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Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant


Tim Gratz
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There is a new book on Castro written by Humberto Fontova. Below is a review of the book:

Barry Farber Reviews "Fidel"

As a journalist and activist I've covered or participated in hundreds of demonstrations in front of embassies, consulates and the like. I've attended one and only one, however, that convinced me the people inside the building being demonstrated against felt the intended message reverberating through their bodies and souls and weren‘t just scowling out the embassy windows wondering when the clamorous riffraff would go away.

It was October 23, 1957; one year to the day after the Freedom Fighters of Hungary tried futilely to break free from their Soviet masters. A crowd of Hungarians gathered in front of the Soviet U.N. Mission on Park Avenue in New York. After they shouted the usual "Russians go home!" and "Freedom for Hungary!" they began to chant, punctuated by the beat of a big bass drum, "Davai chasi! Davai chasi!

I'm sure that one wasn't lost on the Russians inside. "Davai chasi" is not Hungarian. It's Russian and it means "Hand over your wristwatch!"

All observers – friends, foes, and neutrals – of the Soviet Red Army's advance westward toward Berlin in the closing days of World War II knew that "Davai chasi" was the ubiquitous command whenever Russian troops met civilians wearing a timepiece. It was common to see Russian soldiers with both arms festooned up and down with wristwatches they'd liberated at gunpoint from anyone in their path who had one.

I've read everything I could over the past 46 years about Fidel Castro's pestilential devastation of the once-beautiful and prosperous island of Cuba. Many of those books were good. Some were great. But the new book by Humberto Fontova, entitled simply "Fidel," is the only one that I feel has the raw power to change hearts, change minds and perhaps even change "things" – like the regime, perhaps, on that sweet golden island a mere 90 miles south of Key West, Florida.

Unlike earlier writers on the subject, Fontova never for an instant comes across as a right-wing screaming meemy in Miami who probably lost a sugar mill in a Castro nationalization or a plantation in a Castro "land reform." Not that Fontova is emotionally disconnected. He and his family left Cuba when he was 7 years old, early in Castro's reign. His father was taken from the rest of the family at the airport and sent to the notorious La Cabana Prison, where he expected to face a firing squad at any moment.

There's nothing wrong with being a political refugee in a free country like America, opposing a dictator who turned his beloved country into a jail and a slum. I just wish more of them did it the way Humberto Fontova does it. Fontova doesn't recycle nasty rumors about Castro; he documents deeds. He doesn't smear; he illustrates.

This book will lead to the discarding of Che Guevara T-shirts and the refusal to purchase more. This book will cause Americans to wonder how we could have grown such healthy antipathy toward murderous dictators seen dimly through binoculars far across the world and given a free ride and even a "hail-fellow-well-met" to an even worse tyrant so close by. This book will cause professors to quit rhapsodizing about the valiant little David in the Caribbean who's stood up to the Yankee Goliath for going onto half a century now. And it will cause students to cease believing those professors who still do.

Hollywood Loves Fidel

The subtitle of "Fidel" is "Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant." Fontova takes the foolish quotes of the large clique of pro-Castro Hollywood icons and emblazons them in print as a kind of marquee of shame. If Ted Turner had read "Fidel" before he opened his mouth on the matter, would he still have taken the stage at Harvard and called Fidel Castro "one helluva guy?" If Steven Spielberg had opened this book and learned that Castro had jailed more political prisoners per capita than Hitler and Stalin had, would he have nonetheless described his visit with Fidel as "the most important eight hours of my life"? Perhaps, but I don't think so.

Fontova's book "Fidel" will do more than black coffee – even super-strong Cuban black coffee – to sober up Americans who consider a contested election in the state of Florida in 2000 a war crime, but a blood-thirsty dictatorship low on trials but high on torture, terror, murder and drug-running a kind of "lesson" to America and an example to the Third World.

Among the much-needed lessons inside "Fidel" is the startling-but-provable fact that Cuba wasn't always a Third World nation. Fidel's communism made it so.

