August 29, 2003


Cuba rocks so hard, according to Labour MP Brian Wilson:

Cuba's primary service to the world has been to provide living proof that it is possible to conquer poverty, disease and illiteracy in a country that was grossly over-familiar with all three. That is a pretty big service. The fact that it has been delivered in the face of sustained hostility from an obsessive neighbour makes it all the more stunning.

The fact that people keep trying to escape to that obsessive neighbour is even more more more stunning.

I have now had half a dozen such sessions with Castro. He talks a lot but then he has a lot to talk about. He is a man with an unquenchable thirst for ...

Murder? Torture? Brutality?

... knowledge.


Cuba's problems are immense. Socialism in one country is still a contradiction in terms. For those who go to Havana only in order to sneer, there are political paradoxes on every street corner. All true, all the inevitable product of 40 years of siege, but also all irrelevant to the bigger picture of what Cuba represents as a symbol of human potential.

The potential for dumb tyranny in pursuit of a poisonous ideal. Yay Cuba.

Posted by Tim Blair at August 29, 2003 04:53 AM

"Cuba's primary service to the world has been to provide living proof that it is possible to conquer poverty, disease and illiteracy in a country that was grossly over-familiar with all three."

And with the entire economy consisting of sex tourism, to boot!

Castro is the world's biggest pimp. That is his legacy-- the mack daddy of socialism.

Posted by: Mike G at August 29, 2003 at 05:07 AM

If I may….

I posed this question over at Brothers Judd, and I’ll share it with you now. It’s a great one to pose to nitwits like this Wilson, and I encourage everyone to put the question in people’s faces, not least because I would just LOVE to hear at least one serious crack at answering it. I have yet to hear such a thing.

The very simple question is…. assuming all it true and wonderful about Fidel’s paradise, and given that the same has also been said about other such socialist nirvanas…. WHY is it absolutely MANDATORY that such societies be headed by ONE GUY, for ever and ever and ever, until he dies, without any discussion of succession or an alternative leader? I mean, WHY will this “literacy”, “lack of poverty”, “lack of disease”, etc all vanish overnight if, God forbid, the Great Leader should choose to retire? Why is it self-evident that all these good things can NOT happen if it is not for this kind of leadership structure? Because it is self-evidently mandatory for such a society, because we never ever EVER see it done differently.

So why is this?

This is a serious question that I genuinely want to hear at least a rational attempt at answering. I doubt there are many Castro supporters in this blog, but I encourage everyone to pose this question at every opportunity. It’s a great show-stopper for idiotarians.

Posted by: Andrew X at August 29, 2003 at 05:15 AM

Andrew X, I don't really understand the question. I don't see what a regime being headed by one guy has to do with it being socialist or otherwise. That's just the nature of dictatorships. There are/have been many dictatorships around the world which are not socialist and they are exactly the same.

I guess your question is really "if socialist regimes are so great then why are they all dictatorships?". Well, people tend to regard themselves as more deserving than a lot of their peers and so they won't in general vote for a system which distributes everything equally. Or the shorter answer: socialism is by nature an authoritarian system and so its governments are authoritarian. The central argument of socialism is that people who oppose equal distribution of wealth are acting immorally - amassing wealth is wrong in the same way that, say, assault is wrong. So to a socialist, the authoritarian state is an extension of the justice system; and the question "Why are people dissatisfied with socialism?" is like asking "If capitalism is so great, why do people steal stuff all the time?".

Another serious question: I hear allusions to the "Murder, Torture, Brutality" of Castro, but have never read any of the specifics of what he is supposed to have done. Wikipedia makes reference to "coercion and repression" but that's it. If any readers could point me in the direction of some solid factual history on the subject, that would be appreciated.

Posted by: ChrisV at August 29, 2003 at 05:45 AM

And remember, Castro even passed a law or issued a decree or something that would prevent the Cuban people from ever abandoning Fidelist socialism. That's just delusional, on a par with King Canute ordering the waves to hold back.

Posted by: Mike G at August 29, 2003 at 06:37 AM


The answer to your question, "If capitalism is so great, why do people steal stuff all the time?" is really quite simple - capitalist societies, NOT being repressive, still allow thieving socialists to live within them. Turns out, robbers are actually the most ardent and practial practitioners of socialism. Direct redistribution of wealth from you to them!

