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The Attempted Overthrow of Castro


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It is generally assumed that the attempts to overthrow the Castro government is in some way linked to the assassination of JFK. Some argue that those people (usually people with strong anti-communist views) who were disillusioned by JFK’s policy towards Cuba were responsible. A few people, including Tim Gratz, think it was Castro who organized the assassination because JFK posed a real threat to his survival.

Tim’s theory is based on the idea that JFK and the CIA should have been involved in overthrowing the Cuban government. JFK clearly thought that between 1960-62. However, I am of the opinion that the evidence suggests this policy changed after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In another thread Tim recently argued:

On to foreign policy.  I think the Monroe Doctrine gave the US the right to effect regime change in Cuba.  Plus the fact that we had really "given" Cuba to Castro, believing his promise of free elections, etc.  When Castro betrayed the Cuban people, I think we had the right (indeed obligation) to remove him so Cuba would have the democracy it had been promised.

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia includes the following on the Monroe Doctrine:

“The Monroe Doctrine, expressed in 1823, proclaimed that the Americas should be closed to future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries' affairs. It further stated the United States's intention to stay neutral in European wars and in wars between European powers and their colonies but to consider any new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts toward the United States. It was issued by President James Monroe during his seventh annual address to Congress.

The Doctrine was conceived by its authors, especially John Quincy Adams, as a proclamation by the United States of moral opposition to colonialism, but has subsequently been re-interpreted in a wide variety of ways, including by President Theodore Roosevelt as a license for the U.S. to practice its own form of colonialism (see Roosevelt Corollary).”

I assume Tim means the second of these two interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine.

I have three questions for Tim and other members of the Forum. The first question concerns the analysis of JFK’s foreign policy. (1) Did he change his foreign policy towards Cuba between 1960 and 1963? Was he attempting to negotiate an end to the Cold War?

The second question concerns the morality of foreign policy. (2) Are American presidents morally right in trying to overthrow foreign governments? Was the JFK of 1963 more morally acceptable than the JFK of 1960-2?

The third question concerns the consequences of JFK’s change of policy. Was this the reason that JFK was assassinated?

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John, I have been accused of hi-jacking threads to argue my "Castro theory". But doesn't this topic, particularly your third question, lead back to this discussion?

Not that the points that you raise do not merit discission, so do not take my comment as any criticism of your post; it is not so intended.

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I think the Monroe Doctrine gave the US the right to effect regime change in Cuba. Plus the fact that we had really "given" Cuba to Castro, believing his promise of free elections, etc. When Castro betrayed the Cuban people, I think we had the right (indeed obligation) to remove him so Cuba would have the democracy it had been promised.

This is not an uncommon US interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine as well as the Cuban revolution 1959...

The Monroe Doctrine had two more important issues for the US - to keep Russia out of the western part of North America and to hinder any involvement from the European powers (especially the "Holy Alliance") in the Spanish request to regain it's colonies in South and Central America. It stated that US would intervene anywhere in Latin America in order to forestall European intervention not to effect regime changes when ever the US leaders found it convinient...

Castro was a founder member of the anti-Communist Cuban People’s Party (also called the Ortodoxes) in 1947. This party was established to fight government corruption! Backed by the Cuban army and police Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar seized power in 1952. He became well-known for his brutality. A few years after the Cuban revolution (1961) Arthur Schlesinger Jr. - aide to JFK said that ”The character of the Batista regime made a violent popular reaction almost inevitable …rapacity …corruption …brutality …regime’s indifference to the needs of the ”people”.

In 1959 Cuba was the third ”richest” country in Latin America (after Venezuela and Argentina), in terms of per capita income, but the wealth was poorly distributed. The corruption was well spread and most of the profit made went to other countries, preferably US. The US investments where worth over $800 million; 90% of the mines and farms, 40% of the sugar industry, 80% of the public service, 50% of the railways + 40% of the land (here the US United Fruit Company played an important role). 90% of the foreign trade was with the US. This was in general resented by the Cuban people. The revolution brought radical changes due to the nationalization of many of the previous US owned resources. This brought a lot of tension between the countries. When Catro went to the US to discuss the poor relationship between the countries the US president went golfing... The United Fruit Company, US oil companies as well as other private US enterprises pushed for an intervention - but the people of Cuba did not. So I don't agree with you that you think that

we had the right (indeed obligation) to remove him

Coming from a small country that has been part of this game (this is exactly what the USSR tried to do with Finland during WWII) I always find this kind of statement very disturbing. You did not have the right to remove him due to the economic interest of the US! Thats why I think you were wrong when you give that early interpretation of the Cuban revolution but you are right when you state

And indeed I think our entire "secret war" against Castro, with the sabotage, etc. was wrong and most likely unconstitutional.

Does this last statement also include your countries interference in South and Central America (for example Chile in 1973)...?

