Cuban-American author and Townhall columnist Humberto Fontova was quick to set the record straight on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” when Soledad O’Brien tried to defend the idea that Fidel Castro’s regime in Cuba was “complicated.”
Though the former host CNN host acknowledged that Castro was a brutal dictator, she repeatedly argued that there are some Cubans who liked Castro, so there’s truth to President Obama’s “controversial” legacy comment.
Fontova interjected to point out that there’s nothing complicated about what Castro did in the country.
“Here we’re hearing about complicated emotions,” he said. “We’re hearing about strong emotions.”
“Folks Castro regime jailed and tortured political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin’s regime during the great terror. They murdered, murdered, mostly by firing squad, more political prisoners in their first three years in power than Hitler’s regime murdered in his first six. They drove 20 times as many people to die trying to escape from Cuba as died trying to escape East Germany, and we’re hearing about complicated emotions? Please give me a break.”
O’Brien responded to defend her remarks.
“No, sir, because if you’re actually trying to understand why there are Cubans who do like Fidel Castro, right they like that he gave the finger to the United States, so there are Cubans inside of Cuba, many of my family members, who actually like Fidel Castro,” she said. “They look at the things he brought — Cuba today is more Afro-Cuban than it was before a lot of the wealthier, educated Cubans fled. So there are complicated emotions. I don’t think that is completely unfair.”
“With Fidel Castro there is, yes, absolutely a brutal dictator but you cannot remove from his history the things that made Cubans like him in the first place,” she continued. “Remember the Cubans — when Fidel Castro first came in and overthrew Batista he was welcomed by all Cubans. They loved him, and very quickly it went south.”
Fontova was having none of it, however.
“No, no, no, no, no,” he fired back. “He was not welcomed. Under Batista — who jumped on rafts to escape Batista? Can you answer that for me? During Batista, more Americans lived in Cuba, than Cubans lived in the U.S., and that was at a time when Cubans could escape, could get visas. Under Batista, Cuba had a higher standard of living than most of Europe.”
“What I’m saying is, you’re trying to give some context to people right?” O’Brien said. “To understand why they feel the way they do about Fidel Castro.”
“Some of those people were forced into it, clearly,” she added. “But also, people enjoyed the fact that he basically gave the middle finger to the United States. There’s no question about that.”
“More bogus stuff,” Humberto replied.
Watch the full segment below. The heated exchange begins at around the 5:00 mark.