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The Demise of a Despot

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

“We know that this moment fills Cubans … with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation.”


This sentence from President Obama’s unforgivably vacuous statement on the death of Castro really struck me. “Powerful emotions,” Mr. President? Yes, it’s safe to say that a dictator who harassed, starved, beat, jailed, tortured and executed tens of thousands of his countrymen over the course of five decades inspired some rather intense feelings.

Imagine the emotions of 15-year-old Owen Delgado Temprana. He was beaten to death in 1981 when security agents stormed the embassy of Ecuador, where his family was hiding.

Or 17-year-old Junior Flores Diaz. He died in 1995 after being locked in a punishment cell in a Havana province prison and being denied medical attention.

Or 25-year-old Lydia Pérez López. She was eight months pregnant in 1961 when a prison guard kicked her in the stomach. She lost her baby before bleeding to death.

You can read about all three of them, along with many others, in the Cuba Archive (www.cubaarchive.org). At the very least, check out a 2005 column by Mary O’Grady in The Wall Street Journal, “Counting Castro’s Victims,” which profiled the Archive’s work. You won’t have to read far to experience some “powerful emotions” of your own.

And that was written over a decade ago. The list of victims has grown since then.

Hunger strikes. Strange “accidents.” Firing squads. Unexplained deaths. Forced blood extraction. Assassinations of men, women and children. Civilians jailed for criticizing their leaders, or killed for attempting to flee their island paradise. The list goes on. To hear Castro lauded by some and treated to euphemistic tributes by others is an obscenity.


“My grandfather would often tell us of how he would hide indoors while Fidel’s firing squads would slaughter innocent people nearby,” Latin America expert Ana Quintana wrote on the Daily Signal. Well, Mr. President, that’s one way to “alter the course of individual lives,” isn’t it?

Speaking of which, let’s not forget that Fidel Castro was responsible for bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war in 1962, when he recklessly provoked the Cuban Missile Crisis. In giving the Soviet Union a base from which to strike the United States, he nearly altered our world right out of existence.

So it’s hard not to sympathize with those celebrating the demise of this despot. Unfortunately, their glee should be tempered. Fidel is gone, but his family members are not. The murderous regime he built on the blood of his own people is still firmly entrenched.

Indeed, it was given a new lease on life in December 2014 when President Obama announced he was re-establishing ties between the U.S. and Cuba. Far from helping the Cuban people, it has led to a greater concentration of power in the hands of the new generation of Castros.

In 2015, there were more than 8,616 documented political arrests in Cuba. During the first eight months of this year, there have been 8,505. This represents the highest rate of political arrests in decades, nearly quadrupling the tally throughout all of 2010 (2,074), early in Obama’s presidency.


One communist dynasty in North Korea is bad enough. We shouldn’t stand for having another one only 90 miles from our shores. The unilateral concessions Obama made should be rolled back as soon as possible.

“History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him,” Obama said. That history is quite clear, Mr. President: Castro was a monster. To say otherwise is to dishonor the memory of fallen Cubans who wanted nothing more than to live their lives in freedom and peace.

If only for their sake, how about a little honesty?

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