Saturday, November 27, 2021

The San Isidro Movement and 27N: 15 days that shook the Castro dictatorship in November 2020

"It could be that they put me in the cell because of the force of my voice, but I needed the courage to tell the truth." - Denis Solís González, Sociedad Condenada." (Fuente: Movimiento Isidro)* 

San Isidro Movement logo
 

On April 5, 2018, Cuban rapper Denis Solís González posted the music video Sociedad Condenada (Condemned Society) where he sang about repression in Cuba and predicted his future with the lyrics "it could be that they put me in the cell because of the force of my voice, but I needed the courage to tell the truth." 

On September 12, 2018 the San Isidro Movement came into existence to protest Decree 349, a new law that further tightened the dictatorship's grip over the arts in Cuba. The name San Isidro was taken after the poor neighborhood where the artists lived in Havana. 

San Isidro Movement members protest Decree 349

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara is one of the leaders of this movement, and his home in the San Isidro neighborhood is the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement. Over the past three years, Amnesty International has on several occasions recognized Luis Manuel a prisoner of conscience, and he is recognized as one today.

T @yanelysnu This was on September 12, 2018. From that date until now there have been exiles, deportations, arrests but also a #11M & #11J. We are an increasingly strengthened civil society & we do not have to thank #Fidel for anything! #FreeLuisMa #SOSCuba https://t.co/AiLC3hWVJm

On May 11, 2019, despite the Castro regime having declared that there would not be a Gay Pride march that year, the march took place. Political police disrupted it, beat up, and detained march participants, but the march nevertheless took place.

Gay Pride march repressed by police in Cuba on May 11, 2019

This movement would carry out a number of campaigns such as #NoAlDecreto349 (#NoToDecree349) #LaBanderaEsDeTodos, (#TheFlagBelongsToAll), and members would suffer repression in varied forms, but a particular set of events elevated its impact.

Denis Solís González is a member of the San Isidro Movement.

He was arrested on November 9, 2020 after sharing a November 7, 2020 video of a Cuban police officer entering his home without a warrant, and Denis calling him “a coward wrapped in a uniform.” 

Denis Solís González jailed for eight months for disrespecting political police

In a summary trial, without a defense attorney, on November 11, 2020 the Cuban singer was sentenced "for contempt to eight months deprivation of liberty," according to Amnesty International. He was  jailed at the maximum-security prison, Valle Grande, located just  outside Havana.”

This sparked a cycle of protests that in the short term culminated in the mass protest outside the Ministry of Culture in Havana on November 27, 2020.

"On 12 November, several members of the San Isidro Movement protested outside of Cuba y Chacón police station, demanding freedom for Denis Solís. Among them were Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara and Iliana Hernández, who requested information on the whereabouts of Solís, but were detained while trying to do so," reported FreeMuse, adding that "other members from San Isidro Movement that were detained, though released later in the day, include Anamely Ramos, Maykel Castillo "Osorbo", Oscar Casanella, Jorge Luis Brian, Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho, Esber Rafael, Braulio Hastié and Juan Antonio Madrazo Luna." 

On the following night violence escalated, Cuban university professor and cancer patient Omara Ruiz Urquiola was brutally beaten by a police motorcycle patrolman on November 13th. Video of the attack was broadcast by Telemundo 51, and reached a broader audience.

Due to escalating violence by regime officials, decision was made to take their protests indoors on November 15, 2020 to the San Isidro Movement headquarters with the objective of developing a program of cultural activities in pursuit of the freedom of Denis Solís González. 

Oscar Casanella analyzes the liquid thrown into the headquarters. (Movimiento San Isidro)

Regime response was to send political police to lay siege, limit their right to movement, and poisoning their water supply in the cistern.  Officials threatened neighbors, restricted access to the block, detained family and friends of gathered activists. On November 18, 2020 they blocked neighbors from bringing them food and cleaning supplies. This led to the start of hunger and hunger and thirst strikes at 3:00 pm.

The hunger and thirst strike was imposed upon them. According to University professor Anamely Ramos González, the "decision was also a survival measure for Omara Ruiz Urquiola, because when we counted the food that was left, we realized that it was not enough for everyone." 

Activists under siege at the Isidro Movement headquarters in Havana, Cuba

Initiating the hunger and thirst strike were Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, Esteban Rodríguez, Maykel Castillo and Humberto Mena, and starting the hunger strike were Iliana Hernández, Yasser Castellanos, Adrián Rubio, Oscar Casanella and Osmani Pardo.

Officials responded with a violent escalation. On November 22, 2020 at 12:17am the San Isidro Movement tweeted that their headquarters had been attacked: "An unidentified man broke the door of the headquarters and injured Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara in the face with a hammer. State security and uniformed police who were present did nothing to prevent the attack."