If you liked 9/11, you must love Fidel Castro. Fontova details the terrorist bombing Fidel had planned to visit upon New York City the day after Thanksgiving 1962, the busiest shopping day of the year. That plot, intended to kill many more Americans than 9/11 did, was foiled the old-fashioned way – FBI infiltrators back in the J. Edgar Hoover days, when our protectors were free to spy, follow, fight and foil.

Inside "Fidel" you'll meet ordinary Cubans suddenly converted into martyrs, who died against the wall yelling "Christ is King" and "Long Live Free Cuba!" before the bullets hit. You'll meet the Cuban patriots who landed at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and outfought the overwhelming numbers of Soviet-supplied communist troops even though they'd been cowardly abandoned by an American administration that suddenly chickened out and, in effect, said to the Cubans on the beach, "We may have brought you here, but we don't know you." Even anti-Castro Americans tend to think of the failure of that invasion as a forlorn, almost comic-opera burlesque of a genuine freedom fight. The steel wool of Fontova's documentation will expunge those insulting and inaccurate notions from your memory bank.

Truth dashed to earth, the saying goes, will rise again. Trouble is, a lie will do the same thing. Thus Michael Moore will never feel shame for having said "Cubans were ‘wimps' and ‘crybabies' who fled to the U. S. and expected Americans to do their fighting for them!"

Exploding Castro Myths

As one who covered Castro's takeover of Cuba (and beat Fidel to Havana by five days after Batista fled), I get as much satisfaction seeing the prevailing myths about Castro and his "achievements" crumple and fall under Fontova's pen as Castro apparently gets seeing those he hates fall before his firing squads.

Do you think, just as one random example, that Fulgencio Batista was a fascist beast whose overthrow by Castro should still be hailed by all politically healthy people? Did you know that Batista was a black man who, even as "dictator," couldn't get himself accepted as a member of the Havana Yacht Club? Read on inside "Fidel" about all the things perfectly permissible to Cubans under Batista that would get you jailed or killed if you tried them under Castro. Like leaving the island, for one – far from the only example.

Do you believe that Fidel, regardless of his politics, nonetheless fought courageously to win Cuba for his Revolution? Read about the real Fidel in real combat as told by those who were there with him. Do you believe Cuba's collapsed standard of living – which before Castro surpassed Austria's and Italy's, is the fault of the American embargo? And do you think that embargo was applied for no better reason than an ego-wounded America throwing a hissy fit because a communist ate our lunch so close to home? Do you believe that blacks and homosexuals fare better in the left-most regime in hemisphere history?

Those and many other malignant myths vanish between covers of "Fidel" like an Alka-Seltzer tablet under Niagara Falls.

Repetition makes reputation, so you need not be ashamed if you think that at least Fidel Castro scored big on the issue of providing health care to the Cuban masses. The truth awaits you on page 84 of "Fidel." Here it is:

In 1957 (two years before Fidel took over) Cuba's infant mortality was the lowest in Latin America and the thirteenth-lowest in the world, for heaven's sake! Cuba ranked ahead of Belgium, France, West Germany, Israel, Japan, Austria, Italy, Spain, and Portugal in that department. Now (and using Castro's own inflated figures) it's twenty-fourth in the world. And this with 60.4 of Cuba's pregnancies ending in abortion (which skews infant mortality rates downward), in 1957 Cuba had twice as many physicians and teachers in relation to population as the U. S. It ranked first in Latin America in national income invested in education and its literacy rate was 80%. In 1958, Cuba had even more female college graduates (to scale) than the U.S.Before Fidel, Cubans were already among the healthiest and best-educated people in the world and it didn't require Hitler-level political executions and Stalin-level gulags to achieve.

Those are just a few of the myths that explode into fog and waft obligingly off into the Caribbean night. And Humberto Fontova terminates the great and growing legend of Che Guevara as though it were a cobweb under a blowtorch.

We all know of the botched hatchet job against President Bush's re-election campaign that led to Dan Rather's recent difficulties. Thanks to "Fidel," we now know the equally shameful details of Dan Rather's interview with the father of Elian Gonzalez, which could not have gone more to Castro's liking if Fidel had burst into the CBS studios, executed the entire floor crew, and directed the interview himself.

