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Castro and Pinochet

December 12th, 2006

Pinochet is dead, and it looks certain that Fidel Castro will soon follow him to the grave. I don’t have the same visceral loathing of Castro that I feel for Pinochet, whose brutal coup in 1973 was one of the big political events that formed my view of the world, along with Brezhnev’s invasion of Czechoslovakia five years earlier.

Viewed objectively, though, the similarities between the two outweigh the differences. Any good they have done (education in Cuba, economic growth in Chile) is less substantial than claimed by their admirers, and in any case outweighed by the central fact that, to impose the policies they thought were good, they were willing to jail, torture and kill those who got in their way. And Pinochet’s gross personal corruption is matched by Fidel’s conversion of his dictatorship into a family business, to be inherited by his brother.

Moreover, Pinochet and Castro were two sides of the same political coin. Pinochet justified his destruction of Chilean democracy by the fear that Allende would turn into a new Castro. Castro used Pinochet’s coup (among many other US-backed attacks on Cuba and other Latin American countries) as a justification for repressing domestic dissenters. The world will be a better place when both are gone and, hopefully, democracy comes to Cuba.

Update Predictably, Andew Bolt defends Pinochet. It’s important to observe that Bolt is even-handed in these matters. He would be just as eager to excuse Castro’s crimes if Fidel happened to change sides (hat tip: Tim Dunlop)

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  1. milano803
    December 12th, 2006 at 13:34 | #1

    I don’t know that dictators “justify” either destruction of repression of dissent. As dictators, they wouldn’t really have to justify anything, they just do it. I agree though that the world would be a better place without any dictators.

  2. milano803
    December 12th, 2006 at 13:35 | #2

    sorry, that should read ‘destruction OR repression of dissent”

  3. Jimmythespiv
    December 12th, 2006 at 14:16 | #3

    History will judge that Pinochet left his country a better place when he carked it than will Fidel. The fact is, however, that Pinochet could have achieved the same results with less brutal means, or potentially, without any brutality at all.

  4. Jimmythespiv
    December 12th, 2006 at 14:17 | #4

    ….and JQ, how can you not loathe viscerally Fidel – has kept his people enslaved unarguably since the end of the Cold War (and I believe since the missle crisis).

  5. Paul Norton
    December 12th, 2006 at 14:25 | #5

    “History will judge that Pinochet left his country a better place when he carked it than will Fidel.”

    If so, only because by the time Pinochet carked it Chile had been governed democratically by his critics, opponents and former victims for sixteen years since he’d left office.

  6. milano803
    December 12th, 2006 at 14:37 | #6

    But would it have been a better place had Allende remained in power?

  7. December 12th, 2006 at 14:56 | #7

    Jimmythespiv: He told you why, because it was “one of the big political events that formed my view of the world”. Quiggin was still a toddler when Castro overthrew Batista so I’m not sure we can expect it to be formative lesson for him.

  8. December 12th, 2006 at 14:59 | #8

    “… along with Brezhnev’s invasion of Czechoslovakia five years earlier.”

    Heh. Isn’t it funny how we all must strive to be “fair and balanced” these days? Lest a great plague of right-wing locusts descend upon our blog, lest we be denounced by our peers and the popular press, or lest political gate-keepers dig up our comments a decade from now. Sigh.

    “… Pinochet left his country a better place when he carked it than will Fidel.”

    Pinochet didn’t have to deal with decades of US-imposed sanctions and international isolation. It is impossible to know what Cuba might be like today without that perpetual obstacle. Something like China, perhaps?

    Don’t get me wrong: I totally deplore the use of violence by both men. Whatever achievements they may have pointed to are nullified by their methods.

    I think you have to view Castro alongside Che Guevara and Generalissimo Simon Bolivar’s Revolution, which is today being energetically revitalized by Chavez (another militant) and others. Pinochet belongs to the Fascist legacy of Hitler, Franco and Mussolini.

    Are they “two sides of the same coin”? Only if you view all those who advocate violence as dangerous extremists. And of course we citizens of the 21st Century are still far too ape-like for such concepts. Just look at the people we choose to represent us, and how energetically we embrace their dark visions.

  9. December 12th, 2006 at 15:04 | #9

    Sorry, I should have said: “the Fascist legacy of Hitler, Franco, Mussolini and Bush.”

    The continuing battle between Right and Left across the Americas remains a rivetting spectacle. Fortunately MOST participants have nowadays embraced Democracy and renounced violence.

    One can only hope that one day the USA will join them.

  10. Paul Norton
    December 12th, 2006 at 15:09 | #10

    I don’t think John’s reference to Brezhnev’s invasion of Czechoslovakia was a matter of “striving to be fair and balanced”. For anyone old enough to be aware of the event (as I was – just) or who became involved in left-wing politics or formed a left-wing worldview in the shadow of its repercussions (which played out for more than twenty years – at least – in the USSR, Eastern Europe and amongst the international left) it was a very formative event.

    Indeed, the Brezhnev regime’s response to the Prague Spring – both its repression of a major attempt to reform an “actually existing socialist” state from within, and its re-Stalinisation of the USSR for fear of where the feeble post-Stalin efforts at liberalisation might lead – probably sealed the fate of Soviet and Eastern European communism by putting off serious reform for a generation and ensuring that when it came (courtesy of Gorbachev) the system was too far gone, and the various opposition movements too sceptical with ideas of a “Third Way” between capitalism and communism, for attempts at reform to end in anything other than the system’s collapse.

  11. December 12th, 2006 at 15:19 | #11

    Speaking as someone for whom the events of 1989 marked a political awakening, it is interesting to see how someone takes a historical perspective on the events of 1968 & 73.

  12. Jimmythespiv
    December 12th, 2006 at 15:46 | #12

    Paul

    Reform would have been equally impossible in 1968 as 1988 as centrally planned economies didn’t work (unless you were in the market for a million tonnes of low quality pig iron or something). The Soviets invaded because they knew the came would be up without coercion.

  13. Jimmythespiv
    December 12th, 2006 at 15:48 | #13

    ….and Paul, I haven’t noticed Castro leaving office and retiring peacefully to a little house in Vista del Mar to while away his twilight years. He’s a murderous thug – and he’s still (barely) in business.

  14. Paul Norton
    December 12th, 2006 at 16:08 | #14

    Jimmy, I agree that centrally planned economies don’t work. Neither did the neo-liberal “shock treatment” inflicted on Russia in the 1990s (economic policies which lead to an economy contracting to half its previous size can be safely judged not to have worked). Methinks what might have worked was an evolutionary process (coupled with political democratisation) leading to a sensible social democratic point in between the extremes of 1930s Stalinist shock therapy and its 1990s neo-liberal counterpart.

  15. Paul Norton
    December 12th, 2006 at 16:09 | #15

    “I haven’t noticed Castro leaving office and retiring peacefully to a little house in Vista del Mar to while away his twilight years.”

    So why do you think that is?

  16. Katz
    December 12th, 2006 at 17:03 | #16

    What a boring exercise in posturing.

    Some facts are necessary.

    Most JQ and most of his commenters pay taxes in Australia and/or are Australian citzens.

    As such, we contribute to tax dollars to the UKUSA consortium of intelligence services. Since the late 1940s this agreement has implicated Australian intelligence services with the activities of US intelligence. One of the most notorious examples of US intelligence activities against Cuba was Operation Mongoose, which among other objectives, entailed the assassination of Fidel Castro.

    Equally, US intelligence services were implicated in the assassination of Salvador Allende and other Chilean leftists, including Orlando Letelier.

    Thus, as taxpayers, Australians have aided and are aiding the US in its intelligence and assassination programs. Thus we have contributed in a small way to the destabilisation and destruction of the Castro regime.

    Conversely, these same assets were used to place Pinochet in power and to keep him there.

    Thus, Australians are not responsible at all for the longevity and activities of Castro, except insofar as we gave aid and assistance to a pack of incompetent putzes who failed at least 50 times to terminate Castro with extreme prejudice. Perhaps Australian officials should have suggested that US terrorists and assassins be better prepared and trained for their anti-Castro activities.

    However, Australians are responsible in a minor degree for the longevity and actvities of the Pinochet regime.

    Thus, we have an infinitely greater interest in discussing a regime supported by our money than we do in talking about a regime that our money was used unsuccessfully in an attempt to terminate.

    Chilean blood shed by Pinochet is on our hands. Cuban blood shed by Castro is not on our hands.

  17. Jimmythespiv
    December 12th, 2006 at 17:16 | #17

    Katz

    Your argument is stupid – Australia complicit in Pinochet ? Do you really think the US would not have been pro Pinochet if we had declared neutrality and left ANZUS ?

    By that logic we are also implicated in the ongoing repression by Turkey of its Kurds (because Turkey is a US ally and member of NATO).

    You must cry a river every night for the sins of the world, just like John XXIII used to.

  18. Katz
    December 12th, 2006 at 17:25 | #18

    First time I’ve ever been likened to a Pope!!

    My argument isn’t a moral one, that’s why it isn’t as boring as yours.

    “Do you really think the US would not have been pro Pinochet if we had declared neutrality and left ANZUS ?”

    Do you think this is an argument??

    Try to learn the difference between a moral argument and a forensic argument.

    Of course the US would have done exactly the same thing if australia had left ANZUS or UKUSA. So what?

    The point is, our resources were used to help the US to do it.

    Just to clarify, however, ANZUS has nothing to do with it.

    UKUSA has.

  19. Katz
    December 12th, 2006 at 17:32 | #19

    “By that logic we are also implicated in the ongoing repression by Turkey of its Kurds (because Turkey is a US ally and member of NATO).”

