PHOTOS: Fidel Castrol in his heyday. Mr. Castro died Friday at 90. Below: An affectionate Havana scene … “Viva Fidel por siempre;” Margaret Trudeau, Mr. Castro and Pierre Trudeau in 1976; King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who died at 90 last year; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Before I start, let’s just make one thing perfectly clear: I come to bury Castro, not to praise him.

Maybe it all would have been different if only Canada had been able to sell $15 billion or so worth of light armoured vehicles to Cuba. Not that The Neighbours would have stood for that, even if they were only intended for use as crowd control.

At any rate, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a warm statement of condolence yesterday to “the family, friends and many, many supporters” of former Cuban president Fidel Castro, who died on Friday at the age of 90, the Canadian Right, including candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada, was seized by a collective fit apoplexy.

Surely it did not assuage their spittle-flecked fury that Mr. Trudeau noted in his 188-word message that Mr. Castro was “a legendary revolutionary,” “made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation,” and had “tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for ‘el Comandante,’” while also acknowledging that the Canadian PM’s late father, Pierre Trudeau, “was very proud to call him a friend.”

Still, perhaps the bedraggled leadership cadre of the so-called Conservative Party of Canada can be forgiven. After all, they are still coming to terms with the loss of their own Máximo Líder, Stephen Harper, who tried to make anger the sine qua non of national leadership and whose influence, obviously, lives on.

It started on social media, naturally, with would-be great helmsmen or helmswomen of the CPC vying to contribute the most biting denunciations of Mr. Trudeau, accompanied by a host of commentators from the their own online anger machine and the newly respectable American ultra-right.

Helpfully, the soon-to-be digitized National Post was eager to curate these 140-character jeremiads into a single story for the convenience of its dwindling readership. “A despicable dictator,” huffed Maxime Bernier. “Apologize and retract,” demanded Lisa Raitt. “Disgraceful,” barked Ted Cruz, the junior senator for Texas, pitching in, I guess, because he was born in Calgary and is therefore a Canadian citizen … Oh, wait!

A Queen’s University student named Ben S. Harper – apparently Harper filsTweeted “Castro was a monsterous leader, and the world is better off now hes dead.” The younger Harper’s monstrous spelling and punctuation, one hopes, were understandable byproducts of his passion, not the quality of his education.

Whatever, there are a lot of larger-than-life leaders in this world who are controversial figures, to borrow a much-objected-to phrase from the PM. Still, I couldn’t help casting my mind back to last year’s death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, and the condolences on that occasion published by … the prime minister of Canada.

King Abdullah, who was the hereditary leader of by almost any measure as repugnant a regime as can be found on the surface of this planet, died on Jan. 23, 2015 – although it was still Jan. 22 in Ottawa, owing to that international date-line thing.

At any rate, what is striking about that event is the reaction – or, rather, the almost complete lack of any reaction – to the statement of condolences issued by the prime minister of Canada, who at the time, of course, was the aforementioned elder Mr. Harper.

“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I offer our sincere condolences to the family of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and the people of Saudi Arabia,” said Mr. Harper, going farther than Mr. Trudeau’s statement, if you ask me, since the latter prime minister never claimed everyone in Cuba, let alone its Miami suburbs, loved Mr. Castro.

“King Abdullah was recognized as a strong proponent of peace in the Middle East,” said Mr. Harper, or some flunky in the PMO, at any rate, paid to stuff words into the prime ministerial mouth. “He also undertook a range of important economic, social, education, health, and infrastructure initiatives in his country.”

“I had the pleasure of meeting King Abdullah in Toronto when Canada hosted the G-20 and found him to be passionate about his country, development and the global economy,” Mr. Harper continued. “We join the people of Saudi Arabia in mourning his passing.”

This sounds remarkably similar to Mr. Trudeau’s statement about Mr. Castro, don’t you think? It was certainly as bad by the same logic – if you hold Conservative prime ministers, that is, to the same standard to which Conservatives apparently hold Liberal ones.

