How gushing Bill Shorten fell for the Fidel Castro myth

How gushing Bill Shorten fell for the Fidel Castro myth, by Troy Bramston.

I could never understand why so many Labor politicians, unionists and activists travelled to Castro’s Cuba. There are plenty of Liberal politicians and staff who have gone there, too. It was like a political novelty tour where they could put on a Che Guevara T-shirt and be photographed in a 1952 pink Chevrolet.


I saw these gawking trips to an antiquated political backwater, a veritable museum of a crumbling Soviet outpost, as morally indefensible. How could you travel to such a place and turn a blind eye to the barbaric reality of life in Castro’s Cuba? They happily accept foreign tourists while dissidents face the firing squad or rot in jail.

Bill Shorten is not the only Labor politician who has been to Cuba but he is one of the few who eyed Castro in the flesh. Shorten often has talked about seeing Castro give one of his speeches that went for hours and hours. “It was amazing,” Shorten gushed when asked about the trip a few years ago. …

So what is it about Cuba that Shorten is so enthusiastic about? Why do they back the losers of communism, and scorn the capitalism that is lifting the world out of poverty around them? Presumably their individual lot in a communist system would be better, as leaders of a poor country rather than ordinary folks in a rich one? Or are they really that ignorant or dopey?

Communism, as a political ideology, has never survived anywhere without brute force — and even then without success. Castro’s Cuba embraced a crude form of Marxism-Leninism coupled with corruption and nepotism. …

Castro argued that, in the end, “history will absolve me”. He urged his supporters at home and abroad to ignore the critics. In fact, history will condemn Castro for the villain he was and the misery he wrought. What will live on is the carefully cultivated myth that his revolution liberated a nation.

I read Alexander Solhenitzen’s “Gulag Archipelago” when I was a teenager, which cured me of any illusions about how communism really worked. Always made me wonder what all those lefties saw in it, or how they could persistently deny all that evil.