Dictator of the Month – Fidel Castro
February 27, 2008
Come on, he’s surely the coolest Dictator this Feb? Castro doesn’t die, he retires and lets his brother take over. I’m sure that’s not how the CIA imagined him going out from the sixties onwards, they apparently tried to kill 638 times. Thats got to be a record, Guinness? Retired and beloved in his eighties, Castro is Cuba. They say Emperor’s don’t die in their sleep, but Castro just might.
Castro is a great revolutionary leader, with some slight reservations. i.e. his misguided abuses of homosexuals and his ill treatment of some anti communists and dissidents. That aside he is a true classic Political figure to be openly admired. He stood up to the US for 50 years and still lives to write his autobiography and smoke his famous Cubans in his 80’s. While an avowed socialist, then Marxist/Leninist communist, some have noted a certain Fascist ‘spirit de corp’ to his dictatorship of over 50 years not that dissimilar to Mussolinian notions of corporatism, national syndicalism, charismatic leadership and myth, land reform and many other issues of comparison. Indeed, Castro has mixed ideas from both the Left and Right in his own mix tape of a decade’s long reign at Cuba’s DJ decks, lately embracing even some aspects of Capitalism and the free market.
Friend of the poor People of Cuba and Che Guevra, victorious over thrower of the corrupt regime of Batista, Castro strikes a distinct pose in late 20th century politics and casts a guiding shadow into our own century. The Bay Of Pigs, The Cuban Missle Crisis, the opening of Cuban prisons and expelling of their contents on the USA. Great (and dangerous) historical moments all.
He has the air of a true revolutionary, too. When Forbes magazine put him amongst the Wealthiest people on Earth list claiming he owned Cuba’s businesses, Castro got pissed off and considered suing, “If they can prove that I have a bank account abroad, with $900m, with $1m, $500,000, $100,000 or $1 in it, I will resign.”. Some revolutionaries are exactly that. They don’t want money, they don’t want swiss bank accounts with gold, they want justice, they want freedom for a Volk. Sometimes, they get a little carried away in their zeal for their specific political project, we admit… but their true calling as revolutionaries cannot be doubted.
Here is his abstract from wikipedia (with my own tiny edits):
Castro first attracted attention in Cuban political life through nationalist critiques of Batista and the United States political and corporate influence in Cuba (Good on him). He gained an ardent, but limited, following and also drew the attention of the authorities.(Yikes) He eventually led the failed 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks, after which he was captured, tried, incarcerated and later released. (Boo hoo) He then travelled to Mexico to organize and train for the guerrilla invasion of Cuba that took place in December 1956 (Yea!).
Since his assumption of power in 1959 Castro has evoked both praise and condemnation (hooray, hooray, whinge, whinge). Opponents characterize Castro as a dictator, (Dictator… or Philosopher King?) claiming that he has not risen to power through open, public elections, and some contend that his rule is illegitimate because the socialist system itself was not established through what they considered to be legal means. (Crap, Power is self legitimising or at least can be made easily so, see Schmitt)  Supporters, on the other hand, see Castro as a charismatic leader whose presidential authority has been acquired through legitimate elections. (Yes, Like us here at Idea Fix, Go Fidel baby!)
Outside of Cuba, Castro has been defined by his relationship with the United States and the former Soviet Union, both of whom courted Cuban attentions as part of their own global political agenda. (Double Dating?) While Cuba’s relations with countries of the Soviet bloc were generally cordial during the Cold War, the Castro-led government has had an antagonistic relationship with the United States since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 by U.S.-backed forces (bye, bye JFK).
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Cuba’s one major Latin American ally, Sandinista Nicaragua, in the early 1990s, the Cuban government found itself in a precarious spot. However, in recent years, Castro has found new regional allies in Latin America. Regional socialist and nationalist figures such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia have been ready allies (That’s right boys, just March Northward into North America and we’ll have something). Castro also holds currently the title of Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement (and why not too!).
At home, Fidel Castro has overseen the implementation of various economic policies, leading to the rapid centralization of Cuba’s economy, land reform, collectivization and mechanization of agriculture, and the expropriation of leading Cuban industries. Opponents claim that these changes have at best maintained Cuba’s pre-1959 level of development, but at an “extraordinary” cost to the overall welfare of Cubans. (sound like pretty good ideas to us) Conversely, supporters attribute the U.S. embargo for some or all of Cuba’s shortcomings, but maintain that Cuba’s economy has expanded and grown at a more than acceptable rate since the revolution (Fuck the US and its sham democracy).
The expansion of publicly funded health care and education has been a cornerstone of Castro’s domestic political program (Better than the US’s). Cuba ranks better than many countries on the United Nations’ list of countries by infant mortality rate, which is claimed by Castro’s supporters as a success of his government. (More babies live under Castro, cool)
So Castro Enjoy being Idea Fix’s Feb centrefold Dictator of the Month.
You deserve it!
He’s Even trying out now for American Idol. See below…