As for "solid factual history on the subject" of Castro's brutal repression, seriously, have you ever heard of "books," as they're called? They're these things that people used to "read" before the internet, and they're printed on, like, paper with this dark liquid called ink, and stuff. You won't find actual, physical "books" on the internet like you will find Wikipedia, but you can order them online now. No, really, I'm serious! Just so you don't have to expend precious energy that could otherwise be spent deluding yourself, I'll help kick off your research - go to and type in "Armando Vallardes." Spend a buck on one of his "books" even though it goes into the pockets of the capitalist imperialists. The "book" will arrive through the "mail." Then, you can open it up, and actually read it as if it were on a computer screen, just the way they did in the old days. No, really I'm serious! That should be a good start, if you're willing to actually, you know, like, read and think and stuff.

Posted by: StrongBad at August 29, 2003 at 06:39 AM

[T]here are political paradoxes on every street corner.

Hey, a new euphemism for hookers.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at August 29, 2003 at 07:06 AM

ChrisV: About the Murder, Torture, and Brutality.
Murder: On this page there's murder ("Executions of 3 alleged hijackers")
Torture: Guilty according to this Human Rights Watch report.
Brutality: I would say that would be covered under Torture. But I've got this Reporters without Borders link I might as well use.

I apologize if the links don't go into detail on specific cases, I haven't had time to look through them thoroughly.

"Repression", I'm getting a little annoyed with that word. It kinda sanitizes what Castro is doing. "Sure, there's repression in Cuba, but it's not like he uses bamboo shoots up the fingernails. All he does is throw people in jail for years because they try to start a library. No biggie." (Not a personal attack, ChrisV.)

Posted by: scott h. at August 29, 2003 at 07:07 AM

Any system that will fail unless all other systems are eliminated, is a system that will always fail.

Socialism is one such system, as MP Brian Wilson has thoughtfully reminded us. Only when implemented worldwide, and all capitalist, fascist, and other socioeconomic systems are eliminated, will socialism create a paradise on earth.

As such, socialism will never succeed.

Posted by: Tatterdemalian at August 29, 2003 at 07:09 AM

Citations for Cuba's repression can be found in R.J. Rummel's book "Death by Government" as well as on his website.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at August 29, 2003 at 07:13 AM

Hmmm, although I must admit - in light of scott h's comment - that Dr. Rummel's estimate of Castro's "repression" is a median estimate of 73,000 killed.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at August 29, 2003 at 07:18 AM

ChrisV -

Well, that's as close as a crack at it as I have yet gotten.

But to clarify, my question is not, "If it is so great, why is it authoritarian?".

The question is, "Why is this authoritarianism necessary for say, literacy, just to pick one wonderful accomplishment of Mr. Castro (or is that "Dr. Castro". OOOOOO!) Even assume for a moment that all those allegations of torture, etc, are false..... 43 YEARS, in power, with no end in sight. What the hell is this?

In other words, can Cubans NOT have this socialism, this allocation of resources the benefits "the people", this literacy, this "end of poverty", etc etc, all this AND have some mechanism of succession, some institutional concept that all these wonderful things do NOT depend on that one guy, for ever and ever? A guy who apparently must be either genetically superior, an emisary of a superor race of beings, or the very Son of God Himself. Literally. I mean, what other explanation can ever be for the fact that it must be HIM, HIM, HIM, until death?

Why does "literacy" depend on THAT? Why is Fidel the ONLY creature who can possibly deliver that?
And of course, we are not just talking about Cuba, here. Would that we were. Fidel's supporters are supporters of dictatorships across the board (like Hussein's) and always have been. So why are such dictatorships necessary, repeat necessary, to enact their concept of social "justice"? Set aside wether dictatorships are "immoral". (They are, but set that aside for now.) Why are they necessary to this end?

That is the question on the table.

Posted by: Andrew X at August 29, 2003 at 07:18 AM

Interestingly, Amerika's evil capitalism has done just fine without Castro, but Castro somehow hasn't been able to accomplish much of anything without us.

Go back to singing surfing movies, Brian.

