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Castro a Fascist?

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In one of my discussions with Gerry Hemming, he stated his opinion that Castro had started as a fascist not a Communist; that Castro used to study Mein Kampf. Mr. Hemming was not the first person to raise this point.

I found an interesting article by a Ernesto Betancourt, who was once a follower of Castro. It is worth reading.


By Ernesto F. Betancourt

Against which it thinks the left-handed intellectuality, the castrismo is not a movement of Marxist origin. The initial ideological source of I castrate was Prime of Creek and the Francoism, that prioritized between the jesuitas of the School of Bethlehem where it formed in the thirty and during World War II. In the University it walked with My fight, the book of Hitler, under the arm. It is after arriving at the power that Fidel decides to play his destiny with the USSR in search of a strategic support that he served as counterbalance the American power, which tried to challenge. When getting dressed in the Marxist mantle, the castrismo acquired ideological respetabilidad before the liberal world; that Trujillo never reached, nor deserved. In addition, Fidel became the symbol of the antiamericanismo, which made a hero of many suffered, including academic and intellectual Americans.

Nevertheless, during two years that I represented the 26 of Julio in Washington, when the insurrection against Batiste, never I received an invitation of an American university to present/display our position. This ideological commitment, and in fact, with the marxism prevailed until the collapse of the Soviet Union. Later one has become more propagandistic than real. But in the relations governor-governed the Cuban regime it has been all along a case more of tropical caudillismo, whose internal operation more similarity in the Américas is the trujillismo.

The Cuban Comunism has stopped being a sistémica reality. It is a propagandistic patch that maintains Fidel to continue cultivating the European, Latin American and American left. But the regime that has arisen more and more reveals clearly the similarity of the castrismo with the trujillismo. Saving the distances between the world-wide projection of I always castrate and much more limited of Trujillo, who limited itself the Dominican Republic.

This similarity arises from many passages of the shining historical novel of Mario Vargas Llosa the celebration of Chivo. The Dominican ones called to Trujillo Chivo and the Cubans call to Fidel the Horse. Both leaders show charismatic characteristics that they served to them as base to aupar itself like leaders incuestionados on his compatriots. Both are of little sleeping and they have used to have a penetrating glance able to disturb to an adversary or to discover a disloyal follower. Both established true totalitarian regimes that were satrapías. The life and property of the citizens were left to their favor and without legal protection some against them.

The conduct of the father of Uranita, senator Agustín Cabral, central personage of the novel of Vargas LLosa, is of equal submission to the Dominican caudillo who the one of personages like Ricardo Alarcón and others of the nomenklatura to the Cuban caudillo. Like the senator, the chancellor Perez Roque or their predecessor, Robertico Robaina, are personages whose races can with a stroke of the pen be finished by the caudillo. The total subordination to the caudillo is guaranteed with the presence of the espionage and the ruthless repression at all the levels. In the case of Trujillo with colonel Johnny Abbes in charge of the Service of Inteligencia Militar (SIM); in the one of Fidel, with a general Abelardo Colomé in charge of the Ministry of Interior (MININT).

Although Fidel has not arrived at the recklessness to put fences with mottos like ' ' God and Trujilló', nor to be made call the Benefactor, yes he has cultivated mottos that transmit unconditional obedience like ' ' Fidel, this one is your casá ' and ' ' Commander-in-Chief, I ordered ' or laughable titles like ' ' father of genéticá'. The Catholic Church, under both regimes, was folded by both caudillos to a colaboracionista position with the terror of the persecution and doing to him to beg for the access to the average materials for its operation.

In these two caudillistas systems, loyalty is compensated with gifts and the disloyalty or the failure is punished retiring them. There is the anecdote of the cousin of Trujillo who, enjoying prebendas that generated the rent of lottery, committed the error to speak badly of the military. Thing that the network of scavengers made arrive at the Generalissimo. Just like they make the cederistas in Cuba. As punishment named it colonel, Central base had to take a walk by Sunday at night in the heat of uniforms and, as the rules prohibited that the military occupied that seat, lost the position of director of the lottery.

Robaina Robert was defenestrado to question the wisdom of Fidel in blaming Javier Solana of genocide during the war by Kosovo. After several months in the limb of the plan pajamas, it finished of cadet in a military school and its wife they dismissed it of a substantial position to tourism, in the middle of rumors, planted by the own regime, on cloudy businesses. Arnaldo Ochoa, in the military man, Carlos Aldana, in the politician, and Humberto Perez, in the economic thing underwent sudden end in diverse degrees. No could be defended before the public opinion. Equal it happened under Trujillo, who also had the monopoly of mass media.

This handling of its followers in the governing oligarchy and of the society in general reveals an extraordinary similarity between both caudillos. Nevertheless, in the communist stage of I castrate, the caudillismo was opacado by the internationalism and the entailment with the Marxist ideology. After the collapse of the Soviet block it is that the caudillista similarity between the trujillismo and the castrismo becomes more evident. Of that we will speak in the next column.

