Fidel Castro has died. He was a man of principal. He was a man of passion. He was a man of selfless honor.
I know a lady who is closely related to Castro’s head of security. She is the wife of a friend, after dinner and rum, and we have talked about Castro and his life. Through my poor spanish, she brought me insight into the man and the feelings of the Cuban people toward their leader.
Many in our government and many of the expatriates from Cuba despised him. For them this is a happy day. For the world, this is a day of sadness.
Fidel during his guerrilla days in Cuba
Fidel was a man who was cast into history at a time and a place where desperation had swelled to the point of being intolerable. His island nation had become “owned” by outsiders. Few cubans prospered, and only those who subjugated themselves to the plantation owners (Americans).
He gave himself over to a cause that was beyond his life. He, at the point of coordinating the overthrow of Cuba’s corrupt government, assured his death by a bullet, yet, he lived on.
Fidel with his friend, Che Guevara, later killed in Bolivia by “CIA assisted Forces”
We, The United States of America, betrayed him when he proved to not be the patsy that we had hoped him to be. We gave him a ticker-tape parade through the heart of New York City, but, when he refused to be our “boy” as the good central american dictators were supposed to do, we tried to overthrow him to install a more compliant government. When his generals would not turn on the man for money or power, we attempted assasination time and time again.
Castro – loved – in New York City 1960
His success in resisting our imperial efforts resulted in the failure of the United States to so subordinate Central America. The effort, and the resistance, continue to this day (Sandinista Guerrillas – Ollie North, on and on).
“Brigade 2506” soldiers
This was a time of the fragmentation and loss of control of covert operations in our nation. Much of the black operations of these alienated factions of our government’s clandestine agencies were determined to regain, for America, the riches of Cuba, and to clear ourselves of our embarrassment. We undermined his position and we even punished the Cuban people to try to harm the man, who we so hated – hated because he would not comply.
Cuban soldiers, trained by Che Guevara, shooting at american bombers painted as Cuban Air Force planes.
The Bay of Pigs, a poorly coordinated effort of a faction of the C.I.A., failed when J.F.K. refused to provide air cover for the landing.
U.S. bombers, painted as cuban planes, softened the cubans, retreating to central american airfields, and, at last “defecting” to Miami. The citizens of the U.S. were, of course, lied to, as was the plan.
The C.I.A. had assumed that J.F.K. would acquiesce and allow the U.S. fighters to enter the fray and support the loosely-trained troops of “Brigade 2506”. He did not, wishing for us to not learn of the great deception of the American people by our government. This was the beginning of the end for President Kennedy. The factions of our CIA expected him to support the effort, once started. He refused. This left the “Brigade 2506” exposed in a swamp, devoid of supplies or reinforcement. They were destined to fail.
Kennedy meeting the soldiers of the “Brigade 2506”
The “Bay of Pigs Invasion” cemented the cuban people’s love for Castro. He was a leader, and when things got difficult, he went into the field of battle and fought along side his countrymen again, proving his valor and willingness to give his life for his country and his troops.
The government of the United States lied to their people about the operations, endangered out nation with the resulting “Cuban Missile Crisis”, and continue to lie and shield the truth from the ears of their own people. The people of Cuba have been far too deeply and unfairly punished for far too long.
Only a nation afraid of the truth would forbid its citizens to travel to a nation 90 miles off of its coast. Our nation, land of the free, etc. etc., threatens its citizens with imprisonment and forfeiture of boats or planes use to travel there. We guard our dirty little secret so tenaciously that we have to resort to such actions.
The Bay of Pigs – as it looks today
We may continue our hatred, wrought of our embarrassment at turning on a friend. We may continue to punish the people of a beautiful Caribbean country for our clandestine actions which failed. I hope not.
Castro, as I would like to remember him, cigar and smile.
Castro would wish for his death to mark a new beginning, for us to move toward normalized relations, as we have so long ago with Vietnam and other less savory foes.
We Americans have been lied to for half a century about Fidel Castro and who he was and what he stood for. We loved him when he won, we hated him when he refused to become our puppet.
I know that this writing will be received by some as inflammatory. We have been subjected to such propoganda for so very long about Cuba and about Castro. We have been mislead and we have been lied to. It is far easier to hate someone who you do not know.
Castro in Toronto Canada after his visit to New York
Now, at last, the man who our nation blamed for these ills has died. Perhaps we can move toward a positive relationship with the people and country, which is our neighbor, and which so deeply exemplifies our worst failure at international relations.
I wish I could have met him and had a shot of scotch and sat and talked in whicker chairs. Maybe we could have been friends, fishing the Gulf Stream, and smoking cigars with Hemingway.