Fidel Castro’s crimes against humanity “dwarfed” those of Augusto Pinochet, yet which Latin American dictator was arrested in London and which was greeted in Spain with “ample fanfare, unmolested,” around the same time in 1998?
Carlos Eire, Yale professor of history and religious studies, scolds the “many intellectuals, journalists and educated people in the First World” who enabled the Cuban strongman by falling for his lies, which were “beautiful and so appealing,” in a Washington Post op-ed.
Castro “imprisoned, tortured and murdered thousands more of his own people than any other Latin American dictator,” yet reminding Western elites of his real record was “usually futile,” says Eire.
Their defense of Castro had the intensity of “religious convictions”:
According to Castro and to his propagandists, the so-called revolution was not about creating a repressive totalitarian state and securing his rule as an absolute monarch, but rather about eliminating illiteracy, poverty, racism, class differences and every other ill known to humankind. This bold lie became believable, thanks largely to Castro’s incessant boasting about free schools and medical care …
In 1995, when he came to New York to speak at the United Nations, many of the leading lights of that city jostled so intently for a chance to meet with him at media mogul Mort Zuckerman’s triplex penthouse on Fifth Avenue that Time magazine declared “Fidel Takes Manhattan!” Not to be outdone, Newsweek called Castro “The Hottest Ticket in Manhattan.” None of the American elites who hobnobbed with Castro that day seemed to care that he had put nuclear weapons to their heads in 1962.
Castro was the “spitting image of Big Brother,” Eire says – persecuting gays, trying to eradicate religion, censoring “all means of expression,” creating an “apartheid society” where only foreigners had rights, delivering “inferior health care” to the masses, wiping out the middle class and jailing a greater share of his countrymen than even Joseph Stalin had done.
Read the op-ed. It’s also available in Spanish.
h/t Glenn Reynolds
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