Cuba’s New Cheering Section

As John noted recently, members of “The Squad” recently snuck off to Cuba, a one-party Communist dictatorship and massive violator of human rights. The woke Democrats seem unaware of films and books that document the repressions of the Stalinist regime. Consider, for example, Improper Conduct, by Cuban cinematographer Nestor Almendros, who in 1979 won an Oscar for Days of Heaven.

Improper Conduct shows how Fidel Castro tossed homosexuals into forced labor camps, which were rather inclusive. As New York Times film critic Vincent Canby noted, “Playwrights, doctors, poets and painters as well as more ordinary folk such as tour guides and hairdressers, spent time in one or more of the country’s forced-labor camps.” Consider also 8-A, a documentary by Cuban exile Orlando Jimenez Leal.

When Gen. Arnaldo Ochoa returned from Africa, Castro spotted a potential rival and staged a show trial for Ochoa and fellow officers. 8-A showcases the actual trial, in which Castro appears, and adds a dramatization of the executions.

In Heroes are Grazing In My Garden, Cuban poet Heberto Padilla exposes the repression of writers and intellectuals, along with the general privations of the people. For example, diabetics sell samples of their urine, so others can get extra rations of milk and meat. In Against All Hope, Armando Valladares documents Castro’s torture of political prisoners. Consider also Paul Hollander’s Political Pilgrims, which recalls glowing accounts of the Cuban regime by foreigners.

“Fidel sits on the side of a tank rumbling into Havana on New Year’s day,” wrote New Left icon Abbie Hoffman (Steal this Book). “He laughs joyously and pinches a few rumps… Fidel lets the gun drop to the ground, slaps his thigh and stands erect. He is like a mighty penis coming to life, and when he is tall and straight, the crowd immediately is transformed.”

For novelist Norman Mailer, Castro was “the first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the Second World War.” For Angela Davis, Communist Party USA candidate for vice-president in 1980 and 1984, “Fidel was their leader, but most of all he was also their brother in the largest sense of the word.” In reality, the white Stalinist plunged the nation into sub-Haiti levels of poverty, and thousands fled on anything that would float.

As Saul Bellow explained, a great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep. The Squad is either ignorant of the record or, like Angela Davis, fully approves of the Cuba’s Stalinist regime. As Cubans might note, in 2021, Squad members Pramila Jayapal and Ilhan Omar were among 40 Democrats who voted against a resolution supporting peaceful demonstrators protesting against the Cuban government.

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