Sunday, September 03, 2006

Castro: a critique from the Left

Sadly, the Castro regime has never been short of Western apologists during the past 47 years. From Jean-Paul Sartre to Harry Belafonte.

But the number of "supporters" seems to be dwindling rapidly as the Fidel Castro era comes to its inevitable, pathetic end - regardless of those cheesy home videos shown on Cuban television over the past day or so of the 80-year-old dictator recovering from surgery.

I was reminded of this while reading an opinion piece penned by Fred Halliday, a professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics.

Regarded as a left winger of the old school, Professor Halliday has been to Cuba three times (in 1968, 1981 and 2000) to lecture at Cuban higher education institutions. In other words, he could be considered to have been generally supportive of the regime. Or at least not overtly critical.

In his column, he tries hard to be “fair” to Castro, raising all the old chestnuts: the impact of the American “blockade”, the “excellent” health and education systems; the “venomous” exiles; US foreign policy, etc, etc.

But in the end, the good professor concedes that “much of what is wrong with Cuba is the result not of imperialist mischief, but of post-revolutionary dogmatism, stupidity and arrogance.”

And the person to blame for this debacle? Fidel Castro.

“This introversion and protracted entropy of the Cuban revolution in the 1990s is not, however, some sudden break with an earlier, utopian, phase,” Professor Halliday concludes.

“It points, rather, to problems in the whole history of the revolution itself – problems which astute even if sympathetic observers noted in the early 1960s but which supporters of the Cuban state (quick to suspend judgment or see the reality of life on the island as it is and has long been) seek to avoid.

“The most evident is the personality of the leader himself: a man of vision, courage, honesty and charisma, but also of demagogy, inconsistency, episodic vindictiveness and cruelty, grotesque verbal self-indulgence, intolerance, contempt for intellectuals and homosexuals, and plain administrative ineptness.”

I don't quite agree with the bit about courage and honesty and vision, but the rest sounds pretty much spot on. Read the full feature here.




Cuba, I Remember You is a book about family, love, relationships, and survival in difficult circumstances in Cuba's pre and post revolution of the 1950's and 60's that all readers will find to be a wonderful reading experience.

See more about the book at:

A collection of 14 short stories, all in Spanish and English, based on the author’s experiences of childhood before and after the Communist revolution. Includes Appendix for educators wishing to use the book in Spanish or English foreign language classes. Lots of nostalgia for those who knew Cuba in the 50’s and 60’s and plenty of humor for readers in general. Includes also many period family photographs that illustrate the stories and bring them vividly to life!

About the Author

Dr. Oscar M. Ramírez-Orbea, was born in Camagüey, Cuba, in 1955. He emigrated with his family to the US in 1966, after completing elementary school in his home country. He longs one day to return to his native city of Camagüey and to all the fond memories it holds for him. CUBA, I REMEMBER YOU/CUBA, TE RECUERDO is Dr. Ramírez’s first narrative work.

Available now from Airleaf Publishing ( or call today to order your copy at 1-800-342–6068.

§ Product Details

§ Paperback: 392 pages

§ Publisher: Airleaf Publishing; 1st edition (January 10, 2006)

§ Language: English, Spanish

§ ISBN: 1594539553

New work by the same author, published and in bookstores by winter of 2007:

Cuba, Between History and Legend

A collection of short stories based on Cuban legends and unusual histories, all told in thoroughly original and creative ways. All stories are narrated in English and Spanish on facing pages. Includes also substantial background information on the actual events on which the stories are based, as well as references for follow-up reading, and historical illustrations for all the stories. For brief descriptions of the stories, go to On the market by year’s end. Cuba … like you’ve never read it before!

Por el mismo autor:

Cuba, Entre la Historia y la Leyenda

Una colección de cuentos cortos basados en leyendas cubanas y en eventos insólitos de la historia de Cuba, todos narrados en un estilo originalísimo y de gran fantasía. Se narran todos los cuentos en inglés y en español, en páginas opuestas. Incluye considerable información adicional sobre el fondo histórico de cada cuento, al igual que sugerencias para otras lecturas sobre la misma temática, y se incluyen ilustraciones históricas de cada uno de los cuentos. Para leer breves descripciones de cada cuento, favor de dirgirse a En venta hacia finales del año. Cuba ¡como nunca te la imaginaste!

1:05 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home