Posted by: Jerry at August 29, 2003 at 07:20 AM

Castro lovers here in the US love to talk about how Fidel brought health care and education to the masses FOR FREE! Actually not free, since the money comes from the govt. budget. But at least the masses don't have to fork money over the counter to make a co-payment, for example.

So Andrew X, here's my question. If the govt. has committed its precious financial resources for universal education and health care, how much would it cost to provide freedom of expression, assembly, and the rule of law? I'll tell you: Absolutely nothing. So, since they'd cost nothing, why doesn't the govt. make it possible for its people to experience them? One of Strongbad's books can provide the answers, but, without reading one, I think it has to do with Castro's brain.

Posted by: Michael at August 29, 2003 at 07:23 AM

Brian Wilson does helpfully include his email address in the article

Hint Hint.

Posted by: ross at August 29, 2003 at 07:30 AM

All true, all the inevitable product of 40 years of siege, but also all irrelevant to the bigger picture of what Cuba represents as a symbol of human potential.

Ola, amigos! Here is what Cuba represents as a symbol of transportation potential. Hope to see you soon in the Worker's Paradise!

Posted by: Tongue Boy at August 29, 2003 at 07:43 AM

Apparently, Castro has spent 40+ years taking out his frustration over his failed baseball career on the Cuban people.


Stupendous gaseous explosion, you hideous troll.

People: don't you know you can lose brain cells by merely inhaling a troll fart? I just hope everybody is okay...

Posted by: Tongue Boy at August 29, 2003 at 07:58 AM

Who believes these statistics from Cuba re literacy rates and health numbers? Cuba is one of only a few (I believe North Korean and Libya) nations in the world that forbid international or outside agencies (UNESCO, et al.) from compiling information on such matters.

Instead, we must rely on official statistics from Cuba ministries of health and education on such matters.

Similarly, during the Cold War, we had to rely, for example, on East German official's reports on that nation's health and education numbers. They were, of course, proven to be totally false once the Wall came down.



Posted by: SteveMG at August 29, 2003 at 08:44 AM

Black Book of Communism. When finished with section on Cuba, pick another section of globe. Story much the same, just different accents.

Posted by: Joe at August 29, 2003 at 08:45 AM

Unfortunately, we don't get enough information from Wilson's comments to determine which sexual feat Castro performed so well, but I think it's pretty clear that the only way a literate person could make such incredibly dumb remarks is if they're gettin' boned pretty well by the person who's ass they're lickin'.

Posted by: Ron at August 29, 2003 at 09:31 AM

Actually, Steve, a few years ago the World Health Organization admitted that Cuba had been faking its health statistics to it.

Posted by: Robin Roberts at August 29, 2003 at 09:55 AM

When someone gets a boner over Cuba just tell them that you refuse to discuss the benefits of their system until they have had free elections. Also that the person then elected continues the Cohiba sucking dude's legacy.

Oh whats that? - the elections have been put off indefinitely due to a kink in Rod Stewart's nose? Shame.

Posted by: Rob at August 29, 2003 at 10:01 AM

What's the penalty in Cuba for street-corner sneering? Off to one of the HIV gulags, I would say, closely followed by a 9mm induced cerebral haemmorrage. One think for old Beardy_Boy I must say, at least he only ever puts his stogies in his own mouth.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 29, 2003 at 11:39 AM

On the conquering of poverty claim, note that pre-Castro Cuba was, per-capita, one of the richest countries in Central or South America. Now, it's one of the poorest. Some conquest.

Posted by: PapayaSF at August 29, 2003 at 11:41 AM

CHRISV--go rent "Nobody Listened", the documentary by the great Spanish cinematographer, Nestor Alamedros.

Posted by: Kate at August 29, 2003 at 12:00 PM

Who believes these statistics from Cuba re literacy rates and health numbers?

Precisely. They have same credibility as the 99.9% favorable votes cited in the "re-elections" of these vile dictators.

Posted by: Mark Harden at August 29, 2003 at 12:02 PM

ChrisV: here's a simple rule that I've found helps me avoid taking stupid positions in political arguments: if my argument depends on the proposition that the majority of people in a society don't know what's good for them, it is, by definition, incorrect.

If you can't work out why that is, then you don't know very much about what leads to human happiness.

