Throw on your dead (Fidel Castro)
January 16, 2007 6:02 PM   Subscribe

Premature, prepared, and alternative obituaries for Cuba's Fidel Castro. Time to get ready for the real thing? Conjecture and hope about Life After Fidel: Time to get to know Fidel's brother Raul.
posted by spock (80 comments total)

 
BODY: I'm not dead!

CART DRIVER: 'Ere. He says he's not dead!

posted by spock at 6:03 PM on January 16, 2007


This can't happen yet. One of my life's goals is to visit Castro's Cuba.
posted by Brittanie at 6:03 PM on January 16, 2007


Ah, but you didn't specify which Castro! (loophole, loophole)!
posted by spock at 6:04 PM on January 16, 2007


it's sad--Castro has that look in his eyes--it won't be long.
posted by amberglow at 6:04 PM on January 16, 2007


19 tequilas later we had a deal,
Havana goes back to the mob,
and Fidel and I open a chain of Kentucky Fried Chicken shops
posted by Jimbob at 6:07 PM on January 16, 2007


The look... of love?
posted by Brittanie at 6:07 PM on January 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


LARGE MAN: Yes he is.

Old Man Being Carried

BODY: I'm not!

CART DRIVER: He isn't.

LARGE MAN: He will be soon. He's very ill.

BODY: I'm getting better!

LARGE MAN: You're not. You'll be stone dead in a few minutes.

CART DRIVER: I can't take him like this. It's against regulations.
posted by lee at 6:09 PM on January 16, 2007


Politics/human rights aside, it is hard not to admire the fact that he's lived this long with as many people as there are that have wanted him dead. (Or is that just part of the overblown myth surrounding the man)?
posted by spock at 6:16 PM on January 16, 2007


"I don't want to go on the cart!"

Raul may still be healthy, but he's only got 5 years on his bro.
posted by clevershark at 6:17 PM on January 16, 2007


Politicians will be stepping all over themselves to take credit for reestablishing trade with Cuba, and corporations have probably long been jockeying for the day when the floodgates would open.
posted by spock at 6:25 PM on January 16, 2007


"Oh, don't be such a baby."

But who will the wingnuts demonize when Castro is gone?
posted by yhbc at 6:25 PM on January 16, 2007


snark about people quoting Monty Python coming in 3. . . 2. . . 1
posted by spock at 6:48 PM on January 16, 2007


Hope he time to arrest and imprison some more crossdressers and other "antisocial" elements before going to that big commune in the sky.
posted by Falconetti at 6:50 PM on January 16, 2007


I'm waiting for his real obit thread to mourn his thousands and thousands of victims. Too bad he'll be able to cheat justice and die.
posted by loquax at 6:53 PM on January 16, 2007


Fidel will never croak. If he does, I have three words for you: Weekend at Fidel's.
posted by champthom at 7:00 PM on January 16, 2007


CART MASTER:
I can't take him.
DEAD PERSON:
I feel fine!
CUSTOMER:
Well, do us a favour.
CART MASTER:
I can't.
CUSTOMER:
Well, can you hang around a couple of minutes? He won't be long.
CART MASTER:
No, I've got to go to the Robinsons'. They've lost nine today.

I've never understood how some folks in the west absolutely adore him. Isn't he just another crackpot dictator. Albeit a crackpot dictator who defied the US. Constantly.
posted by eurasian at 7:00 PM on January 16, 2007


But they did rip him a new asshole.
posted by mss at 7:01 PM on January 16, 2007


Politicians will be stepping all over themselves to take credit for reestablishing trade with Cuba, and corporations have probably long been jockeying for the day when the floodgates would open.

This is exactly why I want to go to Cuba BEFORE he dies. I don't adore him or anything though.
posted by Brittanie at 7:16 PM on January 16, 2007


I've never understood how some folks in the west absolutely adore him

Uhm, maybe because he stands for something. Rightly or wrongly (I'm not for or agin' him), he has been a dedicated Communist and resolutely unafraid. He's the anti-Bush; a man, not a pussy little poll-watching hack.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:21 PM on January 16, 2007


Well, they neither of them cares for the U.S. Constitution and they do have massive human rights violations in common!
posted by spock at 7:24 PM on January 16, 2007


Uhm, maybe because he stands for something. Rightly or wrongly (I'm not for or agin' him), he has been a dedicated Communist and resolutely unafraid. He's the anti-Bush; a man, not a pussy little poll-watching hack.

Yeah!!! Like Stalin!!!
posted by loquax at 7:35 PM on January 16, 2007


Well, they neither of them cares for the U.S. Constitution and they do have massive human rights violations in common!

I wasn't apologizing for Castro, but he has been a better champion of the average Cuban than Prio or Batista ever were, or ever intended to be.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:37 PM on January 16, 2007


Uhm, maybe because he stands for something. Rightly or wrongly (I'm not for or agin' him), he has been a dedicated Communist and resolutely unafraid. He's the anti-Bush; a man, not a pussy little poll-watching hack.

What a terrible way to judge character or worth.
posted by Falconetti at 7:56 PM on January 16, 2007


Y'know what would really be a hoot?

Bush impeached before Castro kaks it. That'd be LOL funny. Outlasting every President who ever dealt with him. Heh.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:58 PM on January 16, 2007


Bush impaledimpeached before Castro kaks it.

