October 25, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Upon death are all dictators forgiven?

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I am not surprised at the amount of tributes being heaped on Fidel Castro but let’s us not forget Fidel Castro was a dictator and his power was handed over to his younger brother, Raul.

If Castro was held in such love and respect by his people as claimed why didn’t he at the very least hold a national referendum – yes or no – and let the people decide whether their ruler deserves to remain in charge?

What was he afraid of?

Augusto Pinochet, former dictator of Chile, did just that. Twice. He won the first referendum but lost the second and stepped down.

Fidel Castro did not. When in failing health at least ten years ago there was a golden opportunity for him to have allowed the overwhelming majority of his people who loved him to have their say.

Why didn’t he?

Because he was afraid. Power in itself corrupts.

There are exceptions of course. Power does often bring out the best in people and we all hope this will apply to Donald Trump when he takes over as America’s President.

Lord Acton, the 19th-century British historian, did not make that distinction however. “Power tends to corrupt,” he said, “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

In 2014 Eliot Spitzer appeared on “The Tonight Show” and was bluntly asked about his fall from grace by Jay Leno. “How can you be this stupid?” Leno inquired. Spitzer served as the Governor of New York for a little more than one year before he had to resign in the midst of a scandal concerning his involvement with prostitutes.

Spitzer responded, “Hubris is terminal.” Via the process of obtaining power, hubris is developed. And once power is realized, it leaves one feeling impervious.

Another interesting fact is that no one actually calls himself a dictator. Instead, dictators have ordinary titles such as president, emperor, great leader and similar monikers. It is us in the democratic world who give these people their correct titles.

On the website Study.com under the title of “What is a Dictatorship?” it gives this definition:
“To be considered a dictatorship means that a country is known to be run by one person without any checks and balances on his power. Dictators make unilateral decisions that affect their countries without having to consult any other branch of government. That’s because there’s no other branch of government that is not controlled by the dictator. Human nature being what it is, dictators don’t rise to power for the good of their nations (though they usually claim otherwise). They seize power to benefit themselves, their families and their close political allies.

“Dictators usually come to power through some kind of violent struggle, rather than the peaceful passage of power that we take for granted in the United States. In modern times, it’s not unusual to hear news stories about dictators being elected by their citizens, when in fact the elections are manipulated through intimidation of voters to ensure the dictator’s victory. A cult of personality often surrounds a dictator, driven by myths – typically perpetuated by the government-controlled media – about the ruler that are designed to build him up in the minds of the citizens as an all-knowing divine being who is the only one capable of bringing prosperity to the nation. In cases such as the late Kim Jong-il in North Korea, the ruler is even worshiped as a god.”

And his son, Kim Jong-un has taken over as a God.

Now the Cuban God, Fidel Castro has died, even our own Premier Alden McLaughlin gave a diplomatic tribute without mentioning the terrible crimes of murder, torture, rape, incarceration with hard labour for trivial and often unfounded offences that were carried out upon his orders.

A Dictator’s crimes die with him. All is forgiven. Another page turns. Another dictator takes his place.
And the evil wheel of power goes round. And around. And around.

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