    Not necessarily. However, if Echelon data is passed to the Turkish government on the activities of the Kurds, then Australia is implicated because we help fund the supply the system.

  20. Jimmythespiv
    December 12th, 2006 at 17:34 | #20

    Nup, its still a silly argument Katz

  21. Katz
    December 12th, 2006 at 17:37 | #21

    Shorter Jimmythespiv: “Fer Chrissake, don’t expect me to explain my prejudices!”

  22. Bill O’Slatter
    December 12th, 2006 at 17:37 | #22

    Whateever your opinion of Catro to equate his human rights abuses with Pinochet’s is to conflate two different things. See for example http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGAMR250022002?open&of=ENG-CUB
    The right wing trolls ( see above comments) don’t help. It is of interest to note the $24 million in Pinochet’s U.S bank accounts. It slao dishonest to undersetimate Cuba’s achievements in education and medicine

  23. Jimmy in Oslo
    December 12th, 2006 at 18:25 | #23

    Sorry Jimmy,
    While you have an excellent name, I have take issue with your substandard rebuttals. Complicity is fairly straightforward- it’s not a question of relative influence but involvement. I presume I’m not arguing with J.S. Mill. If you were to walk next to a lynch mob and shouting similar things to the crowd, you could hardly wash your hands- despite not laying a finger. Same goes for inciting racial hatred Johnny.

    Moving to September the 11th 1973, I have to agree that Chile’s ’economic miracle’ was more a sleight of hand by muppets who speak only in econometric terms. Before the coup the CIA was busy destabilising Chile (aka picking society apart a seams), so the economy was pretty damn shabby when ol mate got his hands on it. During and immediately after the coup Pinochet made a pretty got job implementing civil war/anarchy. When ’order was restored’ and they shipped in the Chicago boys, people were able to return to work and the US dropped their sanctions. The economy rapidly picked up (to become slightly less of a basket case)- a miracle! After that they sold every public asset that wasn’t bolted down (another ‘miracle’) temporarily filling the government coffers. Good stuff Pinochet!

    One last thing that really surprised me- I was watching the Chilean celebrations following the death of Maggie Thatcher’s mate- the revellers were pronouncing the ‘t’ on Pinochet! I feel like an American must feel all the time- I’ve been mispronouncing it for years.

  24. still working it out
    December 12th, 2006 at 18:30 | #24

    Castro used Pinochet’s coup (among many other US-backed attacks on Cuba and other Latin American countries) as a justification for repressing domestic dissenters

    I have come to realise that one of the biggest impediments to democracy and open societies in many parts of the world is its vulnerability to outside interference. Small or medium sized countries that take positions that upset the major super powers end up with a choice between repression or usurption. They can make their country into an “open society” and then watch it be overtaken by quisling domestic political forces backed by major outside countries who themselves have no respect for democracy. Or shut down on dissent and maintain control of their country within their own political party. They often seem to be the only two outcomes. The situation in between is just not stable unless a country has an extremely strong democracy that is able to fend off outside interference while remaining open. Its the situation Cuba has faced since Castro came to power. You would have to be naive to think that the US would not help Cuban exiles from Florida abuse any opening up of Cuba to democracy to install a US friendly regime. The ruling Russian regime has faced similar problems recently which has caused it to choose to move further away from democracy. And we all know what happened in democratic Venezuela recently.

    This is not to excuse what Castro has done. It was his own choice and he must should be judged by it. But it does explain why democracy is so stable in some places while really struggling in others, especially South and Central America.

  25. Jill Rush
    December 12th, 2006 at 22:54 | #25

    Right wing and left wing murderers are murderers just the same and if they rule a country they will be despots just the same. Pol Pot horrified me – I was pleased to see him go too.

    Australia and New Zealand took a lot of refugees from Pinochet’s regime. Pinochet was a brutal murderer and thug. Maggie Thatcher was saddened by his death.This is quite horrifying as she was the Prime Minister of Britain. John Howard admires Margaret Thatcher. Is two degress of separation from brutality enough for our comfort?

  26. December 13th, 2006 at 00:56 | #26

    The other night, I am ashamed to say, I had a mischievous desire to post a classic gotcha comment on Pr Q’s site:

    CASTRO DEAD. HOORAY!

    [Apologies to the shade of Sir Frank Packer.]

    But Pr Q beat me to the punch.

    Congratulations to Pr Q for this post, which is another example of his moral integrity, intellectual honesty and political acuity.

  27. December 13th, 2006 at 04:28 | #27

    I don’t have the same visceral loathing of Castro that I feel for Pinochet

    Knock me down with a feather.

  28. El Poppin
    December 13th, 2006 at 07:29 | #28

    Just read the blog, some further thoughts:
    1. Ghandi (Post 8): Don’t lump Bolivar with 20th/21st century caudillos. As much as I have tried to find out what political views Bolivar had, I have failed to find any other than he was a republican who despised monarchies and the unelected. He died before the liberation of Peru/Bolivia and therefore had little to do with nation building other than to liberate the spanish colonies. How much of a republican was he? He rebuked Napoleon 1 in person for announcing he was to become emperor and left his service (Bolivar was a general for teh revolutionaries and then napoleon).
    2. I view russians/soviets very distinctly. I managed to read several books on russian history beginning from Ivan the Terrible through to the collapse of the Soviet Union back to back and including bios of several tsars, lenin, trotsky, etc. As far as I am concerned, the russian have had the same foreign policy for 500 years and they have implemented that policy in exactly the same way for 500 years. The name of teh actors changes and ocassionally some of the tactics change but the policy remains teh same.
    3. The perspective of latinos living there is that the outside world is always interfering in their affairs. In this they have a lot of history on their side BUT they are no different to any other part of the world. It was amusing to hear Pinochet supporters applaud the USA for supporting and assisting the coup but complain bitterly of interference when the USA decided that they didn’t want Pinochet around anymore. Don’t ever talk to chileans about the meaning of the word hypocrisy you won’t get anywhere even if you have a stack of dictionaries to rely on.
    4. Did Pinochet leave the country better off after he left power? A proper test would be to see what would have happened if there had been no coup but that is now pure conjecture. My thoughts are that he didn’t: the propaganda neglects to mention the rather deep recession in 1982 when the official unmployment figures hit 27.6%, bankruptcies were approaching 30% of the population, one in five were not guaranteed any daily intake of food and mass migration began resulting in one million people leaving the country. This was after 9 years of his economic policies. Not to mention the number of people who died at the hand of the military. Then of course there is Thatchers statement that he gave Chile democracy. Well given that he crushed it in the first place it was rather nice of him to return it. However that doesn’t mean that he returned it completely after all he did give himself a seat in the senate for life, appointed 11 senators directly and gerrymandered the lower house.
    5. BTW Allende had to deal with the oil crisis plus the economic embargo from the US as well as Kissingers authorisation for armament to be smuggled to arm guerrilla forces.
    6. So 17 years in power meant that in the end the economy at best would have been at the same point if there had been no coup.
    7. The greatest impedement to democracy/stability in third world crisis is the lack of natural resources and people. I know that Singapore is an exeption but lets face it just on its door steps there are about 225 million consumers plus they were able to adeptly exploit the geopplitical situation. Note that since Shangai has rejoined the world economy the two zones most affected have been Singapore and HK as the geopolitical situation has changed.
    8. The next greatest impedement is that teh elite have comptempt for teh lower classes. In many cases their attitude barely acknowledges them as human. This way they remain big fish in little ponds.
    9. The rule of law is fine and dandy but what happens when the law is corrupt and the population is unable to change it?

  29. observa
    December 13th, 2006 at 09:00 | #29

    One thing we can all agree on now though. Pinochet and Castro were the best options and we all needed to ‘engage’ with their regimes constructively.

  30. Mork
    December 13th, 2006 at 09:25 | #30

    In relation to the “visceral hatred” thing, my own emotional reaction is colored by the fact that Pinochet came to power by knocking off a legitimate democratic government, while Castro overthrew a kleptocrat and tyrant.

    That’s gotta count for something, no?

    That said, I’m still looking forward to dancing on Castro’s grave.

  31. Hal9000
    December 13th, 2006 at 10:03 | #31

    A key difference between Pinochet and Castro. Pinochet violently overthrew a popularly elected government (with the financial support and active connivance of the hemispheric hegemon) because it was implementing its mandate. His method was the standard military coup, and it is not incidental he had already violently eliminated military elements loyal to the government. Castro fought a prolonged revolutionary struggle based on popular support to oust a criminal dictatorship whose primary function was to serve the interests of the US mafia.

    And I reckon you can put the fact that Cuba has the hemisphere’s longest life expectency (much longer than the US, for instance) in the positive side of Castro’s ledger too. Meanwhile, is it legitimate to ascribe Chile’s economic growth to Pinochet when most of it has happened since his departure from the Moneda Palace? For most of his misrule, Chile had lower economic indicators than under Allende.

  32. observa
    December 13th, 2006 at 13:17 | #32

    Perhaps the true test of hemispheric hegemons and US mafia Hal, was where all those who were persecuted by left and right dictators actually fled to. USSR? Nope!, PRC? Nope!, NK? Nope!, North Vietnam? Nope!…..

  33. Spiros
    December 13th, 2006 at 13:37 | #33

    “I havenÂ’t noticed Castro leaving office and retiring peacefully”

    It is a myth that Pinochet gave up power voluntarily. The facts are these. In 1980, in the midst of a terrible recession brought about by his economic policies, Pinochet agreed to hold a referendum about whether he should step down in 1988. He tried to rig it, but was stopped by other members of the junta. The referendum was carried and Pinochet duly retired (with 28 million dollars in the bank – the Chilean military must have had a very good pension plan).