Even better.
posted by Falconetti at 8:26 PM on January 16, 2007



LARGE MAN When's your next round?

CART DRIVER Thursday.

BODY I think I'll go for a walk.

LARGE MAN You're not fooling anyone you know. (to CART DRIVER) Isn't there anyth
ing you could do?

BODY (singing unrecognisably) I feel happy... I feel happy.


It'll be awesome when they yank the blanket of socialism out from under everyone in Cuba and they can all suddenly become rich, western-style capitalists overnight.
posted by popechunk at 8:31 PM on January 16, 2007


Blanket of socialism?
I thought we were an autonomous collective ...

DENNIS: You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship,
A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes ...

OLD WOMAN: There you are, bringing class into it again ...

posted by spock at 9:51 PM on January 16, 2007


tee-hee Cuba! har de har Castro! What an awful dictator... of a country with one of the best Human Development Index scores in its region, despite a decades-long embargo!

"Human Development Report 1997 introduced the human poverty index (HPI), which focuses on the proportion of people below a threshold level in basic dimensions of human development - living a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living [...] The HPI-1 value for Cuba, 4.8%, ranks 5th among 103 developing countries for which the index has been calculated."
posted by vorfeed at 11:32 PM on January 16, 2007


I suspect the material wealth of Cubans is about what's necessary if we're to get rid of the staggering gap between rich and poor, let alone the wacky situation we have where North Americans live fat on the work and death of third-world slaves.

Or in other words, we can't all live like Americans. We can all live as Cubans.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:02 AM on January 17, 2007


I'm waiting for his real obit thread to mourn his thousands and thousands of victims. Too bad he'll be able to cheat justice and die.

He's got nothing on Bush's 600k.
posted by delmoi at 12:14 AM on January 17, 2007


He's also better then Pinochet, who Reagan was basically giving a blow-job to his entire presidency.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on January 17, 2007


LARGE MAN Who's that, then?

CART DRIVER I dunno. Must be a king.

LARGE MAN Why?

CART DRIVER He hasn't got shit all over him.


Yes, can't wait for local light industry to all be re-tooled for dirt-cheap US goods in "tax free zones" that give nothing back to he country or its people. But hey, they'll finally be able to get those designer goods since they'll be making them.
posted by dreamsign at 12:42 AM on January 17, 2007


It seems to me that had the United States not embargoed Cuba, but rather freely exported goods and services and media and ideas to the island nation, that not only would the people there have a higher standard of living but also that that we would be in a much better position of influence once Fidel and Raul kick the bucket. Sure, Fidel's a dictator, but the US has had no problem having relations with dictatorships in the past. The current relationship is a relic of Cold War spite, more about personalities and emotion as it is about any sober analysis of the situation.

As it is, the US and it's pet expat community has little influence in Cuba itself, and those Cubans that I talk to have no idea what's going to happen after the Castros are gone. Fidel has been so successful at outliving his opponents (if not outright getting rid of them) that he's become a fixture of the landscape, and that there is literally no one in the opposition with any name recognition in Cuba. A friend of mine from there was telling me that he thinks maybe the current foreign minister is probably next in line for leadership, but he couldn't even remember his name during the conversation (his name is Felipe PĂ©rez Roque it turns out).

In any event, he seemed pretty sure that if the Castros go while Hugo Chavez is still in power, then he will have at least as much, and probably more, influence on events than the US will. Which is sure to put the wingnuts into a fit.
posted by moonbiter at 5:54 AM on January 17, 2007


Hugo Chavez, that is, not my friend (sadly, since my friend would probably be a better influence).
posted by moonbiter at 5:56 AM on January 17, 2007


Or in other words, we can't all live like Americans. We can all live as Cubans.

We're all gonna need dance classes.
posted by rokusan at 7:12 AM on January 17, 2007


Benny Andajetz writes "a dedicated Communist"

He was re-branded as a dedicated communist when the USSR were supporting Cuba by the Russian, Cuban and US propaganda government information organisations. Castro is more of a workers-rights-socialist type.
posted by asok at 7:23 AM on January 17, 2007


After chewing on the responses overnight, I would like to add this:

The kneejerk reaction to my reasoning as to why Castro is apparently adored by so many illustrates American political discourse well - e.g., "he's a dictator", "so was Stalin", etc.

Honestly, how many Castro critics are familiar with Cuban history? How many are aware of how historically corrupt their governments have been? How many base their opinion on the fact that we have a large anti-Castro population here in the States - never mind that a large proportion of them are the disposessed wealthy from the Batista regime?

Sorry, but the US has been cozy friends with too many other dictators to buy the "Castro=dictator=bad" argument. And I am not making the case that Fidel is a saint.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:27 AM on January 17, 2007


I hope to god that the Miami Cubans don't get carte blanche to take over the country. At least leave the country in Communist leadership ala China or Vietnam. The best thing for the people of Cuba is to follow those models. I worry about what will happen to the people of Cuba if the country is thrown open to Democracy as Russia was.
posted by JJ86 at 7:37 AM on January 17, 2007


He was re-branded as a dedicated communist when the USSR were supporting Cuba by the Russian, Cuban and US propaganda government information organisations. Castro is more of a workers-rights-socialist type.

