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 The True History of Castro
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 26, 1898.
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 Province.
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 slum.
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 companies.
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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