Give me Michael D’s measured take on Fidel Castro over Trump’s vitriol any day

Irish President was nuanced and balanced whilst his US counterpart was biased and vindictive

President Michael D Higgins signed the book of condolence for former Cuban leader Fidel Castro at the Cuban Embassy.

 

As soon as he heard that Fidel Castro died, US president-elect Donald Trump issued a vindictive statement about Cuba. By comparison, Irish President Michael D Higgins was balanced and informed.

Critics who think that Higgins needed to be explicit about human rights abuses in Cuba should be even more concerned about what Trump’s statement indicates. He seems set to turn back the clock of US foreign policy in Latin America.

Michael D. acknowledged that in Cuba, since Castro’s revolution, “The economic and social reforms introduced were at the price of a restriction of civil society, which brought its critics.” But he also pointed out many advances in Cuban society.

Trump made no effort to be balanced. Sounding as embittered as any privileged Cuban family that left Cuba for exile in Miami after the revolution, he dismissed Castro as simply “a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades”.

For Trump, Fidel Castro’s only legacy “is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.” Not at all like Trump’s friend Putin then?

This is history as propaganda. It is a Hollywood storyline where all the bad guys are on one side.

Trump fails to acknowledge the suffering and poverty in Cuba before the revolution, or the fact that Castro overthrew a military dictator.

Before the revolution, Havana and its casino was a playground for the rich, riddled with mafia scheming and plagued by degrading prostitution.

For any US president or president-elect to talk about human rights in Cuba, while the USA still interns untried prisoners - in gross violation of their human rights - at the US base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba is at best hypocritical.

Does Trump regret the CIA sponsored murder of Salvador Allende the democratically elected president of Chile. Or previous US backing for murderous regimes in central America? Not even for him the nuance of President Obama’s statement last week.

Trump’s victory already emboldens voices of political reaction around the world. But Michael D. Higgins spoke for many people in Ireland when he paid the late Cuban leader a dignified and balanced tribute following his death.

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