Yes, It Is "Good Riddance"

December 1st, 2016 | M. Menuck
good riddance fidel castro
Mark Twain once wrote that "I've never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure." Those sentiments would be an appropriate accompaniment to the news that Fidel Castro, former President of Cuba, had passed away. When the story broke late on November 25, it was greeted with a mixture of shock and joy by many. At 90, Fidel Castro was in many ways the very last lingering scion of the Cold War, his fellow tyrants of the Iron Curtain having either been overthrown or hounded from office long ago (though it should be noted Fidel had formally resigned the presidency of Cuba eight years prior to his death, handing the office to his slightly younger brother Raoul). In Miami, Cuban exiles, or in many cases their descendants, celebrated in the streets to the early hours of the morning with eyewitnesses reporting alternate chants of "Cuba Libre" and "Trump" ringing through the crowds.

Such celebrations at a man's death may be somewhat crass, but that does not make them any less deserving. The only honest reaction of any decent human being to Castro's death would be one of "good riddance". True, of the great communist tyrants, of whom he was the last, it can be said that Castro was arguably the least bad; to him cannot be attributed the self-induced famines and gulags of Stalin or the mass butchery of Mao or the near genocide of Pol Pot.

Acknowledging this does not absolve or redeem him of the evil that was there, however, for it was more than sufficient on its own to condemn Castro both in this world and the next. Under his regime, by conservative estimates, thousands were killed, imprisoned and tortured, or simply "disappeared", and hundreds of thousands more driven from their homes into exile. Generations of Cubans were impoverished, as what was once the economic success story of Latin America was run into the ground through mismanagement, corruption and international isolation. Today, a pound of meat easily costs the average Cuban one month's pay. Basic consumer goods like toilet paper and toothpaste are often unattainable. Health care may be free, but patients often must supply their own bandages and gauze through illicit dealings on the black market. Fidel Castro may not have the blood of millions on his hands as many of his fellow comrades did, but his legacy is one of decades of terror, oppression and outright misery all the same.

Despite this there has been no shortage of the usual suspects who have come forward in the wake of Castro's death with their snivelling contextualizations and cliches. As is almost obligatory by now, President Barack Obama issued a vague and long winded statement saying nothing of substance that is guaranteed to offend everyone and please no one. Jeremy Corbyn solidified his position as a Labour leader who only looks good in comparison to Tony Blair by stating that for all his flaws the deceased Cuban tyrant was "a champion of social justice". Here in Canada, our own Prime Minister Justin Trudeau probably won the Triple Crown for idiocy with his own reaction, which included a positively gushing acknowledgement of Fidel Castro as a great family friend who was a "legendary revolutionary and orator" (in the wake of these remarks the hashtag #TrudeauEulogies soared to top trending tweet on Twitter as satirical obituaries to as wide ranging a field of villains as Emperor Nero, Saddam Hussein and Lord Voldemort clogged social media).

This utterly pathetic display exemplifies more than anything else in recent days what exactly it was that fuelled the great wave of disgust that propelled Donald Trump into office (it should be noted that President-elect responded to the news by calling Castro a "brutal dictator" whose legacy would be of "firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights"). It has been almost sickening to watch the spectacle of progressives falling over themselves in the aftermath of Castro's death to highlight how the former tyrant built schools and hospitals and gave Cuba one of the highest ratios of MDs per capita in the entire world. Certainly all of this is true but IT DOES NOT MATTER. Search hard enough and one can find something positive to say about the most vile of people or regimes. The USSR designed in Moscow one of the greatest public transportation systems in history. Adolf Hitler built some cracking good roads. Mussolini made the trains run on time. Good deeds do not negate bad anymore than bad negates good.

Fidel Castro's legacy is one of oppression and tyranny, and no amount of health clinics and cooperative worker associations can erase that. The fate he ultimately met, dying peacefully in his bed of old age, is a far kinder one than he was deserving of. Nevertheless he has ultimately faced judgment, both in this world he has left and in the next that he has now entered, and history will not look kindly upon him. The nation he once ruled is slowly but surely shedding the ideology he dedicated his life towards (under the rulership of his own brother no less) and the ideology he espoused has been relegated to the dustbin of history and banished to the purgatory of academic seminars and lecture halls. The false god of socialism is dead as is Fidel Castro, the very last and very least of its standard bearers.