Letter: Too kind to Castro

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Ken Livingstone's homage to Castro ("All hail to the last and best of the socialist dictators", 4 August) was naive. He is certainly right in much of what he says about the asinine US policies towards Cuba (indefensible since the end of the Cold War), but he lets Castro off something rotten.

Sure, Cuba suffered under the US-led embargo, but that was to quite a large extent offset by the former Soviet Union's willingness to buy Cuban sugar at an inflated price. Yeltsin could hardly be blamed for discontinuing that subsidy in view of Russia's own economic problems.

Livingstone prefers not to dwell on the reality of Castro's Cuba - a large proportion of the population living in exile and thousands of his political opponents rotting in his prisons. These are facts, attested to by Amnesty International among others, not simply the "continuing efforts of the CIA's propaganda".

Livingstone regrets "that Castro has not introduced democracy", assuming that without the blockade "there might now be a functioning democracy fused with Cuban socialism" (whatever that might be). Come on, Ken, surely you know that the real reason dictators don't like to introduce democracy is that they might lose power.


Greasby, Merseyside