John Bolton: ‘Castro’s Death Could Be like the Fall of the Berlin Wall’ for Communism in the Western Hemisphere

Cuban President Fidel Castro listens to a speaker during the May Day parade in Havana's Revolution Square in this May 1, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Claudia Daut/File Photo
REUTERS/Claudia Daut/File Photo

On Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily, SiriusXM host Raheem Kassam asked former U.N. Ambassador and AEI Senior Fellow John Bolton for his thoughts on the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Kassam expressed outrage that the Obama administration was sending higher officials to Castro’s funeral than to the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.

“You know, this is the Obama ideology in full flower,” Bolton said. “They’re content to do it now because there are no political consequences, not for him, not for Hillary Clinton, having now lost the election. It’s one of the reasons these last two months of the Obama administration are potentially troubling. But you’re absolutely right: it’s just despicable that they would send anybody from Washington, the fact that they’d send anybody but a low-ranking staffer from the embassy to attend the funeral of this dictator.”

“I think actually it’s a potential hinge point in the history of the Western Hemisphere,” he said on a more optimistic note. “Speaking of icons, with Castro’s death, I think the last thing we ought to do now is give any lifeline to what’s left of his regime. I think it signals, hopefully, the end of an era around the hemisphere, this left-wing fascination [with] people like Danny Ortega in Nicaragua, Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, and several others.”

Bolton expressed hope that with some “assertive democracy,” the new U.S. administration can drive socialism out of the Western Hemisphere, improving both economic and national security for all its people.

Kassam contrasted the reaction to Castro’s death with the “hatred and bile spewed” at Augusto Pinochet of Chile when he died a decade ago, spotlighting the outright adoration of Castro by leftist leaders like Justin Trudeau of Canada. “Is this really where these people are, or are they just trolling us at this point?” he asked.

“I think it’s real, and I think these kinds of tributes demonstrate their fundamental underlying ideologies so that people can understand when it comes out from behind the curtains in these kinds of statements, imagine it infecting the way they deliver all of the other news 24/7 throughout the year,” Bolton replied. “If people could understand that, they could take everything else they say with a grain of salt.”

He pointed to a series of articles and editorials from the Wall Street Journal describing “the economic circumstances of Cuba in 1959, when the Castro boys took over.”

“The claim is often made they did so much to advance education and medicine in Cuba,” Bolton said. “And the statistics are that in 1959, Cuba ranked 11th in the world per capita in terms of doctors in the population and third in the Western Hemisphere. How much higher was Castro going to take them, even if you believe – which I do not – these accomplishments?”

“Education? Education to do what?” he continued. “If you look at the pictures in the New York Times and other papers today of the truck that’s taking Castro’s ashes back to his birthplace to be buried, it’s on what’s called the Malecon along the coast. In Havana it was once the most fashionable street, high society, casinos, all those Western influences. It looks like a slum today. That’s the life of the people of Cuba, quite apart from the political and religious repression that Casto’s engaged in for 58 years.”

Bolton encouraged “dramatic change” for U.S. policy toward Cuba in the Trump administration.

“I think Castro’s death could be like the fall of the Berlin Wall,” he said. “This is like a pin bursting a balloon. The regime has no legitimacy. The only legitimacy it ever had was the scraps of the revolution that brought the Castro brothers to power. That’s all gone now. Raul Castro’s in his mid-eighties, he’s not going to last out the actuarial tables much longer. So the last thing the United States should do is give any support, any lifeline, to this decaying regime.”

“The people of Cuba have been suppressed for so long, they’re obviously cautious now. My recommendation would be to fill the cruise ships in Havana and Ft. Lauderdale with Cuban-American citizens and others, send them into Havana Harbor, and let them bring the outside world open. I think this regime can collapse very quickly, so the last thing we want to do is indicate our continued support for it,” he advised.

Kassam’s final question for Bolton was, “Are you secretary of state yet?”

“Well, I’m of the old school. I don’t answer those questions,” Bolton said with a hearty laugh. “We’ll see what happens.”

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