Complain and criticize…the raison d’etre of journalists?
Recently, Terry Glavin, a Maclean’s magazine journalist, wrote a column criticizing and condemning Justin Trudeau for the condolences he sent relating to Fidel Castro’s death.
Glavin is so right in his criticism and condemnation of our national leader, right on so many counts. But could he be missing the main point? Trudeau is a head of state, a politician, and a diplomat but he should be criticized for playing the part to the hilt. Isn’t that what our nation’s leader should do? Always be the diplomat in interntational matters? Or perhaps he should have condemned another nation’s leader openly and loudly, telling the Cubans things that they many not realize themselves about their leaders because the media was so well suppressed there. An international service, to condemn, criticize and castigate a dictator who killed many people, suppressed all criticisms and quashed all political dissent. Yes sir, Mr Gavin, you are dead on right. Trudeau is a lousy leader, a poor politician and I am very ashamed that he’s my government leader acting like a diplomat and a head of state.
Glavin is completely correct in his condemnation of Castro as the Cuban ogre of Havana. Sure, Castro developed the medical services in Cuba but the service lacks real medicines. Could the US embargo and American pressures on every Western Hemisphere nation considering trade with Cuba have any role in the matter of this shortage of medicines in Cuba? Glavin condemns the lack of free press, the control of media by the Castro ‘crime family.’ Every Cuban can attend school for free. Prove yourself a good academic and more educational doors open. A national improvement to Cuba which should be viewed as negligible. Agreed, Cuban social freedoms are far from ideal; actually non-existent and completely lacking because of the totalitarian control and for this we should international rake Castro of the coals.
Glavin is right on so many counts: the imprisonment and “re-education” of homosexuals; wrong! The spying, harassment and criminal charging of political dissidents; wrong! Preventing any kind of freedom of movement for citizens; wrong! Arresting political activists simply for speaking out; wrong! Censoring independent publications and preventing free speech anywhere; wrong! Executing 5,600 Cubans by firing squad; wrong! Sending tens of thousands to forced labour camps; wrong! That a politician ‘dips into the pork barrel of self-profit; wrong and totally non-existent in free democracies such as Canada and the USA. That he hugged the Russian bear while the nation nearly starved to death because of the USA embargo; wrong! Desperate, the embrace tightened as conditions deteriorated; unforgivable! The Bay of Pigs coup attempt by the USA, insignificant. The Cuban missile crisis, authored by Fidel, a leader who’s people were desperate for food, for medicine, for decent living conditions. That he would turn to a communist country for salvation; absolutely unforgivable. Glavin, you are so right.
Glavin, your enlightening my murky view of Castro is appreciated tremenedously. This man was evil. This man had self-interest in mind, totally and always. This man was greedy, a villain, a dictator who oppressed people seeking freedom and improvement of any kind to their lives. And that he appropriated land for personal use, for his personal homes; that he had a home with a private marina; wrong! Not acceptable…wrong, wrong, wrong.
So what Trudeau should have done is send a black card castigating Castro for the character he was. Write the Cubans and tell them they should be thankful the such a leader is dead. Yes, tell them they should be cheering that their evil head of state is no more. Trudeau could write whatever he wants and he should not want to try to be neutral about it. Call a spade a spade and tell the Cubans it’s great that their malevolent leader is gone. Hooray Cuba, your leader is gone, a leader who governed ceaselessly for decades. A leader who overthrew the previous autocrat with idealistic promises of democracy and free elections. But what an evil man for changing his mind after climbing the revolutionary mountain and seeing nothing but desolation beyond, a desolation owned by the USA.
Glavin, you are so very right. I would like to quote your piece:
Dec. 19, 2016
Cool while it lasted
Justin Trudeau was an international star. Then came his lament for the dictator Fidel Castro and it confirmed every lampoon of his government’s foreign policy vacuity.
IT WAS BOUND to happen sooner or later.
Ever since his election as Canada’s Prime Minister last October, Justin Trudeau has revelled in global tributes, raves and swoons. He’s the Disney prince with the trippy dance moves, the groovy Haida tattoo and the gender-balanced cabinet. He’s the last best hope for globalization, the star attraction at the Pride parades, the hero of the Paris Climate Summit, the guy everyone wants a selfie with.
Trudeau made himself synonymous with Canada. He made Canada cool again. It was fun while it lasted.
By the early hours of last Saturday morning, Havana time, Trudeau was an international laughingstock. Canada’s “brand,” so carefully constructed in Vogue photo essays and Economist magazine cover features, seemed to suddenly implode into a bonspiel of the vanities, with humiliating headlines streaming from the Washington Post to the Guardian, and from Huffington Post to USA Today.
It was Trudeau’s maudlin panegyric on the death of Fidel Castro that kicked it off, and there is a strangely operatic quality to the sequence of events that brings us to this juncture. When Trudeau made his public debut in fashionable society 16 years ago, with his “Je t’aime, papa!” encomium at the gala funeral of his father in Montreal, Fidel Castro himself was there among the celebrities, as an honorary pallbearer, lending a kind of radical frisson to the event. Now it’s all come full circle.
Times have changed, and the Trudeau family’s bonds with the Castro family, first cultivated while Pierre Trudeau was prime minister and carefully nurtured during the years that followed, now seem somehow unhygienic. Greasy, even. Definitely not cool.