    Even so. after stepping down Pinochet made it very clear he would not tolerate, that is, he would again violently overthrow the demoratic government, if its economic policies were insufficiently pro free market, in his opinion.

    And to this daythere are places reserved in the Chilean parliament for the military.

    Defenders of Pinochet, like Andrew Bolt, are no better than defenders of Stalin, circa 1970.

  34. sdfc
    December 13th, 2006 at 13:49 | #34

    Nauru?

  35. December 13th, 2006 at 15:11 | #35

    Observa,

    Where are refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan fleeing today? Not to the USA and Australia and Britain, because our dear leaders refuse to admit their country has a problem, so we don’t let them in. In any case, I doubt the buggers could pass either the (a) literacy test, or (b) values test. And they almost certainly couldn’t afford the fees for the visa processing and the AIDS test (at a Harley Street doctor who must be on the Oz Govt approved list).

    So Nauru it is, in a leaky boat to boot.

  36. Hal9000
    December 13th, 2006 at 16:09 | #36

    “…where all those who were persecuted by left and right dictators actually fled to”

    Since the George H W Bush-led CIA abetted his assassination in downtown Washington, as Orlando Letelier bled to death he probably wished he’d gone elsewhere.

  37. December 13th, 2006 at 16:38 | #37

    Hal9000, Those are some good points about the differences between these two. But I am no fan of castro either.

    Here’s a little reminder of the kind of people that defend murderous dictators.

    This (front page of Chile’s La Nacion) is how some pinochet fans gave their farewell to their beloved leader in the Military College in Santiago where his body was made available for his supporters prior to his farewell mass:
    http://www.lanacion.cl/prontus_noticias/site/artic/20061211/imag/FOTO17120061211215141.jpg

    Spiros has it spot on. That’s the simple reason we do not want any single repeat of the likes of such murderous dictators as pinochet, marcos, stalin, lennin, etc.

    They use each other to justify their budgets/weapons/restrictions on democracy and attacks on thier own citizens. All extremes are closer than they admit:

    – the ends justify any means
    and
    - absolute power corrupts absolutely!

  38. vivy
    December 13th, 2006 at 18:06 | #38

    Katz,
    Our taxpayer dollars pays the wages of people who hold a variety of views, some of which are published.

  39. December 13th, 2006 at 18:40 | #39

    The vast inequalities and oppressions of Latin American society make the popularity of Cuba outside Cuba understandable. The major positive international contribution of the Cubans was their assistance to the Angolans against South Africa but the Cuban commander there was later executed after an appalling show trial.

  40. December 13th, 2006 at 21:42 | #40

    When Cuba tortures, it’s because Castro is a monster. When the USA tortures, it’s because of bad apples and trailer-trash.

    It’d be interesting to compare the amount of Cuban deprivation due to Castro with that due to the US embargo which has lasted for decades, and which has been condemned by the United Nations and the EU.

    Castro is no good for Cuba now. But that’s what you end up with, when massive US pressure fossilizes its enemies from the outside. North Korea is worse, obviously, but Cuba has not escaped the warping gravity effects of a nearby massive presence in counter-orbit.

  41. December 14th, 2006 at 02:19 | #41

    For all of Castro’s faults, he still stands as a political and moral giant on the world’s stage having stood up to the world’s most fearsome and powerful military power for close to five decades now.

    How many of his contemporaries come even close to that?

    How do people rate our own miserable excuse for a national leader in comparison?

    As others have pointed out, his Government made good health services, education, child care, shelter, etc, freely or cheaply available to all of its citizens.

    In one sense, Cuba is well ahead of most other countries on the planet. It has adapted its economy to run without the steady supply of petroleum that it previously received from the Soviet Union.

    It’s easy to find fault with Castro, particularly with Cuba’s human rights record, but let’s not forget the military threat that Cuba has been under since 1960, and, also, let’s also acknowledge that his Government has never been accused of operating death squads or torturing political opponents as many right wing Latin American regimes have done.

    And his Government has never been guilty genocide as the Guatemalan government was in the 1980′s.

    Professor Quiggin, how can you be sure that the ‘democracy’ that you anticipate flourishing in Cuba, will be any better than the kind of ‘democracy’ that occurred in the USSR after the collapse of Communism, in which the wealth of the country was ransacked by a combination of the Russian Mafia and former Communist Party officials?

    It was odd to watch a documentary featuring the ABC’s own Monica Attard not long after the collapse in which Attard lamented that farmers on the collectivised farms were not interested in having their collective farms broken up in to smaller privately owned farms, as the Russian government wished. Evidently, as in Australia, the ‘democracy’ that flourished their was one that paid little heed to the actual wishes of the people.

    It’s a shame that Fidel Castro will almost certainly not live to see a time when Cuba is not living under the threat of invasion from its northern neighbor.

    I, for one, will certainly miss him after he has gone.

  42. Jimmythespiv
    December 14th, 2006 at 12:21 | #42

    Sinnamon

    You’re nuts. Castro (or Raul) can call for free and fair elections tomorrow if they want to – so why don’t they ? Why arn’t ordinary Cubans allowed to hold US dollars, or open a barbershop, or a business consultancy or a private medical clinic (since the state owned sector is so good, it would have nothing to fear from such competition) ? Why can’t Cuban’s who want to emigrate just go ahead and do so ? Oh, I forgot, because Cuba is a Stalinist police state run by (and for the benfit of) the Castro family.

    If you are going to miss him so badly, get on a plane now and go live in Cuba while he is still alive – in fact, why not migrate there ?

    Perhaps because John Howard’s Australia, while high taxing, is not that bad after all.

  43. December 14th, 2006 at 13:10 | #43

    ,

    Why don’t you properly read my post? I never claimed that Cuba is a perfect society, nor that Castro was without faults, but what they have achieved is monumental given the limited material resources available and the fact that they have been under an economic blockade and state of siege since 1960.

    No doubt, political leaders like John Howard who consistently sell out our national interests to the US, China and other powerful nations and are much more to your liking.

    Jimmythespiv wrote : Castro (or Raul) can call for free and fair elections tomorrow if they want to – so why donu2019t they?

    I can think of many good reasons. In any election campaign, a right wing opposition would be immedately bankrolled by the US and by wealthy Cuban exiles. It would give an opportunity for right wing opponents who have waged a war of terror against the Cuban people since 1960 to operate openly.

    Any attempt to hold elections that did not allow the US to meddle in it, would probably not be recognised as legitimate by the US, just as it failed to recognise as legitimate, an election which returned the Sandinistas to power in Nicaragua in the 1980′s. After those elections the US continued its covert war against Nicaragua, regardless. And let’s not forget the US’s continued efforts to undermine Chavez of Venezuela, in spite of him having won at least three popular elections, by my count, so far.

    In fact there is a lot that should be done to give Cubans more of a say in the way Cuba is run, but the U.S. has no right to dictate how this is done.

    The fact remains that Cuba’s Government remains enormously popular in Cuba as the loyalty shown to it by accomplished sportspersons and by internationally renowned artists such as the Buena Vista Social club is testimony.

  44. Jimmythespiv
    December 14th, 2006 at 15:45 | #44

    Mate

    Danny Ortega has just been relected President of Nicaragua.

    Raul and Fidel don’t dare even introduce a limited for of democracy (ie restricted to pre-registered political parties declared free of US influence – by the Castro brothers). There is a lot that should have been done in, oh, 1973 to give Cubans more of a say in how the country is run.

    Your post is mostly about the US, not Cuba (one of two remaining commie dictatorships in the world).

    Ibrahim Ferrer and the boys are in their late 80s / early 90s- and their grandchildren would suffer if they hi-tailed it to Miami or made fun of Fidel’s beard.
    But you got me – yes, I do prefer Howard to Castro. I also prefer Howard to the late Enver Hoxha, to Kim Jong Il, to the Chinese Communist Party, to Mahmoud Ahmenijad. I prefer Gough Whitlam to all these people too. I would prefer Kim Carr or Arthur Scargill as Australia’s PM than Castro et al. Fact is, Castro wasn’t democratically elected to anything.

    I don’t agree with the ongoing US blockade though- but it affects only US – Cuba trade and investment, the rest of the world is free to do as it pleases, and by and large (tourism excepted) chooses not to.

  45. December 14th, 2006 at 16:15 | #45

    I don’t particularly like Enver Hoxha, Mao or Stalin, either, nor do I have much time for Kim Jong Il, but I suspect your objection to Castro has little to do with the lack of democracy and a lot to do with oppositon to the way Cuban society provides so well for all of its members with the limited resources it has.

  46. Jimmythespiv
    December 14th, 2006 at 18:09 | #46

    ….you mean by forcibly impoverishing them, and forcing them to share what crumbs remain – like our POWs did in Changi. Meanwhile, Raul and Fidel smoke Cohibas (or did until Fidel had to give them up), swill champagne, eat meat, and have untramelled access to the basics (sugar, flour, milk, salt etc (that the masses have on strict, and inadequate, rationing). On that basis, yes, I agree with you on how well they provide for their people with the limited resources available.

    La pobreza es muy, pero muy, romantico para extranjeros.

  47. December 15th, 2006 at 02:23 | #47

    Am truly impressed with your Spanish. Now please elaborate on its relevance to anything I have written.

  48. gordon
    December 15th, 2006 at 08:22 | #48

    I love the way people blithely say “centrally planned economies don’t work”, forgetting that the Allied economies in WWII were all “centrally planned” and the war was won. Central planning can certainly work for limited periods. The wartime example also points up the impact of trade restrictions – in wartime trade is restricted and resources are scarce. Countries like Cuba and North Korea which are embargoed, abused and threatened over long periods are forced into a perpetual wartime-style regime. It is a politically unnatural state, which generates an economically unnatural state.

    I suppose the obvious counterexample would be eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Prussia, famous for its extensive State interference with all aspects of national life both in peace and war. Perhaps other commenters would like to explain how this didn’t lead to a total internal collapse.

  49. wilful
    December 15th, 2006 at 08:44 | #49

    One of the points US RWDBs always love to raise is the number of Cuban refugees that flee to Florida, as a damning indictment of Cuba’s socialist system. I wonder what that says about their capitalist ally Mexico?

    I’ve had several friends go to Cuba as tourists, they each and every one of them has enjoyed it immensely, felt very safe and had very hospitable stays, talked to lots of locals without any moderation, and generally thougth that Cuba at the moment, while poor, was otherwise pretty good.

  50. December 15th, 2006 at 08:59 | #50

    Jimmythespiv,

    Your last post reads like jaundiced propaganda from extreme anti-Castro Cuban exiles. Where is your evidence for such such lavish privileges in contrast to such extreme deprivation, comparable with the treatment of Australian prisoners at Changi, in the rest of the community? In any case, why do you seem more indignant overt this in contrast to examples of inequality that can be found in capitalist countries? Why do you dishonestly attempt to imply that Castro’s regime is as oppressive as that of Enver Hoxha or Kim Jong Il?

    It seems that you do have an ideological axe to grind.

    The objections that Castro’s right wing opponents have has nothing to do with either democracy nor concern for the welfare of ordinary working Cubans. As we can probably deduce from the lessons of the collapse of the USSR and the Eastern European Stalinist countries, it is about how they can take control of Cuba once more in order to be able to plunder its wealth for themselves. Once they have done so they will not hesitate to dismantle the free Health services and Education provided by the Government. Given the far worse human rights records of many nearby Latin American countries, there can be little guarantee that human rights and democracy would endure in a capitalist Cuba. Any ordinary Cubans who wish for a more democratic society, but wish to retain the current decent features of Cuba would be very ill-advised to find common cause with these people.

    The reason Castro is hated so vehemently, in contrast to the attitude taken to many far more oppressive Latin American regimes, is that his Government took the wealth out of the hands of Cuba’s wealthy and foreign exploiters many years ago, when they came to power and made it, for the most part, available to ordinary Cubans. If they had not done so it would not have been possible to have provided Cubans with living standards which left most of the rest of Latin America and even parts of the US behind for decades.

  51. Will De Vere
    December 15th, 2006 at 14:27 | #51

    The White House or the CIA should give Castro a gold medal for his tireless work destroying the Soviet economy over three decades. The Soviets wasted billions in the Caribbean: surely some Russians must still resent this.

    What kind of world class health system is it that thousands of people have drowned or jailed for trying to escape it?

    Cuba isn’t poor because of the northern ‘bully’. It’s poor because it belongs to the Castros.

  52. December 15th, 2006 at 20:34 | #52

    Who has the higher score, Castro or Pinochet?

    Which one killed the most number of their own citizens?

  53. jquiggin
    December 15th, 2006 at 21:34 | #53

    It’s clear enough that both killed thousands, but after that it gets murky. Castro has been going much longer and his prisons are brutal places where people get killed, but there’s nothing in his rule to compare with the mass murder straight after Pinochet’s coup or the “caravan of death”.

  54. Jimmythespiv
    December 15th, 2006 at 23:06 | #54

    JQ

    Only almost 50 years of massive underdevelopment and all that that entails for peoples lifechoices. Chile, on the other hand, is a member of NAFTA, and is, well, faintly embarrassed at the company it has to keep in Sth America. Can’t agree with you on all the HR stuff however – Pinochet did, at the end of the day, hand power back to civilians (I admit in a very conditional fashion). Raul and Fidel can’t and won’t.

    On a serious ecpol note – how should a newly democratic Cuba sequence the transition from central planning to social market economy ? I reckon the Chinese way, with peasant land reform as the opener, is the obvious starter.

  55. December 17th, 2006 at 11:31 | #55

    Gordon,

    You have raised a number of interesting points not often raised in these sorts of discussions.

    You wrote: Countries like Cuba and North Korea which are embargoed, abused and threatened over long periods are forced into a perpetual wartime-style regime. It is a politically unnatural state, which generates an economically unnatural state.

    Governments such as that of the United States which are critical of the shortcomings of non-capitalist societies in regard to democracy, human rights and their relative lack of material prosperity fail to acknowledge their own role in having brought about these situations.

    All the countries, which underwent socialist revolutions in the twentieth century suffered, at the hands of the world’s large capitalist countries, overt and covert military attacks, blockades and economic embargoes. These include : Russia, China, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and Nicaragua, often with toll of death and material destruction on a scale that would be inconceivable in Australia.

    Should we be at all surprised that considerable fault can be now be found with these societies?

    From the evidence, such as shown in Gavan McCormack’s “Cold War Hot War: An Australian Perspective on the Korean War” and “Korea the Unknown War” by Halliday and Cumings, the political movement which formed the Government of North Korea had popular support, both in the North and in the South, for having waged a struggle against the Japanese occupiers and for its program of land reform. The Southern regime imposed by the Americans was largely based upon those who had collaborated with the brutal Japanese occupiers during the Second World War.

    There is much evidence of the popularity of the Northern regime across the whole peninsula. This includes:

    * a guerilla conflict waged in the South by those sympathetic to the Northern government. This struggle occurred both before the war, and during the war itself. Attempts by the Southern regime to foment a corresponding guerilla struggle in the North failed completely, just as they were to fail in the subsequent conflict in Vietnam.

    * The defection by a whole battalion of troops from the South just before the outbreak of the conflict.

    * The fact that, in the early stages of the conflict, the Southern regime collapsed without significant aid being received by the from outside, as acknowledged by General MacArthur, himself. It was only massive intervention by the US and its allies which saved the South.

    * after the US reconquered much of Korea it is estimated that 100,000 supporters of the North were murdered by supporters of the Southern regime.

    The north of Korea was turned into a moonscape by bombing on an a previously unprecedented intensity. The coastal cities of North Korea were bombarded non-stop with shells from battleships of the US Navy throughout the conflict. At one point a dam was bombed, resulting in widespread flooding and drownings and grave harm to the North’s ability to grow food. This act technically qualifies as a war crime. Let’s not forget that biological weapons were also used by the US. They obtained the knowledge from Japan’s notorious Unit 731, in return for not prosecuting them for war crimes at the end of the Second World War.

    The North Korean army, together with its Chinese allies paid a terrible price for resisting the armies of the US and their allies.

    As a consequence of this horrific three year conflict and ongoing state of siege it appears that the regime in the North became largely transformed into what Cold War propaganda had depicted it to be in the war. Many of the generals who had commanded the North’s armies during the war were purged by Kim Il Sung shortly after the war, according to Halliday and Cumings. This would have been one of may steps by which the North Korean was transformed from one based on a popular mass movement to what it has become today.

    North Korea is the most extreme example, but the point remains valid for all the socialist governments which came into conflict with the US including Castro’s.

    There is good reason to suggest that if these societies had been left alone and had not endured so much death, destruction, or at the very least, ongoing covert military attacks, sabotage and economic warfare, and if they had not been made to divert so much of their resources into facing the military threat of the United States, they would have thrived and have become examples that most in the rest of the world would have wanted to have followed.

    Professor Quiggin, is there any reason, you know of, why so many of my posts are blocked these days? I will try, again, after this to post another post I wrote earlier in response to this post.

  56. December 17th, 2006 at 11:37 | #56

    Professor Quiggin,

    Can you tell me what is your basis for your estimate of the death toll in Castro’s Cuba as in the thousands?

    The only figure that seems to have any basis, as stated in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Cuba are that 550 were executed in the first six months of 1959. My understanding was that these were executions of rural landlords who were judged by peasant tribunals to have been brutal and exploitative. My understanding was that these executions were carried out because the peasants insisted and not because the leaders wished them to be carried out. I would suggest that the leaders of the revolution should have stopped them, and, at the very least, it was a serious error of judgement for them not to have done so, but that context should be acknowledged.

    Let’s also understand that Cuba has been under attack from terrorists almost since the day this Government came to power. How many of those deaths would have been an unavoidable consequence of self defence?

    Other than that, has there been any other program of cold-blooded killing of large numbers of political opponents that you can provide evidence for?

  57. December 17th, 2006 at 14:19 | #57

    Gordon, you have raised another very pertinent point:

    I love the way people blithely say “centrally planned economies” don’t work”, forgetting that the Allied economies in WWII were all “centrally planned” and the war was won. Central planning can certainly work for limited periods.

    If the ‘small government’ advocates who post to this site, truly believe in the nonsense they espouse, then you would expect them to have something to say about this.

    You would think it would think that they would have been able to show, somewhere, how the “dead hand of government control” would have hindered the struggle against the Axis powers.

    In the First World War, the US economy suffered from runaway inflation thanks to wartime profiteering. In the Second World War, this was largely avoided, thanks to the firm government controls implemented by the late John Kenneth Galbraith.

