From Fox News
Longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro, the bearded, cigar-smoking Communist revolutionary who infuriated the United States, inspired both loyalty and loathing from his countrymen and maintained an iron grip on Cuban politics for almost 50 years, died Friday at the age of 90.
Castro, who was the only leader most of his countrymen ever knew, outlasted 11 US presidents since he first took power in 1959.
Castro had been in declining health for years – he continued to spew his anti-American tirades almost until the end.
In October, 2014, Castro reprinted a New York Times editorial in state-run media that argued that the U.S. embargo on Cuba should end. The editorial ran almost verbatim, omitting one line about Cuba’s release of political prisoners.
……He attended Jesuit boarding schools, and developed a love for sports, pitching for El Colegio de Belen’s baseball team. He attended the University of Havana law school, where he joined groups that focused on Cuban nationalism and socialism.
After graduation and now a revolutionary, he took up arms against the government of President Fulgencio Batista, leading a failed 1953 attack on a military barracks in hopes of triggering a popular revolt.
Instead he was captured and at his trial, where he led his own defense, famously predicted “history will absolve me.”
History will record you exactly as you were, a bloody, deranged despot who destroyed his island nation and infested it with communism and poverty.
After spending time in prison, Castro went into exile in Mexico, where he met Ernesto “Che” Guevara, who became his confidante.
Castro established another guerrilla force and after several years of fighting, eventually defeated Batista in 1959, taking control of Cuba at the age of 32.
After being sworn in as prime minister, Castro began a series of reforms, many designed to end US economic power on the island. Relations between the two countries frayed and when Castro visited the US later that year, President Dwight Eisenhower refused to meet with him.
At the same time, Castro’s government began to establish relations with the Soviet Union. In April 1961 Castro formally declared Cuba a socialist state just days before the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion that saw 1,400 Cuban exiles trained by the CIA unsuccessfully attempt to invade and topple his government.
Castro intensified relations with the Soviet Union and in 1962 US reconnaissance planes discovered Soviet missiles on their way to Cuban sites, precipitating a tense standoff between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev.
Castro’s bloody legacy:
The Cuba Archive has credible information on at least 11 cases of forced blood extraction prior to execution. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of States (OAS) 1967 report regarding the practice at Havana’s La Cabaña prison, an average of seven pints of blood were forcibly taken from prisoners on their way to be executed, causing “cerebral anemia and a state of unconscious paralysis.” (For perspective, the average adult has around 10 pints of blood in their body.) Victims would then be taken to the firing squad on a stretcher.
The Cuban government would then sell the blood to the North Vietnamese for around $50 a pint.
……forced labor camps for conscientious objectors, homosexuals, and other “enemies of the state.”
……the sinking of the 13 de Marzo tugboat, which killed 41 fleeing Cubans, including 10 children.
Even after Castro ceded power to his brother, he still influenced other leftwing dictators in the hemisphere:
……Castro summed up his views on dissent with a famous 1961 warning to Cuba’s intellectual class that excessive criticism would not be tolerated: “Within the Revolution, everything; outside the Revolution, nothing.”
“There are books that should not have a single issue published, not even a chapter, not a page, not a letter,” Castro said a decade later, adding: “There will be room here now … only for revolutionaries.”
He opened Cuba to a stream of U.S. fugitives, from Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver to financier Robert Vesco, all of whom he said were persecuted Americans.
……Castro also found a new benefactor in Chavez, who directed some of Venezuela’s vast oil wealth into generous deals that bolstered Cuba’s economy.
……Castro survived to see a wave of leftist governments wash across the continent, with some, notably Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, paying him special homage.
Within half an hour of the Cuban government’s official announcement that former President Fidel Castro had died, Miami’s Little Havana teemed with life — and cheers.
Thousands of people banged pots with spoons, waved Cuban flags in the air and whooped in jubilation on Calle Ocho — 8th Street, and the heart of the neighborhood — early Saturday. Honking and strains of salsa music from car stereos echoed against stucco buildings, and fireworks lit up the humid night sky.
Police blocked off streets leading to Cafe Versailles, the quintessential Cuban American hotspot where strong cafecitos — sweetened espresso — were as common as a harsh word about Fidel Castro.
“Cuba si! Castro no!” they chanted, while others screamed “Cuba libre!”
Celebration, not grief, permeated the atmosphere. That was no surprise. Castro has cast a shadow over Miami for decades, and in many ways, his policy and his power have shaped the city and its inhabitants.
Cubans fled the island to Miami, Tampa, New Jersey and elsewhere after Castro took power in 1959. Some were loyalists of Fulgencio Batista, the president prior to Castro, while others left with the hope they would be able to return soon, after Castro was toppled. He never was.
Many others believed they would not be truly free under Castro and his communist regime. Thousands left behind their possessions, loved ones, and hard-earned educations and businesses, traveling to the U.S. by plane, boat or raft. Many Cubans died on the ocean trip to South Florida. And many never returned to see their childhood homes, their neighborhoods, their playgrounds, their businesses, their cousins and aunts and uncles, because Castro was still in power.
The ones that made it to Miami took a largely, and vehemently, anti-Castro stance.
……But as the Cuban exiles aged, and as Castro outlived them, and as Obama eroded the embargo and younger Cubans returned to the island, the toast rang silent in many households.
And of course, Enrique Peña Nieto thinks Castro was some kind of humanitarian.
One of the sickening aspects of Obama’s warped foreign policies was his willingness to overlook the last 55 years of Castro’s brutal dictatorship, and ‘normalize relations’ with the communist gulag.
On a side note, remember Jimmy Carter’s abject stupidity with the massive 1980 Mariel Boatlift? Fidel Castro released thousands of his worst human excrement to our shores. Thieves, rapists, murderers, pedophiles, and inmates from insane asylums were dumped into our country with devastating results. I was a witness to some of the filth that Castro freed. I was a Buck Sergeant in an Army Reserve unit at the time, at Ft., McCoy, Wisconsin, where they housed some of these “refugees”. We had to keep them in a fortified barracks compound complete with barbed wire, high fences, trenches, armed MPs and guard dogs. They were absolute pigs. Rapes and assaults were a daily occurrence. Believe me, not all of them were political prisoners or dissidents.
Bubba Clinton did his part for relations when he ripped Elian Gonzalez from his chance at freedom and sent him back to be exploited by Castro.
Now that the communist thug has been sent to hell, we’ll see what Cuba does for its future.