After reading "Fidel," you may feel like writing a thank-you note to the heirs of Soviet boss Nikita Khrushchev for not launching a nuclear missile strike against America during the Cuban Missile Crises of 1962. Castro doesn't "admit," he proclaims that if he and not the Soviets had been in charge, he would have sent those nuclear missiles northward, in Che Guevara's words, "into the heartland of America including New York and Washington."

Afghans have told foreign reporters that they didn't expect anything awful when the Taliban took over. "They were religious students," said one tribesman. "We thought they'd be OK." That reminded me of what Cubans said after they cheered Fidel's entry into Havana in January 1959. They pointed out that Castro and his hearty band were also students; idealistic and accompanied by bearded young men from the countryside who just wanted a clean, corruption-free Cuban government and who literally wouldn't know how to contact a Soviet agent even if they wanted to. That recollection returned to me with each monstrous act committed by Fidel, Che and their minions. And those returnings reached machine-gun velocity as Fontova recounts the bloody blur of shootings, executions, slaughters, murders and the virtual decapitation-by-pistol of a 14-year-old boy whose crime was trying to keep Che from killing his father. The one chapter that made me cry was "Castro's Tugboat Massacre." You may want to skip that one, or get back to it after you're somewhat inured to the character of the Castro regime.

Spreading the Word

This book will spread through the bloodstream of Castro's command-and-control like The Blob. It's already being favorably reviewed in Spain even though the Spanish edition hasn't been published yet. It will be smuggled into Cuba, not by CIA operatives but by tourists from places like France, and given to curious Cuban hotel employees, the new and "reliable" privileged class of Cuban communism. They're paid better and get tips in hard currency.

Those employees have just been warned by Castro to quit "relating" to the foreign tourists they serve. Cubans don't quit relating. They'll thank the French or the German or the Swede who gives them the book and remain nervous until it's safely home. "Safely home" in Cuba doesn't mean "once inside your own four walls." That book must then be hidden from neighbors who might drop in and from children who might go to school and blab about Papa getting a book that says Fidel is no good. Are you residual Castro admirers aware of the "Committees for the Defense of the Revolution," a gauleiter-type organization copied from Adolf Hitler, whose own book "Mein Kampf" was said to be constantly under Fidel's arm at the university. Those Committees are on every block in Cuba. They keep watch on everybody and everything. You may be called in to explain who those people are who come to visit you and why, or why you've missed five of the last nine Castro speeches in Revolution Square.

There's nothing Castro can do to keep the contents of "Fidel" from reaching every Cuban and every citizen of every free country, of which there are fortunately more and more.

Not long ago Fidel Castro stumbled and fell off a platform, sustaining hospital-class injuries. That was physical. Humberto Fontova's book "Fidel" will inflict much graver political injury. It's the sharpest knee ever thrust into the groin of Castro's rule.

The Bearded One will never stand up straight again.

Barry Farber

Fontova has written several other, non-political, books which have all received excellent reviews on Amazon.

As I have said before, the US gave Cuba to Castro based upon false assumptions he would bring democracy to Cuba. His regime has been a disaster for his country and has had deleterious effects on the US as well (we are soon approaching the 25th anniversary of the Mariel boatlift, by the way). In my opinion, we should have executed a "regime change" in Cuba since it was OUR (I mean the US) fault for inflicting Fidel on Cuba in the first place. We should not, however, have engaged in plots to murder Castro, let alone engaging the evilest of criminals to do so. IMO, this led to the assassination of JFK: either through Castro's action (to save his life from the latest plots) or as a result of mixing the likes of Johnny Rosselli with David Morales. If you subscribe to either of those scenarios, then the genesis of the assassination of JFK was our country's plots to murder Fidel.

Edited by Tim Gratz
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From an Amazon review of this book:

Some choice bits from this book:

Castro tried to get Nikita Khrushchev to nuke several southern cities in the US in the early 1960's, including New Orleans and probably Baton Rouge.

He incarcerates more people as a percentage of population than Hitler or Stalin.

He murdered 17,000 Cubans and (several dozen U.S. citizens) with firing squads and dumped their bullet-riddled bodies in mass graves.

