The world has witnessed outpourings not only of grief at Fidel Castro’s passing but also admiration for his achievements. In South Africa, this has been especially pronounced amongst supporters of the ANC, EFF & Cosatu. The fact that Castro supported the ANC to obtain freedom for the Blacks in South Africa will never absolve Castro for repression, oppression, persecution and enslavement for his own people.
The bald facts are that Castro was a dictator: pure and simple.
Main picture: Fidel Castro at MATS Terminal in Washington in 1959
One of sure signs of any oppressive or dysfunctional regime is when its citizens flee it even when the risks of death en route are huge. So it was with Cuba. Millions having fled Cuba in puny unseaworthy craft now reside in relative luxury in Florida USA. In their wake, they left countless thousands of dead, claimed by the merciless sea.
Let us consider the hypocritical stance of Cosatu or even an EFF in their unbridled adoration. The raison d’être of all Trade Unions worldwide, except in Communist countries such as China, is the protection of workers’ rights. In Cuba, union activities were not tolerated yet Cosatu is fulsome in its praise of Fidel.
Similarly with the EFF. The establishment of opposition parties in Cuba is not permitted.
In fact, none of the rights enshrined within South Africa’s constitution are enjoyed by the people of Cuba.
Why then is the attitude of the majority of South Africans so hypocritical in their praise for a dictator such as Fidel?
It lies in Castro’s unstinting support for their liberation.
Inasmuch as that is true, does that allow for unbridled uncritical praise of Castro?
No, it should not and never should.
I contend that the West’s lack of understanding of the crux of the independence drive by Africa in the 1950’s and 60’s is at the heart of this paradoxical attitude. As the West failed to observe the tide of history spilling onto the African shore, so the illiberal Socialist countries assumed the mantle as their guide. Unfailingly this came with the assumption that socialism was their saviour.
That tide of history has now swept out again revealing the barrenness of its dictates and policies.
Like their Western counterparts half a century earlier, these newly minted countries fail to discern the barrenness of the policies and actions of a dictator such as Castro. By hankering after a socialist idyll that never was, they heap undue praise on an oppressor as if he was the second Christ.
Instead, they should acknowledge his contribution to their liberation without beautifying him simultaneously, for Castro was definitely no saint. At least not to his own long suffering people.
History will treat him – and Che Guevara for that matter – more harshly & more unkindly than the current generation.
The unemotional tide of history will eradicate the sandcastles of fawning uncritical adoration leaving the unadorned & unvarnished truth as his only memorial.