China’s state-run Global Times newspaper announced this week that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, under whose rule thousands of political prisoners were forced into squalid conditions and thousands more were forced to fight in communist wars in Africa, was this year’s recipient of the “Confucius Peace Prize.”
Castro, who is estimated to have killed 30,000 people in his tenure as Cuban dictator, was awarded the prize, the newspaper notes, for refusing to use military force against the United States and for “important contributions on eliminating nuclear war after his retirement.” He was allegedly chosen over UN head Ban Ki-Moon and the entire religion of Taoism, according to the New York Times. He will receive $15,000 and a gold statue of Confucius for his victory. $15,000 goes far in Cuba, where the Castro regime, now run by brother Raúl, pays doctors $64 a month.
China established the Confucius Peace Prize in 2010, as a form of protest against the Nobel Peace Prize for having awarded Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident currently serving 11 years in prison. Castro joins such renowned peacemakers as Kofi Annan, who ran the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations during the Rwandan genocide, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has only invaded NATO airspace 400 times this year. The New York Times notes that the prize is not an official government creation, and multiple groups have claimed to award it. Upon receiving it, President Putin’s spokesman– possibly attempting to avoid upsetting the Chinese government by giving the award untoward praise– said: “We have only heard about the award from the press. We do not know much about the prize.”
As NPR notes, Castro’s Cuba was extremely active militarily during his tenure, sending troops to fight in Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia on behalf of leftist groups there. An estimated 10,000 Cubans were sent to their deaths in Angola alone. In addition to these military abuses, Castro imprisoned thousands of political dissidents over the course of four decades, though no official tallies exist of exactly how many prisoners of conscience have passed through Cuban jails.
To seemingly cement the value of these “peace” award, the Cuban government imprisoned 32 dissidents this week on International Human Rights Day for organizing a peaceful assembly calling for freedom of thought in Cuba. Sixteen of those arrested were members of the Ladies in White, a dissident group comprised of wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters of prisoners of conscience. Video shows Cuban police physically assaulting the dissidents: