Except for Queen Elizabeth II, Fidel Castro “held on to power longer than any other living national leader,” noted the NYT. That is an intriguing comparison, writes Bret Stephens in the WSJ, “except that one of those leaders shot pheasants, while the other shot peasants.”
As the progressive left showers the dictator with praise as “a liberator for the ages,” Mr. Stephens interviewed Jose Daniel Ferrer for a different view of Castro’s Cuba. After spending eight years in Castro’s prisons, the 46-year-old Mr. Ferrer founded one of Cuba’s largest dissident organizations, the Cuban Patriotic Union.
When I first met Mr. Ferrer in person in May, he spent much of the time detailing Cuban prison conditions. Wardens in lower-security prisons use inmates as de facto slave laborers in agriculture or construction gangs. Inmates in maximum-security prisons are stuffed into tiny cells and allowed an hour of sunlight a day. Political prisoners “face constant terrors,” including threats to their families. Beatings and torture are routine. “A prisoner has a bad molar. He complains. He gets beaten up. No medical attention.”
As for the Cuban Guantanamo, I asked Mr. Ferrer how he thought it compared with its better-known counterpart at the nearby U.S. naval station. He dismissed the American Gitmo as un jardín de niños—a kindergarten—next to its Cuban sibling. …
It says something about the degraded state of Western politics that Mr. Castro’s life can still be celebrated by supposedly respectable political figures, while Mr. Ferrer remains a political unknown beyond a tiny group of Cuba watchers. It says something, too, that respectable opinion thinks of Gitmo as the ultimate symbol of moral barbarity, while it remains indifferent to the real hell next door. It’s that indifference that will have to change, if change is ever to come to Cuba.
Mary Anastasia O’Grady sums it up in the WSJ;
The international community could help. It pressured South Africa to end apartheid. Cuba is similarly divided by race, with dark-skinned Cubans shut out while a few whites rule—and it is far more repressive. But that’s unlikely to happen any time soon, as evidenced by the flow of sympathy notes to the dictatorship from world leaders.