Correct. I used "Communist" as a good catch-all term for a not-so-deep internet discussion.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:37 AM on January 17, 2007


moonbiter, you are pretty much right. From within Cuba, the successor was generally thought to lean towards Alarcon, who is the leader of the National Assembly. He is very well versed in economy and would be a good leader for the country to bring it into the 21st century.
posted by JJ86 at 7:42 AM on January 17, 2007


Playwright Arthur Miller visits Castro and writes about it ... a fantastic article via The Nation that gives a lot of insight into the man that is Fidel.

On a related note, I have a friend in Spain whose father has been buying up beach-side real estate in Cuba for the past few years. He's gambling that he will make lots of money selling to big American hotel chains someday soon.
posted by General Zubon at 8:56 AM on January 17, 2007


Sorry, but the US has been cozy friends with too many other dictators to buy the "Castro=dictator=bad" argument. And I am not making the case that Fidel is a saint.

I'm not American. I don't care what popular opinion of him is in the US. My government is best friends with Castro, to my great embarrassment. I don't care if you call him a communist, a Marxist, a socialist or philosopher/poet. He has held power in Cuba by force, violently suppressing opposition, killing or enslaving opponents, jailing dissidents, journalists and anyone else that fits his warped perception of an enemy of the state and reducing the political rights, civil rights and human rights of his citizens to a level approaching nil. There is no Cuba and there hasn't been for 40+ years. There has been Castro and his whims. If you want to apologize for him and cite this or that about literacy or healthcare or "equality", fine - just realize what the price has been.

As much as the US opposed him (and rightly so, regardless of how they treated other equally scummy people) there were others to pick up the slack and trade with him. The USSR. Canada. Europe, etc. He had no shortage of friends and support during the cold war. Blaming the US for Castro's megalomania is insanity. Or rather, just simple political bias and hypocrisy. Castro killed tens of thousands. Castro imprisoned tens of thousands more. Castro subverted democracy and accountability and made Cubans his personal serfs.

Support him if you want. But know that I'll be laughing at you if you ever whine on metafilter about the PATRIOT act, Iraq, Guantanamo or anything else Bush has done. It's all nothing compared to what Castro has been doing to his own people and enemies of the revolution around the world for decades.

PS: Castro is not "adored" by anyone but idiots, Marxists and college students. But I repeat myself.
posted by loquax at 9:52 AM on January 17, 2007


General Zubon said: On a related note, I have a friend in Spain whose father has been buying up beach-side real estate in Cuba for the past few years. He's gambling that he will make lots of money selling to big American hotel chains someday soon.

Actually that is impossible. Foreigners can buy the rights to a property for a certain amount of time but they can't own property in Cuba. Foreign hotel consortiums lease the land and don't own. There is no land ownership in Cuba, per se. It is a Communist country.
posted by JJ86 at 9:59 AM on January 17, 2007


Actually that is impossible. Foreigners can buy the rights to a property for a certain amount of time but they can't own property in Cuba. Foreign hotel consortiums lease the land and don't own. There is no land ownership in Cuba, per se. It is a Communist country.

Crazy. Guess My friend was trying to impress me with his dad's purported gumption, which initially worked.
posted by General Zubon at 10:02 AM on January 17, 2007


PS: Castro is not "adored" by anyone but idiots, Marxists and college students. But I repeat myself.

For someone who seems to revile the easy label and categorization of the people into nice tidy boxes, you sure appear to have it down to an art.
posted by spock at 10:08 AM on January 17, 2007


Support him if you want. But know that I'll be laughing at you if you ever whine on metafilter about the PATRIOT act, Iraq, Guantanamo or anything else Bush has done. It's all nothing compared to what Castro has been doing to his own people and enemies of the revolution around the world for decades.

PS: Castro is not "adored" by anyone but idiots, Marxists and college students. But I repeat myself.


As stated several times, I don't support him (and certainly don't adore him); but neither do I support his demonization for illogical reasons. U.S .(and I know you're not American, loquax) opposition to Castro is a case of sour grapes, pure and simple. Batista, himself an awful and dangerous dictator - look it up- was a puppet of the CIA and the mafia. They essentially enslaved the Cuban workers while turning the country into a giant sweatshop/brothel and playground for the rich. They sacked the treasury and disappeared citizens, for nobody's benefit but their own.

Since you, loquax, said there hasn't been a Cuba for 40+ years, are you saying that the system under Batista was acceptable? If so, I believe our argument is over matters of degree and not philosophies. In the end, Castro runs Cuba, a sovereign nation. It is up to Cubans to change that if they so wish, unless we can start "Operation Cubani Freedom". (sadly, that's probably what G.W. would call it.)

Bush, however, is my problem - and I will whine incessantly about the PATRIOT Act, Iraq and Gitmo, thank you very much.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2007


If you want to apologize for him and cite this or that about literacy or healthcare or "equality", fine - just realize what the price has been.

Certainly. You see, somebody once told me something about life: bread is much, much more important than "freedom". You can hold bread in your hand, you can feel it, it will feed you no matter what the ideology of its giver is. Fancy words like "freedom", "civil rights", and "human rights", on the other hand, are essentially totally meaningless -- these things are nothing more than the temporary absence of force, and in a nation where force is routinely used against the populace, I can't feel very free. Everybody says I live in the "most free" nation on Earth, yet we imprison more people than Cuba could ever dream of, even per capita, and we're no small shakes with executions, either. We are definitely not "free", unless "free" is very carefully defined to not take into account the strong chance that the average person will be in jail during his lifetime. As for jailing dissidents and journalists, my country has done that before, though these days we tend to use free-speech-zones and control of funding and media coverage to shut people up instead.