Posted by: Mork at August 29, 2003 at 12:40 PM

You didn't say that the person was a English MP rather than an Aussie one. Do you want to give us a heart attack?

Posted by: Andjam at August 29, 2003 at 01:25 PM

He's the keyboard player for the Beach Boys.

Posted by: Habib Bickford at August 29, 2003 at 01:30 PM

I was in Cuba last year and it the most depressing country I have ever visited. The desparation amongst the locals is terrible. Not only is it poor but the people are fundamentally unhappy. Compare this with, say, Guatemala which is also quite poor. There are human rights abuses there just as in Cuba. The difference is they have hope that seems to be completely missing from the Cuban population.

On their economy. The only significant economy that is boycotting them is the USA. They can trade with the whole of Europe and SE Asia. They are poor because of the disfunctional nature of their regime and for no other reason.

Posted by: chris at August 29, 2003 at 01:41 PM

How can these people go to Cuba and marvel at their 'fantastic progress'. From what I hear it sounds like a hell on earth, no meat, no eggs, no cars, crops not growing properly, secret police.

The wacky left's defence of Cuba is one of their constant struggles, and as they are constantly doing so, no-one is willing to take them the least bit seriously

"living proof that it is possible to conquer poverty, disease and illiteracy in a country that was grossly over-familiar with all three"

Big deal, so was Florida, now they've got skyscrapers and highways and boats, FREE Cubans, and most importantly.......something to eat and a tourism that doesn't entirely revolve around hookers

Posted by: Chris Rice at August 29, 2003 at 01:52 PM

One picture is worth a thousand Brian Wilson blowjo........uh, articles.

Posted by: Natalie Drest at August 29, 2003 at 02:18 PM

Anybody who wants to make nice-nice with El Generalissimo should come down to visit me in Miami. I have some friends on Calle Ocho who will give him or her quite an earful.

And for those who wonder what "crimes" Castro has really committed, let's start with the deliberate shoot-down of two civilian airplanes that were engaged in a peaceful protest. How about the imprisonment and murder of political opponents? I could go on, but the apologists will hear none of it.

Let me just say that I live in a city and a county that, during that span of Castro's regime, has gone from being a southern backwater to being an overwhelmingly Latin metropolitan area whose civic and cultural life is dominated by hundreds of thousands of people who fled that island. And they did not leave gladly; it is for them an ongoing tragedy.

Posted by: Rex-Pat at August 29, 2003 at 02:25 PM

How can these people go to Cuba and marvel at their 'fantastic progress'.

There is long standing theory among the American bloggers that the answer to this question is: the ho's.

Posted by: Katherine at August 29, 2003 at 03:44 PM

Are these people capable of learning from past experiences? They apologized for Stalin, they apologized for Mao, they apologized for Pol Pot, they apologized for Big Kim and Li'l Kim. They were proven to be false again and again and again. Yet they still cling to their fantasies that THIS time, they'll get it right.

Do these people really BELIEVE this shit?

Posted by: Irene A, at August 29, 2003 at 04:01 PM

Like anyone with half a brain or more, I hate communism. However, it could become vaguely less loathesome if they didn't always insist that no-one's allowed to leave. That is, stay if you like communism, leave if you don't. Still nowhere near morally just, of course, since it ignores certain inalienable human rights, but a definite improvement on Soviet/Cuban-style communism where they kill you if you try to leave.

I wonder if some of the apologists for communism could clarify this. Why can't they just let people who don't like the Glorious People's Paradise leave?

Posted by: GeoffM at August 29, 2003 at 04:04 PM

Jesus, some of you people are rabid idiots. Perhaps if you "read" things properly, Strongbad, rather than "spending" your "time" trying to figure out how to be as patronising as possible, you'd figure out that I wasn't defending Castro, or socialism, in any way. Hence the "Socialism is...", "The central argument of socialism is...", "To a socialist..." before all of my sentences. I'm a liberal democrat, for Christ's sake. I was just answering a question.

Obviously I brought this upon myself, by not being strident enough in denouncing Castro as the Antichrist, even though I know virtually nothing about him. Rather than being "willing to actually, you know, like, read and think and stuff", and asking a question about something I don't know, I should just assume everyone is right and join the chorus line. Ahem. CASTRO! That socialist pig! Murdering ogre! Raper of young girls! Horse fucker!

