The Credulity of Castro's Defenders

By Gillespie, Nick | Reason, March 2007 | Go to article overview

The Credulity of Castro's Defenders


Gillespie, Nick, Reason


BY THE TIME you read this, Fidel Castro may already be dead, taking with him to the grave one of the sorriest legacies in 20th century politics. Despite the immiseration (to use an apt Marxist term) of his people, his ruthless censorship, his omnipresent informants, and his prison camps for dissidents, homosexuals, and anyone else who aroused his ire, Castro is still venerated by many on the left. A little free health care, it seems, goes a long way toward excusing all manner of tyranny.

Such love is as understandable as it is misguided. Long after the Soviet Union collapsed, China embraced a misshapen form of capitalism, and even diehard lefties gave up on the grimly comic North Korea, Castro's Cuba represented the last shimmering mirage of communism. As Contributing Editor Glenn Garvin notes in his masterful cover story, "Fidel's Favorite Propagandist" (page 50), many of Castro's ostensible accomplishments have been oversold. Long before Castro, "Cuba was one of the most literate countries in Latin America," writes Garvin, who has covered the region for The Miami Herald and The Washington Times. Meanwhile, "countries like Costa Rica, Panama, and Brazil have posted equal gains in literacy without resorting to totalitarian governments." And pre-Castro Cuba "already had the 13th lowest infant mortality rate in the world."

If it's not surprising to see leftists infatuated with Fidel, it's shocking that many in the mainstream media adore the man and the tropical gulag he created. (And let's be clear: Notwithstanding conservative rants to the contrary, the American left and the American media are two separate entities. …

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