Of the many truly bad people who ruled as communists during the 20th century, among the most malevolent was Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who reduced a wealthy country to poverty and held it there with astonishing brutality. Since his death, liberal fellow travelers have indulged in gushing displays of affection that have not been well received. If only Nelson Mandela, a top god in the liberal pantheon, were still around — as a Washington Post article indicates, he would validate their high regard for Castro:
Following his release after 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela made sure one of his first trips abroad was to Havana. There, in the Cuban capital in 1991, Mandela lavished his host, Fidel Castro, with appreciation. Castro, said Mandela, was a “source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people.”
The scene might seem paradoxical in some corners of the West. How could the global symbol of African liberation and democracy say such a thing about a man whose death [a week ago] last Friday provoked exiles who fled repressive Cuban rule to dance in Miami’s streets? How could Mandela — imprisoned by South Africa’s apartheid rulers — find common ground with Castro, who cleared his way to absolute power in Cuba by jailing untold numbers of dissidents?
How? Easily. They both personified the same ideology, even if Mandela represented a more gradual, less overtly brutal means of imposing it.
Castro worked hard to spread that ideology throughout Africa, eager to see Western control — characterized by technological advancement and relative prosperity — replaced by squalid socialist dictatorships like his own.
In 1988, for instance, a deployment of 36,000 Cuban troops played a decisive role in beating back U.S.-supported South African apartheid-era forces stationed in Angola. Those battles precipitated neighboring Namibia’s independence from South Africa and reinvigorated anti-apartheid fighters at home. The United States, especially during the Reagan years, supported the apartheid government as a bulwark against communist expansion.
Characteristically, the WaPo piece is at best ambivalent regarding which side to regard as the good guys.
Castro’s troops weren’t just mercenaries for the Soviets. Castro intervened against apartheid largely out of his own convictions, not at Moscow’s bidding, historians note. …
After Castro’s death, the secretary general of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, which fought alongside the Cubans and has been in power since independence, said that Castro was his country’s Mandela.
On the left, that is high praise indeed. Nelson Mandela is more highly regarded by liberals than pretty much anyone. He placed his stamp of approval on the Cuban dictator with enthusiasm:
Mandela, upon hearing of the arrival of Cuban troops in Angola in 1975, wrote from his jail cell that “it was the first time that a country had come from another continent not to take something away, but to help Africans to achieve their freedom.” And of their Angola victory in 1988 against the regime that had imprisoned him, Mandela said it “destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor and inspired the fighting masses of South Africa.”
WaPo graciously admits that authoritarian moonbattery has had the same effect in Africa as in Cuba:
Today, the many failures of Castro’s revolution at home have left it resembling many of the African countries where it intervened. Like in Cuba, one-party-rule is common across many so-called democracies, and the revolutionary ideals that Cuba helped engender decades ago have been often consumed by greed and incompetence.
These “revolutionary ideals” were not consumed by anything. They are the packaging that the greed and incompetence of authoritarian rule come wrapped in.
It was not surprising to see presidents like Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi offer solemn tributes to Castro. They, too, have inherited his penchant for brutally stifling dissent, and staying in power at all costs.
But Castro will live on in Africa as an icon of freedom and struggle. In 1998, four years after Mandela became South Africa’s first black president, Castro flew to the city of Durban and was given a hero’s welcome on the streets. He delivered a speech to a packed meeting of the African National Congress, Mandela’s party.
Once reaching the podium, it was several minutes before Castro could begin his address, as the legislature thundered with cheers of “Cuba, Cuba,” and “Fidel, Fidel.”
That thundering mob has been transforming the country into what you might expect. That’s why South Africa isn’t featured on the U.S. nightly news like it was back in the bad old days of Apartheid.
Same poison, different manner of application.
On tips from ABC of the ANC.