Watching President Barack Obama hang out with Cuban “president” Raul Castro immediately triggered a question in my mind: How many innocent people were murdered during Fidel and Raul Castro’s brutal Cuban experiment in socialism?
An exact number is hard to find, and available data does not include human suffering due to lack of food and basic services. But the consensus is stark: In his authoritative book “Power Kills,” R.J. Rummel estimates that the Castro regime murdered some 77,000 to 141,000 innocents, including deaths by firing squad and other executions, disappearances, and “extrajudicial killings.” This estimate likely does not include some 77,833 “Balseros,” Cubans who died at sea trying to flee Castro’s reign of terror.
While many Castro sympathizers in the United States have historically bought into Fidel Castro’s original claims as a “humanist,” it is now clear that his intentions were always radically authoritarian. “From the outset,” writes Tad Szulc, a one-time correspondent for the New York Times, “Castro went about turning Cuba into a Marxist-Leninist state, with the collaboration of old-line Communists and the new Communist cadres he was creating within his rebel army.”
Che Guevara, the infamous Castro apparatchik whose image now adorns the designer t-shirts of young progressives, was the first to let the cat out of the bag about the true intentions of the Castro revolution. “We are an armed democracy,” he told an audience in Havana just a few weeks after the January 1, 1959 revolution. He called for seizures of large land holdings and the nationalization of public utilities owned by American companies. Guevara ran the La Cabana fortress in Havana, a brutal prison where Castro’s political opponents went to die. “The Cuban revolution under the direction of Guevara also saw the rise of forced labor camps which gave way a few years later to full-scale concentration camps. These were filled with dissidents, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Afro-Cuban priests, and anyone else who had committed ‘crimes’ against the new moral revolution.”
As for Raul Castro’s role in all of this human devastation, an August, 1960 edition of Time Magazine described the division of labor between the three Cuban revolutionaries. Che was the “brain,” and Fidel was the “heart.” Raul Castro, according to Time, was the “fist” of Cuba’s murderous experiment in Soviet-style socialism. Think about that for a minute.