The Castro’s Monster Mash

I was watching the news in ’59
When the TV flashed an eerie sight

That the monster from the jungle had begun to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash
He did the Castro mash
The Castro mash
It was a Cuban smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the Castro mash

The real Castro Monster Mash!!

The Castro Monster Mash began the moment Fulgencio Batista abdicated. The monster had been incubating in the jungles of the Sierra Maestra mountains. He was the product of centuries of oppression by Spain, a ruthless foreign power, followed by fifty six years of inept, corrupt and sometimes oppressive governments. Even the United States took advantage as Cuba became awash with American corporation and natural resources were exploited.

Whatever damage the U.S. government and American corporations such as United Fruit Company did to Cuba, the American Mafia did worse with their casinos, drug trafficking and the corruption they fed with huge bribes to Batista and other government officials.

Unfortunately for Cuba, it traded Fulgencio Batista, a tinhorn dictator whose strings were being pulled by the U.S. government, the CIA and the American Mafia for a Communist, Marxist, and Leninist totalitarian regime under the control of the Soviet Union.

Let’s say that Cuba traded a tropical storm for a category 5 hurricane.

Fidel Castro had been planning for the day that he would take over the reins of Cuba for years and hit the ground running the moment he was pronounced victorious. On January 2nd — one day after Batista left Cuba, he began a ruthless process of consolidation of power which was not always bloodless.

Younger Fidel

On this day Fidel Castro installed Miguel Urrutia as president of Cuba and Jose Mira Cardona as Prime Minister. As early as January 11th, military tribunals were started throughout the island for the purpose of prosecuting the heads of Batista’s military, those considered henchmen of the regime as well as former members of the police. Execution by firing squads followed shortly after.

Within two months the total of “war criminals” executed numbered 483. While there is no accurate figure on the total of political executions to date, estimates range from 15,000 to around 30,000. Add this number to the estimated 60,000 who have died making the trek from Cuba to the United States in rafts and dinky vessels, and the Castro regime can be considered monstrous by any stretch of the imagination.

While most dictators are transparent in their actions to oppress the people, Castro was sly, devious and circumspect. On February 28, Castro announced that general elections will not be held for the next two years. He was quoted as saying: “Elections could not be held now because they would not be fair. We have an overwhelming majority at present and it is in the interest of the nation that the political parties become fully developed and their programs defined before elections are held.”

Fast forward 57 years and open and free elections for the top posts, as well as members of politburo and secretariat are yet to be held. Instead new members are selected, by a small group of leaders under the direction of the president.

The mastery of the spoken and written word as well as his incredible capability for strategic thinking and extracting advantage from every opportunity has been one of Castro’s defining skills. These qualifications coupled with inconceivable ruthlessness has allowed Castro to survive nine presidents, perhaps ten if he manages to live past February of 2017.

As early as March 3rd, 1959 the Cuban government nationalized the Cuban Telephone Company owned by ITT. On May 17th Castro signs the Agrarian Reform Act, which expropriates over 1,000 acres of farmlands and forbids foreign land ownership. Following the confiscation of the Cuban Telephone Company, Castro continued with the nationalization of sugar factories, mines, oil refineries, as well as other American own business operations. Some of these were Coca-Cola Co., Esso (now Exxon), the First National Bank of Boston, Hilton and Woolworth.

The Inter-American Law Review described Castro’s nationalization of US assets as the “largest uncompensated taking of American property by a foreign government in history.”

Sometime in June of 1959 Castro’s government made the first official contact with the Soviet Union through Che Guevara while visiting Cairo, Egypt.

By now it was obvious that Castro did not have in mind a democratic revolution. From this point forward events in Cuba seemed to speed up as in a single directional highway — Cuba was to be a bastion of Communism in the American continent.

The fact is that Fidel Castro was already a communist by the time he began his fight against Batista. One of the first to report on Castro’s communist connections going back to 1948 was a journalist and known Cuban anti-communist Salvador Diaz Verson. Forced to flee the country in fear of his life in March of 1959, Mr. Diaz Verson kept files of known communist agents in Cuba and claims Fidel Castro’s name along with his brother Raul Castro appeared in those files. Upon Castro’s arrival in Havana, Mr. Diaz Verson’s offices were raided and the files confiscated and eventually destroyed.

In fact, in an interview of Fidel Castro conducted by journalist Saul Landau in 1968, Castro revealed his early dedication to communism by stating that he became a Marxist from the very time he read the Communist Manifesto during his secondary education. After that he became a Leninist from the period when he read Lenin’s writing in 1954. (As a side note, Lenin killed 4 million people including men, women and children. Castro is in essence admitting to his own genocidal tendencies)

This distinction of whether he was a communist or not when he took over the government is important because Castro came to power under the guise of a democratic revolution. He knew that the country would not accept communism right from the outset. Instead waiting until all his communists’ cadres were firmly in place with full control of the military and security apparatus in order to announce Communism as Cuba’s new political system.