Well, in fairness, there may have been some grumbling at the time by the usual left-wing malcontents – perennially disposed to disapprove of dictatorial monarchies that torture and murder their own citizens, persecute many on religious grounds, not to mention for driving while female, drive down the price of oil to the detriment of Alberta and, what’s more, discreetly finance terrorism over here in the democratic West.

But, what the hey! We were selling the peace-making king’s security apparatus that $15-billion dollars’ worth of armoured cars, a sale that Mr. Trudeau, it turns out, was as anxious to complete as his predecessor.

This may account for why Mr. Harper’s government was prepared to spend $175,000 to send Gov. Gen. David Johnston on a 40-hour trip to the desert kingdom to offer Canada’s condolences on all of our collective behalf. The governor general was accompanied by a spokeswoman, an official photographer, a bodyguard, and two government “program officers,” whatever they may be. These expenses did not, mind, include hotels or meals.

Well, you can’t expect the Governor General of Canada to sleep under the stars! I suppose Canadian taxpayers of the Harper era could count themselves lucky. Our neighbours to the south in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, whence comes a lot of the current outrage about Mr. Trudeau’s condolences, sent a 29-member delegation to bid farewell to King Abdullah that included President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, CIA Director John Brennan and numerous factotums!

After all, one person’s murderous sponsor of terrorism is another’s noble peace-making king!

We must certainly acknowledge that not everything was rosy in Mr. Castro’s Cuba, which incarcerates 510 prisoners per 100,000 in population, according to the imperfect list of 221 nations published by the Wikipedia, leaving it only seven steps from the bottom.

Only such jurisdictions as the United States – 693 per 100,000, not counting in the case of the U.S., inmates in U.S. territories, military jails, immigration jails, jails on First Nations reserves or inmates held in juvenile facilities – do worse. Indeed, only the lowly Seychelles has more people per capita behind bars than do our next-door neighbours.

By other measures, however, Cuba does better – for example, infant mortality. Perhaps thanks to the significant improvements to health care during Mr. Castro’s rule that were cited by Mr. Trudeau, Cuba has a respectable infant mortality rate of 4.63 per 1,000 live births, very close to Canada’s rate of 4.65 and much better than the rates of 5.87 in the United States and 14.09 in Saudi Arabia.

Could the unhappiness of the U.S. Government with Mr. Castro’s and Cuba’s defiance have anything to do with this outpouring of outrage on the right in Canada? D’ya think?

Perhaps we should close by asking: Here was a Castro! When comes such another?

This post also appears on David Climenhaga’s blog,

Join the Conversation


  1. As one of the commandments puts it, “thou shalt not kill.”

    By implication then, being friends with or openly admiring a killer is not a good thing.

    Fidel Castro killed and imprisoned opponents. Not a good guy.

    Barack Obama routinely dispatches drones to assassinate opponents. Drones are not very selective, so there usually is some “collateral damage”. Obama entered the presidency vowing to close the American prison in Cuba. Guess what?

    Both men, in their role as the leader of their nation, dId some good things too. Obamacare. Fidel turned an illiterate nation into a literate one and built one of the best free health systems in the world.

    Justin Trudeau is being castigated for saying nice things about Castro. So when the sad day comes and we lose Obama, the Canadian prime minister of the time should not say anything nice about Obama.

    Some days it seems to me that the world is a complicated place.