  58. December 18th, 2006 at 10:26 | #58

    I can’t decide if James Sinnamon is making the case that non-capitalist societies (ie Cuba et al) are inferior because they will fail without support from the west, or if such societies are inferior because when both they & the west are tooling up for war on each other, and quarantine themselves economically, it is the west which thrives.

  59. December 19th, 2006 at 02:17 | #59

    steve at the pub,

    I fail to see your point. If we are to judge these countries, then we should at least acknowledge the ferocious adversity that they have faced from the world’s most formidable military power, as I have pointed out before. If you hold the view, on the basis of the US’s seeming current ascendency that “might is right”, then I can’t change that, but it hardly constitutes a moral argument for removing the Castro government and handing Cuba’s wealth across to its would-be capitalist rulers.

  60. Will De Vere
    December 19th, 2006 at 10:00 | #60

    The Castro regime was protected for decades by its big brother, the world’s other ‘ferocious regime’ and was coddled & spolit by it. The USSR disappeared over a decade ago and what has the USA done to overthrow Castro since then? Nothing, apparently. Some ferocity. Policy makers in Washington probably can’t give a damn about his regime – he’s irrelevent now.

    Castro reminds me of a demented opera singer who demands a captive audience of a few million for his endless speeches. Don’t try to tiptoe out.

  61. December 19th, 2006 at 13:25 | #61

    Will de Vere,

    The US remains committed to removing Castro, whether or not he has the support of the Cuban people, just as they remain committed to the overthrow of other governments in the region, which don’t implement social and economic policies acceptable to US corporations. These include that of Venezuela, and, in the past, have included the Chilean government of Allende and the previous Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

    The fact that they are not overtly at war today with the Castro government does not change that. They still suffer economic blockade. In the past the US backed a proxy invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, which they had to quickly disown after it became apparent that no significant numbers of people from within Cuba had rallied in support of the invaders. Since then the CIA has engaged in an overt war of terror and sabotage and have given aid and comfort to anti-Castro terrorists including those who deliberately detonated a bomb aboard an Air Cuba flight, killing all on board. The death toll was 79 from my recollection.

    Castro may well be guilty of having delivered overly long speeches, however, I have yet to find one that I haven’t found to be interesting and inciteful. Certainly they would leave for dead the repetitve waffle and statements of the obvious that emanate every day from the mouth of our own Prime Minister every day of the week.

    It’s most interesting that the argument about the evil Soviet Empire has bee turned around 180 degrees in the case of Cuba. Instead of being accused of having enslaved the people of that Island they stand accused of having mollycoddled them and subsidised them even at the ultimate expense of their own survival.

    No doubt the billions of dollars of ‘aid’ that the US gave to the people of Indochina in the 1960′s and 1970′s – thousands of tons of bombs, napalm, phosporous, bullets, artillery shells and chemical defoliants – would have been far more to your liking.

  62. Will De Vere
    December 20th, 2006 at 10:27 | #62

    ‘The US remains committed to removing Castro’. Well, that’s an easy commitment to keep. They only need to wait.

    Your arguments are so old and stale that they sound like a pub debate about Northern Ireland: the bloody British! Drogheda! The Famine! To happily look forward to the death of another old dictator does not require that we try to defend America’s record in Vietnam or Cambodia. Most Americans are well-enough aware of their Vietnam disaster to not need a history lesson from whining Australian ideologues.

    The CIA assassination attempts on Castro were made public by the Church Committee in 1974 and were universally denounced: Ford signed an order prohibiting future attempts.

    All of the CIA’s efforts in Cuba required the enthusiastic support of many Cubans who saw themselves as liberators and the recent celebrations in Miami at the news that the opera singer was about to gasp his last attest to how many Cubans despise him and his clique.

    Before anyone tries to the ‘best health care system in the galaxy’ defence again, they should be reminded that every 20th century dictator has been devoted to promoting the health of ‘the people’ (those who aren’t in camps). Oppressive regimes love healthcare and sport (Berlin 1936, Moscow 1980, Beijing 2008).

    Your tenacious defence of the old dictator is touching.

  63. Katz
    December 20th, 2006 at 11:18 | #63

    The Church Committee rumbled successive US administrations as major terrorists. Then Ford embarrassedly banned terrorism of a specified kind against specified would-be victims.

    The US has never got out of the terrorist profession.

    Nor has the US overcome its compulsion to tell other people how they must live their lives, or else.

    They’re still trying, and failing, to do it in Iraq.

    Thus WdV, this isn’t an “old and stale” debate.

    The struggle continues, because like an old alcholic with a bad case of delerium tremens, successive US administrations go back to their bottle of poison for one more “steadier”.

    Like many addicts in denial, these administrations claim that because they’ve given up bourbon for scotch they’ve whipped their problem.

    How wrong they are!

    It’s time the US took the pledge and joined AA.

  64. December 20th, 2006 at 12:35 | #64

    Bumping off Castro would have been a public service.

    Not terrorism.

  65. December 20th, 2006 at 13:27 | #65

    steve at the pub,

    Your contribution above about is as novel and interesting as your earlier contributions which proclaimed your enthusiastic support for the impending judicial murders of Scott Rush and other fellow Australians in Indonensia, but no less morally repellent.

  66. December 20th, 2006 at 13:46 | #66

    James Sinnamon, you find it morally repellent for criminals to meet the letter of the law?

    No wonder you support people like Castro!

    Please copy & paste where I “enthusiastically” support ANY murder.

  67. Katz
    December 20th, 2006 at 15:05 | #67

    “Bumping off Castro would have been a public service.

    “Not terrorism.”

    SATP commits the fallacy of the excluded middle. surely an act can be *both* terroristic *and* a public service.

    So, what *is* terrorsm?

    Don’t get me wrong SATP. I’ve got no rooted objection to many acts that a lot of folks, especially folks from the Right, get very upset about.

    Terrorism, like treason, is often a matter of chronology. In other words, it’s deemed to be terrorism until the winners write the history.

    Often, however, states and other actors who might be tempted to perform certain acts that are deemed to be terrorist refrain from doing so because they are afraid of retaliation.

    Thus, at the start of WWII governments of both sides handed out millions of gas masks in expectation of gas attack on civilians. Yet, neither side was prepared to be the first to use gas.

    If one government makes it a matter of state policy to commit terrorism and assassination, it can hardly claim moral superiority when the compliment is returned.

    Then it is simply a matter of who is more resilient under conditions dictated by the Law of the Jungle. As Mao said: “All power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

    And you see SATP, when it comes to jungle rules, the Yanks have for some time blinked first.

    No wonder they took their bat and ball and went home in 1974!

  68. December 20th, 2006 at 16:36 | #68

    Katz: The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise.

    Terror tactics are used in times of armed conflict, however when the word “terrorism” is used, it generally refers to the possibility of an act of extreme savagery perpetrated on a very small group randomly chosen from a larger population. Eg, an airline hijack, poison in a resevoir, machine gun fire into a crowd, stuff like that. Baader-Meinhof/PLO type stuff.

    The possibility of one person (the national leader) being bumped off is borderline. After all, it is only one person who has anything to fear, and the target is not chosen at random. When it is the enemy being bumped off (eg, Adolf Hitler, Ho Chi Minh) we would certainly not term it terrorism, except perhaps in a “heh heh heh” manner.

    If one’s viewpoint is that for the public good certain folks require terrorising, then an act may be both a public service and terrorism. I concede.

    Yes Katz, I agree that our American cousins blink a bit too much. One of the drawbacks of being a democracy I suppose. However, if they get riled, there will be no blinking.

    Had Cuba been a democracy, one can imagine them taking their bat & ball home from Angola MUCH earlier than they did. Wonder what forced the eventual blinking there? Certainly wasn’t the pile of Cuban casualties suffered fighting someone else’s war on a faraway continent.

  69. Katz
    December 20th, 2006 at 17:03 | #69

    “When it is the enemy being bumped off (eg, Adolf Hitler, Ho Chi Minh) we would certainly not term it terrorism, except perhaps in a “heh heh hehâ€? manner.”

    So, when Syrians knock off assorted Lebanese leaders, that’s only “heh heh heh” terrorism.

    To poison a reservoir is terrorism, but to bomb the same population from the air isn’t terrorism?

    “However, if they get riled, there will be no blinking.”

    How do you know?

    “however when the word “terrorismâ€? is used, it generally refers to the possibility of an act of extreme savagery perpetrated on a very small group randomly chosen from a larger population.”

    No it doesn’t. Until the 1970s the most common and widespread use of the term “terror” in the context of armed conflict was its use in the term “terror bombing” which was the central doctine of “area bombing” developed by all major powers between WWI and WWII, but perfected by the British and the United States.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terror_bombing

    In the 1980s Ronald Reagan called the Mujahideen of Aghanistan “freedom fighters”. After 2001 George W. Bush called the same individuals “terrorists”. Either they were always terrorists, or they were never terrorists.

  70. December 20th, 2006 at 17:30 | #70

    Syrians are in the enemy camp Katz. Thus their bumping off of Lebanese leaders is murder. It may strike terror into the heart of Lebanese leaders, but more likely to spark rage than terror in the average Lebanese.

    A bomb from the air is an act of war.

    The 1970′s were 40-odd years ago. You are showing your age.

    I’ll agree that terror bombing was an effective tactic, & thank got it was used by Britian & the USA. For I am not able to type near so well in German or Japanese as I am in English.

    How do I know the USA will be unstoppable if it gets riled? This is a rhetorical question, surely?

    You accept Wikipedia as an authorative source? (Files away that nugget)

    When fighting communism, mujahadeen were freedom fighters. When harbouring Osama Bin Laden, the king of all terrorists, they became the enemy. Simple.

