The Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro and Raul Castro has always been a matter for ambivalence for some African Americans.  The Castro brothers unleashed a reign of terror against their own people, ruthlessly cracking down on dissent, as they consolidated power and raised an iron shield to protect their movement.

With a hostile United States 100 miles away, Cuba was dragged into the sphere of the now defunct Soviet Union and Marxism became the ideology of the government, with all that it meant in terms of dictatorship.

A now ailing and aged Fidel Castro, who ruled with an iron fist for most of this time, finally yielded most power to his brother but the crackdown against any form of dissent continues to be relentless more than half a century later.

Only very gradually are small steps being taken to begin the process of cracking open the society and letting the light of democracy shine. It is quite possible that, given the realities of today’s world, that process will be inevitable and the Cuban people will be able to wake up from their long nightmare.

African Americans, like all Americans, value democracy and what it has come to mean — even as the legacy of racism continues to burden us and the nation as a whole. Fidel Castro’s Cuba, therefore, has been rejected by all freedom-loving people.

But, at the same time that Fidel Castro terrorized his people, both black and white, he showed another side to blacks across the African Diaspora, partly because he needed Afro-Cubans on the side of his revolution and partly because he saw black people as a means to spread his ideology and burnish his image abroad.

But to many African Americans — a people who spent centuries resisting, in their own ways, the tyranny of the white majority at home — Fidel Castro’s horrific treatment of his own people, both blacks and whites, is a reminder of the tragedy of governmental dehumanization of citizens.

All of this came to the fore recently when Ozzie Guillen, the newly minted Venezuela-born manager of the Miami Marlins baseball team, said he loved Fidel Castro. Mr. Guillen explained that he was referring to the fact that the Cuban dictator had survived several assassination attempts — most of which, it is believed, originated with the CIA.

Even that sort of admiration for Fidel Castro was enough to spark major outrage among Cuban Americans in Miami and Mr. Guillen apologized. But it also aroused passions among some African Americans who know of Fidel Castro’s history with blacks. Lucius Gantt expresses that view in a column on this page.

African Americans and others throughout the world must carefully evaluate the inclination of a cruel despot to treat some people with respect while treating their own citizens as less than human. This two-faced approach is not a sign of good; it is a sign of evil.

Leaders who unjustly deprive citizens of freedom or life are inhumane.  Inhumanity towards some is inhumanity toward mankind.