Green Party perennial presidential hopeful Jill Stein praised former Cuban strongman Fidel Castro on Saturday, as encomiums by many left-of-center politicians continued to roll in following his death.
“Fidel Castro was a symbol of the struggle for justice in the shadow of empire. Presente!” Stein wrote on Twitter Saturday afternoon.
The verb form of the word literally means “present.” The way Stein used it was something like a military salute (“present arms!”) but for Latin American leftist radicals.
The Tweet came on the heel of other pro-Castro remarks Stein had made in an interview with Paste Magazine.
Castro’s death Friday, she told the pop culture magazine “feels like the passing of an era of incredible struggle against empire right across the water—whether you live in Haiti or in Cuba or even much of the rest of South America, there’s been a real struggle for social justice and it’s been very difficult.
“Cuba was in many ways the face of that movement, which continues to this day.”
In praising Castro, Stein joined former Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, and many others with progressive pedigrees in heaping praise on the Marxist ruler who has a great deal of blood on his hands.
Just how much blood is a matter of some dispute.
“In our country there have never been death squads – not a single disappearance, no political assassinations, not one person tortured,” Fidel Castro himself insisted in 2001.
However, countless people fled the country over several decades for some reason and many of them have stories to tell.
According to the Cuba Archive, which tries to document the atrocities of the Fidel regime, on his watch at least 3,116 people were killed by firing squad and 1,116 people were executed in other extrajudicial killings. All told, they chalk up an admittedly far from complete death toll (pdf) of over 7,000 Cubans on his watch.
Outgoing President Barack Obama was more measured than many on the left, offering condolences to Castro’s family and hoping that the two nations could continue to work together.
Many of Obama’s Republican opponents, including Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, criticized him for being insufficiently critical of Castro. Their criticisms were likely somewhat restrained by the fact that America still has to have some kind of relations with Cuba and Fidel’s brother Raul still runs the government there.
How Stein will be affected by her Castro praise remains to be seen. Castro remained deeply unpopular in America partly because of the large Cuban expatriate population here, partly because he once tried to get the Soviet Union to nuke the place.
Canada’s Trudeau came in for criticism and savage mockery by American citizens and politicians for his effusive Castro praise.
The Green Party candidate is currently trying to raise money to demand presidential recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. Some would-be funders might not look kindly on her praise of a bloody dictator.