Pre-Castro Cuba took in more immigrants per-capita (primarily from Europe) than the U.S., including the Ellis Island years. In the 1950’s, when Cubans were perfectly free to emigrate with all their property and U.S. visas were issued to them for the asking, fewer Cubans lived in the U.S. than Americans lived in Cuba. In 1958 the Cuban Embassy in Rome had a backlog of 12,000 applications for immigrant visas from Italians clamoring to immigrate to Cuba. This flood of (fellow First World) “wetbacks” was so alarming that in 1933, as a stopgap against these foreign rascals horning in on the “Cuban dream”, the Cuban government passed laws more draconian than Arizona and Georgia’s today: a majority of employees at all Cuban businesses had to be Cuban natives.
Would our construction, service and hospitality industries survive (enforcement) of such a law nowadays?
Such was Cuban prosperity till 1959. Then came the Castro brothers and Che Guevara.
Adonis G.B’s throat was crushed and Spanish medical examiners said yesterday that he probably died upon takeoff, meaning he probably died more quickly and painlessly than the tens of thousands of others who perished escaping Cuba’s free and fabulous healthcare.
It was a different story for the tens of thousands of dead Cuban rafters. Most of these desperate rafters probably died like captives of the Apaches, staked in the sun and dying slowly of sunburn and thirst. Others perished gasping and choking after their arms and legs finally gave out and they gulped that last lungful of seawater, much like the crew in The Perfect Storm. Still others were eaten alive -- drawn and quartered by the serrated teeth of Hammerheads and Tiger sharks much like Captain Quint in Jaws. Perhaps these last perished the most mercifully. As we've all seen on the Discovery Channel, sharks don't dally at a meal.
"In space no one can hear you scream," says the ad for the original Alien. Same for the middle of the Florida straits -- except, of course, for your raft-mates. While clinging to the disintegrating raft, while watching the fins rushing in and water frothing in white -- then red -- they hear the screams all too clearly. Elian Gonzalez might know.
All during the decades coinciding with Castro’s rule, the Coast Guard has documented hundreds of such stories. Were the cause of these horrors more politically-correct we'd have no end of books, movies, documentaries, Oprah interviews, Survival-Story specials, etc.. We'd never hear the end of it. Alas, the agents of this Caribbean holocaust consist of the Left's premier pin-up boys. 'Nuff said.
During the 70’s and 80’s, his Coast “Guard’s” machine-gun blasts kept disturbing Castro’s coastal subjects. So his military (kept fat and happy by tourism revenue) devised a remedy: their Soviet helicopters kept hovering over the escaping freedom-seekers, but now-- rather than machine gunning them to death--they started dropping sandbags onto their rickety rafts and boats to demolish and sink them. Then the Tiger and Bull sharks did the Castroites’ deputy-work.
Four years after the fall of the STASI-patrolled Berlin Wall, Castro’s STASI-trained police were gleefully machine-gunning Cubans who tried to swim into our Guantanamo Base, then retrieving their corpses with gaffing hooks. "This is the most savage kind of behavior I've ever heard of," said Robert Gelbard, deputy assistant secretary of state for Latin America during the Clinton administration (no less!). "This is even worse than what happened at the Berlin Wall!"
So what's the alternative if you can't flee Cuba? Well, in 1986, Cuba's suicide rate reached twenty-four per thousand--making it double Latin America's average, making it triple Cuba's pre-Castro rate, making Cuban women the most suicidal in the world, and making suicide the primary cause of death for Cubans aged 15-48. At that point, the Cuban government ceased publishing the statistics on the self-slaughter.The figures became state secrets. The implications horrified even the Castroites.
But apparently not the Democratic party’s Elder Statemen: “We greeted each other as old friends…Fidel Castro is a committed egalitarian. He brought superb systems of health care and education to his people." (Jimmy Carter) "I frankly liked him…Everywhere we were surrounded by laughing children who obviously loved Fidel. Castro is very shy and sensitive a man I regard as a friend.” (George Mc Govern)
The massacres and mass-suicides don’t faze the Democratic Party’s press auxiliaries either. "Castro's personal magnetism is still powerful, his presence is still commanding. Cuba has very high literacy, and Castro has brought great health care to his country." (Barbara Walters)
"Castro is old-fashioned, courtly -- even paternal...a thoroughly fascinating figure!" (NBC's Andrea Mitchell)
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.