Jamie Glazov - FrontPageMagazine.com -
September 6, 2001
IN A RECENT SPEECH at the so-called World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, Fidel Castro endorsed the idea that the United States and other Western nations should pay reparations to the descendants of black slaves.
Fidel would be better off worrying about the reparations he owes to his own people, who have suffered for more than forty years under his communist slave-camp.
Today, the Cuban communist regime continues to distinguish itself by possessing the worst human-rights record in the Western hemisphere.
Ever since Castro came to power in 1959, Cubans have been denied the right to travel freely in and out of their country. They have not had the right of free association, nor of forming political parties, independent unions, or any religious and cultural organizations. Freedom of expression has been non-existent, and the regime has consistently controlled and censored the means of publications, radio, television, and film.
Since 1959, more than 100,000 Cubans have experienced life in Cuba’s prisons or forced labor camps for their political beliefs. More than 15,000 have been executed for the same reason. Torture has been institutionalized. This reality is best epitomized by the Camilo-Cienfuegos plan, a forced labor camp program that was founded in 1964 on the Isle of Pines. Working conditions there were barbaric. Prisoners had to work almost naked. They were forced to cut grass with their teeth or to sit in latrine trenches for long periods of time. Torture was routine.
Throughout the years, many human rights organizations have documented the Cuban regime’s use of electric shocks, the incarceration of prisoners in dark isolation cells the size of coffins, and beatings for the sake of punishing "anti-socialist elements."
Cuban communism has never quite lived up to its ideal of "equality." The ruling cadres live like millionaires, lacking for nothing: automobiles, fine foods, an abundance of stylish clothing -- distributed in closely guarded "Party" shops. The communist elites live in luxury, freely patronizing tourist shops and restaurants that take only American dollars. Yet the regime has a long record of sending average Cubans caught with American currency to jail.
Ordinary Cubans live in utter poverty. Food is tightly rationed for the average citizen. The shelves in the stores are empty. Teachers and doctors now drive taxis or work as waiters to feed their families. Ordinary Cubans are not permitted inside the hotels for tourists and Party functionaries, and, of course, there are police inside every such hotel to ensure that the citizens do not enter.
Cuba has gone from being one of the richest Latin American countries -- before the 1959 communist revolution -- to being one of the poorest. Because of Castro's belief in "socialism or death," Cuba is now a beggar nation. The $5-billion-a-year Soviet subsidy that just barely kept the Cuban economy afloat throughout the Cold War is long gone.
But Fidel has never had to worry about what his own people think about their enslavement. That is because he has never risked a popular election. No wonder he so bluntly rejected the request for a plebiscite on his rule on December 20, 1988.
Thus, Cubans have voted with their feet. Out of 11 million Cuban citizens, approximately 2 million have escaped their country. Many of them have done so by jumping on rafts in shark-infested waters. Tens of thousands have lost their lives in this effort. Castro has ensured the high death rate of potential escapees by sending helicopters to drop sandbags onto their rafts, or to just gun them all down -- including the women and children.
Like Hitler and Stalin, Fidel has succeeded in masterminding a ruthless tyranny. But it is unreasonable to expect that the Cuban people will remain content and forever grateful for receiving just enough food to survive and for having an education sufficient enough to enable them to read lies. One is reminded of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s insight that, under certain conditions, it is better to remain illiterate and to have a gentle heart, than to learn how to read – only to be programmed into being a slave, and into killing others in the name of "social justice."
If Castro should be worrying about anyone’s
reparations, it should be those that are owed to his own people. Let him
pay all the families who have been victimized by his slave-camp. He can
raise the hard cash by confiscating the enormous wealth of his communist
elites -- in the ideal Marxist tradition of confiscation and redistribution.