The Washington Post's editorial board on November 28, 2020 addressed what happened on November 26, 2020 at approximately at 8:00pm:

CUBA’S POLICE broke down the door of an artists’ collective in Old Havana on Thursday night and detained about 14 people, several of whom were on a hunger strike. Most were later released, but the raid showed just how uneasy the Cuban government is with even a hint of protest or whisper of dissent. Art must run free, but in Cuba it must obey.

The raid was directed at the San Isidro Movement, a loose collection of creative types made up of “ghetto rappers, design professors, dissident poets, art specialists, scientists and regular citizens,” as writer Carlos Manuel Álvarez, a contributor to The Post, described it.

 On November 27, 2020 the independent publication Diario de Cuba pieced together different videos surrounding government raid on the San Isidro headquarters the day before and posted them edited together into one video

Regime officials claimed that the raid was due to concerns over COVID-19, but the individuals dressed like doctors did not behave like doctors, and the crowd gathered outside to shout revolutionary slogans, did not wear mask coverings, did not accord with pandemic protocols. Nor did returning the bulk of the San Isidro activists to their homes within hours of their detention. The last of the San Isidro hunger strikers, Maykel Castillo, ended his strike on November 30, 2020.  

The Castro regime ended up with a much larger problem than 14 protesters in a small space in the San Isidro neighborhood in Havana. Young people, mostly artists and academics, began gathering throughout the day of November 27th outside the Ministry of Culture. 

Outside the Ministry of Culture on 27N

Their numbers continued growing into the evening demanding the Minister meet with protesters to negotiate terms for a dialogue. 
Thirty representatives, elected by the hundreds gathered, went in and met with officials. 

They emerged with a commitment to dialogue and to consider the points raised by the protesters. Meanwhile the dictatorship sent truckloads of plainclothes security to surround the demonstrators, and to intimidate them. They also closed off the path to the Ministry of Culture, and began using tear gas and physical force to prevent others from continuing to join the protesters. Instead of following through with a dialogue to resolve the differences that had generated the protests the regime launched a media assault against the San Isidro Movement against the protesters. The autocracy in Havana has reason to be concerned. International media coverage has reported on the protest, and their demands raised on November 27th. 

Young Cubans gathered outside the Ministry of Culture on November 27, 2020

The Wall Street Journal on November 30, 2020 in the article "Cuban Leadership Confronts a Rare Dissident Movement" shared protesters demands. “We demand the right to have rights…The right of free expression, of free creation, the right to dissent,” said Katherine Bisquet, a young poet, reading the activists’ manifesto by the light of cellphones outside of the ministry where streetlights were turned off. Videos posted on social media showed Ms. Bisquet saying that she spoke for all Cuban citizens."

Officials were prepared for a major crackdown, but opted for a negotiated solution to avoid the spectacle, but then reneged. Reuters reported that "[t]he protest ended before dawn on Saturday only after officials met with 30 of the demonstrators and agreed to continue talking and to urgently review the case of a detained member of the San Isidro crew and a rapper sentenced this month to eight months in jail on charges of contempt. It also agreed to ensure independent artists in the future were not harassed."

This marked the formation of a new movement, 27N to complement the San Isidro Movement and they are observing their one year anniversary with a series of activities

This sustained, spontaneous, nonviolent, hours long protest, one year ago today, in response to the crackdown on the San Isidro Movement, and the preceding 14 days of protest by San Isidro artivists would have long term ramifications for Cuba.

*Original text: "Puede ser que me metan a la celda por el peso de mi voz, pero necesité el valor para decir la verdad"- Denis Solís González, Sociedad Condenada." (Fuente: Movimiento Isidro) 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro is still dead. Ten reasons why this is a good thing.

 With apologies to Chevy Chase and Saturday Night Live


Fidel Castro's gone but when will the dictatorship he created follow him?
 
Five years ago the dictatorship in Cuba announced that Cuban communist dictator Fidel Castro had died. Today one can say with full confidence that Fidel Castro is still dead. 
 
This blog entry will list ten reasons why this is a good thing.

1. Lied his way into power.
Fidel Castro, secretly a communist since at least 1950, lied to Cubans and the world that he would restore the 1940 Constitution and democracy in Cuba. Castro arrived in Havana in January of 1959 and immediately set upon consolidating power and erecting a totalitarian, communist dictatorship. On December 2, 1961  Castro explained the reason for the lie: "If we had paused to tell the people that we were Marxist-Leninists while we were on Pico Turquino and not yet strong, it is possible that we would never have been able to descend to the plains."  Communism and the communist party were deeply unpopular in Cuba because of its links to the Batista regime.

