Thursday, December 01, 2016

Castro's mass killing and US academic restraint in talking about Cuba

Look at this careful and nuanced title in Foreign Policy about Castro:  "Fidel was hell".  I think the writer (a professor at a liberal college) thought that he was being witty.  It is not an article so much as it is shouting and hectoring.  And the cliches are the same.  All commentaries about Castro basically blamed him for the nuclear brink which the US brought the world to.  The man without nuclear weapons was blamed for threatening the nuclear power of the US.  Such is the discourse about Cuba in this country.  This country was never rational in talking about Cuba.  When Jorge Dominquez (of Harvard) wrote his massive book on Cuba in 1978, he was attacked by all sides in the US because he dared to express admiration (gently and mildly) for Cuba's social justice and its educational policies and because he did not use the standard cliched language about Cuba.  But ever since I stepped into the US, I knew all along that you are not supposed to be rational about Cuba. When the US was sponsoring and arming dictatorships all over the world, I remember reading years ago in the New York Times about human rights abuses in Cuba; I swear to you that the writer talked about how hostile graffiti was sprayed on the wall of a "dissident" in Havana.  The horrors.  And this dissident complained about that to the Times, which was very sympathetic.  I thought to myself: in most of the Gulf potentates of the US you can't even exist as a "dissident" in those countries.  But the recent articles about Cuba were just insane.  But let me stick to the notion that Castro (who was largely non-violently repressive) enacted mass killings in Cuba.  It says by the professor cited above: " Estimates of killings under his rule range from 6,000 to 17,000."  And I read the same range (and it is quite a range) in most US media.  But this got my attention: in all articles about Castro (including this one by the racist Richard Cohen of the Washington Post), the source is always the same.  They all are traced to the propaganda outfit called The Cuba Archive.  But the Cuba Archive (which has been run by former US officials) is as reliable and precise in its estimate as the various outfits that the US and EU and GCC have set up to produce estimates about victims in the Syrian war, like the Syrian Observatory, whose director last week said that he "documented" from London a chlorine gas use in Syria.  Kid you not. But how do they reach the number? For that you have to go this article from last year in the Wall Street Journal and you discover that in fact, in counting the victims of Castro, they include people who die from heart attacks in Cuban jails, an insanely exaggerated number of Cuban soldiers who died in overseas "adventures" (she gives the figure of 17000 when the actual figure is probably around 5000), and people who die from natural disasters. We are talking here about a propaganda campaign of calculations reminiscent of the lousy propaganda French book, The Black Book of Communism, where people who died of hunger an famine and people who die in civil wars and external wars are considered "victims of communism".  Castro in fact arrested some 1200 people after Bay of Pigs but they were not killed.  And those who were arrested were held only briefly.  HE could have killed the mercenaries that the US sent to kill and sabotage, but he didn't.  From what I can tell, the killings were a few hundreds after the victory of the revolution, when the US and others hired mercanries and killers to try to overthrow the regime.  Compare that to Batista who killed in excess of 20,0000 at least.  In one day in the US war on Iraq or in one hour in the US bombing of Tokyo in WWII, the US killed more civilians than Castro killed of non-civilians in his long years in power.  Counting the victims of enemy regime has been an art and a political business for the US, and for that you should never trust it.  Look how the right-wing Western proaganda talks about the victims of the French revolution: they count the victims of the civil war and the external wars on France.  This is like saying that Abraham Lincoln killed 620,000 Americans.  Who are you fooling? Also, do you know that in recent years, when US officials talked about "political prisoners" in Cuba, they were talking about people who can be counted on the fingers of two hands (or even less)? But Cuban-American fascists in Miami would beef up the numbers by counting as political prisoners every killer and rapist in Cuban jails.  

PS Of course, the worst propaganda about human rights comes out of Human Rights Watch. Its director tweeted replicas of US propaganda and then the organization reproduced its report documenting human rights violations in Cuba. Here is a sample: "One former prisoner said that in his six years in Cuban prisons, his food rations included a total of six eggs and"never a single piece of chicken.""  Do you have doubt that Cuba's prisons are superior to the US secret prisons around the world?