    Today’s friend is well & truly capable of becoming tomorrow’s enemy Katz, & without any change of behaviour on their part, this is well known by most kids who have to endure the “schoolyard”. (School nothing but a distant memory Katz?)

    Yesterday’s friend becoming today’s enemy does not confer hypocrisy or lack of legitimacy upon us, only upon the newfound enemy.

    Howerver this is getting away from Castro.

    So why did Cuba endure so long with the foreign war in Angola?

  71. Katz
    December 20th, 2006 at 22:43 | #71

    Not authoritative SATP, simply useful. I trust you understand the difference.

    Is the average Lebanese one half Shiite, one quarter Sunni and one quarter Christian?

    Not simple SATP. Simplistic. I trust you understand the difference.

    Why on earth do you think I want to discuss Angola?

    Our agreed topic of conversation was your inconsistent use of the word “terror”, which has been proven BTW.

  72. December 21st, 2006 at 14:33 | #72

    Will de Vere wrote : Before anyone tries to the ‘best health care system in the galaxy’ defence again, they should be reminded that every 20th century dictator has been devoted to promoting the health of ‘the people’ (those who aren’t in camps). Oppressive regimes love healthcare and sport (Berlin 1936, Moscow 1980, Beijing 2008).

    I ask you a question, similar to one I had earlier put to Jimmythespiv, which has yet to be answered: Why do you dishonestly attempt to imply that Castro’s regime is as oppressive as the Soviet Regime or that of Hitler?

    In any case, if it is true that the Soviet regime or the Nazi regime, for any short period of their respective histories, took care to look after the health of their people, the can hardly be condemned for having done so.

    For Cubans and other Latin Americans, or the many hundreds of millions are condemned to die because of a lack of cheap affordable AIDS medication, the provision of free health care is hardly a trivial matter. If ordinary Cubans imagine that they will be better off throwing all of this away in return for the re-introduction of the ‘free market’ into Cuba, they will soon learn of their mistake to their great cost.

    Your other point that some Cubans have risked drowning allegedly in order to escape from this health care system is hardly original. Clearly life in Cuba is austere in many ways, and it is not difficult to imagine that many could be foolishly enticed to risk their lives for the largely illusory hope of greater prosperity in the United States, So, because of this, should we then disregard the glowing testimonies that that many millions of others have given about the Cuban medical system in past decades?

    Will de Vere wrote: “Your tenacious defence of the old dictator is touching.”

    Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for your snide attempts to ridicule the efforts of a nation, with few natural resources, to build a decent compassionate and caring society in the face of such adversity, albeit with a flawed and imperfect political leadership.

    I would suggest that the onus should be on those who want to remove Castro and wish to dismantle Cuba’s socialist system to explain why that would be in the interest of ordinary Cubans rather than for myself to defend it.

    Steve at the pub, your posts are very illuminating. Those who believe that the removal of Castro will automatically lead to better human rights and greater democracy or any other moral objection to Castro’s government, should carefully read what you have written, so that they will know in which company they now stand.

    I already provided a link to where you have given your enthusiastic support for the judicial murder of Scott Rush those other Australians. Here it is, again :

    Our judicial system has a lot to learn from some of our neighbors.

    I only wish some of our domestic criminals could be punished under the Indonesian/Singaporean/Malaysian criminal justice system.

    If you wish to maintain that these are not murders, because they are sanctioned by law, then suit yourself. However, just consider this: they are guilty of having trafficked a substance which was legal in Australia until the 1950′s At the time the AMA opposed the outlawing of heroin use. In fact, pure heroin, in the correct doses, when it is not contaminated, or if needles are not shared, does no actual harm to the body, unlike alcohol.

    Nevertheless, if we judge the actions the actions of these people as criminal, I believe they have only done what a good many people, known to myself and, probably, yourself are also capable of doing. They don’t deserve to have their lives taken from them for the mistake they have made.

    BTW what are your thoughts about the application of Sharia law in parts of Africa where Muslims have been able to form regional governments (in Nigeria, I think I recall). Were you also in favour of the threatened execution of that young woman who had violated the “letter” of the adultery laws in her region of Nigeria?

  73. December 21st, 2006 at 20:05 | #73

    James Sinnamon. And the relevance of your last paragraph to Castro or Pinochet is… ?

    You are just sour to have bumped up against someone who has your measure.

  74. December 22nd, 2006 at 00:47 | #74

    steve at the pub,

    It is clearly relevant to your justification for your enthusiastic support for the impending judicial murders of Scott Rush and the other convicted drug traffickers, which in turn I raised because of your apparent wish for Castro also to be murdered.

    So, yes, I would still be interested to know if you believe in the “letter of the law” being applied to Australian drug traffickers in Idonesia, whould you also support the “letter of the law” being applied in societies which apply Sharia law?

    Given your very questionable commitment to human rights, it is very difficult for me to understand what yor principled objection to Castro’s Government is.

  75. December 22nd, 2006 at 09:13 | #75

    Gosh, what a thin thread of relevance. First druggos in asia are relevant to Castro/Pinochet, then blokes in West Africa who object to sheilas having a root are roped in to your “debate”.

    Human rights don’t come into it. Perhaps I don’t believe in them at all. Perhaps I also believe in the summary execution of homosexuals (in addition to drug users). Both would give me a lot in common with Castro. [wow, I can make things more relevant that you are able, hardly a surprise!]

    Please make africans shagging outside marriage & running afoul of a primitive & medieval religious legal system, ….. please make this relevant to Communism in Cuba & Fascism in Chile.

    Or perhaps don’t type when on the turps.

  76. December 22nd, 2006 at 10:10 | #76

    steve at the pub,

    So, what is your objection to Castro’s government?

    Why do you maintain that Castro’s assassination would have been a ‘pubic service’?

  77. December 22nd, 2006 at 10:31 | #77

    Of course, I meant to type ‘public service’ in the previous post.

  78. December 22nd, 2006 at 11:17 | #78

    Below is an excerpt from an article by George Monbiot, published in the UK’s Guardian newspaper of 12 December on the abuse of human rights in Cuba today. In fact, the abuse is occuring, not on on the part of the Island under the control of Castro’s Government, rather, it is ocurring in the US naval base of Guantanamo Bay, which was illegally taken from Cuba at the conclusion of the Spanish-American war at the end of the nineteenth century. This is the same Guantanamo Bay on which Australian citizen, David Hicks has been held for nearly five years now, mostly in solitary confinement, without any charges having been laid.

    Last week, defence lawyers acting for Jose Padilla, a US citizen
    detained as an “enemy combatant”, released a video showing a mission
    fraught with deadly risk – taking him to the prison dentist. A group
    of masked guards in riot gear shackled his legs and hands, blindfolded
    him with black-out goggles and shut off his hearing with headphones,
    then marched him down the prison corridor(1).

    Is Padilla really that dangerous? Far from it: his warders describe
    him as so docile and inactive that he could be mistaken for “a piece
    of furniture”. The purpose of these measures appeared to be to sustain
    the regime under which he had lived for over three years: total
    sensory deprivation. He had been kept in a blacked-out cell, unable to
    see or hear anything beyond it. Most importantly, he had no human
    contact, except for being bounced off the walls from time to time by
    his interrogators. As a result, he appears to have lost his mind. I
    don’t mean this metaphorically. I mean that his mind is no longer there.

    The forensic psychiatrist who examined him says that he “does not
    appreciate the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him,
    is unable to render assistance to counsel, and has impairments in
    reasoning as the result of a mental illness, i.e., post-traumatic
    stress disorder, complicated by the neuropsychiatric effects of
    prolonged isolation.”(2) Jose Padilla appears to have been
    lobotomised: not medically, but socially.

    If this was an attempt to extract information, it was ineffective: the
    authorities held him without charge for three and half years. Then,
    threatened by a supreme court ruling, they suddenly dropped their
    claims that he was trying to detonate a dirty bomb. They have now
    charged him with some vague and lesser offences to do with support for
    errorism.

  79. Dave Surls
    December 23rd, 2006 at 11:56 | #79

    If anyone ever wanted to write a book of commie fairy tales, this thread would be a great source.

    Actually, some of it is pretty funny.

  80. December 23rd, 2006 at 16:52 | #80

    Steve at the pub wrote:

    .. please make this relevant to Communism in Cuba & Fascism in Chile. …

    Perhaps you should consider the relevance of much of your own contributions to this discussion, and your own failure to contribute any substantive ideas, other than your loathing of Castro’s governmnent for reasons which are still unclear to me.

    It has clearly has little to do with any concern for human rights and I woouod very much doubt if it would have anything to do any concern for the wellbeing of ordinary Cubans.

    Given that you have advocated teh death penalty for ‘criminals’ in Australia, have added your voice to those clamour for the excections of Scott Rush and the other convicted

  81. December 23rd, 2006 at 16:55 | #81

    Whoops, the last paragraph in my last post should have been omitted.

  82. Will De Vere
    December 23rd, 2006 at 18:41 | #82

    J.Sinnamon said of my incisive & brilliant criticism of the tyrannical old fart in Havana:

    ‘Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for your snide attempts to ridicule the efforts of a nation, with few natural resources, to build a decent compassionate and caring society in the face of such adversity, albeit with a flawed and imperfect political leadership.’

    It wasn’t snide and the Cuban people should be saluted for the ability to endure the economic wasteland created by the manic old opera singer who has fancied himself their voice since 1959: those citizens who couldn’t endure it any longer are now in Florida and doing very well, thanks.
    By throwing themselves at the mercy of those demonic American corporations that Sinnamon is so paranoid about, most Cuban-Americans are earning 100 times as much as their beleagured cousins in the old country.

