• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Cuban and Chinese Bloggers Speak on Havel's Greatness, Kim's Tyranny

    A picture of former Czech president Vaclav Havel lies among candles and floral tributes as people gather at Vaclavski square to pay their last respect to Havel in Prague, on December 22, 2011.

    The reaction of bloggers in two remaining communist dictatorships to the recent deaths of pro-freedom crusader Vaclav Havel and his polar opposite, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Il, tells you all you need to know about why communists can’t hold elections. In the restricted cyberspace afforded to Chinese and Cubans Havel is being hailed as a hero while Kim is derided for the evil he represented.

    In a roundup on Chinese cyber reactions to the two deaths, the BBC observed that contrary to China’s official stance, comments by Chinese microbloggers have been generally pro-Havel, the former dissident and writer who went on to become the leader of a free Czechoslovakia, and anti-Kim Jong-il, the paunchy dictator who inherited power from his father, another despot named Kim Jong-Il.

    “When Havel died yesterday, we were very sad. But after Kim Jong-il died, we are celebrating. It’s not because we don’t value life or don’t think life is equal, but that we know better the true value of life. Some people bring nothing but shame to life!” the BBC quoted well-known blogger Yang Hengjun as writing on the blog Sina Weibo.

    Liu Chun, vice-president of Chinese internet giant Sohu, wrote, “between the two people who have just passed away, Havel and Kim Jong-il, I cannot possibly like Kim no matter how hard I try, and I cannot dislike Havel no matter how hard I try.”

    A third blogger, Zhu Youke, culture editor of the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekend newspaper, was quoted by the Beeb as saying: “Compared with Havel’s death, the death of Kim Jong-il was nothing but a senseless epilogue of a farcical performance.”

    In Cuba, which has accorded the Orwellian Kim three days of official mourning and which is, like China, another communist dictatorship that remained silent on Havel’s passing, bloggers have also drawn similar contrasts.

    The poor Cubans have only a fraction of the cyber freedom than even the Chinese have, but the country’s most famous blogger, Yoani Sanchez, wrote:

    The government of Raul Castro has still not made the most minor public mention of the death of the Czech democrat but has decreed three days of official mourning for the death of the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il. Of the latter, the official media of his country says he wrote more than 1,500 books in his life, but none of these is read by any of us today. However, the author of The Feast and The Temptation (Havel) is everyday better known and admired by us. Like missionaries of a peculiar relition, many today distribute and propagate his writings throughout the island.

    Many other Cuban bloggers echoed these sentiments.

    These reactions from Cuban and Chinese dissidents are a far cry from the opinion of Kim voiced by Wendy Sherman, the Obama Administration’s undersecretary of state for political affairs, who called Kim “witty and humorous” and “a quick problem-solver.” Kim, of course, ran a country which Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal referred to this week as “a vast modern-day Auschwitz.”

    Mr. Obama, unlike this peers in France, Britain and Germany, has decided to skip Havel’s funeral.

    Follow Mike Gonzalez on Twitter @Gundisalvus

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Cuban and Chinese Bloggers Speak on Havel's Greatness, Kim's Tyranny

    1. M Sanchez-Parodi says:

      Havel did great for his homeland but associated himself with the anti-Cuban elements of Miami. These elements represented the dictatorship of Batista and advocated US intervention of Cuba. Intervention of any kind by a superpower (Soviet or USA) into a sovereign nation is unacceptable. US policy towards Cuba perpetuates an anti-human embargo and interferes with the rights of Cubans to freely develop. Havel had no idea of Cuba, and unlike the Czech Republic its revolution was native and the country was never occupied by the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, Havel never decried the anti-Cuban policy of the US and associated himself with remnants of a dictatorship that killed and tortured thousands while enriching themselves from Cuban treasury, US payoffs and Mafia money.

    2. Marisa says:

      To hear Chinese and Cuban bloggers comment so positively on Havel and negatively on Kim Jong-il brings a a measure of joy to my heart. It makes me feel that there are so many enlightened people even in extremely oppressed countries. I know in China there seems to be quite a bit of freedom on the internet and it is much more limited in Cuba, but to hear of such accolades for Havel and disdain for Kim is I hope what China and Cuba's governments need to hear from their people.

    3. What was it I saw in Cuba, October 1997 and January 1998 and again October 2002 and January 2003 if it were not elections? I witnessed door-to-door enumeration of electors, nominations of municipal candidates in the street, voting polls and ballot counting 1/2 block from the U.S. Interest Section. I witnessed the polls opening with the National Anthem, the sealing of the ballot boxes, voting and ballot counting in January for the provincial and national assembly delegates. The voting, ballots and counting was very similar to our Canadian process except in Cuba's Final January election all candidates on the ballot are to be elected if they receive 50% + 1 yes votes. This vote is the peoples confirmation of the selection of the nominating commissions and municipal assemblies selected candidates. I fail to understand what is undemocratic about this system? I am appalled to find "The Foundry" does not seem to know elections are held in Cuba.

    4. What was it I saw in Cuba, October 1997 and January 1998 and again October 2002 and January 2003 if it were not elections? I witnessed door-to-door enumeration of electors, nominations of municipal candidates in the street, voting polls and ballot counting 1/2 block from the U.S. Interest Section. I witnessed the polls opening with the National Anthem, the sealing of the ballot boxes, voting and ballot counting in January for the provincial and national assembly delegates. The voting, ballots and counting was very similar to our Canadian process except in Cuba's Final January election all candidates on the ballot are to be elected if they receive 50% + 1 yes votes. This vote is the peoples confirmation of the selection of the nominating commissions and municipal assemblies selected candidates. I fail to understand what is undemocratic about this system? I am appalled to find "The Foundry" does not seem to know elections are held in Cuba.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×