Castro is no hero

I would like to set a few facts straight for Professor Weaver and anyone else who believes that Castro has done great things for Cubans and that Cubans support Castro.

In response to Professor Weaver’s letter of Oct. 29 titled “Bad Cuba Policy,” I would like to refresh his memory of how Castro came into power.

The year is 1959, the location, Cuba. Fidel Castro and his troops overthrow Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship. Yes, at first Cubans supported Castro—why not? This man promised a return to constitutional freedoms, a Cuba for Cubans and free elections.

Under Batista, Cubans did not have this—my father was arrested twice and his newspaper “Vanguardia” was forced to close by the Batista government. Freedom of speech or the press was suppressed whenever Batista felt it necessary.

However, the dreams Cubans had for a democratic future soon turned into nightmares. The Fidel Castro they came to know turned Communist. He replaced constitutional freedoms with a great fear to speak against the government. And those free elections—Cubans are STILL waiting for them. So could you tell me, Professor Weaver, how did Cubans choose their government?

Another misconception people have about Castro is his great feat in combatting illiteracy. First of all, many Cubans were literate BEFORE Castro took over. Secondly, my mother taught in the “literacy” programs—the ultimate test of literacy was if you could sign your own name … that’s all.

If Castro is so great and if his policies work so well, could you tell me why so many Cubans risk their lives to come to Florida on makeshift rafts? Tell me why they would do anything—including living a few years in the country unemployed while they wait for their visas—to leave Cuba (Both my uncle and my father were forced to resign from their jobs while they waited for visas—regardless of the fact that it took a few years for them to leave).

A few more misconceptions I would like to clear up:

‘Although Cubans have access to free education, students are indoctrinated to believe in Castro and the Communist Party. Perhaps a vivid example would be a day in my mother’s classroom after the revolution. Castro’s soldiers came into the class and asked the children if they wanted a Coke. The children, of course, said yes.

Then the soldiers told them to close their eyes and ask God for a Coke. When the children opened their eyes nothing was there.

Then the soldiers told them to close their eyes and ask Fidel Castro for a Coke. While their eyes were closed, the soldiers placed a Coke on each desk. When they opened their eyes, the soldiers told them to thank Fidel, not God, because Fidel put the Coke on their desks.

‘The huge crowds at Castro’s speeches are not because EVERYONE WANTS to be there. Attending these speeches affects the Cuban’s status as a “model worker.” It is important to be a “model worker” in order to be able to purchase something that is not in your rationing (i.e. a stereo or an extra shirt).

‘The economic problems that Castro is facing now are not new. Granted they are worse than before, but they have been around. Isn’t it strange how Cuba’s hotels that are open to tourists offer electricity, water and the best of foods, while Cubans form lines for one pound of hamburger meat and water and electricity are rationed?

It really angers me to hear people praise Castro for what he has done and make him look like a hero. Perhaps Professor Weaver, if you lived under Castro or heard the same stories I have heard from my parents, grandparents and other relatives, you would feel the same.

Castro should not be allowed to remain in power. I hope that someday he is ousted and that I can visit the relatives I have left in Cuba.

As for humanitarian aid to Cuba—how can we give humanitarian aid to a government that is so inhumane? I know this may seem odd for me to say, even though I have relatives still there, but I feel that in the long run it would be for the best.

Alicia Rioseco