During a December 10 Fox News interview with Bill O'Reilly, cable television tycoon Ted Turner, a longtime admirer of Fidel Castro, made the astonishing claim that Castro's Stalinist regime never killed anyone.
O'REILLY: Fidel Castro, do you admire the man?
O'REILLY: Now, he has murdered people. He's imprisoned people. There are political prisoners now. He won't let his people use the Internet. Nobody can use that. And you admire the guy?
TURNER: Well, I admire certain things about him. He's trained a lot of doctors, and they've got one of the best educational systems in the developing world. And you know, he's still popular with a lot of people down there...
O' REILLY: But he's a killer. He's a killer. He's a guy who…
TURNER: But that has never, to my knowledge, that's never been proven. I mean…
O'REILLY: He's executed political prisoners. I mean, he enslaves people who don't see it the way he sees it. Come on. He runs a dictatorship.
Even the Cuban revolution’s most die-hard apologists have never made so transparently preposterous a claim, and for good reason. According to the Black Book of Communism, 14,000 men and boys had been executed in Cuba by 1964 – the equivalent of more than 3 million executions in the United States. Yet the communist’s defenders continue to march. "VIVA CHE! VIVA FIDEL!" bellowed Jesse Jackson while arm-in-arm with Fidel Castro at the University of Havana in 1984. (Jesse Jackson, by the way, wrote a book condemning capital punishment.)
Indeed, like al-Qaeda generations later, mass murder (often in public), was always key to the Communist quest for and maintenance of power. Communists have always wanted this to be known, as a means to intimidate opposition. Let's examine some quotations from communist monsters:
- "We will make our hearts cruel, hard, and immovable ... we will not quiver at the sight of a sea of enemy blood. Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of thousands; let them drown themselves in their own blood! Let there be floods of the blood of the bourgeois – more blood, as much as possible." Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of the Soviet Cheka in 1918.
- "Crazy with fury I will stain my rifle red while slaughtering any enemy that falls in my hands! My nostrils dilate while savoring the acrid odor of gunpowder and blood. With the deaths of my enemies I prepare my being for the sacred fight and join the triumphant proletariat with a bestial howl!" Ernesto “Che” Guevara from the book that became The Motorcycle Diaries.
- “We stand for organized terror - this should be frankly admitted. Terror is an absolute necessity during times of revolution. Our aim is to fight against the enemies of the Soviet Government and of the new order of life. We judge quickly.” V.I Lenin.
- "To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail. This is a revolution! And a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate. We execute from revolutionary conviction!” Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
- "Executions? Certainly we execute! And we will CONTINUE executing as long as it is necessary! This is a war to the DEATH against the revolution's enemies!" Che Guevara while addressing the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1964.
Note that all of Guevara's above quotes are found in his own diaries. Some of these diaries were fashioned into a movie four years ago by Robert Redford (The Motorcycle Diaries). Others provided the screenplay for Che, the four-and-a-half hour “epic hagiography” (as described by the New York Times) directed by Stephen Soderbergh and starring Benicio Del Toro titled, released stateside just last week. Although the above-mentioned directors and producers profess rigid fidelity to Che's diaries, one searches their film in vain for these quotations.
Instead, many of the scenes are altogether fictitious. When Che Guevara entered the Cuban city of Santa Clara during the anti-Batista skirmishes, he promptly ordered the firing squad to murder dozens of “war-criminals” said to be linked to the overthrown government of Fulgencio Batista. This “battle” added up to six casualties on both sides, but Soderbergh and Del Toro – mindlessly sycophantic to their Castroite sources – depict it as a Caribbean Stalingrad that somehow produced scores of war criminals on one side! The New York Times, which “reported” on this “battle” as it “raged,” didn't bother to look into this numerical discrepancy.
The Cuban revolutionaries even televised their executions at Santa Clara. Among the victims was a valiant man named Col. Cornelio Rojas. Refusing a blindfold, Rojas walked unescorted to his execution (It was actually a murder: Che Guevara didn't even bother with one of his bogus trials). Compare Senor Rojas's death to Guevara's capture, when he reportedly whimpered, “Don't shoot! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!”
Blanca Rojas, Senor Rojas wife of 40 years, died of a heart attack while watching her husband's murder on Cuban national TV. Cornelio Rojas 17-year-old nephew, Pedro, volunteered for what came to be known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. After fighting to his last bullet, the defenseless Pedro was murdered in cold blood by one Osmany Cienfuegos, the man who until recently served as Cuba's "Minister of Tourism." For over a decade, Cienfuegos served as official host for millions of Canadian tourists.
The brutal legacy of the Cuban revolution is not the only blind spot in Ted Turner’s adoring history. The CNN creator also approves of Castro's educational system, calling it an outstanding representative of learning in the developing world. Fine. But what seems to escape Turner is that prior to Fidel and Che's glorious revolution, Cuba was not part of the "developing world." A UNESCO report on Cuba from circa 1957 reports: "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class." It begins with these long-outdated statistics:
Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8 hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 percent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 percent, in Switzerland 64 percent. 44 percent of Cubans are covered by Social legislation, (a higher percentage than in the U.S.)
In 1958, the year before Castro took over, Cuba had more doctors and dentists per capita than Britain, and a lower infant mortality than France and Germany – the 13th-lowest in the world. Today, Cuba's infant-mortality rate is 43rd from the top, despite having the hemisphere's highest abortion rate, which skews this figure downward. Relative to the rest of the world, Cuba's health care has worsened horrendously under Castro. Thus it is that a nation that was once a destination for European immigrants today needs machine guns, water cannons, and tiger sharks to keep its people from fleeing. A mere sixty miles away, half-starved Haitians turn up their noses at the thought of immigrating to Cuba.
The charitable explanation for Turner’s affection for Fidel is that it is fundamentally about business. Back in 1997, when CNN craved a Havana Bureau, Turner's sales pitch was not particularly subtle: "Castro is one helluva guy!" he gushed to a capacity crowd at Harvard Law School during a speech. "You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him." Within weeks, CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first ever granted by Castro to a foreign network. Whitewashing Castro’s record may be good business. But it’s hard to believe that after all this time Turner is really the dupe that his recent remarks suggest.