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John, is it not possible that not only Castro but SOME organizations of anti-Castro Cuban exiles desired the death of JFK.

Castro because he thought JFK was trying to kill him.

The anti-Castro Cubans because they thought JFK was "soft" on Castro and was not doing enough to depose him, being unwitting of the assassination plots, Amtrunk, etc.

I think the controversy on this Forum adequately demonstrates that there was confusion about what JFK's policy toward Cuba really was. And it is at least possible that is exactly what he wanted.

I tend to think he might have negotiated peace with Castro but only if Castro made concessions that Castro was quite unlikely to make. If he would have made peace with Castro on any other terms, he would probably have been commiting political suicide.

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I think the Monroe Doctrine gave the US the right to effect regime change in Cuba. Plus the fact that we had really "given" Cuba to Castro, believing his promise of free elections, etc. When Castro betrayed the Cuban people, I think we had the right (indeed obligation) to remove him so Cuba would have the democracy it had been promised.

This is not an uncommon US interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine as well as the Cuban revolution 1959...

The Monroe Doctrine had two more important issues for the US - to keep Russia out of the western part of North America and to hinder any involvement from the European powers (especially the "Holy Alliance") in the Spanish request to regain it's colonies in South and Central America. It stated that US would intervene anywhere in Latin America in order to forestall European intervention not to effect regime changes when ever the US leaders found it convinient...

Castro was a founder member of the anti-Communist Cuban People’s Party (also called the Ortodoxes) in 1947. This party was established to fight government corruption! Backed by the Cuban army and police Fulgencio Batista y Zaldivar seized power in 1952. He became well-known for his brutality. A few years after the Cuban revolution (1961) Arthur Schlesinger Jr. - aide to JFK said that ”The character of the Batista regime made a violent popular reaction almost inevitable …rapacity …corruption …brutality …regime’s indifference to the needs of the ”people”.

In 1959 Cuba was the third ”richest” country in Latin America (after Venezuela and Argentina), in terms of per capita income, but the wealth was poorly distributed. The corruption was well spread and most of the profit made went to other countries, preferably US. The US investments where worth over $800 million; 90% of the mines and farms, 40% of the sugar industry, 80% of the public service, 50% of the railways + 40% of the land (here the US United Fruit Company played an important role). 90% of the foreign trade was with the US. This was in general resented by the Cuban people. The revolution brought radical changes due to the nationalization of many of the previous US owned resources. This brought a lot of tension between the countries. When Catro went to the US to discuss the poor relationship between the countries the US president went golfing... The United Fruit Company, US oil companies as well as other private US enterprises pushed for an intervention - but the people of Cuba did not. So I don't agree with you that you think that

we had the right (indeed obligation) to remove him

Coming from a small country that has been part of this game (this is exactly what the USSR tried to do with Finland during WWII) I always find this kind of statement very disturbing. You did not have the right to remove him due to the economic interest of the US! Thats why I think you were wrong when you give that early interpretation of the Cuban revolution but you are right when you state

And indeed I think our entire "secret war" against Castro, with the sabotage, etc. was wrong and most likely unconstitutional.

Does this last statement also include your countries interference in South and Central America (for example Chile in 1973)...?

I suspect you will not get an answer from Tim on these points. He will probably refer you to a book you have not read.

It seems that people living in powerful countries, the so-called “superpowers” have difficulty understanding what it is like to be on the receiving end of this policy.

As you rightly point out, the right to take over the governments of countries around you in order to defend your own political and economic interests, is how Stalin justified his policies between the 1930s and his death in 1953. These policies were continued by the Soviet Union until Gorbachev brought it to an end in 1989.

Unfortunately, the United States still continues with this policy. It mainly uses its economic power to control other countries but in cases like Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, troops have to be sent in to do the job. I am ashamed to admit that the UK under Tony Blair has been keen to join in with this policy.

The thing that really gets me is the extreme hypocrisy of people like Tim Gratz. They pretend it is some sort of anti-colonialist measure (the Monroe Doctrine) whereas it is the same motivation that has driven all empire builders. The reason they suffer from this political schizophrenia is because of their own history. The modern American state was established by rightly rebelling against the British Empire. They therefore cannot come to terms with becoming another empire builder. Their actions in Iraq is just the latest example of this twisted logic. It is made worse by their attempts to bring in this idea that they are being motivated by their belief in God and Democracy (a mirror image of the British motivation in the 19th century).

