Monday, November 9, 2009

Exposing one of the myths about the dictatorship in Cuba: Cult of Personality

"[W]e have never preached cult of personality. You will not see a statue of me anywhere, nor a school with my name, nor a street, nor a little town, nor any type of personality cult because we have not taught our people to believe, but to think, to reason out. " - Fidel Castro 1985

In an extraordinary June 1998 statement, Cuban Justice Minister Roberto Díaz Sotolongo justified Cuba's restrictions on dissent by explaining that, as Spain had instituted laws to protect the monarch from criticism, Cuba was justified in protecting Fidel Castro from criticism, since he served a similar function as Cuba's "king." -Human Rights Watch, Cuba's Repressive Machinery, 1999

There are numerous myths that have been refuted but with these myths repeated time and time again by the numerous propaganda agencies of the dictatorship in Cuba it is important to revisit them in an attempt to exercise what Vaclav Havel called the power of the powerless which is to live in truth.

Myth #1: Fidel Castro has not erected a cult of personality in Cuba.

Reality: There is a profound cult of personality surrounding Fidel Castro. Totalitarians were the pioneers in the 20th century in using the mass media to create an idealized heroic image of a political leader. Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union, Benito Mussolini in Fascist Italy and Adolph Hitler in Nazi Germany are early examples, but the Castro dictatorship has taken it to new heights. The preamble of the Cuban constitution features Fidel Castro by name prominently. Images of the dictator litter the landscape. A small sampling is provided above of these images. Book stores offer Fidel Castro's literary works and those of his deceased revolutionary compatriots like Che Guevara.

Fidel Castro is featured on the back of the Cuban 1 peso bill.

Castro has appeared on the back of the 10 pesos bill addressing a multitude.

He has also been featured on a 40th anniversary of the 1953 attack on the Moncada barracks on a 1 Peso coin.

One of the problems with a cult of personality and an absolute totalitarian dictatorship is when the dictator begins to lose his mind it is a crisis without a simple solution. Castro had been a frequent commentator on the evening news even when he was babbling and talking about mercenary hurricanes as seen below. It took a serious physical ailment for him to resign the presidency. Although to the present day he remains the head of the Cuban Communist party. Those with the courage to speak out are defined by the regime as dissidents or when elements within the regime in the privacy of a living room poke fun at the revolutionary leader they can find themselves out of a job or worse before the firing squad.

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