    1. Although its true that Castro punished some of the worst offenders from the Batista regime, some murderers and dispicables in their own right, the revolution didn’t just “happen” one fine sunny day on a whim. Batista, the American attitude to central america back then, controlling 90% of agriculture and business and the poverty and crime from the MAFIA, prostitution and misery had a big part of the need for revolution. It is estimates that about 7000 people were either executed as criminals, exiled, or jailed. The number suggested in this article was probably from the 60’s, and if you real, Castro emptied his jails when the amnesty to people who wanted to go to the USA and be with their families, and shipped Cubas’ most dangerous criminals to Florida. Batista however, murdered 20,000 people in the 7 years before the revolution. The claim that the 50 years of Castros’ rule was heavy handed and people “suffered” is absolute nonsense. The hardships the people “suffered” were as a result of sanctions initiated by the US, and forced on other nations under threats of sanctions on them for not supporting it. The mere fact that education is at a 98% level, more doctors per capita than the USA and Canada, and just the fact that 99% of the population support the system there even though nobody is rich, but then nobody is poor either.

  2. My thoughts exactly. I also wonder about Guantanamo Bay when I hear our neighbours shrilling about those being locked up without trial; or do I expect too much?

    1. If you wonder, then you didn’t pay attention to how the republicans made that not happen. And Trump never promised to close it either. He OK’d waterboarding

  3. The advent of social media and especially Twitter has certainly played hell with protocol.

    Pre-Internet, every government with normalized relations with a country in a situation such as this, would have issued a (very) formal statement, carefully formulated to both clarify and reiterate the government’s stance on the the relationship between the recently departed leader and their country.
    The size of each country’s funeral delegation and its composition would have depended on the trade relationship and strategic importance of the (officially if not actually) mourning country.
    The whole routine would be an orchestrated pagaent of respects paid and earned. It would be all very official with all statements worded in a strict code of diplomatic language that could only be written by career public servants and parsed by experienced observers.
    Now some spokesthingy working in a parliamentary backroom tweets out a barely formed and sparsely edited missive of condolence directly from the leader of the party with barely a thought to who will read it or what it might actually say.
    Who cares if someone jailed thousands for the crime of disagreeing, or being gay?
    Let’s all get touchy feely cos some old despot died.

    1. Oh, so it’s the prime minister’s fault, suddenly. with all due respect, you’re no better than the legion of howler monkeys. Just slightly more presentable in that someone taught you how to spell…but not how to use whitespace. There was nothing out of the ordinary about the PM’s original statement. So what are you doing here, spreading arch-Conservative talking points—in barely disguised language—into the most obscure of the non-reactionary corners of the web?

      1. Calling him and Trudope senior out for being communist sympathizer a at the least and for trying to change our culture and history to something shameful. His opinion in this instance is not that of the majority or of those born in this country before 1990

      2. Dearie me, someone’s in a twist.

        Look, dear, my issue, made more succinctly downthread by someone named Greg, is with the tone and content of the Prime Minister’s official statement. He claimed that “all of Canada” would be mourning or some such thing.

        As a private citizen, Justin Trudeau, is of course deeply moved by Mr. Castro’s passing; there is a deep family bond through the elder Trudeau that can’t be denied. And that’s fine.

        But when the sitting Prime Minister of Her Majesty’s Government speaks, he or she is not speaking for themselves but in an official capacity for the country, about our country. He may, of course, make oblique reference to his personal stake. But an official statement is not about him or his personal feelings. He is being rightfully mocked for it online, as much as it may be sincere and heartfelt.

        And yes.. I was wrong about gay rights in Cuba; according to Wikipedia LGBTQ rights are enshrined in law, even if not necessarily in the hearts and minds of Cubans, and have been so since 1979.

        But Mr. Castro was no pussy cat and it was not wise to engage in open disagreement with the state. Per Human Rights Watch:

        Yes, Cuba had excellent medical care and education. And yet it was so poor it had to rely on tourist dollars and the patronage of other countries to maintain those services.

        And yes, Castro was a thorn in the Americans’ side, and yes, that was a fun show for the first 30 or so years, but by God, I really wished for a long time that somebody had relented long before President Obama did.

        And Mr. Castro was apparently a bit of a hound and a bastard to the women in his life and his children. The revolution consumed all, apparently.

        I’m sorry if you don’t like my opinions. But I don’t deserve to be called a howler monkey. I do love the sound of my own typing though, so please, bitch away. I’m happy to stirring the pot.

