Roland Martin sat down with Harry Belafonte for an exclusive interview. During the interview Mr. Belafonte discusses Fidel Castro and communism.
MR. BELAFONTE: Fidel Castro – I thought he was a whiz. I saw in him a lotta heroics in the very beginning that was very, very attractive; because he was not the first great leader of a movement that had been called a terrorist, or that was unacceptable to the status quo. Dr. King was a “terrorist” and a “communist.” So was Nelson Mandela – was a “terrorist” and a “communist.” And as a matter of fact, it wasn’t ’til just about three years ago or so that America finally took Nelson Mandela off the – off the terrorist list for the State Department as undesirables.
MR. BELAFONTE: So, when I was a young man growing up and looking at all the rebellions that were taking place – Ho Chi Minh for the Asian people, Tom Mboya and Julius Nyerere and other people in Africa, and Mandela and – in – in – in Africa, and then you take a look at Michael Manley and people of[?] the Caribbean – he was part of a time and of a global upheaval that I found very, very – very attractive. 00:27:50
MR. BELAFONTE: I’d gone to Cuba for a long time before Fidel Castro became involved. I had a lotta Cuban musicians, a lotta friends. Hung out there with – many a weekend with Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr., to have a weekend fling in Havana when we were workin’ in Miami. So, I had a long history with Cuba and Cuba’s people. And when Fidel Castro stepped in, I was happy for us – and for the Cubans.
MR. BELAFONTE: When it began to go adrift like so much else went adrift within the communist or- —
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. BELAFONTE: — -der, we began to have a new set of concerns. I don’t think communism in and of itself was what went wrong. What went wrong was another flaw in – which the human race suffers from, ’cause the best that’s even in America and in our constitution was rooted in the certain kind of evil in its day, ’cause when I look at a constitution that says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal,” and you look at the minds that could create that phraseology that – that – that pushed an idea; and at the same time, these very same men were holders of slaves and cruelly subjected people to a second-class li- — life of second-class citizenry, that was an evil – something villainous.
MR. BELAFONTE: And I think that what happened with communism, what happened with the leaders – power corrupted and corrupted them to the point where they became totalitarian. They became so oppressive, that they had to eventually implode, which was what happened. And I think Fidel Castro made a lotta mistakes – but I think in the beginning, he was very heroic. 00:29:32