Since Castro’s coming to power, the antagonism between the Cuban government and the U.S. has been on-going. It has been one confrontation after another for the last 57 years.

· The nationalization of American companies.

· The explosion of the freighter La Coubre in the Havana Harbor.

· U.S. Cuba embargo.

· The Bay of Pigs invasion.

· The Cuban missile crisis

· The CIA’s continuous attempts to assassinate Castro,

· Cuba’s ties with the Soviet Union.

· U.S. group’s demonstrations against Cuba’s forced labor camps. Forced re-education (brain washing)

· U.S. confronting Cuba on human rights violations.

· U.S. groups confronting Cuba on thousands of political prisoners

· The Mariel Boat Lift.

· Castro’s establishment of military bases in the Island of Grenada and Reagan’s subsequent invasion of the island in order to purge the Cuban military forces there.

· The downing of the two Brothers To The Rescue planes by Cuban MIGs.

· Cuba’s exportation of communist revolutions throughout Latin America.

· Cuba’s enabling of Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua.

· The USA financing of Contra Rebels in Nicaragua.

· Fidel’s mentoring of Salvador Allende in Chile followed by the CIA’s sanctioned and perhaps financed coup by General Pinochet.

· The CIA’s financing and training of agents in Operation Condor

· Fidel’s partnering with Hugo Chavez in order to finance socialist uprising in Latin America

· Conspiring with Hugo Chavez to create a Bolivarian Republic comprised of Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and perhaps others.

· The five Cuban spies caught and convicted of espionage in the USA.

· Constant espionage intrigue

Mariel Boat Lift — 1980

The list of confrontations between the two countries is indeed long. The incidents are too many to totally itemize let alone describe here.

Many experts say that the real problem was that Fidel found Cuba to be too small for his overwhelming ambition. Not only did he bring the world to the brink of nuclear disaster but whose megalomaniac and sociopathic drive led him to export his brand of revolution throughout Latin America even deploying Cuban troops to fight in Africa.

However some changes are beginning to take place. Fidel Castro went into “Semi-retirement” due to health issues in July of 2006 when he handed over power temporarily to his younger brother, Raúl Castro, and a few younger cabinet ministers. On February 2008, Fidel made his retirement permanent signaling his willingness to let a younger generation assume power.

Raul Castro

So far Raul seems to be somewhat more pragmatic in economic matters, while still maintaining a hardline approach to authoritarian governance. This dichotomy in approach to Cuban economics between the two brothers has recently been highlighted by Raul’s acceptance of Obama’s overture to normalize relationship between the U.S. and Cuba, and Fidel’s recent article in Granma, the official Cuban government daily newspaper in which he condemns any relations with the U.S.

In spite of Fidel’s retrograde opinion, Raul continues with his slow progress toward a more open economic system. He is doing this by allowing more privately owned small businesses, marginal access to the internet, even engaging old adversaries such as the Pope and a U.S. president.

One early result of Obama’s visit to Cuba is the very recent news of the first U.S. cruise ship to arrive in Cuba in decades. It is unfathomable to think that Fidel would have approved such betrayal of the ideals of “his” revolution.

Older Fidel

One important matter to keep in mind throughout this process of normalization of relations with the U.S. and what seems to be a softer more pragmatic approach to Raul Castro’s behavior is that harsh restrictions on political rights still remain. Let there be no mistake on this point. As Ann Louise Bardach put it in her book “Without Fidel”, Raul wants whoever succeeds him after he himself is no longer around, to be more like a Brezhnev, and not at all like a Gorbachev.

Basically Raul wants an economic transition and reform similar to China’s where political power remains under a one party communist system. In fact Raul visited China in November of 1997 to learn more about what he called the “Chinese Model”. During long conversations with Zhu Rongji, considered to be China’s economic architect and Zhu’s subsequent visit to Cuba, the transition to a system of State Capitalism was discussed. However to Raul’s dismay as well as the group of Cuban government people whose Zhu’s guru-like approach to instructing deeply moved and convinced, was one major obstacle; Fidel was not willing to sign off on the proposed process claiming this model would be a betrayal to his revolutionary ideals.

However, now that Fidel has passed the reins of the government to Raul, State Capitalism or at least a form of it is sure to be implemented.

Raul will be 85 on June 3rd of this year. Fidel will be 90 on August 13th. Plans for succession have already been put in place for when the time comes that neither of them are around. For now Cuba’s aging revolutionary leaders will remain in control for at least another five years.