    Few natural resources? Cuba was once one of the wealthiest nations in the Caribbean: it has abundant sugar & tobacco (sorry, health-heads) and its tourism would boom if tourists were there for a holiday rather than as an amateur anthropologists of post-Soviet society. Perhaps Cuba’s most lucrative export would be 1950s Buicks to collectors in Texas.

    Speaking of those nasty foreign corporations, I discovered when I was in Moscow a few years that the best coffee in Russia is served at MacDonalds, and the evil hamburger joints are jam-packed with Muscovites every weekend.

    Also:’to build a decent compassionate and caring society in the face of such adversity, albeit with a flawed and imperfect political leadership.’(Sinnammon, who else?). This is ridiculous: Pollyanna Marxism. That ‘imperfect’ regime has spent more than four decades maintaining a police state.

    To the immense relief of millions of Cubans, Raoul Castro has offered less speech-making in future. But it ain’t over until the big beard croaks.

  83. Dave Surls
    December 24th, 2006 at 05:48 | #83

    “…your loathing of Castro’s governmnent for reasons which are still unclear to me.”

    Probably has something to do with the fact that the Cuban commies took a pretty decent country (outstanding by Latin American standards) and wrecked it, murdering tens of thousands of innocent innocent people in the process, and when they weren’t doing that they were spreading their glorious revolution (and all that comes with it) to other countries causing all kinds of problems in those nations as well.

    Like ALL commie governments, the only things Castro and his thugs have done is wrecked the economy, eliminated freedom, and left a pile of corpses in their wake.

    Same old story, the same story in every place that the Marxists have ruled.

  84. jquiggin
    December 24th, 2006 at 11:48 | #84
  85. Dave Surls
    December 24th, 2006 at 18:24 | #85

    Professor R.J. Rummel of the University of Hawaii estimates (guesses) that the Cuban commies have murdered somewhere between 35,000-140,000 people.

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.TAB16A.1.GIF

  86. December 24th, 2006 at 22:02 | #86

    Dave Surls,

    Why do you accept Professor R J Rummel’s figures, rather than other estimates? Clearly forces hostile to the Cuban government have a vested interest in inflating he number of deaths attributable to it. In Professor Rummel’s case he inflated his figures by attributing responsibility for the drownings of Cubans who have atttempted to flee Cuba to the Cuban government.

    I can’t find to find any hard evidence for the total number of executions much higher than the 550 executed in the first six months of 1959. Hugh Thomas, in his 1971 book, “Cuba, or the pursuit of Freedom” says it was “perhaps 5,000″ but I would question if Hugh Thomas, himself, did not have an ideological axe to grind as he was a political ally of Margaret Thacher from 1979 to 1991.

    The question I posed earlier is how many of the deaths are attributable to the armed struggle against those trying to overthrow the Cuban government and how many were literal cold-blooded executions of unarmed political opponents in a manner similar to those carried out by the Pinochet regime and the death squad regimes of Latin America in the 1970′s and 1980′s? I would suggest very few, if any. I have failed to find any mention of such killings in the Amnesty International reports, other than cases such as that of General Ochoa of which it was critical. It shold also be acknoweledged that Amnesty International has congratulated the Cuban government for having had in place an effective moratorium on the use of the death penalty for the past few years.

    For its part, the Cuban government has catalogued a list of “3,478 people who lost their lives as a result of aggressions and terrorist actions” in a report submitted to the United Nations in 2001. These deaths include the 73 killed by a terrorist bomb on Air Cubana flight 455 in 1976 of which the CIA has been found to have had prior knowledge. I would guess that this toll would have been much higher if the Cuban government had not acted so decisively against the counter-revolutionaries. The toll, if the counter-revoutionaries had succeeded in overthrowing the Government.

    Cuba has faced the threat of invasion from the most powerful nation on the planet. The U.S. had a history of meddling in the afairs of Latin American states going well back into the 19th century. This included its invasion of Cuba in 1898, ostensbly to help free Cuba from Spanish rule. It illegally sieze the U.S. naval base of Guantanamo Bay and has held onto it ever since. In 1953 it had sponored the coup against the democratically elected Mossadeq government in Iran and in 1954 it sponsored the coup against the similarly democratically elected Arbenz government and in 1965 it had invaded invaded The Dominican Republic outright. With the examples of the devastating use of U.S. military power in the Korean war and the then escalating conflict in Indo-China, the Cuban government could hardly be blamed for having acted decisively and harshly against any potential allies of the U.S. inside Cuba.

    As I have argued before, the astonishing hostility that the Cuban government has faced from the U.S. has little to do with any concern with democracy, human rights or any possible corruption in Cuba. Rather, it is do with the fact that they took away the land and the factories belonging to welathy Cubans and foreign corporations and made the welath avaioable to ordinary Cubans. In other words, they did what the deposed governments of Arbenz in Gutemala and of Mossadeq in Iran were overthrown.

    During all those terrible year of the 1980′s when other third world governments buckled under to demands by the World Bank to effectively take away from their people access to health care, education and other services, all these same services remained free to all Cuban citizens. Furthermore, because it has some many scientists amongst its population, it was able to find effectively http://www.landaction.org/display.php?article=337>solve by the end of the 1990′s the agricultural crisis which resulted from its oil exports being cut by 53% in 1990.

    The Cuban government, whatever its faults, sets an example which puts much of the rest of the world to shame.

  87. December 24th, 2006 at 22:21 | #87

    Some corrections to the above post:

    The toll, if the counter-revoutionaries had succeeded in overthrowing the Government would have been immeasurably higher. … at the end of the fourth paragraph.

    In other words, they did what the deposed governments of Arbenz in Gutemala and of Mossadeq in Iran were overthrown for having done. … at the end of the sixth paragraph.

    The story about Cuba having met the challenge cause by oil shortages is to be found at http://www.landaction.org.

  88. Dave Surls
    December 25th, 2006 at 02:35 | #88

    “…by attributing responsibility for the drownings of Cubans who have atttempted to flee Cuba to the Cuban government.”

    And, rightly so. They are responsible (especially in cases where they deliberately sink boats that are trying to flee the commie paradise…but responsible in any case).

    The Cuban commies have killed far more INNOCENT people than Pinochet. Pinochet and his crew killed COMMUNISTS (and friends of communists) who were trying to establish a marxist state in Chile (marxist states have murderted somewhere on the order of 100,000,000 people in the last hundred years…killing communists is a service to humanity).

    The end result is is that Chile is a prosperous (if they keep going the way they’re going, they’ll be a first world country in due course) and free nation. Cuba is, of course, a despotic and poverty ridden hell-hole, that has produced many hundreds of thousands of refugees trying to flee the socialist utopia, at some risk to their lives. The vaunted Cuban commies have also gotten all kinds of people killed in other nations by trying to spread their utterly vile system through armed violence.

    Pinochet and his boys did the right thing by crushing communism before it could take root, thus preventing the kind of mass murder and despotic rule that has been a feature of pretty much every commie government.

  89. Dave Surls
    December 25th, 2006 at 02:44 | #89

    Our friend Professor Rummel sums up the benefits of communism…

    “Few would deny any longer that communism–Marxism-Leninism and its variants–meant in practice bloody terrorism, deadly purges, lethal gulags and forced labor, fatal deportations, man-made famines, extrajudicial executions and show trials, and genocide. It is also widely known that as a result millions of innocent people have been murdered in cold blood…”

    “In sum the communist probably have murdered something like 110,000,000, or near two-thirds of all those killed by all governments, quasi-governments, and guerrillas from 1900 to 1987…”

    http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/COM.ART.HTM

    That pretty well somes it up all right, and anyone who whacks out marxists BEFORE they can carry out their plans is doing the world a favor.

    Thank you Pinochet. Good job on the commie-killing part of what you did.

  90. December 25th, 2006 at 19:47 | #90

    (Professor Quiggin, have you read Dave Surl‘s last two posts? :

    …anyone who whacks out marxists BEFORE they can carry out their plans is doing the world a favor.

    Thank you Pinochet. Good job on the commie-killing part of what you did.

    Do you think it appropriate that what appears to be an open attempt to incite violence, and worse, against people, who have political views with which Mr Surls disapproves be posted on your site?)

    Dave Surls,

    Firstly, you haven’t responded to my invitation to substantiate your claim that tens of thousands had been murdered by the Castro government. You haven’t explained why you accepted Professor Rummel’s figures in preference to other figures. Where do you suppose, for example, Professor Rummel thinks that the unmarked graves of the tens of thousands of Castro’s supposed victims are to be found on the island of Cuba?

    Regarding the drownings. The Cuban Government reached an agreement to allow 20,000 per year to migrate out of Cuba in an orderly fashion. Others are allowed to depart for other countries, so how does this make Castro culpable for the drownings of Cubans who still try to leave by other means? Cuba is a country that consumes only a fraction of the natural resources that the U.S. consumes, so cannot possibly be as wealthy. As an example Cubans consume on average one eighth of the fossil fuel energy that is consumed in the U.S. (See DVD of 2006 “The Power of Community – How Cuba survived Peak Oil”) Although Cubans have roughly the same life expectancy as citizens of the U.S., life in Cuba is, nevertheless, austere in comparison to that of some Cuban expatriates in Miami and, unsurprisingly, many will be tempted to risk all in order to have a chance to achieve the prosperity.