He has impoverished and brutalized Cuba to the point where 20 percent of its population risked their lives to flee. And prior to his glorious reign, Cuba took in more immigrants per capita than any country in the Western Hemisphere. More Americans lived in Cuba than

Cubans in the U.S., and Cuba even had to turn away European immigrants.

Castro sent his agents to torture to death American POWs in North Vietnam's Cu Loc POW camp outside Hanoi in 1967.

The list goes on and on, as it always does with tyrants. All of whom, I'll add, always call themselves benefactors.

And this is a man cheered on by leftists everywhere, especially the nitwits in Hollywood?

Edited by Tim Gratz
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Here is a column by Mr. Fontova on Carlos Santana and Che Guevera:

Did you catch Carlos Santana's grand entrance at the Oscars?

Well, the famed guitarist couldn't contain himself. He stopped for the photographers, smiled deliriously and swung his jacket open. TA-DA! There it was: Carlos' elegantly embroidered Che Guevara T-shirt. Carlos' face as the flashbulbs popped said it all. "I'm so COOL!" he beamed. "I'm so HIP! I'm so CHEEKY! So SHARP! So TUNED IN!"

Tune in to this, Carlos: In the mid 1960s Fidel and your charming T-shirt icon set up concentration camps in Cuba for, among many others, "anti-social elements" and "delinquents." Besides Bohemian (Haight-Ashbury, Greenwich Village types) and homosexuals, these camps were crammed with "roqueros," who qualified in Che and Fidel's eyes as useless "delinquents."

A "roquero" was a hapless youth who tried to listen to Yankee-Imperialist rock music in Cuba.

Comprende, Carlos? Do you see where I'm going with this, Carlos?

Yes, Mr. Santana, here you were grinning widely – and OH-SO-hiply! – while proudly displaying the symbol of a regime that MADE IT A CRIMINAL OFFENSE TO LISTEN TO CARLOS SANTANA MUSIC! You IMBECILE!!

True, you didn't hit it big 'til Woodstock in 1969, at a time when Che had already received a heavy dose of the very medicine he had gallantly dished out to hundreds of bound and gagged men and boys, some as young as 14. This means the first inmates of his concentration camps were probably guilty of the heinous crime of listening mainly to the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, etc. But the regime Che helped set up kept up the practice of jailing "roqueros" well past the time when you were hot on the rock charts, Carlos.

Lest we get carried away with merely laughing at your stupidity, I'll pass along the thoughts from Cuban music legend Paquito D'Rivero. He wrote his recent letter to you in Spanish. "My command of English wouldn't allow me to fully express my indignation" at your cheeky Oscar gig, he explained. Seems that Mr. D'Rivera had relatives among those your T-shirt icon jailed, tortured and murdered. In closing, Mr. D'Rivera wishes you good luck in your professional endeavors. He says you'll need it, considering that you'll soon be playing a gig in Miami.

A Cuban gentleman named Pierre San Martin was also among those jailed by the gallant Che. A few years ago he recalled the horrors in an El Nuevo Herald article.

"Thirty-two of us were crammed into a cell," he recalls. "Sixteen of us would stand while the other sixteen tried to sleep on the cold filthy floor. We took shifts that way. Actually, we considered ourselves lucky. After all, we were alive. Dozens were led from the cells to the firing squad daily. The volleys kept us awake. We felt that any one of those minutes would be our last.

"One morning the horrible sound of that rusty steel door swinging open startled us awake and Che's guards shoved a new prisoner into our cell. His face was bruised and smeared with blood. We could only gape. He was a boy, couldn't have been much older than 12, maybe 14.

"'What did you do?' We asked horrified. 'I tried to defend my papa,' gasped the bloodied boy. 'I tried to keep these Communist sons of b**tches from murdering him! But they sent him to the firing squad.'"

Soon Che's goons came back, the rusty steel door opened and they yanked the valiant boy out of the cell. "We all rushed to the cell's window that faced the execution pit," recalls Mr. San Martin. "We simply couldn't believe they'd murder him! Then we spotted him, strutting around the blood-drenched execution yard with his hands on his waist and barking orders – the gallant Che Guevara."