Literacy and healthcare and equality are concrete things that actually improve people's lives. "Freedom", which in America, Europe, or anywhere else really means nothing more than it does in Cuba -- "stay in line and nothing will happen to you" -- doesn't matter, because it's not concrete and ceases to exist the moment the people who control the force would like it to. If the average Cuban does not need to worry that he might lose his home and starve to death on the streets due to medical bills, then your average Cuban has something much more valuable than my "human rights", which seem to include dying in poverty like the dog I am, if I can't keep running with the pack.

As for the "ooo you can't complain about the PATRIOT act now blah blah blah" argument, of course I would like to be more free. I'm sure Cubans would like to be more free as well. That said, freedom is like icing. It doesn't come on every cake, it melts or smudges easily, and it's often used to cover up the fact that the cake itself isn't all that great. So yes, I will have some cake, please, and yes, I would also like some icing, but in any event the actual cake is much more important! Castro has done an excellent job with the cake, and not so much with the icing -- why, he doesn't even bother to cover up or spin the awful things he does, how terribly gauche! Meanwhile, my country is icing most of the way down, full of people who are deep in debt and just as afraid of the police as anybody in Cuba has ever been, because they know exactly how much our tissue-paper freedoms are worth to the average Joe. Only we don't even have the level of healthcare or equality that Cubans do... oh, but that's OK, because America is so fucking free.

In short, give me real, concrete improvements in standard-of-living over meaningless platitudes like "political rights, civil rights and human rights".
posted by vorfeed at 11:23 AM on January 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


In short, give me real, concrete improvements in standard-of-living over meaningless platitudes like "political rights, civil rights and human rights".

So, I assume you'll be building a rubber raft to float to Havana soon. No?

Look, I'm aware that Castro's rise to power was facilitated by Batista (and US corporate) scumbaggery, but that dosen't make the man some kind of saint. When I lived in Miami, pretty much all of my Cubano co-workers hated the man's guts and for good reason.
posted by jonmc at 11:38 AM on January 17, 2007


also:

George Bush is a moron scumbag!

(see, there's that icing I enjoy here. mmmm, icing)
posted by jonmc at 11:41 AM on January 17, 2007


jonmc:

You realize that the Miami anti-Castro population is composed of or greatly manipulated by people who benefitted under Batista and lost out when Castro came to power? They certainly have every right to complain and lobby, but it is clearly a case of whose ox is being gored. Many harbor dreams of getting their things back when Castro dies or is deposed. Probably not gonna happen.

Also, the embargo certainly has done more to solidify Fidel's and Fidel's cadre's hold on continuing power than normal relations would have. Some prophecies are self-fulfilling. Win the battle and lose the war, and all that....
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:51 AM on January 17, 2007


Since you, loquax, said there hasn't been a Cuba for 40+ years, are you saying that the system under Batista was acceptable?

No. It wasn't. Does that make Castro acceptable? Batista hasn't been around for almost 50 years. The CIA hasn't been doing anything in Cuba for almost that long. Why is this even an issue when talking about the Cuba of today or Castro's legacy? If you want me to say that Castro was justified in seizing power, fine. What does Batista have to do with the labour camps, alignment with the Soviet Union, slaughter of innocents or blanket suppression of free speech and civil liberties???

opposition to Castro is a case of sour grapes, pure and simple


I hear you say this, but based on what? Maybe it was "sour grapes in 1959 (leaving aside that the US was then in the midst of a cold war with Castro's ideological compatriots, who had just finished slaughtering tens of millions in Europe and were just starting in China), but what about in 1965? 1970? 1990? Castro is an abomination, a legacy of the cold war that exists on that island and on the Korean Peninsula. There are any number of reasons to legitimately and justifiably oppose Castro unreservedly beyond what he might have done two generations of US leaders ago.

It is up to Cubans to change that if they so wish,

Too bad that any time they try they manage to "go missing"! Ah well, I guess it's just sour grapes about those expropriated casinos 50 years ago that gets my panties in a twist about that rapscallion.

vorfeed: Once upon a time, in my naive youth, I would engage Marxist-Leninists in debate. Now that I'm older and a little wiser, I don't bother. Good luck comrade! Thanks for the paint-by-numbers look at economic vs individual rights though. Brought back memories of university in Canada.
posted by loquax at 11:55 AM on January 17, 2007


Too bad that any time they try they manage to "go missing"!

I guess I've been too vague in this regard. I submit that our (obviously personal, in the case of the U.S.) blind hatred of Castro, and the resulting embargo, has given Castro much more power to do these kind of things. Outlaws do outlaw things.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:01 PM on January 17, 2007


loquax, the facts are that Batista's labor camps and slaughter of innocents was much worse than Castro's. Even more facts are that Spain's dictator, Caudillo Franco was much worse than Castro and stomped his own citizens with such zeal that he obliterated much of Madrid, yet he found many friends in Washington during his reign.