Matos and Chanes fought with Castro but jailed for questioning communist infiltration

2. Used terror and killed thousands to stay in power. While Fidel Castro talked democracy in 1959 the firing squads were filmed and broadcast and the terror began to consolidate control. Those who had fought by his side in good faith believing the Revolution was a struggle to restore democracy became uneasy with the course of the new regime. Some, like Huber Matos, Julio Ruiz Pitaluga, and Mario Chanes de Armas who spoke out spent decades in prison. Many returned to the hills of the Escambray to carry on the struggle for the democratic restoration. This resistance was crushed in 1966 after five years of assistance from 400 Soviet counterinsurgency advisors.

Executed by firing squad in Santiago de Cuba by the Castro regime in 1959
 
3. Killed tens of thousands. The Black Book of Communism states that in Cuba between 1959 thru the late 1990s between 15,000 and 17,000 Cubans were shot. Rudolph Joseph Rummel, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii and an expert in Democide (murder by government) also takes into account the Cuban boat people who have died fleeing the dictatorship and estimates 73,000 dead Cubans between 1959 and 1987. Without opening up archives on the island and an exhaustive search the full number of victims may never be known.

Raul Castro preparing one of his victims for execution
 
4. Twice tried to start WWIII. Fidel Castro twice called on the Soviet Union to launch a nuclear first strike on the United States and plunge the world into a nuclear holocaust. The first time was during the October 1962 Missile Crisis in a letter to Nikita Khrushchev and the second time in the early 1980s were Castro pressed the Soviets hard for a nuclear strike against the United States. This revelation became public knowledge on September 21, 2009 and The New York Times quotes the source:
Andrian A. Danilevich, a Soviet general staff officer from 1964 to ’90 and director of the staff officers who wrote the Soviet Union’s final reference guide on strategic and nuclear planning is quoted in the early 1980s, saying that Mr. Castro “pressed hard for a tougher Soviet line against the U.S. up to and including possible nuclear strikes.” The general staff, General Danilevich continued, “had to actively disabuse him of this view by spelling out the ecological consequences for Cuba of a Soviet strike against the U.S.”

Castro encouraged East German border guards in their deadly work
 
5. Celebrated border guards killing fleeing migrants. Fidel Castro visited Berlin in 1972 and addressed the border guards that policed the Berlin Wall to prevent East Germans from escaping to the West. At Brandenburg gate on June 14, 1972 in the afternoon (pictured above) he addressed the men charged with shooting East Germans fleeing to West Germany as "the courageous and self-denying border guards of the GDR People's Army who stand guard in the front line of the entire-socialist community." Later in the evening Premier Castro addressed the Nikolay Bezarin Barracks in East Berlin:
It is very important to know that the people of the GDR have great confidence in you, that they are truly proud of you. The comrades of the party and the citizens of socialist Berlin have told us with great satisfaction about the activity of the border troops, speaking with great admiration for you and for your services.
Fidel Castro with ally and war criminal Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia 1977
 
6. Backed genocide in Ethiopia. Fidel Castro on April 3, 1977 met in East Berlin with Erich Honecker about the need to help the revolution in Ethiopia and talked up Mengistu Haile Mariam, a then emerging new Marxist-Leninist leader. Fidel Castro celebrated the initiation of the Red Terror on February 3, 1977 in Ethiopia: 
"Mengistu strikes me as a quiet, serious, and sincere leader who is aware of the power of the masses. He is an intellectual personality who showed his wisdom on February 3. [] The prelude to this was an exuberant speech by the Ethiopian president in favor of nationalism. Mengistu preempted this coup. He called the meeting of the Revolutionary Council one hour early and had the rightist leaders arrested and shot. A very consequential decision was taken on February 3 in Ethiopia. []Before it was only possible to support the leftist forces indirectly, now we can do so without any constraints."
7. Sent troops take part in genocide. Fidel Castro took part in mass murder in Eastern Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1977-78, a conservative estimate of over 30,000 Africans perished as a result of a Red Terror unleashed in Ethiopia by the Mengistu and his Cuban allies. Amnesty International concluded that "this campaign resulted in several thousand to perhaps tens of thousands of men, women, and children killed, tortured, and imprisoned." Sweden's Save the Children Fund lodged a formal protest in early 1978 denouncing the execution of 1,000 children, many below the age of thirteen, whom the communist government had labeled "liaison agents of the counter revolutionaries."
 