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I suspect you will not get an answer from Tim on these points.
I would add that this is quite significant when you try to get a good discussion with many rightist. It's very hard to get any straight opinions or answers - you usually get references to higher authorities, freedom and liberty. From Tims earlier statement I'm not sure that he has much knowledge of the events around the Cuban revolution and the aftermath of it. That together with a general knowledge of maybe being wrong... could explain his unwillingness to answer the questions. I sure would like to get some answers since I find it very valuable to discuss the differences in opinions coming from different environments/countries. I especially look forward to get an answer to Johns question;
Are American presidents morally right in trying to overthrow foreign governments? Was the JFK of 1963 more morally acceptable than the JFK of 1960-2?
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Communism:

I realise that the term 'communism' has come to mean something different than origionally meant. USSR loosely means union of republics governed by socialist worker groupings. In Marxism, Socialism is a precursor to Communism. To my mind Communism is an ideal that struggling Socialist revolutions attempt to move towards. As yet none have successfully completed this process. In Russia this process started vigorously, the counter revolution also swung into motion at the start. The White army, the death of Lenin, the rise of Stalin, the purges and death of Trotsky and his followers who argued that for the revolution to succeed it must be pursued globally, while Stalin retreated to Socialism in one country all quite rapidly froze the move towards Communism, the Dictatorship by the Proletariat over the Bourgeoisie, became a Dictatorship over the Soviet Proletariat by Stalin.

There never was a defeat of Communism, because there never was any Communism. There was a successful counterrevolution that was sustained by the need to continually respond to military and economic attacks from the West. By the collaps of the USSR it was probab ly so drained and punch drunk by not just this but also the see saw of detente-coldwar.

God and Democracy:

"..It is made worse by their attempts to bring in this idea that they are being motivated by their belief in God and Democracy (a mirror image of the British motivation in the 19th century)."

that certainly is not a God that I and many Christians believe in. I think it is yet another example of the kind of opportunism that people resort to in order to gain votes.

I think, and I know that many would disagree, that the type of democracy that Cuba attempts to maintain has a lot of features that make Castros statements that their democracy is superior to that of the USA very convincing. And no, I don't think Castro 'did it'.

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It is generally assumed that the attempts to overthrow the Castro government is in some way linked to the assassination of JFK. Some argue that those people (usually people with strong anti-communist views) who were disillusioned by JFK’s policy towards Cuba were responsible. A few people, including Tim Gratz, think it was Castro who organized the assassination because JFK posed a real threat to his survival.

Tim’s theory is based on the idea that JFK and the CIA should have been involved in overthrowing the Cuban government. JFK clearly thought that between 1960-62. However, I am of the opinion that the evidence suggests this policy changed after the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In another thread Tim recently argued:

On to foreign policy.  I think the Monroe Doctrine gave the US the right to effect regime change in Cuba.  Plus the fact that we had really "given" Cuba to Castro, believing his promise of free elections, etc.  When Castro betrayed the Cuban people, I think we had the right (indeed obligation) to remove him so Cuba would have the democracy it had been promised.

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia includes the following on the Monroe Doctrine:

“The Monroe Doctrine, expressed in 1823, proclaimed that the Americas should be closed to future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries' affairs. It further stated the United States's intention to stay neutral in European wars and in wars between European powers and their colonies but to consider any new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts toward the United States. It was issued by President James Monroe during his seventh annual address to Congress.

The Doctrine was conceived by its authors, especially John Quincy Adams, as a proclamation by the United States of moral opposition to colonialism, but has subsequently been re-interpreted in a wide variety of ways, including by President Theodore Roosevelt as a license for the U.S. to practice its own form of colonialism (see Roosevelt Corollary).”

I assume Tim means the second of these two interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine.

I have three questions for Tim and other members of the Forum. The first question concerns the analysis of JFK’s foreign policy. (1) Did he change his foreign policy towards Cuba between 1960 and 1963? Was he attempting to negotiate an end to the Cold War?

The second question concerns the morality of foreign policy. (2) Are American presidents morally right in trying to overthrow foreign governments? Was the JFK of 1963 more morally acceptable than the JFK of 1960-2?

The third question concerns the consequences of JFK’s change of policy. Was this the reason that JFK was assassinated?

"The second question concerns the morality of foreign policy.

(2) Are American presidents morally right in trying to overthrow foreign governments? Was the JFK of 1963 more morally acceptable than the JFK of 1960-62?"

American presidents are NOT morally right in trying to overthrow foreign governments. Why? The Geneva Conventions 1949, and in the case of SEA, The Geneva Accords. The JFK of 1963 had become more aware of what had been taking place with respect to the BOP operations, and its subsequent backlash, during his first term, and had decided to take a progressively different approach by opening dialogue with both Cuba and Kruschev. This was quite evident in the speech he made to the graduates of the American University, a few months before he was murdered. Kruschev, apparently found The American University Speech important enough to declare it be made required reading for U.S.S.R. university graduates, as well. Does this make him more morally acceptable than the JFK of 1960-62? To people, such as myself, it served to give us hope for eventual world peace. But, for people such as those I choose to refer to as "fascists", and for those who'd already labelled JFK as immoral, anything JFK tried to do would never be acknowledged as anything more than communist sympathizing, unfortunately.

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