Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant
The truth about the world's favorite murderer
By Steven Martinovich
In a rational world a world leader guilty of mass murder and torture, a man who managed to outdo the Nazi prewar murder and incarceration rate during his first three months in power would not be feted. Fidel Castro is proof that this isn't an entirely rational world. Despite the fact that Castro is responsible for one of the bloodiest and most repressive régimes on the planet, he is hailed as a kind and sensitive man.
Though it is not likely to persuade any of Castro's admirers, Humberto Fontova's impassioned effort Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant aims at correcting the record. Dismayed by the long record of misguided affection for the communist tyrant, Fidel is Fontova's response to comments such as "Cuba's Elvis" (Dan Rather) and "Very selfless and moral. One of the world's wisest men." (Oliver Stone).
According to Fontova, the reality is far different. From the very beginning Castro was a thug who began his homicidal ways more than six decades ago with suspected murders of university rivals and a 1948 uprising in Bogotá that was responsible for the deaths of thousands. Today, Castro presides over a vicious totalitarian state that has the blood of untold numbers of dissidents jailed and murdered during his rule.
Fontova documents that bloody history, recounting mass executions, show trials and torture. Although Cuba is billed as a paradise, Fontova illustrates that the reality is far different. Just like its now departed Cold War ally the Soviet Union, the worker's paradise boasts concentration camps where inmates are beaten, starved and often executed. In the old days Castro himself was a witness to the firing squads that worked day and night to murder off dissidents or anyone else viewed as a threat to the communist régime.
Along with his thoughts on Castro, Fontova also explores Cuba both before and after the communist revolution, Castro's aid to international drug trafficking groups, Che Guevara (whom he paints as a militarily inept coward incapable of winning even easy battles), and the media's history of favorable coverage of the Hitler admiring dictator. He blasts those who want to expand business ties with Cuba or believe that playing nice with Castro will pay the dividend of increased political moderation. A number of myths -- including the allegedly improved lives of Cubans during the Castro years -- are also demolished by Fontova.
Although the book is subtitled "Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant", Fontova saves much of his ire for a media, particularly the New York Times, he accuses of willingly distorting the reality of a tyrannical Cuba in favour of presenting a progressive state. Since the 1950s, he shows, the world media -- whom he dubs as "suckers for Castro" -- has with few exceptions failed to tell the real story. Even while bodies were being dumped in a moat around one of Cuba's prisons in the weeks after the revolution, the media praised Castro as honest, an anti-Communist and a restorer of legitimate government.
If Fidel has a weakness it's that Fontova's tone sometimes becomes overly heated, though given that he was a refugee of Castro's dictatorship it's an understandable weakness. Totalitarianism demands to be attacked with every weapon and it's arguable, to paraphrase a thought from Barry Goldwater, that there is no such thing as extremism in the defense of human liberty. Fontova has penned a potent attack on Castro and the Cuba that he has created, one that has destroyed the lives of millions.
Fidel argues persuasively that the admiration that Castro basks in, whether via open admiration from Hollywood or biased reporting from the press, is a crime both against the truth and the Cuban people. Although Fontova will be dismissed as yet another conservative Cuban refugee motivated simply by ideological hatred of Castro, Fidel shows him to instead be a promoter of liberty for those who remain in the dictator's island-sized prison camp. Hopefully one day Castro's useful idiots in the western world will follow Fontova's lead.
Steven Martinovich is a freelance writer in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada.
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