Imagine groups of people, including foreign tourists, touring rooms in museums dedicated to the work and thought of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, General Jorge Videla in Argentina, the Somozas in Nicaragua, and Alfredo Stroessner in Paraguay, or Francois Duvalier in Haiti, while well-trained guides tell them about these figures' wonderful feats.
Aberrations of this type are not impossible. In Cuba, in fact, they are a reality. On November 25, the Fidel Castro Ruz Center (CFCR) was inaugurated in Havana, a luxurious museum occupying an entire block in the Vedado neighborhood. Ironically, it is housed in a large, stately home that was stolen from its owners by precisely the man now honored within it.
This center's aim is "to study and disseminate the thought, work, life and example of the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution," reads the propaganda disseminated by the Castro regime. This is one of the most exasperating insults to the Cuban people in the country's history.
While thousands of Cubans died of Covid-19, many without receiving medical care (as there was not even enough oxygen to alleviate their constant suffocation), including a beloved first cousin of mine and her husband, due to the collapse of the public health system, the "Revolution" invented by Fidel Castro spent millions of dollars to build the CFCR rather than to buy medicines and equipment to help citizens devastated by the pandemic.
Even worse, Raúl Castro ordered the use of a loan granted by Saudi Arabia, designated to build houses, which Cubans so badly need, for the construction of the museum dedicated to his brother. Independent journalist Luz Escobar was informed of this by an anonymous source with the Office of the Historian of Havana.
But the worst part is not the money spent, but rather the very existence of a museum honoring a tyrant of manifest cruelty. Here, I make a personal observation: Fidel Castro's wish that statues and monuments should not be erected in his honor after his death was not an expression of modesty, which would be unthinkable, given his temperament. Rather, he sensed that, once democracy was restored in Cuba, every monument in his memory would be destroyed by the people, as happened with those of Lenin and Stalin in Russia, Hussein in Iraq, and other tyrants.
As for the thought, work and life of the late Cuban pharaoh, the CFCR should be called the Museum of Ignominy, the Museum of Dishonor, or the Museum of Massive Deception.
"I don't care about any public office, I'm not interested in power"
Fidel Hipólito Castro Ruz is the Latin American politician who has lied the most, and for the longest time, to Cubans and the entire world. And the one that has sowed the most pain, destruction and poverty in Cuba since Christopher Columbus set foot in Bariay.
Let's take a look at some parts of his bio, beginning with his vice of incessant lying. Upon arriving in Havana in January 1959, he declared: "I do not aspire to be president of the Republic ... I don't care about any public office, I'm not interested in power."
His disinterest shocked the nation. He presented himself as a figure devoid of traditional politicians' personal ambitions. False. He lied. As head of the Rebel Army, he led the country, and not President Manuel Urrutia, whom he appointed.
The following month he drew up the Basic Law, with which he supplanted the Constitution of 1940, which he had promised to restore, and made the Prime Minister the head of government, over the President of the Republic. He also abolished Congress and transferred to the Council of Ministers the power to write and promulgate laws. On February 16 he showed his cards, ended the farce, and became the country's prime minister and "number one" until ... 52 years later he passed it on to his brother.
"Let it be clear that we are not communists"
In April 1959, on a visit to the United States, the caudillo told the New York Press Club: "Let it be clear that we are not communists. Let me be clear."
In the Sierra Maestra he had promised that, after the revolutionary triumph, there would be presidential elections in less than 18 months. But, after 16 months, in May 1960, he launched the slogan "Elections? What for?" Cuba is still waiting for them.
Before taking power, he promised that he would put an end to huge estates, handing over their properties to landless peasants, and that a "decent home" would be built for each needy family. What he did was to nationalize almost all national agriculture, after which production collapsed, so he introduced rationing books. And the lack of housing and poor living conditions on the Island grew even worse on the island.
Now let's see who Fidel Castro really was. He entered the world of politics wielding a gun, as a gangster. In the 1940s and early 1950s, he shot his political rivals in the back. Oscar Fernández Caralt, a university police sergeant, said shortly before he died that it was Fidel who had shot him.
According to the testimony of journalist Antonio Llano Montes, with the magazine Carteles, in 1951 Fidel went to the Kuquine ranch and encouraged then senator Fulgencio Batista to carry out a coup against Carlos Prío. He knew that he would never rise to power through the ballot box - but he could if he faced a dictatorship. And thus it ultimately transpired.
He was a born terrorist. As a child he was intercepted when, with a gallon of gasoline and a box of matches, he was about to set fire to the family home in Birán. As head of the July 26 Movement, he detonated bombs that killed and injured innocent civilians in shops, theaters, cinemas, cabarets, factories, public parks, and train and bus stations. People were also executed in the middle of the street. Cuba today is a haven for terrorists from all over the world, and commits terrorist acts in Latin America.
Fidel was never a hero. He arrived at Moncada disguised as a Batista soldier, and when the first shots rang out he fled, without even telling the rest of the insurgents to abort because the surprise factor had been lost. 61 of his companions were ultimately killed, 6 in combat.
Unlike Antonio Maceo and Máximo Gómez, none of the columns of guerrillas that descended from the Sierra Maestra, and those that advanced towards the West, were led by Fidel, the maximum military leader. He spent two years comfortably at his headquarters in La Plata, surrounded by his secretary, confidant and, perhaps lover, Celia Sánchez. He arrived at the Playa Girón when the fighting had stopped and the brigadistas had been taken prisoner.
He went on to implement the absurd communist system in Cuba, and some two million Cubans fled the country (and are still fleeing). The nation lost most of its most valuable form of capital: its people. In 1958 one of the three Latin American countries with the highest standard of living, under Castro Cuba became one of the poorest countries in the Americas. In September 1961, he expelled 136 Catholic priests from Cuba. Then he nationalized the economy and abolished private property.
With troops or guerrillas trained and armed by Cuba, Castro intervened militarily and spread bloodshed in 22 countries, 15 of them Latin American: Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, the Dominican Republic, Granada, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. He fomented civil wars in Central America resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. He sent 460,000 Cubans to Africa to fight in other people's wars, in which at least 7,000 of them died.
Fidel Castro allowed 42 Soviet nuclear rockets to be installed in Cuba, placing the world on the brink of an atomic catastrophe. He even advised Moscow to launch a first nuclear strike against the US.
To this man —without moral or ethical principles, cruel, irrepressible, dishonest, a starver of his people, who almost destroyed Cuba— homage is now paid in Havana. But no one doubts that, sooner rather than later, Cubans will dismantle this mockery of a museum.