Loving Fidel Is Offensive

By Miguel Perez

April 17, 2012 8 min read

He is the all-time champion of world dictators, making his people succumb to pain and degradation longer than any other despot in human history. He has killed thousands and driven tens of thousands to drowning deaths while they were trying to escape from his island prison.

In spite of Latin America's deep history of totalitarian regimes, no one in this hemisphere comes close to Fidel Castro's record of genocide in Cuba. There are countless websites, articles and books documenting it all in agonizing detail.

So say you are a Cuban-American and remember what it's like to live in fear, to have your human rights constantly violated, to be deprived of the basic liberties most Americans take for granted.

Say you knew at least one person who left Cuba on a raft and never arrived here or at least one who was tried by a kangaroo court and executed by a firing squad or at least one who spent many years in Cuba's despicable dungeons for political prisoners or one who died in prison on a hunger strike.

Even worse, say you are indeed a former Cuban political prisoner and you remember the sound of the firing squad or you survived a treacherous sea journey where you saw some of your own relatives drown.

And say you are also a baseball fan and you couldn't wait for the new Miami Marlins season to begin in their new stadium, with a new Hispanic manager that was brought in specifically to appeal to the fans of Little Havana.

Now do you understand why Miami Cubans are offended by Ozzie Guillen's proclaimed love for Fidel Castro?

He comes to a stadium subsidized by Cuban-American taxpayers, where Cuban-Americans are expected to fill the seats, and he dances on the grave of Castro's victims.

"I love Fidel Castro. ... I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that (expletive) is still there," Guillen told Time Magazine. Guillen, who is Venezuelan, also has professed admiration for Castro ally and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Those idiotic comments ignited a firestorm of criticism, earned him a five-day suspension from the Marlins, and started a chorus of calls for his dismissal.

With many fans threatening to boycott the new stadium, the new manager's future in Miami is, at best, insecure.

But the issue here is much bigger than Guillen's ignorance or his seemingly contrite apologies. It's even bigger than the Marlins' stupid decision to hire a powder keg manager with a history of polarizing comments and not expecting it to blow up. It's about the many people in this country who still think like Ozzie Guillen.

Let's face it: In proclaiming Castro as their idol, this manager has a team. They may not live in Miami, but all over this country there are many who still are unable to hide their admiration for the Western hemisphere's longest and most vicious dictator or for his brother Raul Castro, the new unelected despot.

Perhaps they still see the Castro brothers through some sort of 1960s psychedelic kaleidoscope, or they cling to the dream of a people's revolution, even when the revolution betrayed the people a long time ago. Perhaps it is their deeply rooted hatred of this country that makes some people admire Fidel and Raul.

You rarely hear them speak about the plight of the Cuban people, but for defying the United States for more than a half century, they think Fidel is a superstar.

They abhorred South Africa's apartheid, but they go to Cuba and stay in hotels, swim at beaches, shop in stores, and eat in restaurants that are off-limits to the Cuban people. They supported the Haitian embargo, but they insist on lifting the Cuban embargo without getting any freedom concessions from the Castro regime.

You don't hear them calling for free elections or the release of dissidents. The Castro brothers could be rounding up dissidents or allowing an inmate to die of hunger or driving people to become food for the sharks. But in this country, the so-called "progressive" people choose to wear horse blinders. To them, only right-wing dictators are bad.

Perhaps one the best illustrations of this kind of warped mentality came from extreme-left comedian and political commentator Bill Maher, who went out of his way on his HBO show last week to demean the Cuban-Americans who were offended by Guillen's remarks.

Objecting to a statement release by the Marlins, where the team readily admits that, "The pain and suffering caused by Fidel Castro cannot be minimized," Maher said "the problem with Castro's evilness isn't it being minimized, (but) it's being exaggerated." And then, without any evidence to make that claim, he listed all the other dictatorships he thinks are worse than Cuba's.

According to Maher's vicious emission of excrement, Cuban-Americans simply have to shut up and take it because if we don't let Guillen and him insult us, we would be behaving just like Castro.

"If you say something Communists don't like, they take away your job and send you to a re-education camp until you come out with the one approved opinion," Maher said. "We wouldn't want to have that happen here in America. Oh, no, we have the First Amendment. If we give up freedom of speech, we could end up looking just like Cuba, and that would be a living hell because they get free health care."

His idiotic attempts to be funny at the expense of the suffering of others are as repulsive as his constant mocking of anyone who believes in God. Taking cheap shots at people's most sensitive emotions appears to be his specialty.

But still, one has to wonder why these so-called progressive people can so easily forget that the First Amendment also gives Cuban-Americans the right to protest against Guillen, boycott the Marlins and switch the channel when we see Bill Maher's face.

All over the Americas, people who once succumbed to dictators are now choosing their leaders in free elections. And all over the world, people who once suffered the repression of communism are rejoicing in their freedom. But in the United States, textbook socialists — those who go to Havana on revolutionary vacations and shut their eyes to the dissatisfaction of the Cuban people — are still romanticizing a over a regime that outlasted and became harsher than the dictatorship it replaced.

They know nothing about Cuban history. And yet they refuse to acknowledge that before Castro took power in 1959, Cuba was light years ahead of where it is today. In terms of education, literacy, medical care, agriculture, calorie consumption, per-capita income, and technological development, Cuba was one of the most advanced nations in the Americas. And it still would be, had it not been for Castro.

All these "useful fools" have to do is read a 1958 encyclopedia. They live in this bastion of freedom of information but choose to believe Cuba's propaganda machine — which portrays pre-Castro Cuba as a backward nation and blames all of Castro's failures on the U.S. economic embargo against the island.

Luckily, their time is running out. Castro admirers are becoming the dinosaurs of the 21st century — an endangered species trying to prevent its inevitable extinction.

But let's face it: If they still are in love with Fidel Castro, instead of Marlins Park, they really belong in Jurassic Park.

To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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