Thursday, July 19 , 2018, 11:06 am | Partly Cloudy 69º


Tom Purcell: If Virginia O’Hanlon Had Asked Fidel Castro about Santa Claus

I am 8 years old. Some of my friends say there IS a Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in the Communist Party paper Granma, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, El Presidente. Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

Dear Virginia:

Your little friends are wrong. Of course there is no Santa Claus. Did your papa not tell you that I banned all likenesses of Santa, a symbol of Yankee capitalist greed, in 1959?

Did your papa not read the 1959 Time article that explained how I required all Christmas decorations to be made of Cuban materials, with traditional Cuban scenes — that American-style Christmas trees had to be replaced with Cuban palms?

Does he not remember that I, the world’s most successful Scrooge, canceled Christmas altogether in 1969 — that millions of Cuban children grew up without any sense of a Christmas tradition — and that I only eased the ban in 1998 when Pope John Paul II visited our country?

Believe in Santa Claus, Virginia? You might as well believe that freedom exists — as foolhardy American pigs do. Their freedom opens the floodgates to everything that is bad in the human heart — greed and vanity and dishonesty.

Only a benevolent dictator like Fidel can stop such freedom. Only I can open the floodgates to everything good in the human heart, such as generosity and selflessness and integrity. Those who refuse to embrace these traits will be beaten, jailed or sent to the firing squad!

I laugh when I read the various estimates of the political opponents I sent to their deaths — between 4,000 and 33,000. Even Fidel has lost count. But I had to whack these troublemakers. They stood in the way of the revolution. They didn’t know that only with absolute power could I help my people, in particular the poor.

All the world knows I am a great champion of the poor. I love poor people so much, in fact, that I created millions of new ones.

I gave them education — I’m proud to say my country has the best educated janitors, maids and garbage collectors in Latin America!

I gave them free health care — albeit not very good health care. It’s not my fault most of our doctors, in their greed, fled to other countries to enrich themselves with the livable salaries our communist country can never pay them.

My intentions are good and — as the progressive left in America will tell you — isn’t that all that matters?

It’s true that as my people have suffered — the average income in my country is $20 per month — I have lived a lavish life.

Forbes estimated my net worth at just short of $1 billion. Had I been a ruthless capitalist pig like America’s president-elect, Donald Trump, I, too, would be a billionaire many times over. But Fidel didn’t do too badly as the dictator of a small communist island.

But getting back to your question, Virginia, of course there is no Santa Claus.

Look, Virginia, the most real things in the world are only those things that Fidel sees. Did Fidel ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not. Fidel only sees the good life that the revolution has brought to Cuba — including the finest fleet of rundown ’58 Studebakers in all the world!

Alas! There is no Santa Claus, Virginia.

And now that I have answered your question, Fidel has a question for you: What are the names of these little friends who have been telling you lies about this Santa Claus?

Fidel Castro

Tom Purcell, author of Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood and Wicked Is the Whiskey: A Sean McClanahan Mystery, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist; syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @PurcellTom. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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