Here Che was, finally, in his element. In battle he was a sad joke, a bumbler of epic proportions but up against disarmed and bloodied boys he was a snarling tiger.

"Kneel Down!" Che barked at the boy.

"ASSASSINS!" We screamed from our window. "MURDERERS!! HOW CAN YOU MURDER A LITTLE BOY!"

"I said, KNEEL DOWN!" Che barked again.

The boy stared Che resolutely in the face. "If you're going to kill me," he yelled. "you'll have to do it while I'm standing! MEN die standing!"

"COWARDS! MURDERERS! Sons of B**TCHES!" The men yelled desperately from their cells. "LEAVE HIM ALONE!" HOW CAN ...?!"

"And then we saw Che unholstering his pistol. It didn't seem possible. But Che raised his pistol, put the barrel to the back of the boy's neck and blasted. The shot almost decapitated the young boy.

"We erupted. We were enraged, hysterical, banging on the bars.'MURDERERS! ASSASSINS!' His murder finished, Che finally looked up at us, pointed his pistol, and BLAM-BLAM-BLAM! emptied his clip in our direction. Several of us were wounded by his shots."

To a man (and boy) Che's murder victims went down in a blaze of defiance and glory. So let's recall Che's own plea when the wheels of justice finally turned and he was cornered in Bolivia. "Don't Shoot!" he whimpered. "I'm Che! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!"

This swinish and murdering coward, this child killer, was the toast of the Oscars.

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A brief bio of Mr. Fontova:

Mr. Fontova is also the author of two books on the joys of hunting and camaraderie, THE HELLDIVER’S RODEO (2001) and THE HELLPIG HUNT (2003), both published by M.Evans Co., New York, NY.

Humberto was born in Havana, Cuba in 1954 and emigrated with his family in 1961 to New Orleans. He attended the University of New Orleans, receiving a B.A. in History in 1977. His mentor at UNO was the best selling author-historian, Dr. Stephen Ambrose.

In 1979, Humberto earned an M.A. in History from Tulane University. He then embarked on a 15-year career in sales and marketing for Fortune 500 companies, namely Dun & Bradstreet and its subsidiaries.

He has been a free-lance journalist since 1992. His work has been published in Sierra, Scuba Times, Men’s Journal, Salt Water Sportsman, Bowhunter, Buckmaster, Boating, Salon.com, Louisiana Sportsman and others.

Humberto is a featured weekly columnist in the on-line periodical, Newsmax.com, where his free form and didactic style generally causes a stir. It actually started several years ago when his article, "Why We Hunt", produced the biggest blizzard of hate-mail in the history of Sierra.

Not wanting to confine his opinions to the printed word only, Humberto is also a bi-weekly guest on two nationally syndicated TalkAmerica radio shows, Lowell Ponte's and Barry Farber’s. He has also done many television appearances, including three times on the Bill Maher vehicle, Politically Incorrect, where he truly “rocked the house”.

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As you can suspect, Mr. Fontova is clearly a man many of whose opinions I share. Not worth posting here but I just read one of his columns about one of Key West's famous authors, Ernest Hemingway. It was hilariously funny but would probably not endear him to the Key West literary elite.

Hemingway also shot his head off but unlike some other such deaths discussed in these pages, he probably did it himself. Afterwards, the Kennedys considered murdering Castro when he visited Hemingway's estate in Cuba. I assume Forum members are familiar with that episode.

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Here is a column by Mr. Fontova on Carlos Santana and Che Guevera:

Did you catch Carlos Santana's grand entrance at the Oscars?

Well, the famed guitarist couldn't contain himself. He stopped for the photographers, smiled deliriously and swung his jacket open. TA-DA! There it was:  Carlos' elegantly embroidered Che Guevara T-shirt. Carlos' face as the flashbulbs popped said it all. "I'm so COOL!" he beamed. "I'm so HIP! I'm so CHEEKY! So SHARP! So TUNED IN!"

Tune in to this, Carlos: In the mid 1960s Fidel and your charming T-shirt icon set up concentration camps in Cuba for, among many others, "anti-social elements" and "delinquents." Besides Bohemian (Haight-Ashbury, Greenwich Village  types) and homosexuals, these camps were crammed with "roqueros," who qualified in Che and Fidel's eyes as useless "delinquents."