Some information on Mr. Betancourt:

Ernesto Betancourt, born in Cuba, served briefly in the original government of Fidel Castro, but quickly defected. Years later he served as head of Budgeting at the Organization of American States, where, among many accomplishments, he is credited with coining the name of the “Alliance for Progress” launched by President Kennedy. He also was the first and most respected Director of Radio Marti. Today he provides consulting services to the World Bank and other institutions related to governance reform in emerging democracies. He is the author of several books and a regular contributor to El Nuevo Herald and other publications. His father was Cuban born, but came to New York as a child and later joined the US Marines at the end of the First World War. After his service, he returned to Cuba where he married, became a CPA and Manager of the Western Electric branch in Cuba.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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In one of my discussions with Gerry Hemming, he stated his opinion that Castro had started as a fascist not a Communist; that Castro used to study Mein Kampf. Mr. Hemming was not the first person to raise this point.

It is common for those on the far right to describe those on the left as “fascists”. This is as daft as calling Hitler a communist. One thing that we know about fascists is that the first things that they do once they gain power is to persecute communists and socialists. In fact, Hitler’s concentration camps were initially established to imprison his left-wing political opponents.

My dictionary defines fascism as: “a political philosophy, movement, or regime that is hostile to socialism, exalts nation and race, and stands for centralized government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition”.

If someone is defined as a fascist because they have “studied” Mein Kampf than I must be one as well. It is an appalling book but anyone interested in history needs to read it. I am sure that is the reason why Castro read it.

You only need to read one of the numerous biographies on Castro to realise that he was originally a liberal. After he had finished his education Castro became a lawyer in Havana. As he tended to take the cases of poor people who could not afford to pay him, Castro was constantly short of money. Castro's experience as a lawyer made him extremely critical of the great inequalities in wealth that existed in Cuba. Like many other Cubans, Castro resented the wealth and power of the American businessmen who appeared to control the country.

In 1947 Castro joined the Cuban People's Party. He was attracted to this new party's campaign against corruption, injustice, poverty, unemployment and low wages. The Cuban People's Party accused government ministers of taking bribes and running the country for the benefit of the large United States corporations that had factories and offices in Cuba.

In 1952 Fidel Castro became a candidate for Congress for the Cuban People's Party. He was a superb public speaker and soon built up a strong following amongst the young members of the party. The Cuban People's Party was expected to win the election but during the campaign. General Fulgencio Batista, with the support of the armed forces, took control of the country.

Like most members of the Cuban People’s Party, Castro came to the conclusion that that revolution was the only way that his party would ever gain power. Given the military dictatorship established by Batista, this reaction is understandable. However, at this stage, Castro and his followers were still liberals. That is why he got backing from the CIA in his struggle against Batista. The Ivy League leadership of the CIA (people like Wisner, Barnes, Bissell, FitzGerald, etc.) believed that the best way of stopping communists gaining control of Latin and South America was to support liberal reformists against right-wing dictatorships such as Batista. This did not please all members of the CIA who believed that America’s best interests were served by propping up people like Batista.

Personally, I believe the “Georgetown Crowd” were right about this. However, you needed the US government to be on message as well. Castro had no option but to get support from the Soviet Union after Eisenhower successfully persuaded the West not to buy sugar from Cuba. What did the Americans expect him to do – resign? Castro’s decision united the CIA in attempting to overthrow his government. As you know, the Americans have never overthrown governments because they are led by fascists. They attempted to remove him because he was acting like a communist.

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Article from 03/16/05 MIAMI HERALD

If Cuba had taken another path



I returned from a visit to Chile with a heavy, saddened heart. Not because of what I saw in that prosperous, democratic and dynamic South American country, but because I wonder what Cuba would have been had it followed Chile's path.

The two countries have significant similarities. Chile has a population of 14 million, Cuba 12 million and they are remarkably similar in size. Historically Chile has had one major export -- copper; Cuba: sugar and nickel. Both lack petroleum resources or other mineral wealth. In 1959, Chile and Cuba were prosperous and modern. By Latin American standards, they were far ahead of most countries in the region.

The similarities end there. Today Chile is a democratic, vibrant country, with an economy that shines. The Chilean miracle is the result of various factors, including a strong entrepreneurial class and governments that, since the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, have nurtured this entrepreneurial class, providing incentives and interfering little with their activities.

Even now under the leadership of a socialist regime and its president, Ricardo Lagos, these neo-liberal policies have continued. The Chileans also encourage foreign investments, primarily from Europe, in an effort to expand its export sector. All of this, in a democratic framework, that respects human rights, protects the less-privileged sectors of society and provides a superb health and education system.

In contrast, Cuba flounders under a dictatorship led by an unbending caudillo who opposes the United States, supports revolutionary and terrorist groups and attempts to build a Marxist-Leninist society. More than 46 years of repression, mismanagement and misguided policies have created misery and poverty for Cubans.

The most troublesome issue may be the legacy of Castroism. After the end of the Castro era, there will be the awesome task of economic reconstruction. Cuba does not have a viable economy of its own. It lacks an internal market, a negotiable currency or a rational pricing structure. Persistent government deficits and accelerated downward spiraling have led to a dead end.

