News & Politics

The Chilling Reason Why Black Lives Matter Memorializes Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez (AP Images, Petroleos Venezuelan: Jorge Rey/MediaPunch/IPX)

Two days after Cuban dictator Fidel Castro bit the dust, Black Lives Matter memorialized him, and the reasons for it are not pretty. Castro killed thousands of his own people, imprisoned many more, caused 1 million refugees to flee to the United States, and even canceled Christmas. But Black Lives Matter celebrated him — because he provided a refuge for cop killers.

“Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,” reads the declaration, published by the “Black Lives Matter” account on Medium.com. While the movement has no single leader, this Medium account attempts to speak for it, and it has 12.6 K followers. Moreover, the sentiments expressed in this article echo the Marxist demands of the Movement for Black Lives, which speaks for a broad coalition of groups in the movement.

The key lesson Black Lives Matter learned from Castro? “Revolution is continuous and is won first in the hearts and minds of the people and is continually shaped and reshaped by the collective,” the article declared. “No single revolutionary ever wins or even begins the revolution. The revolution begins only when the whole is fully bought in and committed to it. And it is never over.”

Yes, Black Lives Matter said this of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people. If any “revolutionary” least exemplified the idea that “no single revolutionary ever wins or even begins the revolution,” it is Fidel Castro. Or rather, it would be, if Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot hadn’t set records even Castro couldn’t beat.

The exact number of Cubans killed by the Castro regime remains unknown, but estimates range from 2,000 to 33,000, with a mid range of 15,000 — in a country of only 7 million people. In per capita terms, that is the equivalent of 680,000 executions in the United States (with its population of 318 million). That’s the entire population of Denver or Seattle.

But that’s just mass murder — don’t forget political prisoners! The Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation  received over 7,188 reports of arbitrary detentions from January through August of 2014. According to PolitiFact, there are at least 97 known current political prisoners. These prisons are overcrowded and unhygienic, with prisoners forced to work 12-hour days, Human Rights Watch reported. Inmates have no effective complaint mechanism to seek redress.

Cuba’s government still refuses to recognize human rights monitoring as a legitimate activity, and government authorities have been reported to harass, assault, and imprison human rights defenders.

Furthermore, the government controls all media outlets and tightly restricts access to outside information. Internet access is highly restricted, and government critics have been attacked and arbitrarily arrested. Some travel regulations once required an extra visa to leave the island, and were used to prevent the family members of those critical of the government from leaving.

Only a government like this could cancel Christmas, which Castro did in 1969, to prevent celebrations from getting in the way of the sugar harvest. For nearly thirty years, Cuba was officially an atheist nation, and the Christmas ban lasted until December 1997. Preparing for a visit by Pope John Paul II planned for January of 1998, Castro declared that Christmas would be a national holiday — for one year only! Luckily for those traumatized by Cuba’s real-life Chronicles of Narnia wicked witch, the change stuck.

Is it any wonder that 1 million refugees fled to the United States? But that was unacceptable too. Castro’s government tried to prevent the emigration at all costs, killing those trying to flee. On July 13, 1994, Castro’s forces killed 37 would-be escapees, most of them children and their mothers, in the infamous Tugboat Massacre.

Miami’s Cuban population loudly celebrated when Castro died, but not Black Lives Matter. No, they mourned Castro, because he had harbored American criminals who had murdered police officers.

Next Page: The real reason Black Lives Matter mourned Fidel Castro.

Black Lives Matter praised Castro for harboring criminals from America. Here’s the relevant passage:

As a Black network committed to transformation, we are particularly grateful to Fidel for holding Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us. We are thankful that he provided a home for Brother Michael Finney Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill, asylum to Brother Huey P. Newton, and sanctuary for so many other Black revolutionaries who were being persecuted by the American government during the Black Power era.

So, who are these people who “continue to inspire” Black Lives Matter?

“Mama Assata Shakur” is an alias for one Joanne Deborah Chesimard, according to the FBI’s list of “most wanted terrorists.” The FBI is still offering $1 million as a reward for information which results in her capture. A member of the revolutionary extremist Black Liberation Army, Chesimard and her accomplices shot one policeman and executed another at point-blank range in 1973. Before this, she was wanted for several felonies, including bank robbery. Serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, she escaped from prison in 1979.

Michael Finney, Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill were members of the Republic of New Afrika, a black power militant group which aimed to break off Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina to form a separate nation for black people. On their way from California to the South, bringing weapons to support their cause, they were pulled over by New Mexico State Police Officer Robert Rosenbloom, whom they shot and killed. Surrounded by police, they hijacked a plane and flew to Cuba.

Huey Newton co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966, and was imprisoned for allegedly killing a cop in a traffic stop. He was freed in 1970, but his party splintered into factions. Newton faced more criminal charges — accused of murdering a 17-year-old prostitute and assaulting a tailor. He fled to Cuba in 1974, but returned to the U.S. four years later. The murder case was eventually dismissed. Newton struggled with drug and alcohol problems, faced more prison time, and died in 1989, after being shot in the street.

While these revolutionaries all championed the cause of black power, they also had criminal histories. Black Lives Matter, as a movement, does not condone cop killing, but here this Medium account is praising notorious alleged cop killers.

Next Page: Black Lives Matter praises Castro’s support for “spiritual work.”

The irony deepens, however. Black Lives Matter’s tribute to Fidel Castro also praises the Cuban dictator for providing “a space where the traditional spiritual work of African people could flourish, regardless of his belief system.” Yes — they praise the man who literally cancelled Christmas for his protection of “African people’s” “spiritual work.”

Most terrifyingly, however, Castro’s influence remains, as he was an icon for a worldwide leftist anti-American movement. He served as an inspiration for liberation theology, a Marxist reading of Christian theology which today carries substantial influence in Catholic and Protestant churches — even arguably in the speeches of Pope Francis.

When the prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, praised Castro as “a great friend,” he was referring to the Cuban dictator’s efforts to create a unified axis of powers separate from the United States and the Soviet Union. While that project failed, many on the left will still view Castro as a champion of the oppressed because of his stances against the United States, no matter what he did to his own people.

This is what Black Lives Matter means by praising Castro as a “revolutionary” figure who inspires revolutionaries today. Fighting for the oppressed is indeed a laudable goal, but oppressing your own people to do so seems to violate any claims to the moral high ground.

While this encomium for Castro is illuminating, this Medium.com account does not speak for the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole. I would encourage any members of that movement to condemn Castro for his abuse of power, and to distance themselves from this declaration praising the Cuban dictator. One need not support such a man in order to fight for equal treatment of all people by the police.