Raul Castro and Fidel Castro with ally Mengistu Haile Mariam
 
Both Fidel and Raul Castro were deeply involved in sending 17,000 Cuban troops to East Africa in assisting Mengistu in consolidating his rule and eliminating actual and potential opposition. The last Cuban troops did not leave Ethiopia until 1989 and were present and complicit in the engineered famine that took place there in the 1980s. Donald R. Katz in the September 21, 1978 Rolling Stone article "Ethiopia After the Revolution: Vultures Return to the Land of Sheba" gave the following description of the wave of terror and repression unleashed by Mengistu.
"Toward the middle of last year [1977], Mengistu pulled out all the stops. "It is an historical obligation," he said then, "to clean up vigilantly using the revolutionary sword." He announced that the shooting was about to start and that anyone in the middle would be caught in the cross fire. In what came to be known as the "Red Terror," he proceeded to round up all those who opposed the military regime. According to Amnesty International, the Dergue killed over 10,000 people by the end of the year. One anti-government party, mostly made up of students and teachers, was singled out as 'the opposition.'"
 Human Rights Watch in their 2008 report on Ethiopia titled outlined "Collective Punishment War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia’s Somali Region" some of the practices carried out by Cuban troops sent there by Fidel and Raul Castro excerpted below
Africa Watch (the precursor to Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division) analyzed Ethiopian counter-insurgency operations in this period and found that they followed a four-pronged approach: i) the forced displacement of much of the civilian population into shelters and protected villages; ii) military offensives against people and economic assets outside the shelters; iii) the sponsoring of insurgent groups against the WSLF and Somali government; and iv) attempts to promote the repatriation of refugees. In December 1979, a new Ethiopian military offensive, this time including Soviet advisors and Cuban troops, “was more specifically directed against the population’s means of survival, including poisoning and bombing waterholes and machine gunning herds of cattle.”
Manuel Noriega and Fidel Castro: Partners in drug trafficking
 8. Fidel Castro linked to international drug traffickingThe U.S. State Department on March 1, 1982 declared Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism whose government was was using a narcotics ring to funnel both arms and cash to the Colombian M19 terrorist group then battling to overthrow Colombia’s democratic government. During General Manuel Noriega's 1992 trial information emerged publicly implicating the Castro brothers as the Sun Sentinel reported at the time:
"Federal prosecutors say Noriega traveled to Havana to ask [Fidel] Castro to mediate a potentially deadly dispute with top members of Colombia`s Medellin cocaine cartel. They say the cartel chiefs were upset because a major drug lab had been seized in Panama despite payment of millions of dollars in protection money to Noriega.
According to the Noriega indictment, Castro negotiated a peace accord between the cartel and Noriega at the 1984 meeting. The allegation forms a cornerstone of the racketeering and drug trafficking charges against Noriega."
 At the same time convicted cartel leader Carlos Lehder directly implicated Raul Castro and U.S. fugitive Robert Vesco "to route cocaine flights through Cuba." Capitol Hill Cubans blogged how two years later, a federal indictment listed General Raul Castro as part of a conspiracy that smuggled seven and a half tons of cocaine into the United States over a 10-year period but the Clinton administration overruled prosecutors. Regime continues to engage in such practices in the present.

Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Raul Castro
 
9. Fidel Castro spent decades trying to overthrow democracy in Venezuela before succeeding with Hugo Chavez and then sought to consolidate a totalitarian regime in the South American country. The Castro regime's interest in Venezuela began from the earliest days of the dictatorship. Venezuelans understood the threat poised by the Cubans by 1960 when Ernesto "Che" Guevara was giving unsolicited advice to Rómulo Betancourt, the democratically elected president of Venezuela. Guevara called for Betancourt to use the firing squad against his "rightist opponents." In 1963 Congressional Quarterly reported on how:
"Riots led by Communists and other pro-Castro elements in Caracas [in the autumn of 1960] took the lives of 13 persons and injured 100. Venezuela recalled its ambassador to Cuba, and Betancourt ordered out the army to end the rioting, which he termed an attempt to “install a regime similar to that in Cuba.”
Cuban Communist leader Blas Roca, told a Havana rally on January 23, 1963 that when the communists gained full control and “make themselves owners of the great riches in oil, aluminum and everything their earth imprisons, then all of America shall burn.”  A cache of three tons of weapons was found on a Venezuelan beach in November 1963 that was to be used to disrupt the democratic elections there. 
 
Fidel Castro would continue to agitate for revolution in Venezuela. A well documented incident occurred on May 8, 1967 and was reported by Francisco Toro in The Washington Post who described how: "two small boats carrying a dozen heavily armed fighters made landfall near Machurucuto, a tiny fishing village 100 miles east of the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. Their plan was to march inland and recruit Venezuelan peasants to the cause of socialist revolution." An all night gun battle with the Venezuelan military led to nine guerrillas dead, two captured, and one who had escaped.
The Castro regime's efforts would not begin to bear fruit until December 1994 with the arrival of Hugo Chavez in Havana to a hero's welcome following two years in prison for a coup attempt in Venezuela. Four years later Chavez had won the presidency of Venezuela and the Castro regime finally had its entry to Venezuela.  By 2007, Chávez had declared that Cuba and Venezuela were a single nation. “Deep down,” he said, “we are one single government.”  When Hugo Chavez died in 2013 the succession to Nicolas Maduro was planned in Havana.
 