Much better. Thanks to those who managed to reply without howling and foaming at the mouth.

Andrew X, I still don't really understand. I think you are confusing correlation and cause and effect. Socialism is authoritarian. Authoritarian states are run by narcissistic dictators. The alleged achievements of socialism are therefore going to be made under a narcissistic dictator.

Posted by: ChrisV at August 29, 2003 at 04:14 PM

Oh yeah, and "liberal democrat" there meaning someone who supports both social and economic freedom. I know it means something different in the States, so thought I'd clarify.

Posted by: ChrisV at August 29, 2003 at 04:28 PM

it's been a few years since i was in the home of afro-cuban jazz, but i must admit to finding a dilemma - some of the happiest & healthiest humans i have interacted with on earth, yet the constant fear of el presidente looms.

unfortunately for weblogs worldwide, it is not a simple dilemma either. there is great, great hope in people, and i'm not sure how many you cubans that you met chris above, but all i found all parts of the island feature genuine hope & passion for the cuban heart & soul. and equally, all corners feature a sense of longing for...freedom.

the dilemma will be maintenance of identity versus the strains attendant with instant switchover to consumer 101. it's gonna be a hell of a show when it happens....

Posted by: chico o'farrill at August 29, 2003 at 04:33 PM

I've emailed him, but I find email to be quite impersonal. Faxes are much better. Lots and lots and lots of faxes.

Apparently you can fax his constituency office on 01505 684648. (I think you'll need a +44 country code for that)

Posted by: Jorge at August 29, 2003 at 05:03 PM

What good is literacy in a country where there's no freedom of the press?

Posted by: Alan K. Henderson at August 29, 2003 at 05:30 PM

Well they did conquer poverty in Cuba. Poverty being a relative concept, having made everyone dirt poor by our standards, there is no poverty within Cuba.

Why do people misquote poor old King Canute. He actually said that the thing about the tide to demonstrate that he is not all powerful, no doubt in response to the sort of Dictator suck-ups that started this whole thread.

Posted by: PJ at August 29, 2003 at 07:03 PM

Brian, repeat after me: Cuba is a prison, not a "contradiction in terms." Cuba is a prison, not a "contradiction in terms."

Posted by: Perfectsense at August 29, 2003 at 07:11 PM

I think most of the people who praise Cuba (and other such places) are in love with 'quaintness'. For some reason which has always escaped me, they go all misty-eyed at the mention of 'neighbourhood parties', and thrive on tales of poor but noble peasants overcoming poverty and deprivation in the face of the hostile world. The fact is that the USSR sustained Cuba for decades - now that the Russians can no longer give their financial support, the truth is showing through the facade.

Guess he also thinks it progress that young Cubans are selling themselves to tourists. And he neglects to mention the thousands of Cubans who risk their lives attempting to escape from Fidels' Paradise -

How is it possible for people to delude themselves to this degree?

Posted by: dee at August 29, 2003 at 07:32 PM

I've got to agree with ChrisV's irritation at the attacks on him. All he asked was where to find out more about Castro and the Cuban situation. You all immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was a Castro supporter, or socialist, or something. Those of us who are either more in the know because we are Right Wing Death Beasts, or because we have grown up in places (such as most of the US outside of leftist enclaves like Berkeley) which aren't dominated by ultra-"liberal" media leftspeak, forget that a lot of people don't just know what we know.

That being said, I'd say that the suggestion to go to the library and check out some dead-tree publications is a good start. There's a lot of stuff that isn't on the internet yet. If you want web links, I suggest you do a google search for Cubans in Miami, the Mariel refugee crisis, Operation Pedro Pan, Cuban exiles, Florida history of the late twentieth century, and so on. You'll still probably get a lot of web pages that drool over Castro. I find the adulaltion of old Weird Beard inexplicable myself. You could store an entire family of mice in that chin brush.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at August 29, 2003 at 09:48 PM

PS: it's Armando Valladares. A search for "Vallardes" won't find anything.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at August 29, 2003 at 09:49 PM

Andrea writes:

I've got to agree with ChrisV's irritation at the attacks on him. All he asked was where to find out more about Castro and the Cuban situation.

