases of politically-motivated arbitrary arrest. For all [the Canadian] prime minister’s accolades about Cuba’s health care system, basic medicines are scarce to non-existent. For all the claims about high literacy rates, Cubans are allowed to read only what the Castro crime family allows.

    “Raul Castro’s son Alejandro is the regime’s intelligence chief. His son-in-law, Luis Alberto Rodríguez López-Callejas, runs the Cuban military’s business operations, which now account for 60 per cent of the Cuban economy. The Castro regime owns and control the Cuban news media, which is adept at keeping Cubans in the dark. It wasn’t until 1999, for instance, that Cubans were permitted to know the details of Fidel’s family life: five sons they’d never heard of, all in their 30s.
    Independent publications are classified as “enemy propaganda.” Citizen journalists are harassed and persecuted as American spies. Reporters Without Borders ranks Cuba at 171 out of 180 countries in press freedom, worse than Iran, worse than Saudi Arabia, worse than Zimbabwe.”

    Good outcomes? Really? And that’s without even mentioning all those he tortured, murdered, or drove into the sea.

    There is certainly someone here who is out of touch, Keith, and to my eyes he wears green (or used to).

  8. david says:

    How about elections now? Better late than never.

  9. Michael says:

    Its Locke that is out of touch. Castro was a brutal dictator who murdered and tortured his own people. If Castro, and I recall at the time,Pol Pot are the sort of people and one party states that Locke looks up to God help New Zealand if he gets any where near having a say in government.

  10. Sally's Husband says:

    He was no saint, as others have pointed out. But the BIG difference between Batista (and other right-wing dictators; Noriega, Pinochet, etc, etc) and Castro is that Batista served the Mafia and Washington while Castro did what he had to for his people.
    Bastista or Castro? I know which one I respect, and which one will be remembered in history for all the right reasons.

  11. peter says:

    anyone heard of the Cuban missile crisis that nearly started world war 3,or those little things called democratic elections

  12. Mike in Auckland says:

    As much as I wished that Keith Locke was correct with his assessment, I fear he is rather out of touch with reality himself, when it comes to Fidel Castro. MOST people in the world will know stuff all about the man, as they are much younger, will not even have lived in 1959 or the 1960s and are distracted by other “more important” distractions of our modern days, dominated by biased and false information, via MSM, social media and what else there is.

    And therein lies the challenge, which most politicians are struggling to deal with.