Fidel Castro: Cuban Revolution
He is the darling of the American left. His island nation is held up as an example the United States should emulate by the liberals of America. Hollywood leftists worship him, although not one of them has yet to sell his oceanfront Malibu home, give the proceeds to the poor, and move to his capital city to live in abject poverty with his comrades.
His system of government is held in the highest esteem by the American left because even though his citizens live in utter squalor, they're all equally poor. The poverty in his country is rivaled only in the Western Hemisphere by Haiti. He has ruled his nation with an iron fist for fifty years—though he was never elected to public office.
The average Cuban today eats 1/4 of the meat and less rice, beans, and bread than did Cuban slaves in 1840. The fearless leader himself owns sixty homes and has amassed a fortune of a nine hundred million dollars. This is the story of Fidel Castro, and the utopian paradise he created in Cuba.
Cuba Before Castro
Before Fidel Castro came to power, Cuba boasted nearly the highest standard of living in the Spanish-speaking world. It was not predominantly a country of rural peasantry, but a nation of cities with a large middle-class. 80 percent of the Cuban people were literate. The share of the national income that went to regular wage-earners was 65 percent—4th highest in the world behind the US, the UK, and Canada. This would seem like a very unlikely place for a Socialist revolution.
But in the 1950s, Cuba dissolved into a morass of corruption under a greedy and cruel dictator named Batista. Cuba had degenerated into a playground for rich Americans that was full of gambling, drinking, sex shows, and prostitution. Like all of Latin America then—and most of it still today—everything ran on bribes and kickbacks. The main casinos were operated by the Jewish-American gangster Meyer Lansky, who paid Batista over a million dollars a month for his "license."
Batista himself had an unlikely rise to power from the son of a sugar cane cutter and a mulatto maid. When he took control in Cuba in 1940 he was sergeant in the Cuban Army. Through corruption, Batista became fabulously wealthy. But he was despised by most Cubans and traveled everywhere with a phalanx of armed guards. Since almost nothing Batista said was believed by the Cuban people, almost everything Fidel Castro said was believed, though it was no more true.
The American Left Anoints Castro
The New York Times sent a Socialist reporter down to Cuba in 1957 to survey the situation. The reporter, Herbert Matthews, selected an little-known guerrilla leader with only 150 followers named Fidel Castro as the best man to lead a new Cuba.
Matthews wrote a series of articles that romanticized Castro and made him a hero to the American Left, who desperately needed a hero since they had recently been forced to stop publicly idolizing Josef Stalin, as it had come to light that Stalin had killed fifty million people in the name of Socialism.
Matthews said this in the New York Times about Fidel Castro: "The personality of the man is overpowering. It was easy to see that his men [all 130 of them] adored him [hell, that many people adore me!] and also to see why he has caught the imagination of the youth of Cuba all over the island. Here was an educated, dedicated fanatic, a man of ideals, of courage and of remarkable qualities of leadership."
This story and others by Matthews—who wrote like a star-struck schoolgirl about Fidel—had an immense impact in making Castro a legendary, mythical personage. Castro also fooled Matthews into thinking his support was enormously larger than it was in real life. Arthur Hays Sulzberger, the owner of the New York Times, later admitted that Matthews had shown "poor judgement" and "misled" his readers.
Fidel Castro was the spoiled illegitimate son of a rich immigrant from Spain—and his maid—who had earned a fortune in Cuba with his fruit plantation.
Fidel Castro, having too much time on his hands—an idle mind is the devil's workshop—began to fancy himself a Marxist revolutionary. He was influenced by the cold-blooded murderer Che Guevara—you know, the one leftists have on T-Shirts and wall posters.
Castro led armed student rebellions, and committed numerous crimes including murder, in several Latin American countries. In 1948, Castro helped organize the violence that claimed the lives of 3,000 Columbian citizens. His ultimate goal was to be internationally famous.
Despite the fact that Castro was a Communist gangster determined to attain personal power through violence, Herbert Matthews wrote glowing articles about him that painted him as the Lawrence of Arabia of the Caribbean. To Matthews, Castro was a brave young rebel who risked his life to bring down a hated dictator and would bring about a free and prosperous democracy in Cuba.