A "roquero" was a  hapless youth who tried to listen to Yankee-Imperialist rock music in Cuba.

Comprende, Carlos? Do you see where I'm going with this, Carlos?

Yes, Mr. Santana, here you were grinning widely – and OH-SO-hiply! – while proudly displaying the symbol of a regime that MADE IT A CRIMINAL OFFENSE TO LISTEN TO CARLOS SANTANA MUSIC! You IMBECILE!!

True, you didn't hit it big 'til Woodstock in 1969, at a time when Che had already received a heavy dose of  the very medicine he had gallantly dished out to hundreds of bound and gagged men and boys, some as young as 14. This means the first inmates of  his concentration camps  were probably guilty of the heinous crime of  listening mainly to the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, etc. But the regime Che helped set up  kept up the practice of jailing "roqueros" well past the time when  you were hot on the rock charts, Carlos.

Lest we get carried away with merely laughing at your stupidity, I'll pass along the thoughts from Cuban music legend Paquito D'Rivero. He wrote his recent letter to you in Spanish. "My command of English wouldn't allow me to fully express my indignation" at your  cheeky Oscar gig, he explained.  Seems that Mr. D'Rivera had relatives among those your T-shirt icon jailed, tortured and murdered. In closing, Mr. D'Rivera wishes you good luck in your professional endeavors. He says you'll need it, considering that you'll soon be playing a gig in Miami.

A Cuban gentleman named Pierre San Martin was also among those jailed by the gallant Che. A few years ago he recalled the horrors in an El Nuevo Herald article.

"Thirty-two of us were crammed into a cell," he recalls. "Sixteen of us would stand while the other sixteen tried to sleep on the cold filthy floor. We took shifts that way. Actually,  we considered ourselves lucky. After all, we were alive. Dozens were led from the cells to the firing squad daily. The volleys kept us awake. We felt that any one of those minutes would be our last.

"One morning the horrible sound of that rusty steel door swinging open startled us awake and Che's guards shoved a new prisoner into our cell. His face was bruised and smeared with blood. We could only gape. He was a boy, couldn't have been much older than 12, maybe 14.

"'What did you do?' We asked horrified. 'I tried to defend my papa,' gasped the bloodied boy. 'I tried to keep these Communist sons of  b**tches from murdering him! But they sent him to the firing squad.'"

Soon  Che's goons came back, the rusty steel door opened and they yanked the valiant boy out of the cell. "We all rushed to the cell's window that faced the execution pit," recalls Mr. San Martin. "We simply couldn't believe they'd murder him! Then we spotted him, strutting around the blood-drenched execution yard with his hands on his waist and barking orders – the gallant Che Guevara."

Here Che was, finally, in his element. In battle he was a sad joke, a bumbler of epic proportions but up against disarmed and bloodied boys he was a snarling tiger.

"Kneel Down!" Che barked at the boy.

"ASSASSINS!" We screamed from our window.  "MURDERERS!! HOW CAN YOU MURDER A LITTLE BOY!"     

"I said, KNEEL DOWN!" Che barked again.

The boy stared Che resolutely in the face. "If you're going to kill me," he yelled. "you'll have to do it while I'm standing! MEN die standing!"

"COWARDS! MURDERERS! Sons of B**TCHES!" The men yelled desperately from their cells. "LEAVE HIM ALONE!" HOW CAN ...?!" 

"And then we saw Che unholstering his pistol. It didn't seem possible. But Che raised his pistol, put the barrel to the back of the boy's neck and blasted. The shot almost decapitated the young boy.

"We erupted. We were enraged, hysterical, banging on the bars.'MURDERERS! ASSASSINS!' His murder finished, Che finally looked up at us, pointed his pistol, and BLAM-BLAM-BLAM! emptied his clip in our direction. Several of us were wounded by his shots."

To a man (and boy) Che's murder victims went down in a blaze of  defiance and glory. So let's recall Che's own plea when the wheels of justice finally turned and he was cornered in Bolivia. "Don't Shoot!" he whimpered. "I'm Che! I'm worth more to you alive than dead!"

