Another chapter in the still evolving history of the Cold War closed overnight as the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro was announced. Castro, who was 90, had fought and overthrown the corrupt Batista dictatorship in the 1950s, emerging as the one who conquered the resulting power vacuum. He later declared the Cuban revolution to be Marxist-Leninist in nature. Some have paid tribute on the occasion of his passing.
Those tributes included this dignified response from Barack Obama: “At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people … We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States - with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation … History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him”.
But for some, that level of non-judgmental restraint went out the window, and there was no more unsubtle example than that provided by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who have ridiculed anyone and everyone saying anything not totally hostile about the former Cuban leader.
Jeremy Corbyn, George Galloway, Ken Livingstone and Peter Hain are all duly ridiculed as The Great Guido revisits his favourite smear - mental health - and talks of “Nuttiest Tributes”. The Fawkes folks are also particularly severe on the hated BBC - Staines’ appearances on the Beeb do seem to have tailed off of late - whining about their coverage by telling “No mention of the thousands summarily executed after the revolution”.
There’s more: “No mention of the decades of impoverishment and human rights abuse. No mention of his secret police rounding up homosexuals and putting them in concentration camps. Castro gets a free pass on democratic norms – ‘his critics accused him of being a dictator’. Does the BBC think that is only an allegation?”
So dictators are A Very Bad Thing, then, and summary executions are also right out of order. In that case, perhaps Staines would care to explain his slavish support for the tyrant and dictator Augusto Pinochet, who murdered his way to power in Chile in a military coup in 1973, deposing the democratically elected Government of Salvador Allende, had thousands summarily executed, and for whom human rights abuses were a way of life.
Democracy, for Pinochet and other régimes favoured by The Great Guido, such as the Contras in Nicaragua, was the kind of inconvenient detail they ignored. And for Staines there is not even a mention of the USA’s - or more specifically Richard Nixon’s - role in making sure Castro formed an alliance with the Soviet Union, after Tricky Dicky met Castro in Washington DC and declared that he was a Communist. He duly became one.
The Fawkes rabble are, as so often, full value for their hypocrisy when it comes to kicking the dictators they don’t like, while either ignoring the ones they do, or sucking up to them, as Staines did with the memory of Pinochet. Another fine mess, once again.