‘Rest in Power, Fidel’: BLM’s History of Praising Latin American Communists

Fists were raised in memory of Breonna Taylor during a rally in her honor on the steps of
AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization defended Cuba’s abusive communist regime in a social media post Thursday, responding to nationwide protests on the island.

The organization received an intense amount of backlash for supporting a dictatorship responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of its own people.

But this is not the first time BLM, whose original leaders are trained Marxists, has praised communist dictators, many of whom have contributed to the deaths of at least 100 million people around the world over several decades.

Fidel Castro in Cuba – 2016

BLM first affectionately called Fidel Castro “El Comandante” (“the commander”), a term of endearment used for him among communists, in an online eulogy soon after his death was announced in November 2016.

“We are feeling many things as we awaken to a world without Fidel Castro. There is an overwhelming sense of loss, complicated by fear and anxiety. Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,” the organization said in an official statement two days after Castro’s death.

BLM touted Fidel as a visionary whose methods are an inspiration for revolutionaries, rather than a leader who cruelly oppressed his own people.

“And there are lessons that we must revisit and heed as we pick up the mantle in changing our world, as we aspire to build a world rooted in a vision of freedom and the peace that only comes with justice. It is the lessons that we take from Fidel,” BLM continued. (emphasis added).

The organization also wrote on the importance of living with integrity while simultaneously calling Assata Shakur an inspiration and praising Castro for granting her political asylum. Shakur is an American citizen named Joanne Chesimard convicted of killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1977. Shakur escaped from prison in 1979 before going to Cuba in 1984, Breitbart News reported. She was put on the FBI’s most Most Wanted Terrorist List in 2013 and is the first woman to ever make the list.

“A final lesson is that to be a revolutionary, you must strive to live in integrity. As a Black network committed to transformation, we are particularly grateful to Fidel for holding Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us,” the group said. (emphasis added).

BLM concluded:

With Fidel’s passing there is one more lesson that stands paramount: when we are rooted in collective vision when we bind ourselves together around quests for infinite freedom of the body and the soul, we will be victorious. As Fidel ascends to the realm of the ancestors, we summon his guidance, strength, and power as we recommit ourselves to the struggle for universal freedom. Fidel Vive! (emphasis added)

The organization also tweeted in support of Castro after his death, saying “Rest in Power #FidelCastro.”

In reality, communist dictator Fidel Castro took over the country in a violent siege in 1959, despite never having won an election. Fidel, his successor and brother Raúl, and current figurehead President Miguel Díaz-Canel have all not stood in any election since 1959, despite being the nation’s only leaders in those 62 years.

Castro’s regime is estimated to have killed tens of thousands of its own people and brutally tortures political dissidents and prisoners, among a long list of other human rights abused listed here.

Hugo Chávez in Venezuela – 2015

In a 2015 article by BLM co-founder Opal Tometi, Tometi denounced “the corporate media lies about electoral corruption voiced by Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sander’s defamation of late President Hugo Chavez labeling him a dictator.” (emphasis added).

Tometi, who is no longer affiliated with BLM, also fawned over the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela led by the socialist dictator, which supposedly championed “participatory democracy” and a “fair, transparent election system.”

The facts do not reflect Tometi’s glowing review, considering Venezuelans are so poor, they fight to survive by eating out of garbage bins. Elections in the country have also come under scrutiny, the most recent of which a coalition of more than 50 countries said, “lacked legitimacy.”

But instead, Tometi maintained that BLM stands with “the Venezuelan people and defend(s) their right to self-determination!” she wrote. (emphasis added).

By 2009, at least 100,000 people met violent deaths under Chávez. Though the Venezuelan government does not readily report statistics on its unlawful killings, NGOs reported thousands of killings by police during his reign.

Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela – 2015

Nicolás Maduro has presided over one of the world’s most repressive regimes since 2013 when his predecessor Hugo Chávez died.

Tometi served as an election observer in socialist Venezuela during the 2015 legislative elections. She praised the socialist dictatorship as “‘a place where there is intelligent political discourse’ on Twitter during one of the bloodiest years of police brutality in the country,” Breitbart News reported.

She spoke at a summit standing in front of a Venezuelan flag for the speech and thanking Maduro’s government for the opportunity. She also appeared alongside Maduro on a Venezuelan government propaganda site’s news report from the event, raising a fist and embracing him. The photo appears to be taken in front of a giant photo of Maduro’s face.

Under Maduro, Venezuelan police forces have committed a long list of human rights atrocities including the torture, kidnapping, rape, and killing of unarmed protesters. The Venezuelan regime has disproportionately targeted children under Maduro.

The same year Tometi spoke at the summit, the Venezuelan Penal Forum, an NGO, documented 138 cases of torture. One of the most shocking cases was Juan Manuel Carrasco’s, who accused Bolivarian National Guard officers of raping him with a rifle. Between Maduro’s rise to power and 2019, he has detained at least 388 political prisoners, including Americans freed through pressure by President Donald Trump, Breitbart News reported.

Frances Martel and Rafael Valera contributed to this report.


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