The name of this "single nation" is Cubazuela and is a term that has been used by mainstream press publications such as The Wall Street Journal. The consequences to the people of Venezuela are well known. Violence has escalated during the Chavez-Maduro era to levels never seen before. There is widespread hunger now in Venezuela. Civil liberties and the rule of law are rapidly disappearing.
 
NY Daily News Photo By Harry Hamburg 1975 Fraunces Tavern bombing committed by Cuban backed FALN
 
10. Fidel Castro has a long and shameful history of sponsoring and taking part in terrorism including utilizing the tactic in the struggle against dictator Fulgencio Batista. On New Year’s Eve in 1956 members of Castro's 26th of July movement set off bombs in the Tropicana nightclub, blowing off the arm of a seventeen-year-old girl. From bombings, killings, and arson in 1957 to a botched hijacking to smuggle weapons to the Cuban guerrillas that led to 14 dead and the night of the 100 bombs in 1958 . The organizer of the bombing campaign Sergio González López nicknamed “El Curita” and the terrorist action itself are remembered fondly by the dictatorship that named a park in his honor along with a plaque pictured below. Regime apologists now deny that anyone was wounded or killed but the memories of those who lived through this say otherwise. González López was captured, tortured, and killed by agents of the Batista dictatorship on March 18, 1958. A pro-Cuban dictatorship website recalls some of El Curita's actions:
“He actively participated in the actions of the burning of Standard Oil; the bombing of Bejucal Railway Station cable, the cable from the Bus Station, the explosion of Vento, in the action of the Tunnel and the explosion of 120 coordinated bombings in Havana, which in a telephone phone call on this occasion to the chief of police, he told him “Coward, prepare your ear tonight ... we are going to explode 100 bombs under your own noses.
The Castro regime has practiced, trained, and even published manuals with chapters on how to engage in terrorism and to never renounce it, and on more than one occasion targeted the United States.
 
Plaque erected by Castro regime to honor bomber Sergio González López “El Curita”
 
The Castro regime organized a 1966 gathering called the Tricontinental Conference where Fidel Castro insisted that "conditions exist for an armed revolutionary struggle." The aim of the Tricontinental, according to Georges Fauriol in the book Cuba:the international dimension, was to promote violent revolution in Africa and Asia as well as Latin America: “At this conference, Cuba and Latin American Marxist Leninist terrorist groups began their collaboration with black militant groups in the United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), and other radical Arab groups in the training and arming of terrorists."

Gerardo Jorge Schamís in his book
War and terrorism in international affairs describes how in the summer of 1975 the disappearance of “Carlos” who killed his assistant and two members of the French secret service led to the expulsion of three Cuban diplomats from Paris and greater surveillance of the activities of Cuban agents in Europe. According to Jorge Schamís the terrorists had concealed their “modus operandi” since 1976 in Paris in offices of the Revolutionary Coordination Board (JCR) which on the surface sought to obtain solidarity from European democracies to condemn authoritarian regimes in Latin America but in reality it was a documentation center producing forged passports; raise money for clandestine operations and were connected to terrorist training camps in Cuba: 
“opened in 1966 by the Dirección General de Inteligencia (DGI) , the Cuban regime's main intelligence agency, under the supervision of the Soviet KGB after the Tricontinental Conference in Havana, to "organize anti-imperialist forces.”
There are links between the Cuban dictatorship and international terrorists such as Uruguayan Tupamaros, the Argentinian Montoneros and ERP , the Chilean MIR, the M19, a Colombian guerilla group that captured the Dominican embassy and Justice building in Bogota assasinating several prominent judges, FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia) in 2003, the FARC conducted a February car-bombing of a Bogota nightclub that killed more than 30 persons and wounded more than 160, the Basque terrorist/separatist organization ETA, and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) which has its Latin American headquarters in Havana and has been linked with the FARC.

