A couple of years ago I gave a speech in the Cayman Islands and my son accompanied me on the trip. On the day of our arrival, we had lunch at the hotel’s outside café, and it was especially enjoyable because our waitress was an intelligent, pretty young lady with an engaging personality.
She introduced herself as Solana, and because she was so nice and outgoing, we hit it off with her right away. She explained that she was a Cuban citizen and that she was in the Caymans on a work visa. That surprised me because, at the time, I had no idea that Cuba allowed any of its citizens to work in foreign countries.
Without giving it a thought, I jokingly asked her, “Gosh, you’re not a communist, are you?” Instantly, her beautiful smile turned to a cold, somber expression and she replied in a terse tone, “I don’t like to discuss politics.” Her response took me aback. Just like that, this charming, vivacious young lady turned into a foreign agent right out of a James Bond movie.
Over the next few days, my son talked to Solana quite a bit, and I was hopeful that something serious might come of it. Unfortunately, it was not to be. But in their first conversation, she apologized for being rude to his father (I didn’t consider it to be rude, just interesting) and reiterated that she just didn’t like to get involved in political discussions.
Unfortunately, my son finally lost touch with her, but I’ve never forgotten that tense exchange during our initial meeting at the hotel in Grand Cayman. To me, it underscored what it must be like to live in Cuba.
About a year and a half after that encounter in the Caymans, Fidel mercifully took his last breath, and as soon as I heard the good news, Solana came to mind. I had to believe she was smiling, at least on the inside. But to the extent she heard left-wing apologists praise Castro, she must have been saddened.
Geraldo Rivera is a good example of what the Radical Left’s useful idiots had to say about Castro’s death. Though I admit to having gone out of my way to avoid watching him over the years, I’ve seen enough of him to be able to say that the man never ceases to amaze me with his indefensibly ignorant comments.
Thus, it didn’t surprise me when, on Hannity, he described Fidel Castro as a “towering historic figure.” At one point, Geraldo emphasized that it was beyond dispute that Castro was a charismatic leader. I can’t disagree with him on that. Oh, and by the way, so was Adolf Hitler. In fact, Hitler was the most charismatic leader of the 20th century. The man was absolutely mesmerizing, but in between his wild rants, he found time to slaughter millions of innocent people.
My point is that Castro’s charisma is irrelevant. The man was a mass murderer, a kleptomaniac, and an unabashed suppressor of human rights, and that’s how he should be remembered. How well I remember him having Cuban citizens whom he judged to be enemies of the revolution tied to trees and murdered in cold blood by revolutionary firing squads. I wonder if Geraldo found those images to be “charismatic.”
In trying to make the case that Castro was sadly misunderstood, Geraldo went on to say, “I think it’s very easy to have a simplistic view that he was all awful for Cuba and the world and I just don’t think that’s accurate. I think the Cubans have a tremendous sense of pride over his legacy.” He went on to say that “I think he will be remembered fondly. … There are aspects of what he left behind that I think will be remembered.”
The one thing I can’t argue with is that there are aspects of what he left behind that will be remembered. Just ask any of the more than 1.5 million Cuban-Americans who live in South Florida. These are people who saw their friends and relatives imprisoned, tortured, and executed … saw their family businesses stolen by the Cuban government … and who escaped their island prison in dangerous, makeshift boats, leaving most of their possessions behind, in an effort to reach Florida and start a new life in a foreign country. Sadly, many never made it.
Geraldo’s opinions don’t mean much, as he’s finally on his way out at Fox News, where he has long been relegated to token appearances. But what is now a fixture in our wannabe socialist culture are millions of college students who buy into the absurd fiction that communist dictatorships are utopias.
If I were a Cuban-American who lost family members — or most of my possessions — during Castro’s reign of terror, I would be very angry at apologists like Geraldo. After more than sixty years of oppressing an entire nation, Fidel is glorified as a “towering figure” in world history?
These left-wing apologists seem to have no concern at all for the family members who were lost and the wealth that was stolen from millions of Cubans. Nor do they have any feelings for the lost years of those who have lived under Castro’s oppressive regime for more than sixty years.
With Geraldo’s glowing praise of the deceased Cuban tyrant, he fell right into line with Comrade Obama and his socialist allies throughout Europe and around the world, most of whom had nothing but kind words for the Western Hemisphere’s most notorious mass murderer. In some cases, the words of journalists and foreign leaders were nothing short of outright gushing praise for the leader who brought mass poverty and tyranny to his country.
The reason every communist regime in history has brought death, enslavement, and economic disaster to its people is because communism is a political and economic system that was conceived in failure. Plain and simple, it defies human nature. People — all people — seek to better their existence, and it takes the brute force of a Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, or Fidel Castro to suppress that instinct.
When people are punished for producing, they simply stop producing. It’s not at all complicated. Russians discovered this simple truth the hard way. Within a few years after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, conditions were so bad in Russia that Lenin was on the verge of being confronted with a counter-revolution.
To ward it off, he invited Western capitalists in to help industrialize the Soviet Union. And, sadly, many major U.S. corporations played the role of useful idiots and accommodated Lenin, thus saving him from his own communist system.
Like other communist countries, it’s a virtual certainty that Cuba will increasingly implement reforms that will move it more and more in the direction of freedom and free markets. And, as in most other communist countries that have collapsed under the weight of an unworkable system, Raul, like big brother Fidel, will quietly die and be praised by socialist dictators and liberal heads of state around the world.
Once Cuba embraces capitalism and a democratic political system, I’d love to have the opportunity to ask Solana the same question, and I’ll bet this time she would smile instead of frown and be perfectly willing to give her opinion of communism. Having worked at a beautiful resort hotel in the Caribbean and grown up in a prison-state like Cuba, you can bet she knows full well that communism is an anti-liberty system.