Cuba gained its independence from Spain in 1902 and then experienced decades of turmoil as various factions fought to fill the power vacuum that was left. It was not until after WW II that a degree of stability was established but then it was only because one dictator, Fulgencio Batista, gained dominance over other would-be dictators. He was a cruel leader, hated by the Cubans for keeping them in poverty while he and his friends — including a number of American companies — gained enormous wealth at their expense.
So disliked was Batista that he could not have held power for long had it not been for the strong support of the US government and businesses. Our position was that we would support any regime that called itself anti-Communist.
Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and a handful of other leaders organized a small number of guerilla fighters and overthrew the Batista and gained very enthusiastic popular support. Castro was also a dictator but he tended to use his power to serve the people to a greater degree than did Batista. He remained a popular figure until his death this week in Havana.
One would think the lesson would be clear: When you support evil dictators solely because they oppose your enemies, the gains are short-lived and the costs are huge in the long run.
During the 80s President Reagan proved he had not learned the lesson, staunchly supporting anyone in Central America who claimed to be anti-Communist. The problem, to which Reagan was quite blind, was that regimes which oppress their people are no better than the Communists. In the minds of the populace, they may even seem much worse than Communism. One friend of mine, after living in Central America for years during and after the Reagan administration, said that Reagan had been the best recruiter the Communists had ever known, since his anti-people policies drove large numbers into the camp of the Communists.
Whenever the gap between the wealthy becomes so great that the less wealthy begin to feel oppressed, a nation is in trouble. The US in our day is approaching a dangerous period. Will trump have the sense to stop favoring the wealthy? I haven’t much hope but maybe it will happen. It is certainly worth praying for. . .