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Sunday, December 4, 2016

'Useful Idiots' The Uncovered Horrors of Castro's Totalitarian Regime

In her 2003 book conservative writer Mona Charen offered an excellent juxtaposition of the horrors of the island prison Fidel Castro established with the fawning treatment he received from American journalists

Written after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening of the archives of the once totalitarian Eastern Bloc, Charen’s book establishes the foolish and naive thinking that Western liberalsincluding many journalists — employed in their attempt to sugarcoat the realities of communism, including in Cuba.
NewsBusters has already published, with video, a package containing some of the worst quotes from the past 30 years; the latest edition of Notable Quotables includes the worst of the liberal media’s eulogies for the Cuban dictator since his death was announced November 25.
But Charen’s book offers many details about the gruesome realities of living in these communist police states, underscoring how utterly indefensible it was — and still is — for the liberal media to credulously cite Cuban government propaganda as fact.
BEGIN excerpt:
Soon after Castro took power in Havana, labor leaders and newspaper editors (including those who had vigorously opposed [ousted dictator Fulgencio] Batista) were exiled or arrested. Religious schools and universities were closed.

Poets, artists, and intellectuals who did not acknowledge that “the revolution is all; everything else is nothing” were persecuted. Many left the country, others were imprisoned. Torture, malnutrition, and execrable living conditions characterized Castro’s jails. Prisoners were tortured with sleep deprivation (a Soviet import), beatings, denial of medical attention, being forced to climb a flight of stairs with weighted shoes and then being thrown down the stairs to climb again, and exposure to extreme heat. Almost as if taking a leaf from George Orwell’s 1984, the Communists would sometimes play upon their prisoners’ phobias. A woman with a fear of insects was placed in a cell infested with cockroaches.
Cuba has been an island prison since 1959, but living conditions plunged even further after the demise of the Soviet Union. Without the USSR’s infusion of $6 billion per year, ordinary Cubans have endured a downward spiral. As Richard Grenier reported after a visit during the early 1990s:
Cubans have no soap, no detergent, no cooking oil... hardly any meat, or chicken or fish... [and] only one tiny loaf of bread a day. Absolutely everything is rationed, and just because your ration book says you’re entitled to something doesn’t mean much. Stores are empty. Electrical power has been cut by half. Cuba has blackouts, no air conditioning, no night baseball, no gasoline for busses, almost no cars, and few bicycles. Oxen till the fields. Even new windmills have broken down for lack of spare parts. It’s been many years since Cuban women have had sanitary napkins. They use rags.
Still, when the NBC Today show with hosts Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric visited Cuba in 1992, they mouthed some of the chirpy nonsense that has always characterized liberal views of Cuba. Ms. Couric made approving noises about the “terrific health-care system” and praised the standard of living as “very high for a Third World country.” In point of fact, Cuba’s standard of living fell relative to other Caribbean nations after Castro’s coup. A nation that had been among the wealthiest in Latin America took its place among the poorest. The people of Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Colombia enjoyed higher standards of living than Cubans.
Writing in the Washington Post, assistant foreign news editor Don Podesta opined that:
If nothing else, the Cuban revolution has eliminated abject need. The cost may be generalized poverty and zero political pluralism, but, even with shortages, there is no starvation here. Education and medical care are assured for all. And unlike in most of Latin America, you don’t see naked or even shoeless children in the streets. When Castro speaks of the need to defend the gains of the revolution, he means a level of social welfare rare in the underdeveloped world.
Time magazine’s Cathy Booth chimed in with, “Young Cubans increasingly see themselves as the last idealists in a world that cares only about money.... Ninety miles away in Miami, Cuban émigrés wish for Fidel’s imminent collapse, but the island’s university students who volunteer to take a two-week ‘vacation’ in the fields don’t see trouble brewing in Paradise.”
Another example: Kathleen Sullivan, the host of CBS This Morning, told millions of Americans in 1988 that “Now half of the Cuban population is under the age of twenty-five, mostly Spanish speaking, and all have benefited from Castro’s where their health and their education are priorities.” On another occasion Sullivan mentioned Cuba’s “model health care system.” Peter Jennings quite often found reasons to praise Cuba. In 1989, as the rest of the communist world was reaching eager hands toward freedom, Jennings continued to laud the “accomplishments” of Castro’s Cuba. “Medical care was once for the privileged few,” Jennings told ABC viewers, “today it is available to every Cuban and it is free. Some of Cuba’s health care is world class. In heart disease, for example, in brain surgery. Health and education are the revolution’s great success stories.”
This canard has been repeated more often than the notion that Mussolini made the trains run on time. But when Castro goes, the truth will come out. The vaunted Cuban health care system will be revealed for what it is: a two-tiered system in which the elites, party members, Castro’s inner circle, and cash-paying “health tourists” from Europe and elsewhere receive quality care whereas the ordinary Cuban settles for long waiting lists, poor supplies, shortages of necessary medicines, and crumbling clinics.
The credulity of American reporters in Cuba — even to the present day — is staggering. They accept, at face value, the government’s claims about health and literacy. But as we have seen in the case of the Soviet Union, Communist governments do not just inflate their statistics, they invent them.
In 2000, ABC correspondent Cynthia McFadden offered this account of a Havana second grade classroom:
Part of what the children talked about was their fear of the United States and how they felt that they didn’t want to come to the United States because it was a place where they kidnap children, a direct reference of course, to Elian Gonzalez. The children also said that the United States was just a place where there was money and money wasn’t what was important. I should mention, Peter, that... as you talk about the global community, Cuba is a place because of the small numbers of computers here — in the classrooms we visited yesterday there were certainly no computers and almost no paper that we could see — this is a place where the children’s role models and their idols are not the baseball players or Madonna or pop stars. Their role models are engineers and teachers and librarians — which is who all the children we spoke to yesterday said they wanted to be.
If some hint of scorn might be detected about the indoctrination that these kids had obviously endured on the subject of Yanqui kidnapping, it was muted. (Elian Gonzalez, of course, was not kidnapped, but fled to the United States with his mother.) The American audience was expected to accept that, in contrast to the crass American adulation of pop stars and athletes, Cuban children spontaneously express their admiration fo engineers, teachers, and librarians. This is a hardy perennial. In the 1930s, it was said that Soviet workers spontaneously hailed “Stakhanovite” workers. (Alexei Stakhanov was a Russian coal miner who supposedly performed great feats of productivity. Stalin used him as a model for all Soviet workers. As it turned out, the Stakhanov story was a fraud. No surprise there.) As for the shortage of computers and even paper — well, “money isn’t what’s important,” though if Ms. McFadden were reporting on an American school (or a school in a nation allied with the U.S.) Found to be so ill equipped, it would surely have been reported as a scandal, not as evidence of a more enlightened, nonmaterialistic ethic.
Jennings added his own benediction. “From the Cuban point of view, as everybody knows I guess, education and participation in the Third World are very much what Cuba has stood for, at least in the developing world.” On April 3, 1989, Jennings summed up Castro’s thirty years of dictatorship by declaring, “Castro has delivered the most to those who had the least. And for much of the Third World, Cuba is actually a model of development....Education was once available to the rich and the well-connected; it is now free to all. On January 1, 1959, when the Cuban dictator [Fulgencio] Batista left the country for good, only a third of the population could read and write. Today the literacy rate is 97 percent.”

