Fulgencio Batista made the cover of Time Magazine after his being elected President of Cuba in 1940
He murdered peasants he suspected of disloyalty, ordered mass public executions of thousands of his opponents, dragged long-haired youth off the street and sent them off to work camps, banned free speech and filled the prisons with thousands of those political opponents of his that he didn’t murder outright and his name was Fulgencio Batista? Right?
Wait a minute…hold on…now, I remember…no, no, no – actually it was Batista’s successor who did all of those things and his name was Fidel Castro.
Perhaps if Batista had been as brutal as his successor, Castro, he might have remained in power and ultimately, the people of Cuba would have benefited. He was not – unfortunately for the majority of people living in Cuba. In fact, Batista was rather lenient in dealing with revolutionaries. Exhibit “A,” when the Castro Brothers led their first unsuccessful revolution to overthrow the Batista government, they were sentenced to prison. Later, Castro would summarily (that means without due process of the law) execute people who had done only a fraction of what the Castro brothers themselves had done years earlier. In fact, feeling sorry for the young Fidel and his brother, Batista commuted their sentences and they ended up spending less than two years in prison. That alone, as much as anything, represents the stark differences in styles of governance between Batista and Fidel Castro.
Batista, after winning election in 1940, established a constitution and attracted industries which created jobs for Cuban workers. Before he was illegally ousted from office in a revolution marked by a bloodbath of mass executions, Cubans enjoyed the highest standard of living in all of Latin America. The previous fact is undisputed and documented in numerous studies and comparative economic reports from the era.
So, let’s examine the charges against Batista – shall we?
Charge One: Batista was a dictator.
Yes, although first elected, he did later refuse to step down but he was also fighting a subversive revolutionary force. Oh, I almost forgot, Fidel was also a dictator who, unlike Batista, had never been elected to so much as the office of Dog Catcher. I don’t know, point to Batista on this one.
Charge Two: Batista murdered people.
No, not really. Batista himself disliked the death penalty which is why he spared Castro, and those like him, the first time for trying to overthrow his government – a death penalty offense even in the United States.
Further, the court’s system in Cuba worked quite well under Batista and yes, on rare occasions, people were executed in Cuba while Batista was President. However, these were for horrific criminal acts and ordered by courts of law and not by Batista himself- no mass murder (such as was ordered by Castro) to be found here. What can I say? The point goes to Batista – an easy call.
Charge Three: Evil Batista allowed the establishment of large casinos, hotels, night clubs which a) brought in organized crime; b) encouraged prostitution, and c) exploited the workers.
Really? Those casinos, hotels and clubs filled the tax coffers of the Cuba government and helped provide a largely unskilled Cuban workforce with tens of thousands of jobs. The casinos never measured up to Las Vegas but, they were great and, when combined with the pristine beaches and natural beauty of Cuba, they drew millions of tourists who injected nearly a billion dollars into the Cuban economy – a lot of money in the 1950s.
Organized crime you say? Wow, I’m glad there’s none of that in America. If so, what harm did they do? Prostitution you say? Since the dawn of man, there have been prostitutes. There were and are plenty of prostitutes under the Castro dictatorship – still today. For many women, the meager food rations and allowances afforded them, under Castro’s failed Marxist policies, forced them to prostitution. Yes, kinda like what’s happening today in another failed Marxist country, Venezuela.
Finally the accusations that these casinos exploited workers – really? For many casino workers these jobs were the first substantial incomes they ever earned.
Charge Four: Batista allowed Bell Telephone to come into Cuba and set up a monopoly.
Yes, he most certainly did. Bell Telephone was already a monopoly in the United States and the Cuban telephone system was broken-down and unreliable. Batista wanted to modernize and expand the national telephone network that would allow the county to enjoy a single interconnected telecommunications network like the United States. Yes, Bell Telephone did give Batista a gold plated telephone for his office – oooohhhhhhh! For shame! Of course had there been another private telecommunications company capable of doing this, he might considered them but, alas, there were no others.
Charge Five: Batista had people tortured.
Yes, although not quite on the scale of the United States and it’s allies in the Global War on Terror. Certainly nowhere near the size of scope of the the wholesale torture practiced by Castro.
As the revolution progressed, Castro and his Communist friends began murdering private citizens, engaging in theft on a mass scale and engaging in terroristic acts against private and governmental properties and offices. Some relatively limited torture techniques were successfully used to gain useful information in the Cuban government’s defense against the Communist terrorists. Boo Hoo! The poor little terrorist babies!
What these Cuban officials did, at the time, is a relative drop in the bucket to the wide spread murder and heinous campaigns of torture visited upon Castro’s enemies – real or imagined. Since Castro’s gaining power, torture has been and remains widespread in Cuba. In Havana today, there is a giant steel rendering of Che Guevara’s face. It is affixed to the secret police building where anyone who is even suspected of disagreeing with the Castros may be sent to be tortured or, excuse me, “questioned,” by the secret police. In fact, even daring to attempt escape that little hell hole island, by boat or homemade raft, is enough to get one jailed and tortured – oh, excuse me, I mean “taken into custody and questioned.” If Cuba is such a worker’s paradise, why do on average, Cuban-American exhales, living in the United States, earn 29 times as much as the average Cuban who lives in Cuba? Hmm.
After the Castro Brothers overthrew the Cuban Government and executed and or tortured tens of thousands of people, the formerly productive corporate and large, large privately owned farms were seized, broken up, and given to the peasants. Yet, they never produced the same amount of food again and Cuba went from being a net exporter of agricultural products to relying heavily on subsidies from the Soviet Union. The factories stop producing and the Cuban GDP went into a free fall. The casinos were emptied out and many thousands thousands lost their jobs or owned tourist dependent businesses that failed. There was mass unemployment and while everyone received a roof over their head and ration cards, the cities were transformed, almost overnight it seemed, into giant slums.
The entire infrastructure began to collapse as there were no longer enough skilled technicians to keep it going. The beautiful modern phone network set up by Ma Bell was mostly dismantled. Fidel didn’t like the idea of widespread phone availability as the phone lines could been used to coordinate resistance to the Castro dictatorship just as the communist rebels had used them against Batista.
Liberals like to blame Communist Cuba’s economic downfall on the United States Embargo. How convenient? The problem was and is that liberals are unwilling to accept the fact that the Cuban system failed not because of the US but because, in the most simplistic of terms, Communism just doesn’t work. It never ever has and never will.
Perhaps liberals have never been able to except the failures of Communism because well, Communism is just a little too close to their own flawed ideology.. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and ask a liberal to explain why Communist country “X” (take you pick) failed? Then, watch them with true knee jerk speed say, “Well, County “X” was never really a true representation of proper socialism.” Go ahead and try it out on a liberal. It works every time.