        1. It is perfectly acceptable and in fact expected for a Prime Minister to offer condolences on behalf of the entire country for a leader of significance who has passed.

          I fully expect that Canada will offer its condolences when Gorbachev dies, and even when Putin dies because, regardless of their negative actions, they also had positive actions and it’s just plain the diplomatic thing to do. We have to deal with the next leader, starting out by calling the last one out for his evil acts without acknowledging his positive acts is not going to get us anywhere.

          1. Fair enough, but it was a little over the top, in my opinion, to purport to speak for all Canadians to suggest we were all weeping in our Cheerios (as it sounded to me, and evidently many others) over his death, when more probably we offer our condolences.

            My real point is that official statements should not be confused with personal statements, and it is here where our PM has gone off sides. A minor gaffe worthy of mocking and pointing, but no more, unless it becomes a habit.

    2. I’ve been to Cuba and seen the truth of it for myself, being openly gay is in no way a crime in Cuba and the idea that people in that country are or have been “imprisoned for the crime of disagreeing with the government” at any time in the past 40 years has no basis in fact whatsoever.
      The official response from the Prime Minister is concise, honest, perfectly acceptable and in no way warrants the kind of vitriolic and childish rhetoric that is currently dripping put of the conservative party’s diseased verbal bung holes.
      For “the right” to properly repair itself in the eyes of the current population, which is far better informed than previous generations, requires that the party dispose of literally every one of it’s current cadre of political candidates and replace them with people who do not have a a well documented history of promoting the kind of hatred and lies that has guided both the party and it’s ideology since the late 1950s

      1. I’m sorry, but:

        LGBTQ Rights enshrined in law since 1979, but in a profoundly macho culture, not exactly enshrined in peoples’ hearts and minds. I will admit I was wrong on this point.

        However, Human Rights Watch has this to say about dissidents in Cuba:

        Not exactly a resounding endorsement from the international community.

        If you have better sources, I’d be pleased to hear/see them.

        1. Cuba has been a (forcibly) closed society for over 50 years, at least to t he USA and that is a hundred percent the fault of the USA, the rest of the world has been dealing with Cuba openly the entire time.
          You cannot get accurate information on internal Cuban affairs on the internet yet, that is changing under our noses but accurate unbiased information on Cuba, it’s history and the actions of the Castro regime are not in any way available to US citizens at all, those poor people have been spoon fed propaganda by their government for the past half a century and the UN has only been allowed to use the official opinions of the US government to go by in it’s evaluations.
          If you want to know what is really happening, you still have to go there and see it for yourself and the examples are stunning.
          No poverty
          No homelessness
          The lowest crime rate in the western hemisphere
          No hate crimes or hate speech
          Everyone actually has equal rights not just “under the law” but in everyday practice
          The country has NO MISOGYNY! Women are as safe and comfortable travelling alone as are men.
          We can wail and whine about human rights abuses that happened 50 to 40 years ago while Castro was removing a corrupt government from power but if we do so then we have to apply those same metrics and parameters to the USA and it’s revolutionary war, as well as it’s civil war and it’s many other wars it committed while setting up it’s puppet dictatorships around the world.
          Canada too has it’s shameful histories, the residential school abuses being just one.
          If people wish to harp about and carry on over human rights abuses in Cuba then we have to take a good hard look at ourselves in the mirror as well.
          We can look at all the good that Castro achieved AFTER the revolution.
          Most importantly with this article however, is addressing the appalling and offensive behaviour of the monstrous and diseased aberration that the conservative representatives in Canada have become, their statements over this simple, diplomatic statement ‘On Behalf Of All Canadians’ that it is Mr. Trudeau’s duty as prime minister and nobody else’s to make.