One of his friends described Castro thus: "He was a power-hungry person, completely unprincipled, who would throw in his lot with any group he felt could help his political career." Castro himself claimed that his "vocation is being a revolutionary." He fancied himself Lenin and Hitler rolled into one. He modeled his early rhetoric on the proto-fascist Primo de Rivera.
Castro Takes Power in Cuba
Castro, backed by the New York Times, took over in Cuba in 1959. It wasn't so much that he conquered the government as that the 70,000 Cuban military men and policemen refused to fight against him because they believed his promises about the great utopia he would bring to Cuba. Batista fled the country.
Fidel Castro never had more than 3,000 followers at any time in his career. His so-called battles were mere public relations exercises. In the "Battle of Santa Clara" he lost six men. In the largest engagement of the Cuban Revolution, Castro lost 40 men and the government 300.
The "guerrilla war" was just propaganda. As his best friend Che Guevara admitted: "The presence of a foreign journalist, American for preference, was more important for us than a military victory."
Castro set about turning Cuba into a giant Communist prison camp. Like all dictators, Castro needed an enemy. He selected the United States. He seized property that belonged to Americans worth over a billion dollars- 1959 dollars. US President Eisenhower did nothing except place an embargo on Cuban sugar.
Shortly after taking over Cuba, Fidel Castro visited the United States. He said all the right things—that he hated dictators, he loved a free press, and he promised not to expropriate property in Cuba owned and developed by Americans.
He charmed everybody it seemed except Richard Nixon, who knew a liar when he saw one. Nixon asked him why he had not scheduled elections. Castro said the Cuban people did not want elections. Nixon asked why he was executing people left and right without a trial. Castro said the Cuban people did not want trials.
Within months, Castro had signed agreements with the Soviet Union by which Cuba became its satellite in exchange for weapons, advisors, and KGB agents to train Castro's secret police. He murdered the top military man in the country, as well as the top judge, and slapped any persons who voiced opposition to his dictatorship into prison for up to thirty years. One of his top men in the revolution, Huber Matos, was arrested and spent twenty years in prison for criticizing Castro. As Castro said: "Revolutionary Justice is based not upon legal precepts but on moral conviction."
Cuba Under Castro
After taking control of Cuba, Castro announced he would hold elections in 18 months. He learned the technique of false promises by studying Vladimir Lenin. His first decree was to abolish all political parties—in other words all opposition to his dictatorship. As Castro explained "Worthy men who belong to definite political parties already have posts in the provisional [my] government. . . . The others would do better to be silent." From then on, anyone who voiced opposition to Communism would be arrested.
100,000 political prisoners were soon behind bars without trials. Torture became routine and thousands of the prisoners who had broken no laws were summarily executed for daring to criticize Fidel. In 1961, Castro announced there would be no elections—and there haven't been any since.
Castro announced that Cubans would have political freedom, but he gave them nothing but complete oppression. He prohibited free press and free speech. Only judges who agreed with Socialism were allowed to sit on the bench. Trade unions and professional associations were abolished. Castro took farms away from the people who knew how to farm, with the predictable result: agricultural production plummeted. Rationing became a permanent feature of life in Cuba. All industry, banks, and utilities were now owned by the government.
Fidel Exports Socialism
In 1960, Fidel Castro announced his intention—which he later made good on—to send elite units of his soldiers to other Latin American countries, as well as to Africa and Asia, to help Communist revolutionaries. Thus, 90 miles from the United States, was established a Communist regime aligned with America's sworn enemy that began to export violence. Cubans who were not Communists began to flee to the United States in huge numbers.
John F. Kennedy was probably elected to the US Presidency over Richard Nixon in 1960 because he had painted Eisenhower and his Vice-President—Nixon—as soft on Communists in general and Castro in particular. 90 percent of the American public wanted Castro thrown out of Cuba. Castro was taunting America with a smaller militia than the Rhode Island National Guard. He was brutally executing all opponents and was increasingly hostile toward the United States.
Bay of Pigs
When John F. Kennedy took over as President of the United States, the CIA convinced him to support 1,200 armed Cuban exiles who wanted to land in an area of Cuba named the Bay of Pigs to overthrow Castro. This plan had already been rejected by former President Eisenhower.The key part of this story is that the plan included a massive air attack to support the emigres. Kennedy nixed the air support because he lacked courage.
