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How I Learned to Love Fidel Castro

By: Guest Contributor - Nov 26, 2016, 1:00 pm
François Hollande's recent visit to Cuba saw him meet with Fidel Castro and fail to bring up human rights. (Telesur)
François Hollande’s recent visit to Cuba saw him meet with Fidel Castro and fail to bring up human rights. (Telesur)

EspañolBy Fausto Masó

Why would a dictator ever choose to be right-wing? If they choose the left, dictators end their days being visited by presidents and intellectuals. If you decide to be dictator, you should always carry a copy of Das Kapital under your arm and install a bust of the New Man in your office.

In Latin America, to our disgrace, opposition to the United States has become the great figleaf, the excuse for not thinking. Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is the latest example of this mental poverty: he still believes that Castro’s Cuba is a model to follow, and has failed to understand that the United States represents a better way of life, even if in the past it has abused its power to interfere in weaker countries.

North American society represents superior values to those of the Soviet system, something which our politicians in Latin America have refused to recognize. That’s why we’ve been victim to so many demagogues. It’s enough for us to yell “down with imperialism!” to be able to govern as imbeciles with popular support, and that of supposed intellectuals.

The economic policies of Augusto Pinochet have been followed faithfully by successive Chilean governments, and no democratically elected president has vindicated Salvador Allende, who died with dignity but whose administration meant that many Chileans even applauded a bloody military coup.

Someone like French President François Hollande would never have visited Pinochet, despite almost half of Chileans voting in his favor in a referendum. Today, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet is achieving the miracle of ruining Chile.

But something has happened to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Hollande chose not to touch down on Venezuelan soil, not even en route to Havana.

Castro and the French president held an “interesting dialog” about the historic links between France and Cuba, according to state television. Hollande called his visit to Cuba “historic”? No wonder Cubans are leaping with joy that the United States is set to invest in Cuba once more. But was the revolution carried out for this foolishness: only to admit that the island is geographically linked to the United States?

Hollande didn’t ask after dissident activist group Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White), nor bring up the world’s most famous blogger. Hollande’s lack of tact is so great that they even criticized him in Haiti when he arrived announcing new aid and investment for the former French colony.

Culturally, the world is leftist, it applauds revolution from afar. Hollande doesn’t govern like Castro, but he admires him. Unfortunately for him, Hollande has killed off French socialism, and the extreme right looks set to make serious gains in the coming elections.

Poor Maduro is no Pinochet, nor is he Castro: Maduro, sadly, is Maduro. His moment of glory was his journey to Moscow, where Vladimir Putin gave him front-row honors, perhaps because he was the only Latin American to attend the commemoration of 70 years since the Russian victory over the Nazis: a bold step, given that according to Hollywood it was the United States that won the war.

Europe and the United States in turn have supported military governments against leftist uprisings, and looked the other way when they killed guerrilla fighters. Today, they get emotional when they visit Cuba.

It’s enough to make you become a Castrista. It’s so sweet to see Fidel transformed into a wise, loveable, old man. Everyone, from the pope to Obama, wants to pay his respects.

Irony aside, here’s the truth: to impose leftist rule on others, you need to govern with all the worst excesses of a right-wing dictator. To the disgrace of Cubans, over half a century Fidel Castro also governed with the worst, most stubborn elements of the left.

He has left the island mired in disaster, at the point of almost even destroying the centuries-old sugar industry, and now the coming of the gringos is his only hope to alleviate poverty.

Fausto Masó is a Cuban-Venezuelan editor, radio commentator, and political columnist. Follow him on Twitter: @faustomaso

This article was originally published in El Nacional on May 16, 2015. Translated by Laurie Blair.