Victims of communism who have fled to America understand what it means to fear police. In communist countries, the police abduct citizens in the middle of the night, torture people in prison, execute dissidents, and enforce the censorship and repression imposed by communist regimes. In communist countries, the police who represent and enforce “the law” are also the ones demanding bribes by day and disappearing people by night. The victims of communism understand what it’s like to fear police, which is why a victim of communism would never wear a Fidel Castro T-shirt.
Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, recently wore a T-shirt with a picture of Fidel Castro while taking a stand against “police brutality.” If Mr. Kaepernick wishes to take a stand against police brutality, it makes no sense to wear a Fidel Castro T-shirt. Mr. Kaepernick would have never worn a Stalin or a Mao Zedong T-shirt to a press conference where he opposed “police brutality” because both of those communist leaders deployed police to brutalize more people more horribly than did anyone in American history. It would be repugnant to wear the faces of communist leaders on one’s shirt, not to mention logically incompatible with statements against police brutality.
Sadly, Mr. Kaepernick’s wardrobe choice is symptomatic of a misguided cultural perception about communist Cuba. Judging by the amount of Che Guevara paraphernalia on college campuses, millennials seem to disassociate Che Guevara and Fidel Castro from the people that they killed in the name of communism. It would be political and cultural suicide—an unthinkable taboo—for a public figure to wear a Stalin t-shirt in public, and yet, subsequent public outcry notwithstanding, Mr. Kaepernick thought his Fidel T-shirt to be in good taste.
If millennials and Mr. Kaepernick wish to protest police brutality through their wardrobe, here are four reasons why they should never wear a Fidel Castro T-shirt.
- Political Prisoners
The Castro regime, currently run by Fidel’s brother Raúl, insists that there are no political prisoners in Cuba. Informed observers know this is a lie—and VOC has the names of 51 political prisoners in Cuba to prove it. These are people who spoke their minds about their government—like Mr. Kaepernick did at the press conference—and were arrested for it by the police of the Castro regime. If he really wants to protest police brutality, Mr. Kaepernick ought to wear a T-shirt publicizing the plight of Castro’s victims.
- Police Corruption
Cuba is rife with corruption. Because everything in the small communist country is controlled and owned by the state, the only way to provide for oneself is through extralegal favors and bribes. “Cuban police officers are famous for taking bribes. They pull drivers over for myriad transgressions, then describe their ‘sick child.’” Those who have had to deal with this system in real life know that it would be absurd to protest against the police by wearing the face of the communist who imposed this corrupt system on Cuba.
- Communist Police
Castro established a National Revolutionary Police on January 5, 1959, just days after the communist revolution overthrew the government. Castro’s Cuba, from the very onset, was anything but a free worker’s paradise. Even today, the national police play an integral role in enforcing Castro’s tyrannical system, and routinely arrest Cubans for political dissent. See, for example, this video of Cuban police arresting one of the political dissidents known as the “Ladies in White.” She yells “down with the dictatorship of the Castros!” as they force her in the cruiser.
This history of oppression goes back decades. Perhaps millennials like Mr. Kaepernick do not know the history of Fidel Castro as well as they do the history of Stalin. Here are the facts about Fidel Castro, according to the Black Book of Communism.
- “During the repressions of the 1960s, between 7,000 and 10,000 people were killed and 30,000 people were imprisoned for political reasons.” (Page 656)
- “In 1964 a forced labor program known as the Camilo-Cienfuegos plan was established […] Each group was commanded by a sergeant or a lieutenant and was assigned to agricultural and mining work […] As a punishment, “troublemakers” were forced to cut grass with their teeth or to sit in latrine trenches for hours at a time.” (Page 657)
- “From 1959 through the late 1990s more than 100,000 Cubans experienced life in one of the camps, prisons, or open-regime sites. Between 15,000 and 17,000 people were shot.” (Page 665)
The verdict is straightforward. If you want to protest police brutality, wearing the face of a maestro of police violence is no way to do it. The nearly six decades of the Castro Brothers’ communist dictatorship are filled with oppression, violence, corruption, and abuse.