Unfortunately, the American Leftist Media loved Castro—and still idolizes him today—and they published the plans for the invasion, which made it easy for Castro to thwart the attack. 114 invaders were killed during the landing and the other 1,189 were taken prisoner, nearly all of whom were executed or later died in Castro's prisons.
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, believing that America would do nothing no matter what Castro did, decided to station nuclear missiles on Cuban soil. Castro said in an interview that the purpose was "primarily to strengthen Socialism on the international plane." Soviet documents released decades later stated that the purpose was to bring about "a definite shift in the power relationship between the Socialist [enslaved] and the Capitalist [free] worlds."
Khrushchev sent 42 missiles, 24 anti-aircraft batteries, and 42,000 Soviet troops and technicians to Cuba in 1962. These missiles would be capable of destroying US defenses in 17 minutes once operational. Vice-President Lyndon Baines Johnson advised immediate air strikes to knock out the missile sites, followed by an invasion of American Marines. President Kennedy turned down this plan, instead deciding to quarantine the island and negotiate with the Soviets. Thus began the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cuban Missile Crisis
President Kennedy got what he wanted: the Soviets pulled the missiles out in exchange for an American promise not to invade Cuba. So Cuba was locked into rule under a totalitarian regime until the present day.
One might think this made Fidel Castro happy—it did not. He smashed a looking-glass and shouted that Khrushchev was "a man with no balls!"
Fidel Castro came close to causing the deaths of 500 million human beings. He had urged the Soviets to attack America first with nuclear missiles and assured them he would gladly sacrifice each and every Cuban person for the cause of worldwide Socialism.
The 42,000 Soviet troops and experts remained in Cuba and began extensive training of what was to become one the world's largest and most mobile armies. The Cuban Army would be used as mercenaries to execute Soviet policy on anti-Western military missions for two decades.
Kennedy had acquiesced to a Communist regime in Cuba in open military alliance with a nation that had publicly declared that it intended to destroy the United States. Former President Eisenhower called it "A Profile in Timidity and Indecision." The head of the American Strategic Air Command, Curtis LeMay, told Kennedy: "It's the greatest defeat in our history."
The American Liberal Press declared Kennedy a hero. But they saved their hagiography for Fidel Castro. Castro, American Liberal writers wrote, was "steeped in democracy," a "passionate humanitarian," "soft-spoken, shy, and sensitive," a man who reminds them of the "connection between Socialism and Christianity," who possesses "encyclopedic knowledge." Norman Mailer said that Fidel Castro was "the first and greatest hero to appear in the world after the Second World War." Abbie Hoffman topped that when he wrote: "When Castro stood erect, he is like a giant penis coming to life, and when he is tall and straight the crowd immediately is transformed."
Fidel Castro loudly defended the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Cuban soldiers were more readily admitted by Socialist revolutionaries in African countries than would have been Soviet soldiers because they were not white. In 1975, the first Cuban troops landed in Angola—under Soviet naval protection. In 1976, Cuban troops were fighting to impose Socialism on Ethiopia, as well as in Central and East Africa. In 1979, Cuba established a satellite regime of its own in Nicaragua. Over the years, the Soviet Union gave Cuba $10 billion worth of military equipment to wage war against democracy.
The Legacy of Fidel Castro
In the final analysis, Fidel Castro represents a horrible warning to the enemies of Free Enterprise. Cuba was perhaps the richest country in Latin America before Castro. In the first two decades of Socialism, Cuba's national income diminished by more than one percent each year while most countries in the world experienced dramatic leaps in standards of living. Living standards declined relentlessly while Castro kept promising that Utopia was just around the corner.
The Cubans might have starved to death had not the Soviets propped up Castro's regime with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of food. By the 1990s, Cuba had sunk to the lowest standard of living in Western Hemisphere, tied with Haiti, with most Cubans going hungry to bed.