Castro isn't anywhere close to being perfect in anyone's book but he doesn't deserve the demonization that the US has heaped on him for the past 50 years either. I 'll support them over China any day of the week.
posted by JJ86 at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2007


Benny Andjaetz: Also, the embargo certainly has done more to solidify Fidel's and Fidel's cadre's hold on continuing power than normal relations would have.

Why is this so hard to understand? I don't believe unlimited free trade is the one and only solution to all problems, but it seems fairly obvious that the long isolation of Cuba has played an important part in conserving things as they are.
posted by Termite at 1:00 PM on January 17, 2007


Once upon a time, in my naive youth, I would engage Marxist-Leninists in debate. Good luck comrade!

Oh, sure. And if I had a dollar for every time a Capitalist-Republican pulled the old "never debate with Marxists" chestnut out in lieu of an actual argument, it'd make up for all the surplus value I've lost to you bougie running-dog Westernized pigs! *rolls eyes*

To put it another way: you're the one pledging allegiance to a certain economic value system, here, one that puts individual "rights" over actually having enough food and doctors. My number-one measuring sticks for any government are tangibles like healthcare, lifespan, incarceration rates, gender and racial equality, infant mortality, etc. In theory, I don't care if a nation is capitalist, socialist, feudal, or post-modern cubist, so long as these things get taken care of. In practice, I have noticed that capitalism tends to place an upper limit on improvements in these areas, so I'm not a big fan of it, but the idea that I'm all into Castro just because he's socialist is bullshit.

No, I'm all into Castro because his government has demonstrably created a high standard of living in Cuba, despite a painful embargo and despite suddenly losing the support of his major aid partner. Support for "human rights" or not, the guy has walked the walk, and his country is way better off than most of the other countries in its region. As for your "huh huh so you wanna live there huh" argument: no, I don't want to live there. It's not THAT much better than here, it would be hard to start over, and I would be very lonely having left all my family and friends behind. Sorry to disappoint you.

If I'd been born in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, on the other hand, I'd sure as hell be thinking about loading my family onto that rubber raft. Assuming I could afford one.
posted by vorfeed at 1:14 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


vorfeed mentions: If I'd been born in Haiti or the Dominican Republic, on the other hand, I'd sure as hell be thinking about loading my family onto that rubber raft. Assuming I could afford one.

You bring up an interesting point because contrary to American propaganda, the majority of Cubans who do sail the rubber raft to the Keys don't do it to escape a repressive regime. They do it for purely economic reasons - the same reason why Mexicans jump the fence in Chihuahua.
posted by JJ86 at 1:24 PM on January 17, 2007


loquax, the facts are that Batista's labor camps and slaughter of innocents was much worse than Castro's. Even more facts are that Spain's dictator, Caudillo Franco was much worse than Castro and stomped his own citizens with such zeal that he obliterated much of Madrid, yet he found many friends in Washington during his reign.

See, this is the problem. What the hell does Washington or Spain or Batista have to do with Castro? Can Castro not be judged on his own merits without comparison? When people denounce Hitler, are they scolded for not recognizing the greater evil of Ghengis Khan? For not first denouncing Roosevelt for allying with Stalin?

Look, I'm not saying that Castro is the worst thing to happen to the planet bar none, or that the US could not have handled things better, but is it really not possible to discuss Castro without saying he was better (arguably) than his predecessor (which isn't even saying much) or blaming the US for his mismanagement and abuse of Cuba? The communists I can understand, he's one of them and the only one that's managed to stick around. It's those who claim to recognize him as the dictator that he was that I cannot understand when they insist on mitigating his tyranny over Cubans.

And PS, I didn't see any of this relativism in the Pinochet thread, I saw a lot of people dancing on his grave. And Chile's HDI rank is 38.

Oh, sure. And if I had a dollar for every time a Capitalist-Republican pulled the old "never debate with Marxists" chestnut out in lieu of an actual argument, it'd make up for all the surplus value I've lost to you bougie running-dog Westernized pigs! *rolls eyes*

What would you like to argue about? I disagree with everything you wrote. You won't convince me otherwise. I am certain that the opposite is true. We can call each other names if you want, but I'd rather we didn't.
posted by loquax at 1:29 PM on January 17, 2007


Once upon a time, in my naive youth, I would engage Marxist-Leninists in debate. Now that I'm older and a little wiser, I don't bother. Good luck comrade! Thanks for the paint-by-numbers look at economic vs individual rights though. Brought back memories of university in Canada.

Oh, that's just adorable. "I know everything you're going to say so I won't bother to address it since I'm Soooooo much wiser and better than you."
So, if the "paint by numbers" look at economic vs individual rights is so trivial, why can't you debunk it? Why can't, say, 150 years of knee-jerk reactionaries like yourself trying really hard to debunk it succeed? Oh, and as far as "legacies of the cold war living on in Cuba and the Korean peninsula", you fail to mention several important little factoids: Vietnam, China, and Laos. Oh, and, BTW: Communism predates the Cold War. So why don't you refer to these places as, say, a "legacy of the early 20th century"? Hmm, perhaps you aren't interested in an honest debate? Paint by numbers if you will, but it looks to me like you're painting over facts in your blind zealotry.


So, I assume you'll be building a rubber raft to float to Havana soon. No?


