February 19, 2008

Rejoice, Rejoice

Fidel Castro's resignation is something that all right thinking people should rejoice about. Whilst the rest of Latin America has gradually cast off the tyrants of earlier years- Pinochet and Peron are no more- and come to democracy, Cuba has been isolated in its perpetuation of a dictatorial system. Perhaps the day of Cuban liberty is still far off- Raul Castro may continue his brother's repression indeed he almost certainly will- but this is one sign that the Castro dynasty may be ending. Its vital that all friends of liberty turn their thoughts now to what happens after the monstrous dictators are removed and how we can help Cuba accomplish the transition towards what, for most of the continent is becoming the norm, Democracy.


Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Well rid of the monster, that's so.

Vino S said...

Crooked Timber has what i think is a good article up on Cuba: http://crookedtimber.org/2008/02/19/castro-retires/

I strongly suspect that the volume of US outrage over Cuba - compared to other dictatorships that they got on swimmingly with - is because it is an area of the world where multinationals can't operate and it is a South American government that follows a different foreign policy to them.

I suspect that even if post-1959 Cuba was democratic, it would have faced attempts to overthrow it and replace it with a right-wing dictatorship. The examples of Arbenez in Guatemala, Goulart in Brazil, Allende in Chile and the attempted coup against Chavez in 2002 suggest this would have been the case.

Gracchi said...

Vino that the US doesn't behave responsibly in South America doesn't excuse the fact that Cuba is a dictatorship with an apalling human rights record. Indeed the two questions are separate.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that they are totally separate questions. One of the reasons why I would argue that Cuba turned out the way it is is that the US government has been continuously trying to overthrow the regime.

I hardly think that if Britain was regularly embargoed, threatened and had been - within living memory - attacked by forces supported by the neighbouring superpower we would have as many civil liberties as we do now.

Yes, there is much to be disappointed in in the way things are in Cuba. But there is also much to be proud of. In many ways, i think it is better to be poor in Cuba than in any of the pro-American regimes in the West Indies.



Gracchi said...

Vino the point about America is a convenient excuse for the Cuban government. Its too easy to say that the nation is in peril therefore we need dictatorship- that argument has always been used to justify tyranny and very few times can it be shown to be right.

As to the point about being poor. I don't know the validity of this data but it doesn't surprise me that Cuba could actually be much worse than we typically think at helping the poor. As Dave Osler said "for most ordinary Cubans, life is pretty damn grim. I saw that for myself two years ago, when I spent four weeks in an ordinary home in Havana while studying Spanish. Even such basic foodstuffs as rice are rationed. Water supplies are sporadic, and power cuts regular occurrences. The housing stock is badly run down. Many everyday items are simply unobtainable."

I'm pretty sure that dictatorship is always objectionable and that apologies for it are pure sophistry.

Vino S said...

Henry, at the risk of repeating what I have just written in response to your comment on my blog, I am not denying the state is a dictatorship - I am just pointing out that there are many worse dictatorships and that one of the factors contributing to the Cuban dictatorship is a state of siege.

I didn't say life wasn't hard for Cubans - what i said was it is probably less bad being poor in Cuba than in one of the pro-American regimes in the West Indies.

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Gracchi said...

But Vino I'm not evaluating those regimes. All I'm asking is that you give an unqualified condemnation of this regime- I don't see why you can't. It isn't relevant to the fact that Castro was odious that loads of other people were odious too- just as it isn't relevant to Hitler that Stalin existed at the same time. Its a really simple issue and you are clouding it by equivocating.

Anonymous said...

Well, it does concern me that there isn't a free media and a free press in Cuba. Is that the 'condemnation' you wanted to hear?

I am not going to issue a blanket condemnation of all the government has done since 1959, though. A lot of it was quite good. The one things that's bad is that people can't vote it out if they want.

Vino [sorry didn't sign it as am in a bit of a rush]

Gracchi said...

Yes but I do think that the dictatorship outweighs those other things. Trains running on time is nothing to suppression of free speech and democratic civic rights.

Anonymous said...

Vilno do you agree it's a good thing that Castro has resigned, and would have been a good thing if he'd not been a dictator for more than a decade say.

this is separate from whether our approve of his health policies act (e.g. putting homosexuals and aids sufferers in concentration camps act) I by and large disapprove of them but you can approve of them whilst still disliking his regime.

In other words regardless of individual policies that you approve of do you think it was a bad thing his been doctor for the last 40 years yes or no?

imagine you approve of aspects of Hitler’s employment policy but i'm sure that would not

Might a more plausible explanation of why the Americans were so anti Castro be that he tried to start a nuclear war in which millions of Americans would have got killed?

Ironically my main problem with the post is an aide i think Peron's relationship to democracy is more complicated than the original post suggests- he was after all overthrown by a dictatorial coup and in that respect his record is more like Allende- an illiberal elected by democratic means , than Castro . And Pinochet for all his faults handed over to a democracy ran by his opponents- when he lost a plebisite something Castro has very very noticeably not done despite having power for much longer!

regards edmund

Anonymous said...

A couple of points, in response to what Henry said, I do think that you can point to positive achievements of the regime. I do not necessarily think that being a dictatorship outweighs them - especially when the previous regime wasn't one [i.e. it is not like Batista's was a democratic regime]. I am more concerned with when a democracy is overthrown by a dictatorial regime than when a dictatorship is.

The other point I would like to make - that none of you have picked up on - is that plenty of democratic regimes have themselves been overthrown by CIA connivance with local elites. And so, i think the US would still hate the Cuban regime even if it was more democratic. If I recall correctly, the US turned against Castro when he tried to nationalise United Fruit - and then only he turned to the USSR. You seem to be ignoring all these points just to make polemical points where you are demanding people condemn the Cuban regime out of hand. I don't see you posting equivalent posts about other dictatorial regimes in the world that often.

Edmund, re your point, I am not bothered so much by the time of Castro's resignation. I am more bothered by concern that - what will end up happening - is there will be an implosion of the status quo and neo-liberalism will be inflicted on the population.

Anonymous said...

So Vilno you support castro Dictatroship that's clear now? or at least when the alternative is "neoliberalism" no political prisinors ect

plenty of regimes nationalized industyr (e.g the Saudis or the Chilean Christan Democrats) without making the Us hostile- Castro tried to get american nuked it's unsuprisingly they stayed hostile.

Those dicatortships that were anti-Soviet in Latin AMerica were susceptible enough to US pressure they have become (often very flawed) democracies .It's no coincidance that the one the US opposed is the one still there- US influence generally promotes Democracy rather than retards it-and Cuba vs the rest of Latin America is one of the best illustrations

And what's the horror's of "neo-liberalism" that justify a dictatorship? That Cuban income might come closer to the top of the Latin American hiararchy rather than near the bottom? That people will be allowed to run agianst their govermment?

Since the UK is more "neoliberal" in it's regime than any Latin AMerican nation bar Chile http://www.heritage.org/Index/topten.cfm would you like a castro to take over here?