Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 after the Cuban revolution forced the brutal US backed dictator Fulgenico Batista to give up and flee the country.
The US were absolutely furious that their puppet dictator had been deposed so they orchestrated the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion attempt, attempted to assassinate Castro on dozens of occasions and imposed severe economic sanctions on the people of Cuba.
Castro was committed to socialist principles like universal health and education, and despite the severity of the US trade embargo, Cuba achieved the highest literacy rate of any country in North or South America and developed an extraordinarily successful universal health care system.
It is undeniable that Castro achieved great things, but it's also undeniable that he ruled as the leader of a single party state where political dissent was routinely crushed. Of course it was necessary for their own survival that the Cubans rooted out US backed agitators. Had they meekly done nothing then Castro would soon have been overthrown and replaced with another appalling right-wing US backed dictator (just like the fate of so many other left-wing governments in Latin America). But the necessity of cracking down on US efforts to undermine, destabilise and destroy the Cuban government doesn't excuse all of the repression that went on.
On the one hand Castro achieved miraculous things under extremely difficult circumstances, but on the other hand his regime was repressive and intolerant of dissent.
One of the most interesting things about the social media reactions to Castro's death is the way that so many people have divided themselves into two tribalistic camps, with few people prepared to admit that Castro was a fascinatingly enigmatic character who achieved great things, but who had many flaws too.
Many social media reactions have praised Castro without alluding to any of his failings, while other people have set themselves up as voluntary "Batistabots" with an absolute determination to raid Castro tributes with their efforts to paint Castro as a savage dictator and nothing more (regardless of the fact that the dictator who preceded him was clearly very much worse).
This behaviour is interesting for several reasons. One interesting aspect is the fluidity it demonstrates in right-wing political correctness. We all remember the howls of outrage from right-wingers when people tried to point out Margaret Thatcher's toxic political legacies after she died. Yet given the outpourings of gloating, hatred and gleeful celebration from right-wingers over Castro's death, it's clear that this mandatory "respect for the dead" that right-wingers wouldn't shut up about back when Thatcher died clearly only extends to right-wing demagogues like Thatcher, and not to anyone else.
Another interesting point is the way that right-wingers have used statements of condolence to the Cuban people to attack their political opponents. If a politician is even vaguely left-wing the right-wing attack dogs have been hounding them over their statements of condolence.
Barack Obama is only a left-winger if you're looking at him from a rabidly right-wing perspective. He surrounded himself with Wall Street bankers for his eight years in the White House, he strongly resisted financial sector reform, he oversaw the continued widening of the inequality gap, he pushed hard-right corporate power grabs like TTIP and TPP on the rest of the world, and he was a huge friend to the military-industrial complex.
Here's an extract from Barack Obama's condolence message:
"At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States - with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him ... we offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people."That's hardly controversial stuff, but it hasn't stopped wave after wave of right-wingers from attacking Obama, or anyone else who dares to utter anything short of a hateful and divisive Trumpian rant about how completely terrible Castro was and how Cuba needs to cave in to US imperialism at the first opportunity.
These attacks contrast interestingly with the absolute wall of silence from right-wingers when David Cameron paid glowing tribute to the brutal Saudi Arabian dictator Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in January 2015.
You'd have to be suffering an utterly delusional lack of perspective to imagine that Fidel Castro was in the same league as Abdullah bin Abdulaziz when it came to repression.
Saudi Arabia is a deeply misogynistic Islamist theocracy where women aren't allowed to drive or even leave the home without a male family member to escort them. In Saudi Arabia people are sentenced to death for "crimes" such as being an atheist, being homosexual, or calling for more democracy in the kingdom.
Here's David Cameron's glowing tribute to this savage dictator (who just happened to be the leader of a country that spends £billions per year on British weapons).
"I am deeply saddened to hear of the death of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty King Abdullah bin Abd Al Aziz Al Saud ... He will be remembered for his long years of service to the Kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths ... My thoughts and prayers are with the Saudi Royal Family and the people of the Kingdom at this sad time. I sincerely hope that the long and deep ties between our two kingdoms will continue and that we can continue to work together to strengthen peace and prosperity in the world."The idea of Abdullah bin Abdulaziz as having a commitment to peace and the strengthening of understanding between faiths is bizarre enough, but painting Saudi Arabia as a global peacemaker is completely ludicrous given that Saudi Arabia finances terrorist organisations all over the world.
Abdullah bin Abdulaziz was a disgusting man who headed one of the most violent and repressive regimes in the world, yet right-wingers didn't see fit to criticise Cameron's glowing tribute to this appalling dictator.
The contrast couldn't be sharper, and it tells us something interesting about the right-wing psyche. These people don't hate dictators because they're dictators, otherwise the howls of outrage over David Cameron's glowing praise for Abdullah bin Abdulaziz would have been far louder than their furious condemnation of anyone who dares to express condolences over Castro's death.
These people don't hate dictators, they hate disobedience. It doesn't matter how brutal and ideologically extreme the dictator is, as long as they stay loyal to the interests of wealthy elites in the UK and US, they get a total free pass on their human rights abuses, misogyny, homophobia, lack of democracy, war crimes and blatant corruption.
However if a dictator dares to stand up against the interests of wealthy elites in the UK and US then the hatred is unbridled, even if it should be absolutely clear that the dictator is nowhere near as bad as "allies" like the Saudi Arabian regime.
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