Oh goody! The old "If you love it so much, why don't you MARRY it?" argument.
Perhaps, like civilized and intelligent people, we can look at a place and admire its good qualities, incorporate the ones we like into our own country and not incorporate the ideas we don't like? Or would that be too much work?
Castro is a remarkable man who changed his country and the life of his people for the better. No matter how ideologically repugnant people find his ideas, it remains as a matter of pure reality that the average Cuban's life is measureably better under Castro than it was before him. What can one ask in a national leader other than to improve the well-being of his own people?
posted by eparchos at 1:48 PM on January 17, 2007


loquax asks: See, this is the problem. What the hell does Washington or Spain or Batista have to do with Castro? Can Castro not be judged on his own merits without comparison?

Judging him on his merits or his demerits? His merits speak for themselves and they have already been mentioned in this thread. If we judge him on his merits then he should be respected as a good leader. That is fine by me.
posted by JJ86 at 1:51 PM on January 17, 2007


What would you like to argue about? I disagree with everything you wrote. You won't convince me otherwise. I am certain that the opposite is true.

Gee, my mistake. I thought we were talking about real-world values like the balance between individual and group rights, and whether or not a certain country for which actual statistics are available is a nice place to live or not. You know, the sort of thing where the point might not be to convince anyone, nor to agree or disagree, but rather to debate in order to increase the total amount of understanding on both sides. Never mind, sorry I bothered you.
posted by vorfeed at 1:52 PM on January 17, 2007


the average Cuban's life is measureably better under Castro than it was before him. What can one ask in a national leader other than to improve the well-being of his own people?

and yet they still risk life and limb to come here, for some reason.

Castro is a remarkable man who changed his country and the life of his people for the better.

Nah, he's the last of the old line Commies still living and as a side effect of the US's paranoia about communism (which would have inevitably collapsed no matter what we did), old-school lefties feel obliged to defend him, no matter how ridiculous it makes them look.

You realize that the Miami anti-Castro population is composed of or greatly manipulated by people who benefitted under Batista and lost out when Castro came to power?

Call me crazy, but I'll take the words of those who've lived (or who's family has lived) under the regime over someone who's read a few magazine articles. Sorry. And FWIW, most of my friends in Miami were not prominent members of the exile community. These were the kids of supermarket managers and truck drivers. My friend Letty's dad was a political prisoner in Cuba. Apologism for totalitarianism based on vague ideological affinites is still apologism.
posted by jonmc at 2:24 PM on January 17, 2007


for further illumination: the story of Tony Bryant.
posted by jonmc at 2:28 PM on January 17, 2007


Call me crazy, but I'll take the words of those who've lived (or who's family has lived) under the regime over someone who's read a few magazine articles. Sorry. And FWIW, most of my friends in Miami were not prominent members of the exile community. These were the kids of supermarket managers and truck drivers. My friend Letty's dad was a political prisoner in Cuba. Apologism for totalitarianism based on vague ideological affinites is still apologism.

I would never call you crazy; you have demonstrated your abilities to discuss things sanely many times. I also have not apologized for Castro - I've pointed that out several times. My thesis has been that our (U.S.) treatment of the Cuba issue has been wrongheaded, full of propaganda and false statements, and detrimental to Cuba, the U.S. and the hemisphere.

One simply cannot hop into bed with a murderous dictator to gain money and power, get mad when someone else puts an end to the gravy train, then be hostile to the new guy and cry foul when he's hostile back without losing credibilty. Also, to say that the embargo has been anything other than harmful to the Cuban people is disingenuous.

Also, your listening to exiles is commendable - and much better than listening to our government. But you also have to realize that everyone has an agenda. I am not inferring that your particular contacts were mistaken or wrong - please don't hear me that way. But sometimes politics makes people lie to further their own agenda.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:55 PM on January 17, 2007


My thesis has been that our (U.S.) treatment of the Cuba issue has been wrongheaded, full of propaganda and false statements, and detrimental to Cuba, the U.S. and the hemisphere.

Agreed on that score. If we hadn't taken such a hard line (mainly to throw a bone to a well organized voting bloc) we probably would've put the Beard out of business decades ago. And I fully acknowledge that Batista and his ilk were just as bad if not worse. I just get kind of irked that whenever Castro's name comes up around here, some people feel the need to prop him up rather simply look at him in the clear light of day.

And I didn't go out seeking info on the whole shmear. I just happened to move to an Miami (pips was studying at UM) literally weeks before the whole Elian Gonzalez brouhaha, so the rhetoric was mighty thick. The area we lived in was 50% hispanic (I was known among my co-workers as el gringo flaco loco) so I got a pretty good dose of it.

And you're correct, it's wise to take anyone's opinions with a grain of salt*. I remember the day Elian was sent back to Cuba. I pulled out of the strip mall I worked in into the usual rush hour 88th street gridlock. People at the intersections were holding up signs saying 'Honk if you're ashamed to be an American!' Some guy in front of me was driving too slow, but I resisted honking simply to stay the hell out of it.

*although I still give opinions closer to the action a little more weight, for the same reason I'd give travel advice on France from a Parisian more weight than someone who simply has read a travel guide.
posted by jonmc at 3:23 PM on January 17, 2007


Call me crazy, but I'll take the words of those who've lived (or who's family has lived) under the regime over someone who's read a few magazine articles. Sorry.

