Do left-wing European journalists and politicians share the blame for the 50-year duration of the Castro dictatorship? Cuban human rights campaigner Armando Valladares seems to think so, and he makes a good case.
Sure, the Castros and their goons—who beat up with truncheons and drag through the streets anyone who dares speak their minds in the “Socialist Paradise”—have ultimate responsibility for what they have wrought. But Valladares, who spent 20 years in Castro’s Gulag, has a point when he says that the support that Europe’s self-selected bien pensants have given to Cuba’s oppressors has been instrumental in the continuation of Cuba’s tragedy. Most galling to Valladares is that this support is given because of the hatred the Europeans feel for the United States, which seems to override the suffering of 10 million people.
Mr. Valladares came to the Heritage Foundation to speak on May 20 and this is what he said on the subject as he described a recent trip to Sweden and Norway:
“When I’m traveling I’m always asked this question, how come the Cuban dictatorship has lasted so long? I think I have the answer, which comes from my personal experience throughout the world. I say that if the Castro dictatorship had been established in Asia or Africa it would have disappeared from the world. The guarantee of its permanence is to be 90 miles away from the U.S. and to have confronted the U.S.
“The vast majority of the governments and press of the world hate this country. This is what I told their leaders: ‘you have channeled your hatred of the United States by supporting Castro’s crimes, and that’s why the crimes of the Castro dictatorship have lasted for so long. And you may still have these feelings.’
“But I explained to them that the people of Cuba should have nothing to do with the hostility they feel against the U.S. So these leaders asked me, ‘what can we do?’ I told them, ‘very simple: treat the Castro dictatorship in the same way that you treated the dictatorships of Pinochet (in Chile) and of South Africa under Apartheid.’
“Then there was a silence, so I asked them ‘or is it that you believe that people of Cuba do not deserve the same solidarity that you showed the people of Chile and South Africa?’
“And I can prove what I am saying is true. In Sweden there is a very well known politician named Pierre Schori. My wife went and met him in 1981 in her campaign around the world to gain my freedom and she told him, ‘you people do not know what is happening in Cuban prisons.’ And he said to her, ‘yes, we do know it.’ So my wife asked him, ‘why don’t you say something then?’ And he answered, ‘ah, because that would be to admit that the Americans are right.’
“When my book was being published in Sweden, Pierre Schori came looking for me and asked me to exclude from my memoires that episode with my wife.”
Mike Gonzalez is Vice President of Communications at Heritage. Follow him on Twitter at @Gundisalvus