Raul’s second in command is hardliner José Ramón Machado, 85, who in case of Raul’s absence is expected to maintain rigid political control, while slowly pivoting the economy toward reform although keeping it under central control. Currently the reform that has occurred has taken Cuba from a state-led model to one that has allowed 40% of the island’s 11 million people to earn money through the private sector. This trend is expected to continue.

Below Machado there is a new selected politburo which consists mostly of older party apparatchicks whose ages range from the mid-70’s to mid-80’s. Below this group of what in Cuba are called “historicos” or old-guard, there are the younger members ranging in age from mid-50’s to early 70’s.

It is obvious that for any meaningful change to happen in the political front, the “historicos” must either die off or go into retirement. Nobody can expect this to happen in less than the five years the current politburo will be in control.

Obama is undoubtedly hoping that economic reform will usher political reform. However many experts are not in agreement. They cite China as an example of economic reforms with little movement in the political front.

In my opinion we can expect economic reform and improvement to take place in specific areas of the economy such as tourism, biotechnology, health services and information technology. It is doubtful that manufacturing will play a role. Improvement in these sectors will go a long way to assure positive public opinion and minimization of societal unrest. However we can also expect political oppression to continue.

Barring an armed insurgency from developing able to overthrow the government, we can expect an improved economy coupled with a static totalitarian political system.

And in as far as an armed insurgency able to overthrow the government goes….forget it. The Cuban security forces are among the strongest, best organized and most ruthless in the world.

Among the hardliners within the Cuban-American community and many others who have a deep distaste for Fidel Castro and his communist revolution, the opening of relationships between the U.S. and Cuba by Obama is a fool’s errand. They claim that the Cuban government is intractable in its totalitarian approach to governance. While there is no doubt in this regard, following this logic would mean the U.S. government should stop relationships with other totalitarian regimes such as China, Saudi-Arabia, Vietnam, Laos, Djibouti, Congo, Myanmar, Cambodia, Iran, and many more.

A larger question however is whether the U.S. should lift the economic embargo against Cuba currently in place. This question is greatly more complicated requiring deeper analysis of many factors, including:

· Conditions under which the lifting of the embargo should take place.

· Perception of U.S. weakness or strength in the world stage.

· Possible pressure on Cuba from the U.S. for improvement in human rights.

· Who would benefit more? — The Cuban government or the Cuban people.

· The uncertainty of who will succeed the Castro brothers.

· Will the Cuban government use money earned through economic improvement to export revolution through Latin America again.

· Has the embargo worked or is it just a relic of the Cold War?

· Gains to the U.S. economy from lifting the embargo.

· Inconsistency in trade policies.

· Can free trade promote democracy?

In my next posting I will delve into this subject and try to clarify some of the issues mentioned above.

Stay tuned.

The Castro Monster Mash — sing along with me.

I was watching the news in ’59
When the TV flashed an eerie sight

That the monster from the jungle had begun to rise
And suddenly to my surprise

He did the mash
He did the Castro mash
The Castro mash
It was a Cuban smash
He did the mash
It caught on in a flash
He did the mash
He did the Castro mash

From the mountains in the country’s east
To the palace where Batista feasts
The commies all came from their hiding holes
To start a revolt in their own abode

They did the mash
They did the Castro mash
The Castro mash
It was a Cuban smash
They did the mash
It caught on in a flash
They did the mash
They did the Castro mash

The commies were having fun
The party had just begun
The guests included the Che Man
Khrushchev and his nuclear gun

The scene was rockin’, all were digging the sounds
Camilo’s blood stains, backed by his baying hounds
The killers and bangers were about to arrive
With their vocal group, “The Commies-Five”

They played the mash
They played the Castro mash
The Castro mash
It was a graveyard smash
They played the mash
It caught on in a flash
They played the mash
They played the Castro mash

Out from his coffin, Marti’s voice did ring
Seems he was troubled by just one thing
He opened the lid and shook his fist
And said, “Whatever happened to my Freedom twist?”

It’s now the mash
It’s now the Castro mash
The Castro mash
And it’s a Cuban smash
It’s now the mash
It’s caught on in a flash
It’s now the mash
It’s now the Castro mash

Now everything’s cool, Raul is a part of the band
And the Castro mash is the hit of the land
For you, the living, this mash was meant too
When you get to my door, tell them Lenin sent you

Then you can mash
Then you can Castro mash
The Castro mash
And do my graveyard smash
Then you can mash
You’ll catch on in a flash
Then you can mash
Then you can Castro mash

For the original Monster Mash go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2PoSljk8cE

Other articles by J. C. Scull

Advertisements