Here is the relevant portion of ChrisV's original post:

Another serious question: I hear allusions to the "Murder, Torture, Brutality" of Castro, but have never read any of the specifics of what he is supposed to have done.

I completely missed the bolded section in my haste to read and respond. Andrea, you are correct. ChrisV, my most sincerest apologies. Others read your post more carefully and provided you some good resources; I hope you got what you were looking for. Curse thee, Evelyn Woods.

Posted by: Tongue Boy at August 30, 2003 at 12:07 AM

Not to belabor the point, but the gist of ChrisV's original post was, "I don't see what Castro's done that's so bad? Can someone please tell me what he's done that is so awful?"

Now, one could reasonably construe this one of two ways: either (a) ChrisV is earnestly looking for information about Castro's crimes; or (b) ChrisV disputes the proposition that Castro is an international criminal, and is looking to bait people. ChrisV now clarifies that he was (a), but that does not bode ill for those who concluded (b).

If ChrisV had wanted to clarify that his point was (a), he could have posed his question less provocatively; e.g., "I really don't know much about Castro and Cuba. Could somebody please give me some background on what his regime has done?"

Posted by: Rex-Pat at August 30, 2003 at 12:10 AM

ChrisV -

RE: "Socialism is authoritarian. Authoritarian states are run by narcissistic dictators. The alleged achievements of socialism are therefore going to be made under a narcissistic dictator."

Well, that IS basically the answer. In other words, every suporter of Castro (i.e. virtually every Leftoid) is a de facto ardent supporter of absolute one-man rule, and not only in Cuba, but as a concept overall. Thus, to them, this is a wonderful thing. Ergo, everything they say about the "equality of man" is not only a lie, but a stupid and self-evident one.

My point with this unaswerable question is to call them on it. Lefties infest our acadamies.... they pride themselves on how smart they are. So, let 'em apply that brainpower here. Explain to me professor, WHY this one-man absolute rule, forever, is necessary for your "justice", as it obviously is.

I guess maybe there is no answer. They certainly don't have one. So maybe the point is not the non-existant answer, but rather to watch "brilliant" people squirm as they are forced to flat out justify rabid dictatorships as being superior to liberal democracy, and their lovely and decorative philosophy and verbiage is stripped away to reveal the iron boot that they knowingly advocate.

That's why I say... use this question. It's fun to watch the acrobatics you get in response.

Posted by: Andrew X at August 30, 2003 at 12:39 AM

And Dee....

I wish I could attribute the quote, but someone once wrote -

"The people of the third world not only have an obligation to us Westerners to remain poor, but they must be picturesque as well."


Posted by: Andrew X at August 30, 2003 at 12:43 AM

Rex-Pat, if you reread my post you'll notice that nowhere in it did I come anywhere close to saying "I don't see what Castro did that's so bad". You added that bit in yourself. I simply noted that I am pretty ignorant about Castro and asked for a good source. (Those who got all sarcastic about book reading vs. internet linkage might also note that I asked for "some solid factual history", not links. Books are fine.).

I was aware that the question might appear to be trolling, hence the "Another serious question:" prefix. However, I get the impression that not even putting "I HATE SOCIALISM YAY FOR CAPITALISM" at the bottom of the post would have been enough to discourage the kind of people who go around looking for things to attack.

Posted by: ChrisV at August 30, 2003 at 02:56 AM

But did you read any of the references, ChrisV, or are you still whining?

Posted by: Robin Roberts at August 30, 2003 at 02:32 PM


Get a hold of The Black book of Commuism previously referred to (above) by poster Joe. Chapter 25 covers communism in Latin America. Take the following as illustrative of Castro: in a 1957 interview with Herbert Matthews of the New York Times he declared, "Power does not interest me. After victory I want to go back to my village and just be a lawyer again."

In 1959 free elections that had been promised within 18 months were postponed indefinitely. The 1940 constitution was suspended as were fundamental individual rights. Castro ruled by decree until 1976 when he imposed a constitution modelled on that of the USSR.

The book goes on to detail Cuba's repressions.

Perhaps most telling, Castro is especially fond of comparisons to the French revolution.

Posted by: ZsaZsa at August 30, 2003 at 07:29 PM