- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 23, 2008


We woke up Tuesday to the breaking news headline that Fidel Castro was relinquishing his leadership power over Cuba, leaving the ruthless and unstable leader of the Cuban military, his brother Raul Castro, in charge.

The news came across every media outlet as though there had just been a big change in Cuba and that the Cuban people may finally see the God-given freedom that has eluded them since Mr. Castro’s bloody takeover on New Year’s Eve in 1959. Reporters “imbedded” in the Cuban community of Miami’s Little Havana were ready to report the jubilation in the streets over the news of Fidel’s resignation. There was no such exhibit of joy. Why not, you may ask? Let me attempt to explain.

Cuba has been led by a ruthless mob of communists for more than 49 years. These “revolutionary liberators” led by their charismatic, articulate, intelligent and mesmerizing speaker, Fidel Castro, have enslaved an entire country, struck fear in the heart of an entire nation, threatened its neighbors, and exported communist revolution wherever they could. They have undermined free democratic elections throughout the Western Hemisphere and stripped away the rich culture and essence on the island nation that made Cuba unique and proud.

The Cuba that these so-called liberators of the poor, disenfranchised and underprivileged have created will not go away overnight. They have unilaterally disenfranchised, enslaved and pathetically impoverished an entire country without blinking an eye. When are the liberators going to the aid of these people?

The latest events will not give freedom and liberty to Cubans just because Fidel is too sick to rule. Cuba’s communist leaders will not give up their ideological and philosophical beliefs that Fidel has installed in the minds of those he leaves in charge. The governing body that remains is strongly in place due to Fidel’s relentless attention during his entire rule to leave behind a state that will continue business as usual.

This is a communist state run by a central communist committee and a new generation of so-called communist “industrialists” who have effectively managed their way into the global market, not by wearing the typical “army garb” we are used to seeing on Fidel but Italian silk suits. These benefits are only for the ruling party. The people see none of the wealth and all of the suffering.

We have always underestimated this diabolical dictator, Fidel Castro. He is no ordinary Third Worlder we can dismiss as backward and not too smart. He has outsmarted us for many years. I would not turn my back on him — even after he meets his Maker and is sent to that hot place coldblooded murderers go for eternity.

As for Fidel’s younger brother, few are aware that Raul was the mastermind of Cuba’s military intervention in Angola in the 1970s and ‘80s. The majority of the Cuban troops deployed and killed in Angola were of African descent — that is to say, African-Cubans.

A Castro still rules Cuba. Nevertheless, as a Cuban-American, I will never lose hope for the land of my birth to be free. The people on that magnificent island in the Caribbean — Columbus called Cuba “The pearl of the West Indies” — will never give up their God-given right to live in a democratic and free country.

The Cubans in Cuba and those who were forced out and have lived in political exile — political refugees not to be confused with emigrants — have longed for the day their country will again join the world as a beacon of beauty, proud heritage and an example of a free and liberated people who have shed the painful chains of slavery once and for all.

May God lead us from this point on to see in our lifetime a free and democratic Cuba. May Cuba become a nation that appreciates the United States for what it stands for, and may it become a nation that will fight alongside its neighbor to the north to rid the world of those fanatics who control and kill our brothers and sisters. And may a free Cuba help to free those who remain enslaved by nearsighted, ruthless and power-hungry fanatics and terrorists.

God bless the U.S.A., and may God bless Cuba.

Antonio Benedi, a Cuban-American, is a former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush.

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