The Hill: What Castro leaves behind

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Washington, D.C., December 2, 2016 | comments
As I heard the news, my thoughts quickly went to my grandfather who was imprisoned for 12 years and tortured for opposing the regime. I also thought of his brother who was executed, without trial, by Castro’s thugs for the same reason. Then I thought of my parents, who said goodbye to their homeland and escaped to freedom at a young age to make a better life for themselves and future generations, not knowing if they would ever return again - to this date they have not.
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As I heard the news, my thoughts quickly went to my grandfather who was imprisoned for 12 years and tortured for opposing the regime. I also thought of his brother who was executed, without trial, by Castro’s thugs for the same reason. Then I thought of my parents, who said goodbye to their homeland and escaped to freedom at a young age to make a better life for themselves and future generations, not knowing if they would ever return again - to this date they have not.

Before Castro took power, a New York Times reporter interviewed him at his base of operations in the mountains of Sierra Maestra, Cuba. Castro told the reporter, “We are fighting for a democratic Cuba and an end to the dictatorship,” and the Times reporter went on to say that Castro “has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the constitution, to hold elections” and reinforced Castro’s assertions that Cuba would not be a Communist state.

It didn’t take long for families like mine to see this lie exposed. Shortly after forcefully wresting and consolidating power, Castro nationalized and stole private property, including the largest theft of American citizen property in history, and began transforming Cuba into a single-party Communist state ruled by brutal military force.

Castro set-up “Military Units to Aid Production” concentration camps where “undesirables,” such as homosexuals and others viewed as counter-revolutionary, were sent without trial. While these camps were closed in 1968, the arrests, beatings, intimidation, and loss of employment for dissidents and other counter-revolutionaries continue to this day.

While Castro continued to stifle freedom on the island, he tried to extend those efforts around the world through his foreign policy. For 57 years Castro focused on undermining American interests anyway he could – funding terrorism and fellow dictators, helping rogue regimes evade international sanctions, welcoming fugitives of justice, and even bringing the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis when he suggested to then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to launch a nuclear first-strike to the United States, knowing it would surely mean the destruction of his own people.

Unfortunately, Castro’s foreign policy did not die with him. And despite President Obama’s concessions, Cuba continues to oppose American interests and security. Most recently, Cuban leaders were collaborating to re-open a Russian spy-base and strengthening their political and economic ties to the world’s largest state-sponsors of terrorism, Iran. The Cuban regime continues its attempts to spread their brutal ideology by sending military and security advisors to countries like Venezuela to prop-up the Maduro regime and help suppress and crush democratic activists. Much of the death and violence perpetrated on innocent people in countries like Colombia, Nicaragua, and others was either sponsored or inspired by Castro and his cronies.

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