In addition to these vexing realities, there will also be a maze of legal problems posed by the issue of the legality of foreign investments and the validity of property rights acquired during the Castro era. Obviously, Cuban nationals, Cuban-Americans and foreigners whose properties were confiscated by the Castro regime will all want to reclaim them or will ask for fair compensation.

Economic and legal problems are not, however, the only challenges facing Cuba's future. Some of the critical problems that a post-Castro Cuba will have to deal with are:

• The continuous power of the military and the growth of their involvement in the economy;

• A free and restless labor movement, seeking vindications and better working conditions;

• Simmering racial tension, accentuated by economic inequalities produced, in part, by remittances going mostly to the white populations;

• Instilling new values in a population used to stealing, working little and disobeying laws;

• The unwillingness of society to sacrifice further and endure the difficult years that will follow the end of communism.

The future of Cuba is, therefore, clouded with uncertainties. Yet Cuba has at least three unique advantages: proximity to, and long tradition of relations with, the United States; an attraction as a tourist Mecca; and a large and wealthy exile population.

These three factors could converge to transform Cuba's economy, but only if a future Cuban leadership creates the necessary conditions: an open, legally fair economy and an open, tolerant political system. Meanwhile, Chileans seem to have been dealt the better cards while Cubans have been shut out of the game.

Jaime Suchlicki is Emilio Bacardi Moreau professor of history and international studies and the director of the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami.

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Another interpretation -- one given by Castro himself in his interviews with Stone for "Comandante" -- is that he was driven into the arms of the communists by constant US opposition to his land reform and other social measures after taking power...

Flinging around terms like "fascist" to describe anyone with whom you disagree has become more and more fashionable in recent years and is much to be regretted...

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I have noted you have not replied to my point about the definition of a fascist. Instead you have posted a piece of propaganda from the Miami Herald about how bad life is in Cuba.

I have visited a large number of countries in my life. I can honestly say that the happiest people I have come across were those living in Cuba. Not that you can tell about this visit from my passport. The Cuban customs official told me he would not stamp my passport as it would probably prevent me for ever being able to enter the United States again. It seems that United States don’t like visitors who have seen what it is really like to live under Castro.

Not that the people of Cuba were not critical of Castro. In fact, of all the communist countries I have visited, the Cubans were the most willing to talk about the faults of its government. The Chinese were the most afraid to talk about its rulers. The citizens of the Soviet Union were not far behind. However, once they got started, they found it difficult to stop.

Although the Cubans were critical of some aspects of the government (bureaucracy, food shortages, overcrowded accommodation, etc.) they were generally happy with life (happier than people living in the UK although they had far less than we have). Why? Several reasons. Many could remember what Cuba was like before Castro arrived in power. They particularly resented the way corrupt dictators like Batista ruled on behalf of the American business interests.

They were also aware that Castro had dramatically reduced the inequalities that exist in most underdeveloped nations. Don’t take my word for it. This was what Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations, had to say about Cuba on April 11, 2000.

"Cuba's achievements in social development are impressive given the size of its gross domestic product per capita. As the human development index of the United Nations makes clear year after year, Cuba should be the envy of many other nations, ostensibly far richer. [Cuba] demonstrates how much nations can do with the resources they have if they focus on the right priorities - health, education, and literacy."

Cuba has a literacy rate that is one of the highest in the world. In fact, I found them far more better informed about the world than people living in other, so-called developed countries.

Last year UNICEF announced that Cuba’s infant mortality rate is now 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births. It is one of the lowest in the world and is second only to Canada in the Americas. The United States has an infant mortality rate of 7.0. The highest in the advanced world. That of course not surprising, because the gap in the wealth of the people living in the US is also the greatest in the developed world.

Cuba has achieved these remarkable figures despite the Draconian economic measures imposed by the US embargo - which has direct consequences for the health and well-being of the Cuban population.

According to UNICEF: "Cuba's high standard of newborn health is attributable to the level of education among expectant mothers and the free, universal access to health care afforded all Cubans, with the latter translating into better lifelong health. This is true nationwide, both in the cities and countryside."

Worldwide, the lowest infant mortality rates are generally found in countries which are both wealthy and have well-developed social safety networks, such as Sweden, which has an infant mortality rate of 3.

The United States, unlike the rest of the developed world, have of course refused to follow this approach to health-care. You have been convinced by your media that this is “socialist medicine”. They of course tried that tactic in other countries. The Labour Government which introduced such a system (NHS) after the war it was described by the right-wing press as being “communistic”. It was. It was also very popular and it has therefore been impossible to remove. The same is true of all the other countries who have introduced a national health service. Not that it came easy. Like the Cubans we had to fight for it. The Cubans are unlikely to give it up willingly.

If you want to take it from them you will have to send in the troops. I would not be surprised if Bush eventually tried to do this. After all, it must be embarrassing to have an example of the advantages of socialism so close to its shores. Mind you, he might just rely on newspapers like the Miami Herald to keep the people of the United States uninformed about what is really happening in the outside world.

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