Jennings comfortably identified Batista as a dictator, but somehow that word has never crossed his lips regarding the man who has held power for forty-four years without an election. Jennings, like so many others who ought to know better, continues to accept uncritically the official government statistics provided by the Castro regime.
END of excerpt.
Castro's funeral is tomorrow, giving the news media one last chance to get it right on Cuba and the horrors of the totalitarian regime on America's doorstep.

Excerpt from 'Useful Idiots': Exposing the Liberal Media’s Soft Spot for a Communist Tyrant By Rich Noyes | December 3, 2016 

Useful Idiots: How Liberals Got it Wrong in the Cold War and Still Blame America First(Regnery Publishing)

Fidel’s Flatterers: The U.S. Media’s Decades of Cheering Castro’s Communism Rich Noyes | November 26, 2016

Notable Quotables Special Edition: Fawning Over Fidel Geoffrey Dickens | December 2, 2016

The Longest Romance: The Mainstream Media and Fidel June 4, 2013 Humberto Fontova 

Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant February 25, 2005 Humberto Fontova

Fidel Castro, Enemy of Human Rights BY: KARINA MARTÍN - NOV 26, 2016


During his nearly five decades of rule in Cuba, Fidel Castro built a repressive system that punished virtually all forms of dissent, a dark legacy that lives on even after his death.

