As Cuban-Americans celebrate in the streets of Miami, world leaders across the globe are offering up their condolences. The recent death of the Cuban leader has encouraged celebrations among the country’s exiles in Miami, as well as the expressions of sorrow from some world leaders.
Only 30 minutes had passed since the Cuban government had announced the death of the 90-year old revolutionary leader, cheers could be heard all throughout Miami’s Little Havana. There were thousands of people filling the streets, banging pots and waving Cuban flags as they cried out in jubilation “Cuba si! Castro no!” they chanted, while others screamed “Cuba libre!”
“Feels weird,” said Gabriel Morales, a 40-year old financial executive who works in Miami. His parents left Cuba after Castro came into power. “Been waiting to hear this news all my life. Seems unreal,” Morales said in a text message to an AP reporter.
“This is the happiest day of my life; Cubans are finally free,” said Orlidia Montells, an 84-year-old woman.
U.S. Congress representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican from Miami, said in a statement: “A tyrant is dead and a new beginning can dawn on the last remaining communist bastion of the Western Hemisphere.”
History Will Judge Castro
U.S. President Barack Obama offered condolences to Castro’s family and said his thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people.
As for Castro’s legacy, he said “history will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.”
U.S. president-elect Donald Trump said on Twitter, “Fidel Castro is dead!” and followed it up with a statement condemning the Cuban leader as a “brutal dictator.”
So, what were some of Castro’s most brutal historic crimes and atrocities? While there are plenty of people who are celebrating right now, there are just as many who don’t know much about Castro and the horrible things that he did while in power. That is because for the most part, the international media has neglected their duty to report the truth about the dictatorship that lies 90 miles from the American shores.
Perhaps one of the most brutal attacks performed by Castro were the firing squads which he implemented. Before he would eventually take power in Cuba, Fidel Castro used firing squad executions to enforce discipline, punish followers deemed disloyal or intimidate potential oppression.
The Cuba Archive which documents deaths and disappearances resulting from Fidel Castro’s Cuban revolution has documented 3,615 firing squad executions conducted by the Cuban state since Castro took over on January 1, 1959.
In April 2003 Fidel Castro’s government executed 3 men who hijacked a ferry boat in an attempt to escape Cuba. They were sentenced to death and killed by firing squad less than two weeks after the alleged crime was committed.
Castro shot down American civilian aircrafts killing 4 people including 3 American citizens. It was during the 1996 rafter crisis when the United States agreed to accept 25,000 Cuban refugees annually using a visa lottery and Fidel Castro’s government had agreed to prevent rafters from fleeing. During the height of the crisis, a Miami-based humanitarian organization known as “Brothers to the Rescue” made up of Cuban exile pilots had spotted rafters dropping water and other supplied to them and cording Coast Guard rescues.
The Brothers to the Rescue occasionally flew into Cuban airspace to drop leaflets. On February 24, 1996, the Cuban Airforce MIG jets started shooting two unarmed civilian aircraft out of the sky over international waters killing all four aboard.
Castro was also known for forcing labor camps. During the mid-1960s, his regime in Cuba created a system of labor camps called “Military Units in Aid of Protection” known better as UMAP. By this time considerable opposition to the Cuban Resolution had developed and Castro, in order to maintain stability of his rule, needed a mechanism whereby he could neutralize undesirables.
internment in a UMAP could be precipitated by any of the following actions: refusing to engage in “volunteer” work on behalf of the Revolution, being homosexual, being a Jehovah’s Witness, being a Seventh Day Adventist, refusing collectivization. Additionally, among those also rounded up and sent to the UMAPs were members of the Catholic and Protestant clergy.
The Interamerican Commission for Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) estimated in a report on Cuba that at one point there were 30,000 Cuban citizens interned in the UMAP system.
A 1966 article in Granma, the official newspaper of Cuba’s Communist Party characterized the genesis of the UMAPs in this way.