The True History of
Robert R. Siegrist
Wednesday, July 26, 2000
Wednesday, July 26, Year 2000 marks the
formal beginning of Fidel Castro's rise to Communist-enforced power in
Cuba via his infamous "26th of July Movement." It is well to consider what
it has done to U.S.-Cuban relations. Thus, the following:
Discovered by Columbus in his 1492 voyage
to the Americas, Cuba remained a Spanish province until, amid years of
Cuban political strife among factions seeking control, U.S. President William
McKinley, in 1898, threatened U.S. intervention.
Resented by Spain, the U.S. battleship
Maine was blown up in Havana Harbor, to which the United States demanded
withdrawal of Spanish troops. That demand denied, the Spanish-American
War followed with the U.S. victory on, ironically enough, the eve of July
Under provisions of the Treaty of Paris,
signed December 10, 1898, Spain "relinquished" Cuba to the United States
in trust for the island's inhabitants. This was followed by three years
of U.S. military rule which, on May 20, 1902, ended with acceptance and
hope that a viable Cuban democratic government had been established.
Meanwhile, a Cuban constitutional convention,
having ended on February 21, 1901, had accepted U.S. Platt Amendment conditions,
high among them that Cuba would lease naval stations to the United States
and the United States would have the right to intervene, if necessary,
in the affairs of the island.
All went well under the new Cuban Republic
until 1906 when, as the result of injustices and insurrection, the government
fell, paving the way for assumption of dictatorial power by Fulgencio Batista.
Ruling Cuba until January 31, 1959, Batista,
forced by chaos, insurrection and assassination, fled to Mexico, paving
the way for Fidel Castro's seizure of power as leader of his infamous "26th
of July Movement." While promising democracy and political reform, of course,
Castro, having killed hundreds of Batista supporters, delivered the Godless,
ruthless Castro dictatorship that today, 47 years after the beginning of
his movement, remains an increasingly more infectious, Clinton-administration-accommodated-and-appeased
thorn in the U.S. side and overall national security and interest.
Against that background, this question:
"Who is Fidel Castro, etc.?"
Born in 1926 of wealthy Cuban Roman Catholic
parents, the megalomaniacal Castro hated Spain, resented the United States
and the fact that his father had come to Cuba as a "soldier of Spain,"
even as he also resented the Catholic Church and frequently rebelled against
its authority and that of the Jesuit priests who taught him from grade
one through awarding him his University of Havana law degree in 1945.
Preferring insurrection, riot and rebellion
to the rule of law and practice thereof, Castro, in 1947, undertook an
unsuccessful effort to overthrow the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael
Trujillo. In 1947, as an attendant at the Ninth Pan American Conference
in Bogota, Colombia, in protest of American domination of Latin America,
Castro's fervent political activity fired the Bogota riots in which, at
day's end, he boasted: "I had a good day today – I killed a priest!"
Back to Cuba in 1953, it was on the 26th
of July that, with his younger brother Raul, he launched his "26th of July
Movement" by leading a small band of young Cubans in a failed attack on
Dictator Batista's Moncada barracks and civil buildings in Santiago, Baymo
and Siboney. The objective of that failed attack was, of course, the hope
of inspiring a general uprising against Batista in Castro's native Oriente
The result of that attack, however, was
the slaying of most of the attackers and the seizure, trial and imprisonment
of the Castro brothers and others to 15 years in Isle of Pines Penitentiary
as political prisoners. On May 15, 1955, however, they were released in
a general political amnesty, which Batista would live to regret.
During his imprisonment, Castro concentrated
on studies of the German Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and
on the fiery rabble-rousing oratorical styles of Hitler and his friend
and ally, the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Meanwhile, a not atypical Cuban era of
dissatisfaction, revolution and insurrection was building, anew, against
Batista as, with their release from prison, Castro and his brother Raul
became exiles, first in New York, finally in Mexico, all the time organizing
other exiles, training them in mountain warfare in preparation for Castro's
return to Cuba.
It was in Mexico that Fidel and Raul,
already declared Communists, met and teamed up with the Argentinean physician
and insurrectionist Che Guevarra who, at once, became a partner in the
Castro plot to rise to power in Cuba.
