Castro: a critique from the Left
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.