|Letter to The Washington Post. 12/10/06|
Letter to the Editor, The Washington Post
Copy to Michael Shifter, InterAmerican Dialogue
Ref. Michael Shifter, The Best of Both Dictators, 12/10/06.
Comparing Pinochet to Castro, fashionable these days, is much too kind on Castro. For one thing, the cost in lives of the Castro regime has exceeded by many times that of Chile’s former dictatorship.
Our work-in-progress (www.CubaArchive.org) has documented more cases just of firing squad executions in the first three years of the Castro regime than the total number of killed and disappeared by Pinochet in his entire tenure (3,197). But that Castro mostly killed only at the beginning of his rule is a common misconception. Selective assassination and disappearance have complemented the imprisonment and exile of large numbers of Cubans in assuring the effectiveness of Stalinist rule. What’s worse, Castro has systematically killed or jailed his citizens for trying to escape, something Pinochet never dreamed of.
For decades, the Cuban Border Guard has machine-gunned or drowned civilians, including children, whose only “crime” was attempting to flee the island-prison. The toll is likely in the thousands. Our incipient effort has already documented more such killings than from attempted crossings of the now vanished Berlin Wall.
In the international arena, the few targeted assassinations carried out under Pinochet pale in comparison to the thousands killed in Castro’s internationalist excursions and wars of subversion.
If anything is comparable between Pinochet and Castro is the abhorrence of murder, no matter the numbers. But the brutality of both regimes is better apt for a contrast. Sadly, in the way of comparisons, the international outcry over the Castro regime has long been lacking.
Maria C. Werlau
Executive Director, Cuba Archive
P.O. Box 529
Summit, NJ 07902
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