I've met Americans living in Uzbekistan who claim that Uzbekistan is a wonderful place and that reports of human rights violations are nonsense. According to your logic, I should listen to them rather than to facts and figures.
On the other hand, I've met Cubans who live in Cuba who claim that modern Cuba is a wonderful place. So gee, should I listen to their testimonials or to your friends'?
And, thus, the problem with testimonials: They don't tell us anything. But do you know what DOES tell us something? Facts and figures and raw data.
posted by eparchos at 3:42 PM on January 17, 2007


jonmc:

Your mention of Elian Gonzalez reminded me of a joke from that era that may lend at least a little levity to this weighty thread:

Why did Clinton stay out of the Elian Gonzalez issue?

He remembered what happened the last time he told someone where to put a cuban.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:59 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


And, thus, the problem with testimonials: They don't tell us anything. But do you know what DOES tell us something? Facts and figures and raw data.

And as someone once said, there's lies, damned lies and statistics.

My point being: we could trade cliches all night but we all have our own ideological biases, too. and while statistics are valuable, I'd argue the human element revealed in anecdote and testimonials is too. Humans arent just 'capitas.'

But Cuba, because of it's weird-ass history and proximity to the US mainland has always been difficult to assess unemotionally.

(and FWIW, my children of exiles friends, while not fond of Fidel, aren't returning to Havana anytime soon. Like most first-generation Cuban-Americans, they're throughly Americanized)
posted by jonmc at 4:23 PM on January 17, 2007


Some more rankings for Castro's great society:
- It's in the top 165 countries for freedom of the press
- In the top 150 countries in terms of economic freedom
- One of the 66 least corrupt countries in the world
- In the top 184 for civil liberties
- In the top 185 for political rights

I didn't bother linking but it's Reporters without Borders, Freedom House, and some other IMF study or something. As usual, the price for the certainty of basic equality and state delivery of the essentials of life is mediocrity and the loss of any semblance of indivuality. Well, that and tens of thousands of murdered and jailed citizens on the basis of politics.

Anyways I don't make apologies for Pinochet and his murders despite Chile's success since the disaster that was Allende, or for Lee Kuan Yew's economic successes and I find it distasteful for any liberal to make apologies for Castro's prison state. Like I said earlier, I'll wait until his real obit thread to post the 50,000 periods for his victims and open that bottle of champagne I've been chilling. Finally he gets to meet his buddy Che in hell, where both the murderous bastards belong.
posted by loquax at 4:58 PM on January 17, 2007


Coming at it as a Marxist:

1. Castro's Cuba is not socialism. It has some nice things, which have already been laid out here, but society is not run by the working class in Cuba in any sense of the words. On the other hand, ludicrous comparisons to Stalinism are unwarranted.

2. vorfeed is, IMO, wrong, despite making a few points; freedom is not unimportant to the whole equation. Rule by the people is not just an abstract; in fits and starts, from the French Revolution onward, it has been fought for with blood and vigor. And it can be achieved in the full sense, not just the limited and distorted sense that we have in the US today.

3. loquax's comments don't merit response, so I'll just note that both Reporters Without Borders and Freedom House are essentially professional Cuba-bashing outfits.
posted by graymouser at 5:16 PM on January 17, 2007


I'll wait until his real obit thread to post the 50,000 periods for his victims. . .

That should result in an entertaining MeTa thread.
posted by spock at 5:46 PM on January 17, 2007


freedom is not unimportant to the whole equation.

I never said it was. Like I said, I want to be free, and I'm sure Cubans also do. What I did say is that freedom is not anywhere near as important as bread, a decent lifespan, and healthcare. I stand by that.

You could say that freedom is something you might fight for, but a decent standard-of-living is something you must fight for. Unless, of course, you prefer dying. This is a completely pragmatic stance, and one I've developed in response to people who shout about abstracts like "freedom" (and, yes, even "socialism" and "rule by the people") while allowing people to suffer for lack of simple concrete aid.

Tell a man, "You don't have enough food, but this is because you are not free. You need to regain your autonomy through working class action in the name of the people", and why should he care? But tell him, "You don't have enough food, so we lot here are going to kick out the bosses right now, and then my friends and I will take all the food and share it with everybody", and watch him join the fight. Abstract ideals are nice, but not as nice as being able to eat and see a doctor when you need to. This is the difference between freedom (the ability to choose whether or not to do something) and opportunity (the ability to do it in the first place).

As usual, the price for the certainty of basic equality and state delivery of the essentials of life is mediocrity and the loss of any semblance of indivuality. Well, that and tens of thousands of murdered and jailed citizens on the basis of politics.

And in this country, we have... mediocrity and hundreds of thousands of murdered and jailed citizens, plus we don't get either basic equality or the essentials of life.

But man, we sure are individuals! Look at me, Dad, look at meeeeeee!
posted by vorfeed at 6:01 PM on January 17, 2007


And as someone once said, there's lies, damned lies and statistics.

"...After all, facts are facts, and although we may quote one to another with a chuckle the words of the Wise Statesman, 'Lies--damned lies--and statistics,' still there are some easy figures the simplest must understand, and the astutest cannot wriggle out of."
-Lord Courtney
posted by eparchos at 6:14 PM on January 17, 2007


And in this country, we have... mediocrity and hundreds of thousands of murdered and jailed citizens, plus we don't get either basic equality or the essentials of life.

