I came to Cuba a commie-hater ready to bury Castro, so why have I ended up praising him as a dictator whose people are in some ways freer than we are? Says Katie Hopkins
The rantings of Katie Hopkins invariably leave me speechless or seething with rage, or even both.
I was therefore stunned and left speechless (but for quite different reasons) when I came across this story in my daily search through the on line newspapers for the stories of the day.
Since the death of Fidel Castro last Friday (25th November 2016), the media and television have be full with reports emphasising every negative aspect of Fidel Castro's life, the dictatorship and his record on civil liberties and human right. Not one of the media reports or the television programmes made any reference to the abuses, corruption and despotism of the Batista regime which Castro and the 26th of July Movement and its allies overthrew. No mention either of education for all children, the reduction of unemployment and corruption, the improvements in hygiene and sanitation. The media have also ignored the introduction of free health care, free education, building schools, hospitals and public utilities together with other reforms introduced by the Castro government which have elevated Cuba to first-world levels of literacy and life expectancy. All this against a background of crippling trade and economic sanctions and embargo's enforced by the United States for almost 50 years as some form of collective punishment for the removal of Batista and Cuba's refusal to toe the American line.
The culmination, for me at least, of this incessant anti Castro, anti Cuba propaganda, was an article in yesterdays (29th November 2016) Guardian by Zoe Williams under the heading of "Forget Fidel Castro’s policies. What matters is that he was a dictator". The blatantly biased and in many ways inaccurate piece of "journalism" moved me to post the following blog:
"We cannot detract from the policies and achievements".
It was therefore equally stunning, surprising and perhaps even refreshing, to read this Mail on line article from a journalist who I have frequently criticised. Katie Hopkins has managed to achieve balance and perhaps more importantly has given a voice to the people of Cuba, who are genuinely and generally, as many of us have always known, appreciative and supportive of the man who overthrew a tyranny to bring improvements and reforms to the people of Cuba, notwithstanding his record on civil liberties and human rights.
|Young children were among those who waited through the night in central Havana to pay their respects|
The following extract taken from the Hopkins story, says much of the feelings of sadness and mourning amongst the Cuban people for the loss of a man who the vast majority of Cubans considered as a great national hero
"I found the Cuban people to be strong, and fiercely proud of their way of life.
Queuing in their thousands at the Revolution Square, I stood with them through the night as they waited in line. Queuing without complaint. Young and very old. Tiny babies in their Sunday best. Politely joining the back of the line, without hint of wanting to put themselves before others.
Many appeared to shed genuine tears.
'I'm devastated because it's as if my own father had died, he was like my second father. Everything we have, my education as a doctor, it's thanks to him,' said Maria del Carmen, 57, who had been standing in line since before dawn. 'I am very sad. I came to pay homage to our father, friend, commander,' Meireles said. 'He was a man who freed us and sent doctors and teachers everywhere around the world.'
|Katie Hopkins poses in front of a shrine to Che Guevara and Fidel Castro in Havana|