The Castro dictatorship a few years later had Cuban agents assisting the Macheteros (FALN) who committed terrorist attacks and bank robberies in the United States including bombings; among them the 1975 bombing of Fraunces Tavern in New York which killed four instantly and injured 63.
On December 31, 1982, New York City was the scene of a wave of bombings by the Macheteros (FALN): Federal Courthouse at 26 Federal Plaza; a Police Officer at One Police Plaza lost part of his leg when another bomb went off there; a bomb tore into the Federal Courthouse at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn; two other devices were discovered in St. Andrew's Plaza beside the Federal Courthouse at Foley Square, the NYPD Bomb Squad sealed off the area and was preparing to disarm the device when it exploded severely injuring two officers were. In 1983 the Cuban government provided financial and logistical support for the Wells Fargo armored car robbery which netted the Macheteros $7.1 million dollars of which $2 million made its way back to Cuba via a diplomatic pouch. The whole story is detailed in a Hartford Courant investigative piece published in 1999.
Oscar López Rivera, one of the leaders of the Macheteros, granted clemency by President Obama on January 17, 2017 was honored in Cuba with the Order of Solidarity in November of 2017 and he called on the world to emulate Fidel Castro.
 
These are ten reasons and there are many more that have been documented in this blog among them: massacres of fleeing refugees (1993, 1994); the extrajudicial killings of four members of Brothers to the Rescue in the shoot down (1996); and the extrajudicial killings of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas and Harold Cepero(2012). Fidel Castro is dead, but the regime he built continues to cause harm, and Mr. López Rivera is wrong the world should reject the harmful example of Fidel Castro and his terrible legacy of lies, terror, murder and complicity in genocide.
 

First Secretary, President, Prime Minister, and Secretary-General, Comandante Fidel Castro is still dead.

Breaking news. Fidel Castro is still dead.

Fidel Castro: Cuba's absolute dictator turned power over to his brother

First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, President of the Council of State of Cuba, President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, Prime Minister, and Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement, Comandante Fidel Castro is still dead.   

Five years ago, on a Black Friday that fell on November 25, 2016, Cuban tyrant Fidel Castro died at the age of 90 never having had to answer for his many crimes against humanity both in and out of Cuba. From Nicaragua, to Ethiopia, to Venezuela, and in many other places Fidel Castro assisted tyrants and dictators to take power, hold on to it, and consolidate their rule.  One day later in a blog post I predicted what would come next.

"Predictably over the next few weeks inside Cuba the world will see spectacles organized by the totalitarian dictatorship to "mourn the great leader." The regime has already started with nine days set aside for official mourning. This will not be the first time that monsters are mourned by an oppressed people through different methods of command, control and manipulation. The world has witnessed it before in the Soviet Union in 1953 and more recently in North Korea with the Kim dynasty. The death of Stalin as dramatized in the film "The Inner Circle" is recommended viewing for those about to follow the circus in Cuba in the wake of Fidel Castro's death.  Meanwhile in Cuba as the regime prepares its state funeral the Castro dictatorship's secret police begin to make threats, round up and take dissidents to undisclosed locations and commit acts of violence." 

Five years later the fans of the late Cuban dictator are out trying to defend his legacy and repeating the lies to put him in a positive light. These apologists of the dictator are silent on the role played by the United States government and The New York Times in undermining Fulgencio Batista's rule and bringing Fidel Castro to power. 

There are other inconvenient truths that are well documented and available for those seeking facts about the Cuba that existed prior to 1959 with warts and all, and what came after.

On this fifth anniversary of the dictator's death it is a good time to remember some of his more memorable statements.

Relationship with the truth

Fidel Castro in the 1950s repeatedly claimed that he was not a communist because he knew that advocating a communist revolution would lead Cubans to abandon him. On December 2, 1961 he explained his reasoning.
"If we had paused to tell the people that we were Marxist-Leninists while we were on Pico Turquino and not yet strong, it is possible that we would never have been able to descend to the plains."
 

On March 26, 1964, after announcing that he had always been a Marxist Leninist, Castro explained: 
"I conceive the truth in terms of a just and noble end, and that is when the truth is truly true. If it does not serve a just, noble and positive end, truth, as an abstract entity, philosophical category, in my opinion, does not exist."  
Jose Ignacio Rasco, who knew Fidel Castro from school and afterwards concluded that the Cuban revolutionary had been a committed communist by 1950.
 
Denied universality of human rights
 
 
 
Fidel Castro in the above interview in Havana in 1986 divided freedoms i.e. rights as one set being revolutionary liberties and another being bourgeois liberties and claiming that there are two different concepts of liberty he is rejecting the Latin American tradition which was best expounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that there are basic human rights that are universal and not separated by political/ideological or as in the Islamic claim by religious differences but are the same for everyone.
 
In 1961 in a speech that became known as "Words to intellectuals" Fidel Castro labeled dissenters "counterrevolutionaries" and explicitly stripped them of their rights. 