During Castro’s rule, thousands of Cubans were incarcerated in abysmal prisons, thousands more were harassed and intimidated, and entire generations were denied basic political freedoms. Cuba made improvements in health and education, though many of these gains were undermined by extended periods of economic hardship and by repressive policies.
“As other countries in the region turned away from authoritarian rule, only Fidel Castro’s Cuba continued to repress virtually all civil and political rights,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “Castro’s draconian rule and the harsh punishments he meted out to dissidents kept his repressive system rooted firmly in place for decades.”
The repression was codified in law and enforced by security forces, groups of civilian sympathizers tied to the state, and a judiciary that lacked independence. Such abusive practices generated a pervasive climate of fear in Cuba, which hindered the exercise of fundamental rights, and pressured Cubans to show their allegiance to the state while discouraging criticism.
Many of the abusive tactics developed during his time in power – including surveillance, beatings, arbitrary detention, and public acts of repudiation – are still used by the Cuban government.
Castro came to power in 1959 after leading a revolution that toppled the corrupt and abusive government of Fulgencio Batista. He ruled by decree until 1976, when a new constitution – whose drafting he oversaw – reformed the structure of the government. From that time until he transferred power to his brother Raúl in July 2006, Fidel Castro held all three of the most powerful positions in Cuba’s government: president of the Council of State, president of the Council of Ministers, and first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. Fidel Castro did not officially relinquish his title as president of the councils of state and ministers until February 2008, and stepped down as first secretary on April 19, 2011.
Cuba made important advances under Castro in the progressive realization of some economic, social, and cultural rights such as education and healthcare. For example, UNESCO has concluded that there is near-universal literacy on the island, and the country either met the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that the UN established in 2000, or came close by the 2015 deadline.
The progress on economic, social, and cultural rights was never matched in terms of respect for civil and political rights. The denial of fundamental freedoms throughout Castro’s decades in power was unrelenting, and marked by periods of heightened repression, such as the 2003 crackdown on 75 human rights defenders, journalists, trade unionists, and other critics of the government. Accused of being “mercenaries” of the United States government, the individuals were summarily tried in closed hearings. Many served years in inhumane prisons, where they were subjected to extended solitary confinement and beatings, and denied basic medical care for serious ailments. More than 50 of the remaining prisoners were released after Fidel Castro handed over power to his brother, most on the condition that they accept exile to Spain.
Under Fidel Castro, the Cuban government refused to recognize the legitimacy of Cuban human rights organizations, alternative political parties, independent labor unions, or a free press. He also denied international monitors such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and international nongovernmental organizations like Human Rights Watch access to the island to investigate human rights conditions.
Efforts by the US government during Castro’s rule to press for change in Cuba repeatedly failed. In the 1960s, those efforts took the form of covert military action to unseat Castro, including the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, and multiple botched assassination attempts. President Dwight Eisenhower established the embargo in 1960, which was later expanded by President John F Kennedy and eventually locked in place by the 1996 Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act. Also known as “Helms-Burton,” the law prohibits the US president from lifting trade restrictions until Cuba has legalized political activity and made a commitment to free and fair elections. It also prohibits lifting the embargo as long as Fidel or Raúl Castro remains in office.
The embargo imposed indiscriminate hardship on the Cuban population as a whole, and has done nothing to improve the situation of human rights in Cuba. Rather than isolating Cuba, the policy isolated the US. Castro proved especially adept at using the embargo to garner sympathy abroad, while at the same time exploiting it as a pretext to repress legitimate efforts to reform Cuba from within, dismissing them as US-driven and -funded initiatives.
In December 2014, President Barack Obama began a long-overdue shift in US policy, announcing that the US would normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba and ease restrictions on travel and commerce, calling on Congress to consider lifting the embargo. In exchange, the government of Raúl Castro granted conditional release to the 53 political prisoners that it had been holding for between two months and two years.
Nevertheless, the Orwellian laws that allowed their imprisonment – and the imprisonment of thousands before them – remain on the books, and the Cuban government continues to repress individuals and groups who criticize the government or call for basic human rights. Arbitrary arrests and short-term detention routinely prevent human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others from gathering or moving freely. Detention is often used pre-emptively to prevent people from participating in peaceful marches or political meetings.
The two governments restored diplomatic relations in July 2015. In March, President Obama visited Cuba, where he met with President Raúl Castro, as well as with representatives of Cuban civil society. Obama gave a nationally televised address and joint press conference with Castro in which he urged the Cuban government to lift restrictions on political freedoms and reiterated his call for the US Congress to end the economic embargo of the island.
“For decades, Fidel Castro was the chief beneficiary of a misguided US policy that allowed him to play the victim and discouraged other governments from condemning his repressive policies,” Vivanco said. “While the embargo remains in place, the Obama administration’s policy of engagement has changed the equation, depriving the Cuban government of its main pretext for repressing dissent on the island.”

Cuba: Fidel Castro’s Record of Repression NOVEMBER 26, 2016

There’s perhaps no more grizzly atrocity committed by Fidel Castro than the firing squads which he implemented. Beginning as a rebel, before he would eventually take power in Cuba, Fidel Castro used firing squad executions to enforce discipline, punish followers deemed disloyal or intimidate potential opposition. At the beginning of the Castro regime there was a reign of terror typical of revolutions in which the firing squad was used prominently but the executions continued for decades.

The Cuba Archive which documents deaths and disappearances resulting from Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution has documented 3,615 firing squad executions conducted by the Cuban state since Castro took over on January 1, 1959.

Opponents of the death penalty should be horrified at the amount of death Fidel Castro and his accomplices have directly caused. It’s important to note that in Revolutionary Cuba there are none of the due process guarantees found in a western-style democracy. Most of Castro’s firing squad victims were afforded only a perfunctory show trial the outcome of which was predetermined, some didn’t even get that. 

The Castro brothers have also used firing squads more recently. In the summer of 1989 the Castro regime arrested Cuban Army General Arnaldo Ochoa and several other officers. They were charged with drug trafficking. Within a few weeks Ochoa and three others were dead at the hands of a Castro firing squad. The trial was a farce in which Ochoa was forced to confess (video here). Many believe the real crime committed by Ochoa and others charged was disloyalty since Cuba was a known transshipment point for illegal drugs for years and it is highly unlikely that the Castro brothers were unaware of it and not profiting from it.
In April 2003 Fidel Castro’s government executed 3 men who hijacked a ferry boat in an attempt to escape Cuba. They were sentenced to death and killed by firing squad less than two weeks after the alleged crime was committed.

Fidel Castro’s greatest atrocities and crimes

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