“It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest-serving president,” Trudeau’s statement begins, going on to celebrate Castro as a “larger than life” personality who served his people. He was “a legendary revolutionary and orator” whose people loved him, and who worked wonders for Cuban education and health care.
A “controversial figure,” sure, but: “I know my father was very proud to call him a friend and I had the opportunity to meet Fidel when my father passed away. It was also a real honour to meet his three sons and his brother, President Raul Castro, during my recent visit to Cuba. On behalf of all Canadians. Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and many, many supporters of Mr. Castro. We join the people of Cuba today in mourning the loss of this remarkable leader.”
And so, from far-off Antananarivo, Madagascar, where he was attending the 8o-government gathering of La Francophonie, Trudeau’s lament for the last of the Cold War dictators ended up confirming every wicked caricature of his own vacuity and every lampoon of the Trudeau government’s foreign-policy lack of seriousness.
Twitter lit up with hilarious mockeries under the hashtag #trudeaueulogies. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wanted to know whether Trudeau’s statement came from a parody account. The impeccably liberal Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic magazine. called Trudeau’s praise of Castro “a sad statement for the leader of a democracy to make.”
Whether or not Trudeau saw any of this coming, he didn’t appear to notice that he was delivering a speech to La Francophonic delegates in Madagascar that emphasized justice for lesbian, gay and transgender people, while from the other side of his mouth he was praising the legacy of a caudillo who spent the first decade of his rule rounding up gay people for “re-education” in labour camps. Homosexuals were irredeemably bourgeois maricones and agents of imperialism, Castro once explained.
To be perfectly fair, Trudeau did allow that Castro was a “controversial figure,” and nothing in his remarks was as explicit as the minor classic in the genre of dictator-worship that his brother Alexandre composed for the Toronto Star 10 years ago. Alexandre described Castro as “something of a superman … an expert on genetics, on automobile combustion engines, on stock markets. On everything.” As for the Cuban people: “They do occasionally complain, often as an adolescent might complain about a too strict and demanding father.”
This kind of Disco Generation stupidity about Castro has been commonplace in establishment circles in Canada since Pierre’s time, and neither Alexandre’s gringo-splaining nor Justin’s aptitude for eulogy are sufficient to gloss over the many things Cubans have every right to complain about.
Any political activity outside the Communist Party of Cuba is a criminal offence. Political dissent of any kind is a criminal offence. Dissidents are spied on, harassed and roughed up by the Castros’ neighbourhood vigilante committees. Freedom of movement is non-existent. Last year, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) documented 8,616 cases of politically motivated arbitrary arrest. For all our Prime Minister’s accolades about Cuba’s health care system, basic medicines are scarce to non-existent. For all the claims about high Castro was literacy rates, Cubans are allowed to read only what the Castro crime family allows.
Raul Castros son Alejandro is the regime’s intelligence chief. His son-in-law, Luis Alberto Rodriguez Lopez Callejas, runs the Cuban military’s business operations, which now account for 6o per cent of the Cuban economy. The Castro regime owns and controls the Cuban news media, which is adept at keeping Cubans in the dark. It wasn’t until 1999, for instance, that Cubans were permitted to know the details of Fidel’s family life: five sons they’d never heard of, all in their thirties.
Independent publications are classified as “enemy propaganda.” Citizen journalists are harassed and persecuted as American spies. Reporters Without Borders ranks Cuba at 171 out of 180 countries in press freedom, worse than Iran, worse than Saudi Arabia, worse than Zimbabwe.
So fine, let’s overlook the 5,600 Cubans Fidel Castro executed by firing squad, the 1,200 known to have been liquidated in extra-judicial murders, the tens of thousands dispatched to forced labour camps, or the fifth of the Cuban population that was either driven into the sea or fled the country in terror.
What is not so easy to overlook is that Fidel and Raul Castro reneged on their promise of a return to constitutional democracy and early elections following the overthrow of the tyrant Fulgencio Batista. The Castros betrayed the revolutionary democrats and patriots who poured into Havana with them on that glorious January day in 1959. The Castros waged war on them in the Escambray Mountains until their final defeat in 1965, four full years years after John E. Kennedy’s half-baked Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
After he solidified his base which had been allied with Batista, Castro’s apologists tend to conveniently forget, until the final months of 1958 Fidel Castro delivered Cuba to Moscow as a Soviet satrapy. He then pushed Russia to the brink of nuclear war with the United States in the terrifying 13-day Missile Crisis of 1962.
For all the parochial Canadian susceptibility to the propaganda that pits a shabby-bearded rebel in olive fatigues against the imperialist American hegemon, by the time he died on Friday night Castro was one of the richest men in Latin America. Ten years ago, when he was handing the presidency to Raul, Forbes magazine calculated that Fidel’s personal wealth was already nearly a billion dollars.
In his twilight years, Castro was enjoying himself at his gaudy 30 hectare Punto Cero estate in Havana’s suburban Jaimanitas district, or occasionally retreating to his private yacht, or to his beachside house in Cayo Piedra, or to his house at La Caleta del Rosario with its private marina, or to his duck-hunting chalet at La Deseada.
Fidel Castro was not merely the “controversial figure” of Justin Trudeau’s encomium. He was first and foremost a traitor to the Cuban revolution. On that count alone, Castro’s death should not be mourned. It should be celebrated, loudly and happily.
May he rest in the peace God sees fit for him.