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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 12/3/16

I'm Colombo: "Just One More Thing About Fidel Castro"

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The western mainstream media continues to attack, demonize, and smear one of the most accomplished political and revolutionary leaders of the 20th Century. Fidel Castro Ruiz, the former President of Cuba, recently died at the ripe old age of 90 years much to the elation of crude peasant-minded Cuban e'migre's in Florida's "Little Havana," and other like-minded peons in Europe and elsewhere. In a rush to embellish history, mouthpieces for these most backward and subjective elements and sections of the "Cuban opposition" continued the unrelenting characterization of the Cuban revolutionary leader alternatively as "a tyrant and as dictator." The flimsy offered "proofs" points to a self-sustaining, self-reassuring, process that is more designed to convince themselves that they are right than the validity or credence of their spurious claims and assumptions

Permit me therefore to use only TWO things that happened under Fidel Castro's watch and juxtapose them with the so-called "free and enlightened" west, in the context of social progress. So let me first start with the ticklish and oftentimes rancid issue of gay rights. Here in America the struggle for gay rights was and still is an exceedingly contentious one. Only recently, under America's first Black president, that gay rights were recognized and embraced, much to the chagrin of the religious community. Indeed, there is some credence to the fact that Bible Belt, born-again Christians, in the Deep Red South bolted into the arms of Donald Trump because of Hillary Clinton's support for gay rights equating her stance with that of Barack Obamas.

Now let us look at Cuba where a so-called "tyrant" ruled and who was born into a staunch Roman Catholic Church family.

The United States and its western allies have long accused the Castro regime of persecuting gays after the triumph of Cuban Revolution at a time when Roman Catholicism was dominant at ALL levels of Caribbean and Latin American society, and when homosexuality was equated with ungodliness, "devilish" activities. So at that time gays were persecuted in Cuba. There is also no doubt that LGBT rights were non-existent in Cuba in the sixties and for most of the seventies, just as they were throughout much of the world, including the United States.

However, homosexuality was decriminalized in Cuba in 1979. In the United States, presumably more enlightened and not a dictatorship, same-sex sexual activity was only made legal in 2003 after a bitter and still protracted struggle. But let me take this further: It is also worth noting that today homosexuality is criminalized in Saudi Arabia - where it is punishable by death -- a close ally of both the United Kingdom and the United States. Moreover, Saudi Arabia is a society in which women are devalued, are treated as disposable chattel, and people are routinely beheaded for relatively simple infarctions.

The simple truth is that the existence of homophobia in Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean, predated Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution by about five centuries. It was entrenched as part of the cultural values of Cuban society, indeed the cultural values throughout the region courtesy of the Catholic Church. Fidel Castro grew up with that as some of his cultural and religious values, but to his credit he later renounced them, awakening to the justice of gay and lesbian rights. Today, as Cubans still mourn his death, his own niece, Mariela Castro, plays an active role in the Cuban LGBT community, leading the country's annual gay pride parade in Havana last year.

Now let's talk torture. The Cuban government is always accused of torturing its people for one reason or the other. But such quixotic outbursts again are attempts to obfuscate where the real torture and violation of human rights takes place in Cuba -- Guantanamo Bay. It is here at a United States detention facility that Habeas Corpus does not exist, prisoners have been held without charge for over 15 years now, where torture has been used as a method of interrogation, something substantiated by statements from released prisoners, and where people are held in a facility without access to legal representation. The United States has therefore lost the moral right to accuse Cuba or ANY other nation of the very things of which it's guilty.

Indeed, the valid point to keep in mind when it comes to Cuba and its state of development is that countries and societies do not exist on blank pieces of paper. In so-called emerging nations (Third World) development cannot be separated from the real life struggles against huge obstacles placed in their way by long and sustained histories of rabid colonialism, neo-colonialism, and imperialism, responsible for retarding and deforming their growth and progress in service to the exploitation of their human and natural resources.

For me the legitimacy of the Cuban Revolution lies in its survival in the face of a most petty, punitive, brutal and unjust US blockade, designed solely to starve the country to its knees for daring to refuse to be slaves of global capital. The countries in Cuba's orbit that succumbed and bowed down to the American "Big Stick" model have little to show for it -- look at Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the indictment of social and economic failures wrought by United States intervention and control are evident and present in stark reality.

Fidel Castro was no dictator. Part of this legacy is that he dedicated his entire life to resisting Washington's dictatorship of the Third World. Moreover, as a result of the Cuban Revolution the "right" to be homeless, illiterate, and to go without healthcare no longer exists in Cuba as it does in America today. Fidel Castro was no angel or paradigm of correctness. He was fallible. But I will challenge anyone who can name me just one, only one, 20th century leader who instituted, defended and promoted the most fundamental human rights of all -- the right to be educated, to healthcare that is free at the point of need, and the right to live with dignity and pride in being the citizen of a small island that has stood over decades as a beacon of justice in an ocean of injustice.

This then, is the truth, it is the reason 'they' despise him. Fidel Castro was a towering historical figure that subscribed to the notion that "Cubans must go forward on their feet and not their knees." So to those attempting to rewrite history by creating a cavalier, nonchalant carnival atmosphere over the death of a hero -- with clowns and all -- I'll say this for Fidel: "History Will Absolve Him." The Cuban people have already exposed the lie of the "dictator" by coming out in the millions, not only to pay their last respects, but also to show the world that they will forever remember, love and respect 'El Comandante'.


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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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