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Fidel Castro: The Homophobic Dictator and his Forced Labor Camps

By: Vanesa Vallejo - Dec 7, 2016, 4:15 pm
Fidel Castro's forced labor camps for gays are a dark stain on the nation's history.
Fidel Castro’s forced labor camps for gays are a dark stain on the nation’s history (LyP).

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Fidel Castro passed away last week and many apparently have ignored the murderous tendencies of the perpetual dictator. Or, like Colombia‘s influential magazine Semana, they simply pardon him for being a Communist. The statements of this magazine, like those of dozens of media outlets that refused to call him “dictator” and dedicated themselves to using ridiculous phrases as “revolutionary leader”, leave a clear message: apparently when a murderer is from the left, the body count doesn’t matter. I quote from the Semana article: “He has been responsible for many deaths. However, it would be unfair to call him a murderer.”

We must not shy away from remember the level of evil of the man which Semana refers to as a “liberator.” Perhaps one of the most terrible events that occurred during his lifetime dictatorship, which continues even after his death, is the existence of forced labor camps, which are curiously missing from the documentaries of the romantic “bearded man” that are frequently shown on television these days.

UMAP, Military Units to Aid Production, was the term given to the forced labor camps in which more than 35,000 Cubans were enslaved. Those who were tortured by the “liberator” had to perform agricultural work from dawn to dusk. They had strict “output quotas” and those who did not meet the established requirements were punished; for example, they were deprived of food. Confined in barracks surrounded by electric fences, and treated as slaves, religious minorities, hippies, and homosexuals were “rehabilitated” by the dictator’s men.

As reported by one of the witnesses of the documentary “Conduct Impropia” directed by Néstor Almendros and Orlando Jiménez, the forced labor camps essentially included three groups: homosexuals, religious minorities, and those accused of “improper conduct”, a category in which could be applied to anyone who ran afoul of the Castro brothers. Thus, in Cuba, you could not be gay, a Jehovah’s Witness, or have long hair and look like hippie, because you could be taken to a concentration camp.

The evidence of the horrific existence of homosexuals on the island is so overwhelming that even Fidel has admitted his culpability. “If anyone is responsible, it’s me,” he said in an interview, referring to the persecution of the homosexual community in Cuba. He has also stated that: “We have never believed that a homosexual can meet the conditions and requirements of conduct that allow us to consider him a true revolutionary.”

In spite of all of this, Fidel is called a “liberator”, and like Che Guevara, who shared Fidel’s anti-gay sentiments, the gay community is hesitant to condemn him. The left has been so skillful that they have even managed to associate the Cuban regime with the movement for gay rights. But nothing could be further from the truth. Communism’s greatest leaders, from Stalin to Kim Jong-un, have been overtly homophobic. In this regard the left’s rhetoric regarding “equality” and “liberty” is revealed to be completely hollow.

Left-wing groups who have participated in the struggles for equality before the law and tolerance of LGBTI groups seem to forget that leaders like Stalin, perhaps the most vicious murderer the world has ever seen, established laws against homosexuality that were introduced into the criminal codes of the Soviet republics. General repression of homosexuals is nothing new within Communist regimes.

Fidel’s personal disgust for and repudiation of homosexuals is well documented, yet behind the concentration camps where he sought to “rehabilitate” those he considered “deviants,” there is also an obvious economic interest. Like all Communists, the “revolutionary leader” always lived at the expense of the enslaved people. According to Forbes magazine, the dictator who allegedly worked tirelessly for the welfare of the poorest was among the 10 richest world leaders, accumulating a $900 million fortune in his lifetime.

The UMAP, the forced labor camps, were, of course, an important source of income, an unpaid labor force, something fundamentally necessary to a dictatorship that lives by enslaving Cubans. “The vital role of UMAP was not to kill civilians, but to harness the labor force of ‘social deviants’, without any concern for their human cost,” says Joseph Tahbaz in his study on gender repression on the island. The “liberator,” the eternal youth, the socialist romantic, was nothing more than a murderer of the worst kind with unbridled ambition.

Any decent person, who really examines the murderous nature of Fidel Castro, would condemn his actions. It is ironic to see Castro-loving LGTBI groups and leftist movements claim a sort of moral superiority, accusing those they call “neo-liberals” of being antiquated and reactionary, when they are defending the worst of dictators. If they really study the ideology of Fidel Castro, they will find a man who epitomized intolerance, disrespect for individual freedoms, fanatacism, and hatred. These are the values that he, in reality, represented.

Fidel Castro was a murderer, and his supposed good intentions now towards the gay community do little to compensate the victims of his dictatorship. He was a criminal of the worst kind, who famously placed the following sign above the labor camp’s entrance: “Work will make you men.” Seeing a homosexual defending Fidel Castro is as shameful and grotesque as seeing an African-American advocate for the Ku Klux Klan.

Fidel Castro's forced labor camps for gays are a dark stain on the nation's history.
Fidel Castro’s forced labor camps for gays are a dark stain on the nation’s history.
Vanesa Vallejo Vanesa Vallejo

Vanesa Vallejo is a Colombian economist, columnist, and classical liberal activist. She is a member of Colombia's Libertarian Movement. Follow her: @VanesaVallejo3.