Amen. It always amazes me that the elephant in the room is never seen while singing the praises of our "superior" way of life. We (Americans) are so steeped in "our system is the one and true way", and the cognitive dissonance between reality and our brainwashing is so great sometimes, that I think many Americans truly can't see any problems. And, rather than trying to see and understand the issues, they simply take any criticism as a personal affront to "the American Way".
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:46 PM on January 17, 2007


It always amazes me that the elephant in the room is never seen while singing the praises of our "superior" way of life.

Now I feel I'm being unclear. I'm not debating the virtues of Capitalism vs. Communism, or touting the American way of life, simply that whatever ideology Castro subscribed to, whatever methods he singularly chose to implement, whatever external help and hindrance he faced, the result has been a totalitarian, murderous, illiberal and poor state.

You want to say the same for the US? Fine, there are myriad threads here where no one will disagree. I don't understand what the state of US society, or Marxist ideological superiority have to do with Cuba and Castro's legacy. Or is it that the failings of a "socialist" state and the dead victims of a "Marxist" leader justifiably get swept under the rug here in the face of US imperialism and political bias?

Or maybe it simply is that all you Americans really are as self-centered and arrogant as to believe the world revolves around you, even the "progressives" among you.
posted by loquax at 6:57 PM on January 17, 2007



Or maybe it simply is that all you Americans really are as self-centered and arrogant as to believe the world revolves around you, even the "progressives" among you.


You're trying to completely separate the US and Cuba? Seriously? Do you have any clue what the US embargo has done to the Cuban economy over the last 50 years? This isn't a matter of "self-centered and arrogant", it's a matter of a country which was once an economic colony of the US which, once it claimed its own freedom, was cut off from us. If that weren't enough, look at what happened to Cuba under Soviet "macro-agriculture" models, especially when the Soviets went away.
The point is, the "failings" of a Marxist leader and the dead victims you describe are remarkably minimal when looked at in the light of the pressure that leader and his country have been under since their independence. The fact that Cuba has managed to progress AT ALL is amazing, given their size, prokimity to the US, and their poor relationship with us. Call us arrogant all you like, but the fact is that we are BY FAR the biggest economic, military, and diplomatic influence in this hemisphere. The reason that Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, and Fidel Castro deserve respect is because they have the sheer audacity to stand up to us, unlike the majority of the world.
posted by eparchos at 7:05 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, loquax, you weren't unclear. My comment was more of an aside. I went off on a tangent. But I do think, as vorfeed has inferred, that it seems there are many people who will accept democracy, warts and all, without much question, and yet are unwilling to see any good in alternative systems.

And noone here (I assume; I can only speak for myself) wishes to deny wrongdoing or sweep the victims of any system under the rug. I would dare you to pick any country that hasn't amassed many,many unwarranted and unjustifiable deaths on their way to sustainability, however. I believe indigenous peoples everywhere would probably agree with me, at the very least.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:10 PM on January 17, 2007


ARTHUR: What are you going to do. bleed on me?

loquax: I'm invincible!

ARTHUR: You're a looney.

loquax: loquax always triumphs. Have at you!

ARTHUR takes his last leg off. The loquax's body lands upright.

loquax: All right, we'll call it a draw.

posted by spock at 7:16 PM on January 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


eparchos, you completely and thouroghly miss my point. I don't know what else to say.

Benny Andajetz - I agree with you (execpt in your belief that some people here care that some eggs were scrambled on the way to making the Cuban omelete), but I have not observed many leaders that killed thousands of his own people and suppressed their rights so completely lauded to the extent that Castro has been during his lifetime. Overlooking warts and judging the means by the ends is fine at some point - I would argue that that time is not while the relatives of his victims are still alive and his people are still not *legally* allowed to voice their own, first-hand opinions. One day even Hitler will be discussed in a dry academic tone, but 1945 was not the time to blame the war on the Great Powers and commend him for improving Germany's economy after the Treaty of Versailles (of course, not that I'm comparing Castro to Hitler, nor did I seriously compare him to Stalin)

And again, I fail to see how comparing Castro to any leader, or Cuba to any other country, or his brand of Marxism to any other political system in any way mitigates what Castro has done. I'll join you in condemning Pinochet, Idi Amin, Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, or any other dictator whatever his stripes if you join me in condemning Castro unequivocally.

LOQUAX: Oh, oh, I see, running away then. You yellow bastard! Come back here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite your legs off!

posted by loquax at 7:43 PM on January 17, 2007


you completely and thouroghly miss my point. I don't know what else to say.

Hmm... and here I thought this thread was about Cuba and Castro, my mistake.....
posted by eparchos at 7:58 PM on January 17, 2007


And again, I fail to see how comparing Castro to any leader, or Cuba to any other country, or his brand of Marxism to any other political system in any way mitigates what Castro has done. I'll join you in condemning Pinochet, Idi Amin, Mugabe, Kim Jong Il, or any other dictator whatever his stripes if you join me in condemning Castro unequivocally.

One last thought before I crash. None of this mitigates what Castro has done. I think what makes Castro worthy of at least some grudging respect and discussion is that, unlike any of the other dictators you can mention, he has done good by his country as a whole given the situation. His people are clothed, fed, highly educated, and healthy- a state most other countries can't seem to achieve. Political machinations aside, perhaps he's struck upon something that other countries can learn from, if they are willing to not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:17 PM on January 17, 2007


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