Ordinary Cubans have long rejected Castro by voting with their feet and their outboard motors. 20 percent of the Cuban people now live in the United States, having risked their lives to cross shark-infested waters in everything from inner tubes to rickety fishing vessels to escape their oppressed and impoverished country. Many of the best educated Cubans left the island, especially after Castro confiscated all private businesses in 1968. In 1980 alone, 150,000 refugees fled Castro for America from the port of Mariel. In a nice touch, Castro also released 100,000 criminals from prison and insane asylums and sent them to America.
Che Guevara is the ultimate fashion accessory for the American Left. He is romanticized by Leftist historians and Hollywood types as a warm and loving humanitarian. For one example, see the film Che (2008) starring Benicio Del Toro.
The truth about Che Guevara is that he was a psychopath and fanatical Communist. He wanted a worldwide system of Communist slavery for all human beings, which he envisioned as some sort of utopia.
Che Guevara personally executed many people whom he felt did not sufficiently agree with his ideas. He also personally organized Cuba's forced labor camps for Fidel Castro.
After the Cuba Missile Crisis, Che Guevara said this in an interview with the London Daily Worker:
"If the missiles had remained, we would have used them against the very heart of the United States, including New York. We must never establish peaceful coexistence. In this struggle to the death between two systems, we must gain the ultimate victory. We must walk the path of atomic liberation even if it costs millions of atomic victims."
To drum up tourism for Cuba, Fidel Castro made a speech in 1992 in which he touted the advantages of Cuban prostitution. Cuba had no AIDS epidemic because early on Castro had quarantined every person on the island who tested positive, thus stopping the spread of the killer disease before it could germinate through the general population. This marketing campaign worked as in 1999, Cuba entertained 1.7 million sex tourists, second in the world only to Thailand.
The Cubans in America flourished. By 1995 they had started 750,000 new businesses. The two million Cubans living in America generate a Gross Domestic Product eleven times higher than Cuba itself—with eleven million inhabitants. But over the years, Fidel Castro constantly blamed the United States for every ill that befell Cuba.
American textbooks, written by Socialists, call all of this a "success," and are filled with pro-Castro propaganda that is so mendacious it is beyond belief. It is hard to believe that American Leftists such as Hollywood movie types would tout a nation as a success where everybody is dirt poor, there are no elections, dissent is repressed, state censorship dominates, prisons are full of political prisoners, there is no rule of law, and where not even the most basic freedoms exist. I do not see Sean Penn, Danny Glover, or Harry Belafonte giving up their Malibu homes and multi-million dollar bank accounts to live in a Cuban hovel. Atheism makes for strange bedfellows.
In 1971, Castro arrested the popular Cuban writer Heberto Padilla because he didn't like his latest book. He was eventually released after being tortured into signing a confession that he was a political deviant. This caused many Latin American artistic types to stop supporting Castro. Many artists and writers fled Cuba if they could.
My father became the first private pilot to fly into Communist Cuba when he was hired by State Department in 1987 to fly out a Cuban political prisoner, Jose Pujals Mederos, who had been in prison for 27 years and 22 days. Senator Ted Kennedy rode along.
In 1963, a Castro supporter and fellow Marxist named Lee Harvey Oswald, murdered President Kennedy.
This story is dedicated to my good friends, the Herrera family, whose patriarch escaped from Cuba with his wife and children in 1968. Although the Herrera family had to leave everything they owned behind, and came to America penniless; before long were living a solid middle-class lifestyle. Only in America is this possible. There have been no sightings of people fleeing the United States on rafts to go live in Cuba.
My sources for this article include: A History of the American People by Paul Johnson; The Fifties by David Halberstam; The Penguin History of Latin America by Edwin Williamson; The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Sixties by Jonathan Leaf; and Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties by Paul Johnson.
More by this Author
White Guilt by Shelby Steele is about Black Militancy, Black Consciousness, Black Power, Black Riots, Racial Politics, the Bigotry of Low Expectations, Responsibility, Freedom, Diversity, White Guilt
It is the year 2318. At the podium, a professor is about to give a lecture on World History. Let's listen in. This year marks the 300th anniversary of the fall of the Republic of the United States of America. The...
Pros and Cons of Capitalism defines capitalism; the theory of capitalism; positive effects of capitalism; creative destruction; Private Property; Capitalism vs Socialism; Democracy; Free Enterprise.