Believing the time propitious, the Castro
brothers-Guevarra team in 1956 assembled their handful of troops, boarded
a leaky ship, the Gramma, and sailed to Cuba with the intention of launching
a major revolutionary movement in the shelter of the Sierra Maestra. Landing
at the Cuban Bay of Pigs, however, they were met by Batista forces. From
the encounter, the Castro brothers-Guevarra team, as survivors, made it
to the Sierra Maestra, from which they developed the guerrilla tactics
– tactics that included attacking small units of Batista forces, seizing
their weapons and gaining territory.
And it was this group, the self-named
"26th of July Movement," which, following that failed Bay of Pigs incident
in 1953, was forced to leave the area when attacked by U.S. planes – an
attack that only fortified the Castro hatred for everything U.S.
Finally, in 1958, having lost support
of the Cuban people, Batista was forced to flee the country, leaving the
vast vacuum of power into which Castro moved, convincing his fellow Cubans
that, at long last, he would restore democracy to Cuba. Of course, as history
has written, Castro not only failed to restore a democracy to Cuba but,
instead, swiftly reduced the island to today's condition of a Communist
Having to admit that the Cuban economy
was in serious trouble, Castro found himself forced to appeal for aid from
the Soviet Union and, in the process, declare himself a Communist and conveniently
forget his hatred for Russia.
At the same time, however, Castro made
the mistake of establishing poor relations with the United States and compounding
it by nationalizing all U.S. industry in Cuba, including U.S. petroleum
When the latter refused his demand that
they keep the refineries open, Castro turned to Moscow for help which,
with compliments of Soviet Premier Khrushchev, reached Cuba, at outset,
in the form of oil. When the oil reached Cuba on April 19, 1960, the U.S.
companies refused to refine it.
Vowing that a Communist regime could never
be "tolerated" in the Western Hemisphere, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower
took steps to punish Cuba for its attacks on U.S. property, an Eisenhower
action that resulted in Khruschev's hurling the full weight of Soviet power
behind Castro, complete with the shipping of Soviet missiles capable of
hitting most cities in the southeastern United States – and with it, the
abrupt warning that the missiles would be fired should the United States
attempt a military intervention.
After John F. Kennedy succeeded Eisenhower
as president in January 1961, the so-called "Cuban Missile Crisis" continued
for several tense weeks and made crystal clear that, unless Khrushchev
or Kennedy backed down from their clearly enunciated positions, the United
States and the Soviet Union would be at war over the Castro-created crisis,
and southeastern U.S. cities would be threatened with Soviet missile assault
from the Cuban positions.
Finally, however, it was Khrushchev who
"blinked," with Kennedy's assurance that the United States would not intervene
militarily in Cuba. Khrushchev removed the missiles from Cuba, with a loud
sigh of relief from both Washington and Moscow over the welcome end of
the "Cuban Missile Crisis" of 1960-61.
During the final years of the Eisenhower
administration, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) developed a
half-baked plan to attempt to overthrow Castro via an invasion of U.S.-backed
Latin American forces at Cuba's Bay of Pigs – an action which, hopefully,
would inspire the suffering people of Cuba to join in the effort to end
the Castro regime.
President Kennedy Kennedy and his attorney
general brother, Bobby, bought the plan hook, line and sinker, and thus
came to pass the horribly ill-conceived Bay of Pigs invasion, which began
and ended in costly failure on April 17, 1961. Burning with that defeat,
the Kennedy brothers ordered an extremely reluctant CIA to arrange a plot
for the assassination of Castro under the code name "Operation Mongoose."
At U.S. taxpayers' expense, a motley crew
of mobsters and misfits including Lee Harvey Oswald, a Russian sympathizer
with a Russian wife, was assembled. Not surprisingly, word of the plot
reached Castro and the plot backfired to the extent that President Kennedy
was assassinated when he visited Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963.
Then on June 5, 1968, Bobby Kennedy, campaigning
for president in Los Angeles, was also assassinated, and Sirhan Sirhan,
a Palestinian-born U.S. resident, pro-Communist and Israeli hater, was
seized, convicted and sentenced to death.
All of which, if nothing more, is a sad
saga in U.S. history that proves once again the old adage, "He who lives
by the sword dies by the sword."
It is noteworthy that all of Clinton's
Castro-era predecessors resisted him while, from the outset, Clinton has
struggled to appease Castro, even to the point that his administration
cooperated with the Castro regime in the case of 6-year-old Elian Gonzales
concerning Castro's demand that the child be denied U.S. asylum and returned
to Cuba. This, even to the point of the Clinton administration's seeking
the "assistance" of Castro's propaganda agency to coordinate "information"
to the American people. As the historical concept says, "The truth shall
make you free!"
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