The Castros and the Kims: Historic Parallels / Iván García

Autocrats are clones of the same litter. They’re not separated by ideologies, what joins them is an unhealthy ambition for power. Each and every one of modern dictators consider themselves enlightened. Types essential on the national map. Founding Fathers. Irreplaceable. They could not be more narcissistic. Egos more than enough. The nation is their private estate.

They arise in periods of bad governance, economic crises, wars of decolonization and political instability. They usually have a foolproof formula under their arm to catapult the country forward. When in the embryonic state they are very popular. Humans need icons. Heroes. Heavy-handed leaders.

Then the despots come through the back door. In this 21st century, with Internet, social networking and digitization, and there are few left. You can count them on your fingers. In Equatorial Guinea, an unpresentable man named Teodoro Obiang has all the makings of a dictator.

The monarchies of the Middle East and Morocco are another variation of dictatorships. Natural dynasties. By blood, the throne belongs to a family. And there is nothing, or little, you can do about it. Already in the 18th century in Europe there were monarchies, but after the French Revolution republican forms arose and the kings and princes were mere decorative objects. Dedicated to works of charity or creating foundations. Certainly one of them, the son of King Juan Carlos, Iñaki Urdangarin, is embroiled in a corruption scandal.

There are people who consider themselves superior intellectually to lead the destiny of a nation. It may be a gene to be discovered.

The guy with ways of a dictator knows the league. He does not like to be out of power. Neither stands. They make up laws, such as Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega, for indefinite re-election. The reckless one of Barina went to the executive for votes. Those same votes would put him back in the house.

Fidel Castro and Kim Il Sung took over the throne by bullets. Castro overthrew the illegal and tyrannical government of Fulgencio Batista. Sung was boosted by Moscow. Military preparations in the USSR. A golden age for Stalin after World War II where the map began to change colors and the Red Army imposed Marxist socialism by force of their T-34 tanks.

It has always intrigued me whether these two Third World autocrats had among their purposes to remain in power. Perhaps they move, for a time, fair ideals to build a decent way of life for its citizens. But betting on the wrong horse.

The communism of Marx has been inefficient everywhere in the world where it has been established. Never mind that the country has wealth or not. Within a few years, the economy and the nation go adrift. It is, no doubt, an unnatural system. That goes against the human soul. A slapstick.

An autocrat never acknowledges he’s wrong. Right there is where their pathological cases are slated to be part of medical studies. Castro, for example, is never wrong. Others are wrong.

Kim Il Sung was the only God allowed in North Korea. He turned the nation into a cult. His ego was so overwhelmed that he invented a new philosophy, Juche.

Yes, because some dictators want to go down in history as thinkers and righteous men. Gaddafi, the jackal of Tripoli, between cocaine and sexual abuse of the young, gave birth to a pamphlet called The Green Book.

Fidel Castro wasn’t given to outline a new social philosophy. But he dipped his oar into all fields. He is the most knowledgeable about cattle, sugarcane, bananas, dams, cyclones … And baseball: the preparation of the Cuban team to play against the Baltimore Orioles in 1999 was designed by the commander. He was master of everything and the student of nothing.

Kim Il Sung idiot of the unhappy Koreans with a cult of personality more potent than a narcotic. Statues everywhere and him dressed in grey with the stamp of a leader on the lapel. After these autocrats a change doesn’t necessarily come.

In North Korea Kim Jong Il, the son of Sung. Another madman. North Korean media said, in two years he wrote 6 operas and read 180,000 books. He used to play 11 holes of golf on one drive. His writings were released daily by the state radio. It is said that such was his passion for film, he kept 20,000 films under lock and key, and later, maybe in his cups, he ordered the kidnap of a couple of directors of South Korea to make a personal film.

He liked to eat lobster with silver chopsticks while his people starved and fell like flies on the streets of Pyongyang. A rotten collection.

He ordered the kidnapping of Japanese citizens. Downed planes in flight. And to prove he was a tough guy when he came to the throne in 1993 he ordered a terrorist act in Rangoon that cost the lives of 17 South Koreans.

Not content with his mischief, he produced half a dozen nuclear bombs. He made North Korea a rogue state. After his death on December 17, he’d hand-picked its favorite son Kim Jong Un to continue the communist dynasty. The child knows little: 28 years, fat, and fan of the NBA.

The parallels between Castro and Kim are remarkable at the time of passing power to his family. In Cuba, now, General Raul Castro (another hobby of autocrats is to get many stars on the epaulet), rides to the rescue and attempts to repair the damage to the economy.

But Castro II, 80, is as old as his brother, 85. On the island, the average age of life for men is 76 years. Both are past it. The question is whether in these parts after the two die, their offspring and hand-picked relatives will touch the presidential chair.

We must wait. Meanwhile, Cuba was among the few countries that declared three days of national mourning for the death “of Comrade Kim Jong Il.” Autocrats are part of a club. They play in another league.

Video: 1986. Fidel Castro visits the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. At the foot of the stairs of the plane he is received by Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il’s father and the grandfather of Kim Jong Un.

January 5 2012