This swinish and murdering coward, this child killer, was the toast of the Oscars.

Mr. Gratz

Thanks for the Barry Farber review of Fontavo's book. My regret is in

having to some degree, in earlier years, mistakenly favored and aided

in what as Fontavo has it 'became a jail and slum'.

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Here is an interesting recent interview with Mr. Fontova:

Castro's Cuba - Interview with Author Humberto Fontova

Ryan Mauro - 3/21/2005

Humberto Fontova was born in Havana, Cuba in 1954, arrived with his family in New Orleans in 1961 while his father was held as a political prisoner. He is the author of "The Helldiver's Rodeo" (chosen by the Publisher's Weekly as their Book of the Week in August 2001), "The Hellpig Hunt", and "Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant." Mr. Fontova has a Master's Degree in Latin American Studies. Before becoming a writer, Fontova was a business analyst for ten years for Dun & Bradstreet. He is currently a columnist for Newsmax.com.

RM: Humberto, how has the situation with Fidel Castro changed over the past decade or so?

HF: The better for Castro and his toadies--the worse for Cuba. He just signed on with two new sugar-daddies, Venezuela and China. Chavez' subsidies to Cuba totaled $1.3 billion last year in free oil. It amounts to 80,000 barrels daily now. Not all is refined in Cuba, which doesn't have the capacity for refining that amount of crude oil. Castro's gov. actually RESELLS some of this crude, mostly in South & Central America for hard cash. Castro's honorarium to his chum Chavez comes in the form of military and security "advisors." Mainstream media calls these "doctors and teachers." China just "re-scheduled" (probably forgave) the billions in debt Castro owned them from the 90's and signed several deals to extract Nickel from Cuba. (Cuba's Nickel rich) I need not tell you what type of production Nickel is essential for. Apparently China wants it badly. Just last month Castro gave a speech where he crowed gleefully about his regime's new lease on life. "Cuba is rising from the ashes like a Phoenix!" he gushed. "We don't need the U.S. ! We don't need Europe!"

Sadly, nowadays he's right.

RM: Cuba appears isolated and weak. Why should the United States pay any attention to the rogue state?

HF: "Isolated and weak?" Please see above. Also, Iran just extended him millions in credit. He's still the toast and acclaim of the Third World, as evidenced by his tumultuous reception at the anti-Globalization Conference in Havana recently. Now he's in Uruguay, again showered with accolades. Anti-Americanism does that some people--idiots and scoundrels mainly.

RM: Is there any evidence that Cuba is any sort of WMD or terrorist threat?

HF: John Bolton, Ken Alibek, Manuel Cereijo, Carlos Wotzkow all suspect he has WMD. And we all know that when he definitely had them in oct 1962, he brought the world to the very precipice of nuclear armageddon. Fortunately the Butcher of Budapest snatched his toys in the nick of time. Weapons by themselves don't worry me. It's the people who have them in their reach that should worry us. As the NRA (I'm a member) says. "WMDs don't kill people--people kill people." And the people still in control in Cuba have shown time and again that, given the right circumstances, they'll use them. "If the missiles had stayed" Che Guevara told the London Daily Worker in Nov. 1962. "We would have used them against the very heart of the U.S. including New York." In Angola Castro's forces repeatedly used Sarin gas against UNITA.

RM: How likely is it that democracy will emerge in Cuba once Fidel Castro dies?

HF: Very unlikely. Raul will simply become de-jure ruler of Cuba, instead of just de-facto as he is today. Raul runs Cuba's military who own and run Cuba's tourist and export industries. Some say he's been really running Cuba for the past ten years, with Fidel as figurehead loudmouth. Raul will probably open the economy a bit, like China in the early 80's. and keep the clamps on politically So genuine democracy? Forget it.

RM: What can the United States do to promote freedom in Cuba that is not being done?