What are the rights of writers and artists, revolutionary or non-revolutionary? Within the Revolution, everything; against the Revolution, no right (applause). And this is not some special law or guideline for artists and writers. It is a general principle for all citizens. It is a fundamental principle of the Revolution. Counterrevolutionaries, that is, the enemies of the revolution, have no rights against the revolution, because the revolution has one right: the right to exist, the right to develop, and the right to be victorious." ... "In other words: Within the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing."
 
This is not an original statement, but an echo of speeches and writings made by other tyrants. A close parallel is found in Benito Mussolini's 1935 speech: "Everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value, outside the State."   
 
Consequences of this policy in Cuba were seen internationally in the Padilla Affair in 1971. 
 
Homophobic

We would never come to believe that a homosexual could embody the conditions and requirements of conduct that would enable us to consider him a true revolutionary, a true communist militant.” ... A deviation of that nature clashes with the concept we have of what a militant communist should be.” - Fidel Castro, 1965

On March 13, 1963 Fidel Castro gave a speech were he openly attacked “long-haired layabouts, the children of bourgeois families,” roaming the streets wearing “trousers that are too tight,” carrying guitars to look like Elvis Presley, who took “their licentious behavior to the extreme” of organizing “effeminate shows” in public places. The Cuban dictator warned: “They should not confuse the Revolution’s serenity and tranquility with weaknesses in the Revolution. Our society cannot accept these degenerates.”

Both Gays, and rock n rollers were sent to forced labor camps. 

Claimed he ended racism, but it was Black Cuban agency that was outlawed

"In Cuba, the exploitation of man by man has disappeared, and racial discrimination has disappeared, too." - Fidel Castro, quoted in Castro's Cuba, Cuba's Fidel By Lee Lockwood, 1967

Castro’s communist revolution ended Black Cuban's agency in Cuba. Cuban black nationalist Juan René Betancourt in his essay "Castro and the Cuban Negro" published in the NAACP publication The Crisis in 1961 detailed how it was done.

“Of the 256 Negro societies in Cuba, many have had to close their doors and others are in death agony. One can truthfully say, and this is without the slightest exaggeration, that the Negro movement in Cuba died at the hands of Sr. Fidel Castro.” … “Yet this is the man who had the cynical impudence to visit the United States in 1960 for the purpose of censuring American racial discrimination. Although this evil obviously exists in the United States, Castro is not precisely the man to offer America solutions, nor even to pass judgement.”

Between 1898 and 1959 the relationship between Black-Americans and Black-Cubans was based on their being part of an international black diaspora. This relationship ended when the Castro regime ended autonomous black civil society in 1962, and consolidated totalitarian rule. It was replaced by Castro and his white revolutionary elite allying with Black elites in the United States, and Africa while criticizing racism in the United States. 

Castro regime's publication Verde Olivo 1, no. 29 (October 1, 1960)

For decades, the Castro regime expected Black Cubans to be obedient, submissive, and grateful to the white revolutionary elite, and this was reflected in official propaganda with racist tropes. Black Cubans who think for themselves are punished.

 On Walls and border controls

Castro encouraged East German border guards in their deadly work

Fidel Castro visited Berlin in 1972 and encouraged the border guards to continue shooting Germans trying to flee to freedom by crossing the Berlin Wall. At Brandenburg gate on June 14, 1972 in the afternoon (pictured above) he addressed the men charged with shooting East Germans fleeing to West Germany as "the courageous and self-denying border guards of the GDR People's Army who stand guard in the front line of the entire-socialist community." Castro addressed the Nikolay Bezarin Barracks in East Berlin:

"It is very important to know that the people of the GDR have great confidence in you, that they are truly proud of you. The comrades of the party and the citizens of socialist Berlin have told us with great satisfaction about the activity of the border troops, speaking with great admiration for you and for your services."

Helping a genocidal war criminal create a man made famine in Ethiopia

Fidel Castro with ally and war criminal Mengistu Haile Mariam in Ethiopia 1977

Fidel Castro on April 3, 1977 met in East Berlin with Erich Honecker about the need to help the revolution in Ethiopia and talked up Mengistu Haile Mariam, a then emerging new Marxist-Leninist leader. Fidel Castro celebrated the initiation of the Red Terror on February 3, 1977 in Ethiopia: 

"Mengistu strikes me as a quiet, serious, and sincere leader who is aware of the power of the masses. He is an intellectual personality who showed his wisdom on February 3. [] The prelude to this was an exuberant speech by the Ethiopian president in favor of nationalism. Mengistu preempted this coup. He called the meeting of the Revolutionary Council one hour early and had the rightist leaders arrested and shot. A very consequential decision was taken on February 3 in Ethiopia. []Before it was only possible to support the leftist forces indirectly, now we can do so without any constraints."
Fidel Castro took part in mass murder in Eastern Africa in the 1970s and 1980s. Between 1977-78, a conservative estimate of over 30,000 Africans perished as a result of a Red Terror unleashed in Ethiopia by Mengistu and his Cuban allies.