    Many people also die trying to get from many poor countries to richer countries all the time? Are you going to hold the Mexican government responsible for all those who die each year illegally crossing into the United States? Are you going to hold the Haitian government responsible for the drownings of would-be economic migrants? Who do you believe should be held responsible for the 353 drownings that resulted from the sinking of SIEV X?

    As for claims that the Cuban Coast Guard sinks some boats containing people leaving Cuba, I can’t comment. Have you got specific examples? Were warning shots not fired? Perhaps, would you consider that a poor county such as Cuba would not regard lightly having a fishing boat, for example, taken away from its shores?

    Secondly, in regard to the crimes of Stalin and Mao: Whilst the figures given by Rummel are almost certainly wildly inflated, have I ever excused, or tried to deny, these crimes?

    In his last months alive, Lenin asked Trotsky in a written testament to remove Stalin from his post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It is a matter of historical record that Trotsky failed to act until it was too late, and as just one terrible consequence, he, along with millions of other communists, in the Soviet Union and the rest of the world paid with their lives in Stalin’s purges.

    Stalin’s own role in thus destroying much of the world’s socialist movement in the twentieth century is, in fact, well understood and appreciated by many virulent right wing extremists, including, I suspect, yourself, but, of course that won’t stop you for a moment, attempting to lumber even Stalin’s victims with culpability for all of his crimes on every possible occasion, regardless of its relevance to the issue at hand.

  91. December 25th, 2006 at 22:21 | #91

    James Sinnamon Says: December 25th, 2006 at 7:47 pm

    Who do you believe should be held responsible for the 353 drownings that resulted from the sinking of SIEV X?

    Plenty of blame to go around. Obviously the despotic regimes that they were fleeing from ie Baathist Iraq and Taliban Afghanistan are the ultimate cause of woe. Later helped deposed by an unmentionable Australian conservative politician.

    Also, the TNI and provincial officials who pushed them onto the boat which had landed in Indonesian territory. Apparently to spite that same unmentionable politician who liberarted E Timor and put their noses out of joint.

    And finally, the Australian Wets, who have constantly winked at, if not encouraged, people-smuggling and rorting of the Australian alien intake system.

    But definitely not John Howard, who urged all asylum-seekers to take legal and safe channels when applying for refugee status.

  92. Dave Surls
    December 26th, 2006 at 03:34 | #92

    ‘Secondly, in regard to the crimes of Stalin and Mao: Whilst the figures given by Rummel are almost certainly wildly inflated…’

    Same song and dance the left used to do in regard to the Khmer Rouge commies in Cambodia.

  93. December 26th, 2006 at 08:21 | #93

    Dave Surls,

    If your sole answer to each and every political conflict anywhere in the world today is past crimes carried out by ostensibly communist governments elsewhere in the world, then there is clearly little to discuss, is there?

    Anyone political leader to whom you object, be it Chile’s democratically elected President Allende or Castro in Cuba is automatically deemed by you to be as monstrous as Stalin or the Khmer Rouge and, therefore, any possible means employed to remove them from power, is considered by you to be justified and necessary.

    No other factors can possibly enter the picture: the fact that every Cuban still has access to free health care and education, the fact that every Cuban is well fed and has a dwelling to live in and that 85% of Cubans own their own homes, the fact that Cuba with 2% of Latin America’s population has 11% of its scientists, the fact that they have a higher literacy rate than the U.S., the fact that Cubans, consuming one eighth of the energy consumed by the U.S.on average have the same life expectancy as in the U.S. etc.

    If you are to still insist that the Castro regime is so demonically evil, then you really should substantiate that claim, rather than to just give links to web pages of one extremely dubious authority. Again, what is the basis for your claim that tens of thousands of Cubans were deliberately murdered by the Castro government? Again, where do you believe all the mass graves are located? Why do you think that Amnesty International has thanked Castro’s government for not having applied the death penalty on a single occasion since April 2000? Why do you accept Rummel’s figures in preference to any other figures in regard to Cuba?

    What has the Khmer Rouge, or for that matter, Stalin’s gulags, got to do with Cuba?

    In any case, do you understand that many historians hold the U.S. responsible for having made it possible for the Khmer Rouge to power for having overthrown Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s government in 1970 and having devastated the Cambodian countryside with a carpet bombing in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were killed? Before his, the Khmer Rouge had little support in Cambodia. After the bombing campaign they became unstoppable.

    Which Government was it that overthrew the Khmer Rouge in 1979? Would you agree that, perhaps, the Vietnamese Communists are owed any debt of gratitude for having ended the rule of the Khmer Rouge? Why was this government then punished for years by the international community for having done so? Why did Thailand give sanctuary to the Khmer Rouge?

  94. December 26th, 2006 at 09:52 | #94

    Some corrections to the above post:

    The Amnesty Internatial page, I intended to link to, as first supplied by Bill O’Slatter, is here.

    The second last paragraph should have read: “In any case, do you understand that many historians hold the U.S. responsible for having made it possible for the Khmer Rouge to have come to power by having overthrown Prince Norodom Sihanouk’s government in 1970 and having devastated the Cambodian countryside with a carpet bombing campaign in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were killed? Before this, the Khmer Rouge had little support in Cambodia. After the bombing campaign they became unstoppable.”

  95. jquiggin
    December 26th, 2006 at 11:12 | #95

    James, I don’t think you need to worry too much about Dave Surls’ bloodthirsty posts. If he really believed this stuff, he’d be in Iraq with the Marines, instead of leading the 101st Keyboarders from Mom’s basement. And while he’s always keen to vote for this kind of stuff, his side of US politics are on the way out, and likely to stay out for a long while after the Iraq disaster.

    On Castro, I tried to post a response citing Wikipedia, but it got chewed (happens to me too). The article on human rights gives lots of estimates of deaths in Castro’s prisons, all in the thousands. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are good sources for the current situation – not as bad as in the 60s and 70s but still bad.

  96. December 26th, 2006 at 11:33 | #96

    JQ: One may hold the belief that a good communist is a dead communist without being in Iraq. After all, the jihadis are equally opposed to the godless hordes of moscow as they are to the infidel hordes of western consumers.

    Being in Iraq & perhaps killing people (jihaids) who share one’s belief that commos should be elimated may even be anathema to a dedicated anti-communist hawk.

    It is a very thin thread to attempt to connect the emotion of indifference or even approval for the deaths of communists (say by the forces of Pinochet) to entering military service for the express purpose of killing some humans, any humans.

    The two are probably not even found in the same people. (bloodthirsty desire to kill some people or approval of communists being liquidated)

    One is a psychotic perversion of humanity, the other is (to a decicated anti-communist) a public duty.

  97. Dave Surls
    December 26th, 2006 at 14:13 | #97

    “Again, what is the basis for your claim that tens of thousands of Cubans were deliberately murdered by the Castro government?”

    I’ve already presented a source.

    That puts me one up on you.

  98. December 26th, 2006 at 18:23 | #98

    Here’s a very interesting article on the Chilean “economic miracle” by Greg Palast: “Tinker Bell, Pinochet and The Fairy Tale Miracle of Chile”.

    I found it here on an Online Opinion forum post in response to an article in defence of Pinochet by David Flint.

  99. December 27th, 2006 at 10:54 | #99

    a href=#comment-111405>Professor Quiggin,

    Surely we agree that human rights should also encompass access to basic human necessities such as education, health care, water, power, nutrition and housing?

    All Cuban citizens were able to enjoy these rights during the years they received generous economic aid from the Soviet Union and they were able to do so even in the 1990′s as the Cuban economy struggled to adjust to the termination of this aid resulting from the collapse of the Soviet Union, and they enjoy them to this very day, whilst most citizens of the rest of the Latin America, the Third World and many even in some advanced industrialised countries such as Australia and the United States are denied these rights.

    It is a matter of record that the agencies of the “Free World” such as the World Bank have actively worked in the 1980′s and 1990′s to take away these basic rights from the people of third world as the outspoken humanitarian Canadian diplomat Stephen Lewis has eloquently described on a number of occasions. This includes forcing Third World governments to charge for education and health and to privatise government owned enterprises as notoriously occurred with Bolivia’s government owned water utilities in 1999.

    Most of the deaths attributed to Castro’s government other than those (estimated 550) executed after sentencing by popular peasant tribunals in its first six months in 1959 appear to have been in the course of the military struggle by forces acting in collusion with the U.S. government. The majority of those against which Castro’s government has acted so against harshly would have certainly taken those other rights, referred to above, away from the Cuban people, had they succeeded in overthrowing his government. Given the incomparably worse savagery of Latin America’s death squad regimes, particularly Guatemala and El Salvador in the 70′s and 80′s, there is also no reason to believe that the Cubans would have fared any better, in this regard, under the rule of Castro’s opponents.

    Whilst I am also critical of aspects of Cuba’s human rights record, both in the past and today, the picture of the Cuban government being guilty of the cold-blooded murder and torture of thousands of its opponents does not appear to have any basis. It largely appears to be a construct of people with vested interests in painting the Cuban government in the worst possible light in order to advance theit own goals of taking back the island of Cuba, together with all its wealth, from the Cuban people.

  100. December 27th, 2006 at 15:13 | #100

    More corrections (ugghh!).

    First sentence, fourth paragraph: Most of the deaths attributed to Castro’s government, other than those (estimated 550) executed after sentencing by popular peasant tribunals in its first six months in 1959, appear to have been in the course of the military struggle against forces acting in collusion with the U.S. government.

    First sentence, fourth paragraph: The majority of those against which Castro’s government has acted against so harshly would have certainly taken those other rights, referred to above, away from the Cuban people, had they succeeded in overthrowing his government.

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