      2. NOVEMBER 18, 2009
        New Castro, Same Cuba
        Political Prisoners in the Post-Fidel Era
        This report shows how Raúl Castro has kept Cuba’s repressive machinery firmly in place and fully active since being handed power by his brother Fidel Castro. Scores of political prisoners arrested under Fidel continue to languish in prison, and Raúl has used draconian laws and sham trials to incarcerate scores more who have dared to exercise their fundamental rights.

  4. Hypocrites – all.

    Yes, Castro was a dictator, but he was also the only dictator in the Western hemisphere who stood up to the Americans, and lived, no thanks to the countless assassination attempts by the CIA. He’s also celebrated for kicking mafia ass out of Cuba and sending them packing to Vegas.

    What of Harper? He authorized dropping bombs in the Middle East that injured and killed countless civilians, including children. They might not have been the primary targets, but they were collateral damage. Add to that the his deplorable neglect of clean drinking water for Northern communities, and his criminal negligence of all things environmental. Lastly, no one dares mention Harper’s man crush on Netanyahu – another dictator who oppresses others.

    To me, any Republican (aka Harpercon) who criticizes Trudeau for his statements about Castro should, “look in the mirror” first.

    1. So you voted for better but ended up with far worse. We stopped bombing but increased our ground forces and are still at war with more men and greater risk. Pay attention to what this imbecilic commie loving twerp is doing

      1. Hey Pickle, it’s impossible to do worse than the Harper regime.

        Second, unless ground forces are killing children, which I highly doubt, then it is by any measure a better alternative than dropping bombs indiscriminately that do kill children and women along with combatants.

        The entire military agrees dropping bombs is a cowardly way to fight. I guess that explains the Hapercons’ support for that approach.

    2. Crawford Killian makes similar points:

      ‘Millions of young Cubans think their country is repressive, and it is. But if U.S.-sponsored governments had ruled them since 1959, most of those young Cubans would be illiterates (or dead), and their rulers would be sending death squads to deal with them if they got out of line.

      In the eyes of the dictator-tolerant U.S., Castro’s real crime was failure to kowtow. That made him a dangerous example to other American client states, from Mexico to Chile. He showed you could make a poor country literate and healthy, even if not rich.

      Yes, he suppressed his dissenters — just as the Americans routinely suppress dissenters all over the hemisphere. To the average poor Latin American, a good local school and medical clinic were worth it — plus the pleasure of seeing Fidel piss off the gringos for half a century.’

  5. “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.”

    And after fulminating and roiling around in a holier-than-thou tiz, Kellie Leitch immediately sent out an appeal for more money.

    Didn’t hear any of that lot losing it after the Harper/King Abdullah dispatch. Actually, I never heard any of them objecting to any of the pronouncements from on high.

  6. Why is the mass media quoting a nobody like Ben S. Harper? Judging by his slaughtering of the rules of English grammar and punctuation, he would be lucky to get work sorting envelopes in the mail room.

    At least Donald Trump admirer and Canadian values loving Kellie Leitch strung her epithets together in decently coherent fashion.

  7. Nothing will satisfy the RWNM but that we all acknowledge that Castro was the worst evil in the history of ever. In fact, that would not come close. Justin Trudeau and his entire cabinet would have to hang themselves on Parliament Hill, after first enacting that Canada surrender its sovereignty to become Donald Trump’s personal golf course; and even then they’d be filled rage and resentment. And if any of you you think I am exaggerating, you have not been paying attention.

    Do not underestimate the danger that these lunatics pose. A handful of corrupted billionaires have already used them the seize power in the USA and Australia, and dissolve the United Kingdom. There is no limit to what they will support at the top of their lungs forever.

    1. Holy hyperbole.Calm down. Trudeau’s approval of Castro adds to neoconservative alarm over his approval of Communist China’s undemocratic ability To “turn on a dime.” Castro behaved like tyrants everywhere , jailing those who threatened his power, oh, and their children too.
      If Harper did the same as Trudeau over some dead Saudi despot, he deserves criticism too: this rather than silence is what characterizes a liberal democracy as opposed to despotism of left or right.