 

Ramiro Valdez, Raul Castro and Fidel Castro with Mengistu Haile Mariam

Amnesty International concluded that "this campaign resulted in several thousand to perhaps tens of thousands of men, women, and children killed, tortured, and imprisoned." Sweden's Save the Children Fund lodged a formal protest in early 1978 denouncing the execution of 1,000 children, many below the age of thirteen, whom the communist government had labeled "liaison agents of the counter revolutionaries."
 
 Advocating for and actively trying to start a nuclear holocaust

On October 27, 1962, the same day that Fidel Castro ordered artillery to fire on American reconnaissance aircraft, successfully knocking one down ,Khrushchev received a letter from the Cuban dictator, that historians call the Armageddon letter, in which he called for a Soviet first strike on the United States, in the event of a US invasion of Cuba.

If an aggression of the second variant occurs, and the imperialists attack Cuba with the aim of occupying it, then the danger posed by such an aggressive measure will be so immense for all humanity that the Soviet Union will in circumstances be able to allow it, or to permit the creation of conditions in which the imperialists might initiate a nuclear strike against the USSR as well.

Thankfully, Kennedy and Khrushchev reached a peaceful outcome, but the Castro regime continued to protest and was unhappy with their Soviet allies for not launching the intercontinental ballistic missiles and starting a thermonuclear war. 
 
Castro freaked out Khrushchev with his call for a first strike
 
Comandante Castro ordered students to the streets to chant "Nikita, mariquita, lo que se da no se quita" ("Nikita, little queer, what you give you don't take away").

The Brothers to the Rescue shoot down.
 

Dan Rather:-The incident of the Brothers to the Rescue aircraft…But you gave the order.  It was not your brother Rául or a general.

Fidel Castro:-I gave the order to communicate to the Air Force that what happened on the ninth and thirteenth could not be permitted again.  But these operations are very quick.  They enter in a matter of minutes and leave.  It is very difficult to establish a mechanism of communication and consultation.  They had the general order of not permitting them…They acted with full awareness that they were following the order.  At that moment there was not…The air force had the responsibility.  As a rule they can communicate with each other, but everyone is not always there.  In fact, they had the authority to do it, and I assume the responsibility.  I am not trying to elude the responsibility in the least, because they were instructions given in a moment of really great irritation.  They were given to the pilots, I believe, if I remember correctly, on the 14th of January. 

Source: FIDEL CASTRO INTERVIEW BY DAN RATHER -  MADE PUBLIC SEPT 3, 1996

Detailed investigation into the Brothers to the Rescue shootdown available here.

Alliances with Fascists and Nazis

In the early 1960s the Nazi who saved Adolf Hitler's Third Reich in 1944, Otto-Ernst Remer, had contacts with and assisted Fidel Castro in Cuba with the purchase of weapons. Ernst-Remer along with Ernst Wilhelm Springer sold the Cuban dictator 4,000 pistols. The German foreign intelligence agency, Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), reported that "evidently, the Cuban revolutionary army did not fear contagion from personal links to Nazism, so long as it served its objectives."  

Fidel Castro in 1962 when Otto-Ernst Remer was selling him weapons

The Cuban autocrat was friendly with his Spanish counterpart Francisco Franco, and declared days of mourning when the Generalissimo, Prime Minister, Head of State, and Caudillo died on November 20, 1975. 

In the picture below is Fidel Castro with Argentine foreign minister Nicanor Costa Mendez, one of the planners of the Falkland's invasion, of the Argentine military junta that extra-judicially executed and disappeared as many as 30,000 Argentinians between 1976 and 1983 in the Dirty War meeting in Havana at the Non-Aligned Movement gathering. He died of lung cancer on August 3, 1992.

Argentine foreign minister Nicanor Costa Mendez and Fidel Castro 

That is not the only member of the junta that Castro commiserated with because he was also photographed with "President" Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone Ramayón who, like Fidel Castro then and Raul Castro today , was"President" in name only, but in reality a brutal military dictator between 1982 and 1983. On April 20, 2010, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the kidnapping, torture, and murder of 56 people in a concentration camp.

Reynaldo Benito Antonio Bignone Ramayón with Fidel Castro

Whereas groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International sought to expose the Dirty War and stop it and to later document the crimes committed and along with the victims demand justice the Cuban government did everything at the time to block efforts to investigate the disappearances from their perch at the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Fidel Castro was a consistent enemy of democracy and human rights until his death in 2016. 

First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, President of the Council of State of Cuba, President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba, Prime Minister, and Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement, Comandante Fidel Castro is still dead, and good riddance.