Happy birthday Fidel

Dear Fidel

Can I call you Fidel? We haven’t met, but I feel like I know you quite well, or at least your ilk. I’m normally more formal and respectful with older people and eminent persons, but there is only so much that my conscience will allow. So I feel like “Fidel” is a nice compromise between calling you “Mr Castro”, as I normally would, and a “murderous communist c***”, as I would like to.

Happy 90th birthday. You’ve made it. You’ve certainly lived longer than the 73,000 people estimated to have been murdered by your regime. Politically, you’ve outlasted Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., and if you stick around a few more months, possibly Obama. You’ve survived countless assassination attempts, an attempted invasion, albeit a pissweak one, the Missile Crisis and all the flashpoints of the Cold War, the fall of the Soviet Union and turning off the Moscow tap. It’s now nearly 27 years since the Berlin Wall fell (I know, hard to believe how time flies), and your country, together with North Korea, remain the only two left living museums of what communism does to a society. Venezuela, God bless her, is trying very hard to join you, but is not quite there yet; so far the Chavistas have been more successful at impoverishing the country than turning it into one big prison. Perhaps give them a bit more time.

So. Ninety years, eh? Forty-nine of which – more than half of your life – as Cuba’s leader. Sure, the guy you unseated was corrupt and unsavoury, and sure, every time some misty-eyed leftist opens their mouth about Cuba (and you’ve managed to bamboozle generations of them), I hear all about the free schools and the number of doctors (prompting John Derbyshire some years ago to note that “Wherever there is a jackboot stomping on a human face there will be a well-heeled Western liberal to explain that the face does, after all, enjoy free health care and 100 percent literacy”). On the other hand, while the rest of the world has been getting ahead, you have kept your country stuck decades ago, so that all the “poverty porn” tourists from around the world can still enjoy the beauty of the 1950s’ Havana – today. There is no democracy and 11 million of your countrymen and women enjoy hardly any rights as we would understand them. You persecute and imprison not only political dissidents but human rights activists but also artists, religious figures and homosexuals. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have risked their lives over the years to escape your tropical workers’ paradise. Not satisfied with your own lot, you once used to export the misery and repression throughout Latin America and Africa.

Soon, the devil will have his own. It won’t be soon enough for the millions of your fellow Cubans; the people you call citizens or comrades but who are really nothing more than subjects. I hope your regime expires too. Your people deserve freedom, and they deserve to lead normal, decent lives, free from fear and full of opportunities others around the world enjoy, as opposed to being statistics in a failed theory of a 19th century German journalist bum. So blow those ninety candles and enjoy that moment of forgetting – forgetting that the world you dreamed of is no more, and that soon, your own communist fantasy fiefdom will rot and disintegrate.