Saturday, May 31, 2008

Deconstructing the Myth of Castro

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba for 50 long years, or 49 to be exact, and finally handed the presidency to his brother in February 2008.

The US has had an embargo on Cuba for nearly as long. Depending on who and where you read, the official history of US/Cuban relations is blamed on various actions/reactions.

Short version: Batista was the US puppet and upon his overthrow in 1959, D.C. via the CIA, immediately attempted to invade and restore Mr. B., and with the failure of the Bay of Pigs in 1961, the US has since enforced a trade embargo to punish the Cuban people.

The "left" has defended Fidel for 50 years.

The "right" claims Castro is a dictator who oppressed his people after climbing in bed with the Soviets to spread communism in our backyard.

The "right" has condemned Fidel for 50 years.

Having lived through the life and times of this history here's what I know.

Initially, the US welcomed a democratic Cuba after the overthrow of Batista, and the CIA had even contributed funds to Castro and his men during their exile in Mexico, from which they launched the revolution that overthrew Batista. I've been aware of CIA/Castro connection for as long as I can remember although it doesn't seem to be part of the "left" or "right" official history.

But, as it was 2 years before the Bay of Pigs, it's reasonable to assume Washington expected to make the same arrangements with Castro as they had with Batista. It's also reasonable to assume the CIA "left" funded Castro as often is the case in Latin America, it is SOP to fund both sides - whoever wins will owe US.

It's been said that in the beginning Fidel denounced communism, was pro-capitalist; he simply wanted to rid Cuba of the dictator Batista. It is also said that Castro became angry with the US after US refusal to sell him arms and the relationship between the two countries quickly soured. Castro promptly began to acquire armaments from Belgium until the US issued a "friendly warning" to that country. Castro then turned to the Soviets who were more than happy to accommodate.

In March of 1960, over a year after Castro came to power, the CIA recommended to Eisenhower, the use of anti-Castro Cubans in Florida for the Bay of Pigs invasion. Seventeen months later Kennedy would have the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Seldom mentioned is the monthly rental income from the US for Guantanamo Bay. It is said that Castro does not cash the checks, stuffs them in a drawer. At $4000 per month that's about $2.5 million. Castro did cash the first check he received way back in the beginning but later said that was a mistake, an oversight. Cashing that first check, however, validated the lease agreement between Castro's Cuba and the US for continued use of Gitmo.

Perhaps Castro feared a push to vacate Gitmo would assure the US would remove him from power.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Personally, I believe the embargo is vindictive. Personally, the idea that Castro is a hero is childish romanticizing.

But here are some facts to consider. Has any president ever been qualified to hold office for 50 years? I don't think so. Does anyone believe if the CIA had wanted to take Castro out they couldn't have?

Consider that although the US has maintained a trade embargo, most of the rest of the world has not. Cuba has always had trade with Canada, China, Russia, Spain, Venezuela, U.S., Italy, Mexico, Japan, France, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, and many others.

The islands main products are: Beans, Cassava, Cobalt, Chrome, Coffee, Copper, Iron Ore, Livestock, Maize, Nickel, Oranges, Rice, Sugar Cane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Tropical Fruits. Major industries are: Agriculture, Cement, Chemicals, Fertilizers, Fishing, Food Processing, Light Consumer Production, Metal Refining, Mining, Oil Refining, Textiles, Tobacco Products. Major exports are: Chemicals, Coffee, Copper, Fish, Fruit and Vegetables, Nickel, Rum, Sugar, Tobacco.

The current population of Cuba is 11,000,000. So why has an island rich in resources, and trade partners with many other Western nations and the USSR - done so poorly for a population only 2 million larger than New York City? Where has 50 years of Cuban wealth gone?

Why are Cuban physicians currently in Venezuela defecting from Cuba? Have they not seen Sicko? Do they not know how good they have it in Cuba?

Why has it been only recently, under Raul Castro, that the average Jose Blow will be allowed to buy a personal computer? Although Internet access will still be restricted.

So tell me - is Fidel Castro a hero who emancipated his people from the evil imperialists, or just another tinpot Caribbean dictator who made an island his personal property? Are 50 years of poverty and social restrictions solely the responsibility of the US refusing to trade with Cuba? Or because Castro and his ruling class are, dare I say it, inept and corrupt?

With Castro's death, it's very likely Cuba will be opened. Just in time for the American "left" and "right" - enter Hugo Chavez, who will play the part of icon for the "left" and enemy for the "right."


ziz said...

Who votyes with the US at UN to maintain the trade emargo on Cuba ?


Who maintains trade with Cuba ?


Indeed an Israelie Cabinet Minister "Stinky" Eitan has massive business interests in Cuba... he was also Pollard's controller so daren't set foot inthe US.

Kate-A said...

I would not be surprised if you told me Meyer Lansky's interests were still operating in Cuba.

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