Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Still, I’m reminded of A.J.P. Taylor writing somewhere or other (reference please, dear readers?) that what the capitalists and their lackeys really really hated about Soviet Russia was not its tyrannical nature but the fact that there was a whole chunk of the earth’s surface where they were no longer able to operate. Ditto Cuba, for a much smaller chunk. So let’s hear it for universal literacy and decent standards of health care. Let’s hear it for the Cubans who help defeat the South Africans and their allies in Angola and thereby prepared the end of apartheid. Let’s hear it for the middle-aged Cuban construction workers who held off the US forces for a while on Grenada. Let’s hear it for Elian Gonzalez. Let’s hear it for 49 years of defiance in the face of the US blockade. Hasta la victoria siempre!
Just to pick one example -what did those Cuban farmers fight for?
After the execution of Bishop, the People's Revolutionary Army formed a military government with General Hudson Austin as chairman. The army declared a four-day total curfew during which it said that anyone leaving their home without approval would be shot on sight.
Six days after the execution of Bishop, the island was invaded by forces from the United States. The US stated this was done at the behest of Dame Eugenia Charles, of Dominica. Five other Caribbean nations participated with Dominica and the USA in the campaign, called Operation Urgent Fury. While the Governor-General, Sir Paul Scoon, later stated that he had requested the invasion, the governments of the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago expressed anger at not having been consulted.
After the invasion, the pre-revolutionary constitution was resumed
Bertram casts a Churchillian glance at Castro's deficiencies while he prepares this concoction. It seems one could do the same for Chavez or even Qaddafi. But why? Because Cubans, who aren't allowed to have internet connections at home, can't?
That Castro stood in opposition (principled or otherwise) to the U.S. and Capitalism is not in his favor. Furthermore, divining intentions for opposition to the Soviet Union is only useful if one is appraising a potential ally. Opposing the Soviets stands us firmly on the right side of liberty and shared prosperity. The Armchair psychology ("what they really hate") adds nothing.
CWCID: Megan McArdle flagged this post in her google reader (which I see), so I suspect she will have something to say about it.
I joked in a comment to a previous Castro post below that now it was safe to bring back "Michael Corleone" and "Hyman Roth." Now the non-joke part. You cannot bring their literal/real-life descendants, AT&T, skin color politics/racism, United Fruit Co. and the sugar barons back, as if you're Christopher Lloyd in "Back to the Future." Even if aliens took Raoul Castro away in his Benz via tractor beam, it wouldn't happen. That revolution, like ours, was set into motion by decades of abuse. Self-interest? Yes, that too, like our revolution. But abuse, decay, corruption and enormous disaparties of wealth and hope provides the perfect nutrients for ferment. You can't stop it. The hope is either co-opting it or guiding it toward something better. Whether it was the Cold War or corporate and Mafia greed or both, we couldn't or wouln't do that in the 1950s and in Cuba we took it in the ass. In 1919 a young Ho Chi Minh--drummed out of cooking school in paris like Castro was dumped by the Red Sox farm system--made a personal plea to Woodrow Wilson about freedom and self-determination. Of course Wilson said that just applies to white people (this was the southerner president who enforced Jim Crow in the federal government by executive order).
If we want a vibrant, democratic post-communist Cuba, it CANNOT be on the terms of the elite Castillans "businesspeople" and other bigshots, and the brainwashed folk in Miami. It has to be by and through the folk on La Isla. Blindly dial the "flux capacitor" back to 1959 on the basis that Cubans want the internet and new cars, and you are bound to sire a new Che. Indeed, even Che was an idealistic young med student once. In love, happy. Then he saw some stuff that truly pissed him off about class, about abuse and arrogance, ignorance. Another will rise along with the new types of decay we've seen in Russia and it's former satellites, and in some circles in China. Trouble is, you aren't going to keep the proles happy with technology and consumer goods for very long...
TH- is the "Churchillian glance" link the one you intended?
Here is a good review, albeit somewhat dated, of how Caudillo Fidel has run Cuba into the ground. Montaner’s Secret Report on the Cuban Revolution is also good on pre-1959 Cuba stats.
In 1957, Cuba had ~ 1000 inhabitants per MD, comparable to the US and Western European countries, better than many countries in Europe and all the "Third World" countries with the exception of Argentina, Uruguay, and Hong Kong.(UN, World Health Organization yearbook) While Caudillo Fidel may have contended that he inherited a banana republic, those bananas were pretty good.
It is ironic that while in 1959 Caudillo Fidel claimed that economic ties to the US were retarding Cuba’s economic development, a half century later Caudillo Fidel and his cohort of useful idiots claim that the lack of economic ties to the US retard Cuba’s economic development. Even under the “embargo,” Cuba imports substantial amounts of foodstuffs from the US- cash on the barrelhead.
Perhaps one way of looking at Cuba under Caudillo Fidel is to look at how Cuba kept up with technological progress. Back in the 1950s, TV was the next big thing. In 1957, Cuba’s number of TVs per 1,000 inhabitants was first in Latin America and fifth in the world (see previous link). We fast-forward a half century, where Internet access is now the next big thing. For 2004, Cuba was last in Latin America and 171st out of 211 countries in Internet access per 1,000. (World Bank Development Indicators)
Like Caudillo Fidel’s father, Francisco Franco was a soldier from Galicia in northern Spain. Galicia: Cradle of Caudillos. Like Caudillo Fidel’s father, most 20th century immigrants from Spain to Cuba were from Galicia, not from Castile. Before 1959, Cuba attracted immigrants from Europe. Nearly 40 years ago, Caudillo Fidel had a big campaign for a 10 million ton sugar harvest. Caudillo Fidel’s campaign slogan was, “Los deiz millones van.” ( Ten million on the way.). Not surprisingly, Caudillo Fidel’s 10 million ton campaign failed, along with his wonder cow and his coffee plantings. The Cuban people have appropriated Fidel’s failed sugar harvest campaign with a vengenance: Los deiz millones van…a Miami. ( The 10 million (Cubans) go…. to Miami.) Well before a half-century of Caudillo Fidel, the immigration flow was reversed.
Most Cuban-Americans are in agreement that after the Castro brothers, the next president should only be from Cuba: 52% according to question 13 in this 2004 poll. Only 20% of Cuban Americans in this poll were of the opinion that the next president should only be from the exile community. Perhaps the next president of Cuba should Dr. Biscet, a dissident Afro-Cuban MD featured in an article in Babalu , a Cuban exile blog.
A big issue in the transition to a post-Castro Cuba is that personal initiative has been squeezed out of the Cuban people, in favor of passive obedience to Caudillo Fidel. A half-century of taking orders, instead of taking personal initiative, will not be changed overnight. It will take years. Most of the Cubans fleeing Castro to the US arrived penniless, and by exercising initiative, became prosperous in the US. While personal initiative was once a Cuban attribute, it no longer is, thanks to a half-century of Caudillo Fidel. From the aforementioned poll, less than 20% of Cuban Americans considered it highly likely that they would return to Cuba.Their initiative might serve as a model for Cubans infantilized by a half century of Caudillo Fidel, provided that Cubans not in the Nomenkaltura keep their houses.
Say what you will about Caudillo Fidel, the fact that he has so mismanaged Cuba in his half-century of power, yet remained in power, is testimony to his political skills. Boss Daley would have been impressed. Franco was.