      1. They both did the diplomatic thing. You don’t forward a relationship or gain influence by trashing the name of a dead man. The dead man is gone, give him some kind words and move on with the relationships between nations.

  8. One has to remember what life in Cuba was under Batista, a poor population oppressed by American Mafia, casinos and brothel. unsafe streets etc. The USA got angry because they lost thei ‘illegal’ playground. Almost everyone in Cuba say ‘viva Fidel!’ They all understood that with the USA embargo life on the island was difficult but better than under the oppressive boot of the ciminal who reing under Batista. The American Cuban can complain all they want they did not live in Cuba they did not live under the embargo, they left their country to go live with the opressor.

    “In many ways, Castro was a great friend and true friend of Africa and other parts of the world that had to fight long and bitter wars to attain freedom from colonialism.
    “Castro stood very firmly on the side of Africans who were fighting for the continent’s liberation from colonialism especially in Congo (now DRC), Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa.
    “In the case of Apartheid South Africa, Castro was one of the very few voices to speak against that system that was founded on a false sense of racial superiority with dire economic consequences for black people.” Raila Odinga

  9. Castro came to power on the promise of doing away with the predominantly US authored corruption. Organized crime and its associated party atmosphere ruled Cuba. There were the very rich and the incredibly poor and not just a few bodies littering the island.

    This created a society of entitlement mirrored against sum bag poverty. It was a very sick island.

    Political pressures from the US caused more havoc than it should have in Cuba. Russia was quick to fill in the vacuum hence the missile crisis of the Kennedy years and the on going dissent of the second generation of thoes who considered and showed themselves as being entitled under the corrupt regime. (I am reluctant to call it a Government).
    If memory serves me, PE Trudeau went to Cuba 6 times and the US 0.

    Then there was the armada of inner tubes trying to go though shark infested waters to the US on the promise of get rich fast schemes in the land of wonder. This was hardly Castro’s fault!

    i think both Trudeau’s made the right choices!

  10. This what Castro was fighting against, American colonialism in Latin America. Here are some interesting events; 1906 -Marines occupy Cuba for two years in order to prevent a civil war; 1912- U.S. Marines intervene in Cuba to put down a rebellion of sugar workers; 1917-
    Marines intervene again in Cuba, to guarantee sugar exports during WWI; 1933- Roosevelt sends warships to Cuba to intimidate Gerardo Machado y Morales, who is massacring the people to put down nationwide strikes and riots. Machado resigns. The first provisional government lasts only 17 days; the second Roosevelt finds too left-wing and refuses to recognize. A pro-Machado counter-coup is put down by Fulgencio Batista, who with Roosevelt’s blessing becomes Cuba’s new strongman; 1959- Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba. Several months earlier he had undertaken a triumphal tour through the U.S., which included a CIA briefing on the Red menace.
    “Castro’s continued tawdry little melodrama of invasion.” –Time, of Castro’s warnings of an imminent U.S. invasion
    1960- Eisenhower authorizes covert actions to get rid of Castro. Among other things, the CIA tries assassinating him with exploding cigars and poisoned milkshakes. Other covert actions against Cuba include burning sugar fields, blowing up boats in Cuban harbors, and sabotaging industrial equipment; 1961- U.S. organizes force of 1400 anti-Castro Cubans, ships it to the Bahía de los Cochinos. Castro’s army routs it.
    Notice all the other US interventions in Latin America –

    1. In Roosevelt ‘s day it was a full day, sometimes more to motor across to Cuba. In Castro’s day it was a matter of hours hence the bay pigs.disaster which was written off by the US as being all Cuba’s fault. Then the public outcry of imprisonment in Cuba so Castro loaded his criminal element up and shipped them to the US; all innocents who could neither read nor write and, things suddenly got quite in America.

      South of the border now you have Trump who during campaign said he was going to do away with ISIS once and for all. After election he abdicated the US presence in the middle east centering on China who if you will recall he held responsible for global warming and the climate change that is upon us because they were trying to ruin the American economy. Whew!

