Question of the week

My professor (disappointingly) couldn’t answer this without going into Cold War rhetoric (albeit thoughtful rhetoric): what makes Fidel Castro a bad person/the enemy? Better yet, is he a bad person? Even moving away from him as a person, why is his government bad? It is because the people under him have fewer political freedoms than we [think we?] do?

It’d be nice to hear an answer from someone in my generation that hasn’t merely imported popular belief.


  • Javid

    Nice question. Castro is perceived as an enemy because the media made him the enemy in the 60s. Since we had a real enemy, we accused others of being an enemy due to their association with the “true” enemy. Honestly if Castro really was a threat, or truly treating his people horribly, then he would have been removed from power over 30 years ago. Bush yanked out Saddam as soon as he was perceived as a viable threat, but somehow Castro who had missles that could hit anywhere in the country (except of course Seattle 🙂 ) wasn’t worthy of invasion. The are reasons why that didn’t happen back then, but now I think we can’t associate with him just because. Cuba is a big tourist destination for Canadiens. The made up with the island to our south and Canadiens love the cheap beach side resorts that Americans flocked to in the 50s.

    Conclusion: Castro is an enemy still today because the United States is too arrogant to go back on the claim that he is a horrible person that destroyed his country. If living conditions were so bad, why would life expectancy be 77 years of age, which is one of the highest in all of Latin America. In reality he has brought stability to the country. Haiti has by far the lowest standard of living with so many people unemployed (more than 50% of the population is underemployed or unemployed and 80% is below poverty line), yet we say Cuba and its 2.6% unemployement rate is such a horrible place to live and that everyone wants to leave on rafts and drift about the ocean. Cuba has massive resources and has a decent standard of living. They have given up civil liberties and some social freedoms for economic stability. There are no tanks running up and down the streets. Males aren’t even required to serve in the military. If Cuba was such a horrible place, then why is it better than Haiti and much of the rest of Latin America. The United States should get their stupid heads out of the sands and get over this stupid accusation that Cuba is a disaster ready to get into civil war at any second. Opening up ties would be a good thing for both economies.
    (Sorry my grammer sucks)

  • Dulin

    Those are actually some reasonable claims. It probably is just a historical dislike we have of them now. As to why we didnt go in during the Cuban Missile Crisis (when his country was a real threat), Kennedy was President… And even though I am an evil Republican, I think the outcome there was good… the world did not have its nuclear war. As for now… I haven’t checked any of your figures so I’m going to assume they are right and not being spun at all :-), so I’d say it’s just a historical thing. The United States does not like to work with Communist countries, stable or not. It’s just recently after the USSR fell that we’ve started to back off. Once Casstro is dead I’m sure we will step back and take another look. But as for now, Cuban Cigars are stil gonna be illegal for a while…

    Oh and to be on target for Melissa’s origional question… Ridel is a bad person in the eyes of the United States because he is a communist leader. That’s all the US needs… Why is his government bad? Because it is communist… That’s al the US needs… But if all the things that Javid there just said are true, then hell maybe it does work on that small nation, so the US does nothing… But there are a few issues like murder and imprisonment of political rivals… whatever, I’m no expert… 🙂

  • Adam

    Maybe we should ask the people that leave Cuba on rafts why Fidel is a bad guy. In all reality I really don’t think there is any point to have sanctions on Cuba because it hurts the people more than Fidel. We need a better way to say to the government of Cuba that communism is not a way to treat its people.

  • Javid

    I would like to say though that Cuba is definitely not a wonderful place to live. Sure they (according to Lissa) have the highest per capita doctor ratio in the world, but they overall don’t have the best living conditions. I have never been to Cuba, but would love to go at one point in life. There isn’t a whole lot of wealth there like in this country, but people make a living on less. They are better than some of their neighbors, but still not comparable to the United States and Western Europe.

    The big thing though is that people are willing to live there. If it was a whole disaster, then a civil war would have happened. Cuba doesn’t have the biggest military, but still people are satisfied living there. I along with Lissa and many others would love a non biased view on them. It is unfortunate that too much anti communist propaganda has spread through this country.

  • Javid

    Adam, asking the people fleeing the country is a horrible representation of Cuba. Ask my dad what he thinks of India, and then compare it the view points of some of his relatives that love their country. You are fully right though that Socialism is a bad way to treat people, but capitalism doesn’t work with corruption either which plagues most of latin america. Sometimes you would think that fewer social liberties might be the price to pay for a stable government, even though they are somewhat corrupt.

  • Luke

    Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security, will not have, nor do they deserve, either one. – Benjamin Franklin

  • Lissa

    Luke: Hmm. You’ve tossed that quote around before. What limits would you put on that sentiment? Have you recently become an advocate of anarchy? Do you disagree with a lot of the post-9/11 security measures put in by the various U.S. law enforcement/secutiry forces, too?

    Re: the doctors. I wanted to publish a statistic on that, since I was only remembering what was said in class when I mentioned the per capita thing. Harpers reports “Ratio of the number of doctors per capita in the U.S. to the number of doctors per capita in Cuba: 1:2” as one example. That ratio is quoted elsewhere in several other [decently reputable, given that we’re getting info on Cuba] sources I came across in a quick Google search. Not quality research, I know, but I am currently sitting in class.

    Why is socialism a bad way to treat people, again? Just curious; someone remind me in some fashion other than “capitalism rules!!11!” or “Commies suck”, please. (Dulin, that’s you again, sweetie. 🙂 )

    Dulin: Do you think Castro’s government committed more atrocities than the U.S. did across Latin America during it’s “red” alert/cold war days? I’m curious as to what scale we are putting Castro on in terms of “badness”.

  • Javid

    Wow this is the perfect time for the EU to officially reinstate full diplomatic relations with Cuba. This article presents some nice information on the subject.

  • Luke

    Franklin said that…as I remember he helped do the whole make-a-country-thing. Not exactly something I’d think anarchists would do. 😉

    But there are some measures I agree with and some I don’t per the Patriot Act. However, I don’t believe that they’ve taken any freedoms away; per sey. I, of course, am just like most of Congress and haven’t read the whole thing.

    Which is something I very much disagee with, Congress being able to pass bills when all of the members of Congress don’t even have a vague idea about what each page says.

    To enforce one’s freedoms, I would advocate forcibly requiring all civilians to wear firearms (hand guns…shot guns and rifles can get in the way) and know how to properly execute an arrest. Would save on police costs..’cause then everyone can just shoot the bad guy and be done with it.

    I do believe that if you’re willing to give away all of your freedoms for security then you deserve what happens to you. Consider the medieval period. Nearly everyone gave up their personal freedoms for what security a castle and Lord could offer. That didn’t work out so well. Now we have socialism where you’re willing to give up your ability to be an independant person in exchange for the government dependency that’s required for socialism to work.

    I do believe in order…as you know from my affiliations, but I don’t believe you should give up your individual freedoms in the interest of security.