George Graham

Judging Fidel Castro



As I listen to the pundits on TV and read their comments on the Internet, I wonder whether they believe what they say or are just making plausible remarks to draw a paycheck.

Surely they must know how hollow they sound when they dismiss Fidel Castro as a “brutal dictator”?

Look, I know Castro goes to meet his maker with the blood of thousands on his hands. He will have to answer for the shooting squads, the repression of political opposition and the suffering of those he impoverished and imprisoned.

FILE - In this March 1985 file photo, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro exhales cigar smoke during an interview at the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba. Castro has died at age 90. President Raul Castro said on state television that his older brother died late Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)

In this March 1985 file photo, Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro exhales cigar smoke during an interview at the presidential palace in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Charles Tasnadi, File)

But how can we be self righteous when we pass judgment on the man? How can we ignore the two-by-fours in our own eyes while pointing so scathingly to the speck of dust in Castro’s?

Especially while Native Americans are still at this moment being brutalized in North Dakota as they protest the pollution of their water supply and invasion of their sacred burial grounds (photo above).

How can today’s Americans ignore the shameful history of genocide and plunder that gave us the plush lifestyle we enjoy?

It is a history stained with blood and befouled by injustice and rapaciousness. We live the way we do today because of atrocities committed by others long dead — not just the Trail of Tears, not just the abomination of slavery, but also the right-wing death squads in Latin America, the slaughter of innocent civilians in needless wars, the incineration of thousands at Hiroshima and Nagasaki…

And the abuses persist. Diamonds and rubies come to us from hell holes of oppression, trapped workers burn to death in criminally unsafe Asian sweatshops, millions die of starvation in Africa because of the neglect and exploitation of those who represent us. I understand that even some of the chocolate we enjoy is harvested by enslaved children.

Sadly. man’s inhumanity to man remains an underlying driving force of this world’s economic and political reality.

In such a global context, in such a historical context, Fidel Castro might be remembered not just as a brutal dictator, but also as an idealist – in my view a sometimes misguided idealist – who did what he thought he had to do for the greater good of his people.

Life and death of Fidel Castro

Fidel and Jamaica

More on the North Dakota protest

The Native Americans’ sad history

“Blood diamonds” and rubies

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for