      There was much talk about the comrade Putin and Trump. Abdicating US presence in the middle east means he has turned it all over to the Russians to crush ISIS and any one else who has been fighting Assad which is most of the country. Gallows bombs and foot soldiers are going to be busy. In a very short period of time you will be able to write a rant about the US unless your partisan views won’t permit it.

  11. Shape it amy way you like but it was the ‘on behalf of all canadians’ that irritated me… and it wasnt just the ‘conservatives’ that said it…so don’t make it a political thing…

      1. Not to be in any way controversial here but as Prime Minister of Canada it is literally part of his job and nobody else’s to “speak for all Canadians”, it’s this little thing called a democratically elected government.

  12. This is so incredibly poorly written it is hard to read. Well, perhaps it is because it is so well written it is hard to read, but it is hard to read none the less. Perhaps the author’s intellectual arrogance has rendered him an ineffective and hopeless author. Fewer words are needed for the points made in this article. Perhaps an editor is in order?

    1. This is a blog you understand. The guy’s doing it for free.

      He needs an editor? Why not pony up a few thousand so he can hire one to meet your standards of intellectual criteria and brevity.

    2. This from a person who spells nonetheless using three words.

      Have you considered the possibility that your own reading comprehension is lacking?

  13. Well done David. The double standards of how you should treat leaders when they pass away from the right is always astonishing. I remember that when Ralph, Margaret Thatcher, and Hugo Chavez passed away that the right was very critical of anyone criticizing Ralph and Maggie, but when it came to Hugo Chavez, they made comparisons to Satan himself. The same will be true of The Rebel and other right wing elements. Frankly, it is time that the right-wing Cuban community and the right give us a rest from the demonization of Castro. I agree that while there were positive accomplishments in Cuba, there were and many human rights abuses. The interesting thing is that if you read any of the works that Noam Chomsky and others have written, Cuba is not the worst by far. You can look at the reports published by Amnesty International and you can find many countries in the region and the world that are far worse-Saudi Arabia is a great example. I think it is important to fight for these rights wherever they have been infringed.

  14. Here’s a story. Our family went to the ESO last night to hear the ‘Music of South America’. The conductor, José Luis Gomez, spoke before the show by noting the passing of Castro. Mr. Gomez admitted to not understanding politics, and offered this as one of his reasons for turning to music in his own life, but then said that surely the death of a tyrant was an opportunity for people to move towards greater freedom. The conductor’s remarks prompted some polite applause, though not everyone clapped. No one, including myself, was willing to shout some kind of challenge to the conductor’s assessment.

    The show itself was terrific, especially the first half with guest artist Mr. Andrew Wan’s solos on the violin.

  15. This opinion features information about the American skullduggery in Cuba, i.e. their guy Batista, and what Castro did about it and much more:
    “Thinking about Fidel. Castro made revolution cool, and showed two generations of Latin American leaders they didn’t have to be America’s puppets.”
    Quote from the article: “Yes, he suppressed his dissenters – just as the Americans suppress dissenters all over the hemisphere. To the average poor Latin American, a good local school and medical clinic were worth it – plus the pleasure of seeing Fidel piss off the gringos for half a century.” 🙂

  16. I’m willing to cut the PM some slack here. We all have our favourite tyrants…

    For both Prime Minister Trudeaus, it’s Fidel Castro.
    For the writer of this blog, it’s Vladimir Putin.
    For me, it’s the father of modern Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.

    1. All admirable men, in their ways. You have to admit, though, TC, that Mr. Putin has one significant advantage over the other two. To wit: He’s alive.

      1. Good point. However, Lee Kuan Yew has one advantage over Vladimir Putin: Lee Kuan Yew has a son who is carrying out his legacy, albeit in a much less oppressive fashion.

        1. Touche. I’m sure Mr. Putin’s daughters will be capable of carrying on his legacy when the time comes.

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