HF: Not much. except tighten the embargo, so-called. The U.S was Cuba's sixth biggest trading partner last year. Out of 228 nations, Cuba is the U.S.' 25th biggest trading partner. In 1957 when it was billed a "playground" for American tourists, Cuba hosted 278,000 American tourists (incidently, a higher number of Cubans actually vacationed in the U.S. that year. We had a playground too) Last year, 220,000 Americans Cubans traveld to Cuba, not to mention 2 million Europeans and Canadians. All these proceeds land strainght in the pockets of Cuba's military--the guys with the guns. "Lifting the travel ban would be a great gift to Fidel and Raul" said recent Cuban defector Alcibiades Hidalgo, who was Raul Castro's Chief of Staff. He should know.

RM: In your last Newsmax.com article, you wrote about an alliance between Iran and Cuba. What does it matter if Cuba teams up with Iran, considering Cuba apparently has little or no nuclear technology to offer?

HF: The Nuclear technology going in the opposite direction. Cuba built Iran a bio-tec plant. Iran might reciprocate with favors. Last year Cuba blocked radio-free- Iran broadcasts from the U.S. using devices in it's Bejucal facility--technology Cuba acquired from China.

RM: How come the scene in Cuba appears to have been so quiet over the past 50 years?

HF: "Appears" is the key word here. And it's because Castro is a master worldwide media manipulator. One of the most ferocious civil wars fought in this hemisphere was actually fought by Cuban freedom-fighters against Fidel's army and it's Soviet advisors. The war lasted from 1959-1966. Raul Castro himself said his army was up against 179 "counterrevolutionary bands." La Guerra Olvidada'"my friend Enrique Encinosa calls it in his book by the same name. Alas, as always, these anti-Communist freedom-fighters fought alone. The Kennedy-Krushcev swindle pulled the rug out from under them. They were slaughtered, much like the Hungarians earlier. No "dauntless crusaders for the truth" (as Columbia journalism schools labels its graduates,) were around to report on THIS war, none to "embed" themselves, etc.--as they had in droves when Castro's "guerrillas"(petty crooks, bored adolescents and winos playing army on week-ends) were in the hills and "fighting" (mostly bribing) Batista's forces. See: http://newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/2/14/174602.shtml

RM: Why does such a large portion of Hollywood defend Castro?

HF: He personifies Anti-Americanism. He's been it's symbol for half a century. Naturally none of those Hollywood idiots realize that Castro was actually put in power by the U.S. (according to Earl Smith U.S. Ambassador to Cuba at the time, the CIA was the most Fidelista of all the U.S. agencies at the time!, closely followed by the State Dept.!) and the U.S. has been protecting Castro against exile attacks since the Kennedy-Krushcev swindle. The "gallant underdog" Castro has actually survived lo these many decades by hiding behind the skirts of the two most powerful nations in human history. Call him a shrewd diplomat for sure, but cut the "David vs Goliath" bit, please. More importantly, Fidel, Raul Che, Camilo and co. were the first hippies--beatniks actually. They burst upon the cultural scene at just the right moment. The "beat generation" was just getting on it's legs. Allen Ginsberg actually spoke at Harvard right before Castro in April 1959. Castro and co. were the first long-hairs, etc. The image stuck despite the most appalling evidence to the contrary. See: http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2...18/145038.shtml

RM: Why should we care about Hollywood's ideologies? Is there any evidence its emboldening our enemies or affecting American policy negatively?

HF: Consider how many Americans get their news from Entertainment tonight. It's hilarious in a sour sort of way--but scary too.

RM: In terms of anti-Americanism and radical liberalism in Hollywood, are things getting worse or more balanced?

HF: I say worse. It's a cultural thing--a matter of being "cool." And let's face it, according to the last elections, 49 per cent of Americans buy--at least a version--of the Hollywood party-line. I for one, was NOT gratified by these last election results. To me it seemed a pretty hollow victory, a pretty close run thing.

Ryan Mauro is a geopolitical analyst. He began working for Tactical Defense Concepts (www.tdconcepts.com), a maritime-associated security company in 2002. In 2003, Mr. Mauro joined the Northeast Intelligence Network (www.homelandsecurityus.com), which specializes in tracking and assessing terrorist threats. He has appeared on over 20 radio shows and had articles published in over a dozen publications. His book "Death to America: The Unreported Battle of Iraq" is scheduled to be published in the coming months. He publishes his own web site called World Threats.

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