The BBC is running a jolly little film report on a boom in sales of ‘Castro’ hats in Cuba. It’s all colourful locals, quaintly ramshackle market stalls and smiling tourists. Not a concentration camp, torture chamber or execution yard to be seen.
Reporter Michael Moss cheerfully reports on how ‘enterprising’ Cubans are selling the hats for $3, without meditating on the legitimacy of a regime that condemns its people to such a meagre standard of living, or the fact that hundreds of prisoners still languish in Castro’s prisons for being a little too ‘enterprising’ in their demands for political and religious freedom.
Moss adds that 'Che Guevara items have long been hot sellers,' and even manages to find a holidaying Scottish socialist MP and former union enforcer, who supplies his own tribute: ‘People should be allowed to wear these hats as tribute to Fidel Castro, who is a national hero for Cuba.’
By contast, here’s the BBC reporting just a few weeks ago on suits belonging to former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, being sold by his son – and quietly, though a tailor’s shop, not as trinkets for foreign tourists.
It takes all of four paragraphs before the BBC informs us that:
‘More than 3,000 people were killed or "disappeared" during Gen Pinochet's rule from 1973 to 1990.’
And soon after:
'Gen Pinochet took power in a 1973 military coup which overthrew the elected Marxist President Salvador Allende.'
The left’s infatuation with left-wing dictators, as opposed to right-wing tyrants, is their equivalent of the right’s ‘he’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch’ doctrine. And with Cuba fast becoming one of the last bastions of socialism, Castro is a more important figure than ever for those still believe that, if they can just get around the niggling problem of the tens of millions of deaths involved, communism can still work.
Castro’s own death can’t come soon enough (assuming, that is, he hasn’t already died and been replaced with some poor drugged inmate from one of the great leader's psychiatric prisons). If it sparks political upheaval, or at the very least a loosening of the regime’s stranglehold on its people, it’ll almost be worth a week of watching him being eulogised by black-suited BBC newsreaders.