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Fidel Castro in Context


Fidel Castro in Context

Belén Fernández

As of the year 2006, Fidel Castro, Cuba's revolutionary leader, who has died aged 90, had reportedly been the subject of no fewer than 638 assassination plots by the CIA.

The Guardian newspaper notes that these had ranged from mundane bombing and shoot-'em-up schemes to more ludicrous proposals, such as one involving "a diving-suit to be prepared for him that would be infected with a fungus that would cause a chronic and debilitating skin disease".


Thank you for this much needed perspective. How sad that most Americans have been denied access to such important historical contexts.


I for one, will always remember Fidel Castro as a hero of the people! Brava, Belen Fernandez, for this beautiful eulogy.


very good article. Misses only that fidel also sacrificed poor cuba's lives and treasure to defeat "western-values" racist militaristic south-africa. Yes, exactly when usa and w.europe were conniving to help that very south-africa (and israel) to develop atomic bombs and were busy expanding the exploitation of the de facto still colonized third world. This was and is how western ultrarich-revenue-neutral "human rights" look like!


He was the last of the Communist dictators of the 20th century. Time to close that dark chapter in human history. Close but do not forget.

One other matter

"Although Cuba does not qualify as an objectively free society, it's important to recall that curtailments to Cuban freedom do not occur in a vacuum"

Seriously, Ms. Fernandez? Cuba was an oppressive dictatorship because "Repressive security measures stemming therefrom qualify as reactive in nature, and a result of vindictive US policy."?

Oppression and single party rule is the only way to impose socialism on a people. Haven't we learned that yet? Otherwise how are you gonna take from everyone according their capability and spread it around according to needs (with special emphasis to high ranking Party members), when the needs always outweigh capabilities?


Seriously? I thought Canada has batter public education system than the US.

If Cuba was this people's paradise with free quality healthcare, education, homes and all that how come there's no lineup for people to immigrate there. Most of Central and South American emigrants are trying to make it to the US. Why not Cuba where at least they speak the same language?


Explain it to me please (also, thanks for calling me fool, i don't get that too often). You Canadians always go to Cuban resorts in winter, maybe you think life in Cuba is like that everywhere. Hint... it's not.

As someone who actually experienced the wonders of Communism i can tell you a few stories too. BTW, did you know that food is still being rationed in Cuba?


Earth to Don and lamonte, Earth to Don and lamonte.

Although oppression and single party government DO end up in control of socialist and communist nations, the initial socialist or communist "conversion" has always been supported by the masses because the existing system was so much worse for the masses.

If I lived in a nation under a fascist puppet-dictator who reports to Wall Street and DC, i would wholeheartedly support a leftist takeover.

Despite boatloads of revisionist history the primary driver of FDR's New Deal was 10% of US voters voting for socialist and communist candidates during much of the first half of the 20th century. That 10% gave Congressional Democrats and even many GOP cover to vote in the New Deal to keep the US from going commie.

Until more Murkins start voting for commies instead of corporate Dims and GOP the 99% will keep getting what they have been getting since the Saint Ronny took the throne.


Thanks for that post, raydelcamino. My father told me that several times, 50 years ago, FDR's New Deal was useful "to keep the US from going commie."


To quote your own post "Despite boatloads of revisionist history" that is not entirely true. Communism was imposed on all Eastern European countries by force of arms by the occupying Soviet forces. Not much support from the masses there. Hence the necessity of having all those forced labor camps to persuade the masses to change their mind.


To answer your question, because people left their countries to make money to support the families they left behind and Cuba not being capitalist did not afford those opportunities. The Cubans that left the island were not malnurished and were well educated, for free by the people and in return instead of working for the people they wanted to take their skills somewhere that they could get paid.

What I am curious about is what will happen to communism, will it spread or die with Castro? Will all those doctors now start to leave the island? Or will the many happy American Cubans go back to the island and invest to help their people? Will Cuba remain a signal of hope to the world or will it turn into another Haiti?


Many people criticized Castro however, his own people never attempted to revolt or to overthrow him as has been the case throughout history. It appears that Castro proved to be an effective leader despite being undermined at every step.


Well he did a good job at stamping out opposition too.


I see where Obama is doing his usual PR BS from the podium speaking to a free press he had gutted and undermined at all legal tactics. Free speech is the other Obama agenda to destroy and he has done a great job of that also. Once more he states history will judge Castro, but that has already been done while he was very much alive. He took back his country, kicked out the US Imperialist, and managed to survive countless economic (and military) assaults as a result of daring to take on the US. Mandela admired him and that pretty much says it all since many in the world being threatened by the US stood with Castro.

Once more Obama extends the US hand of friendship but as always that handshake comes with a lot of fine prints--at the top of that list is giving up all basic human rights, economic freedoms, and profitable resources. That's how the US does deals. You are with us, or we kill you (one way or the other). Getting in bed with the US has not worked out so well for all those countries and leaders who did just that. Fedel knew that. He was correct in refusing to meet with Obama and his brother, Raoul, is no fool either.

Those Cubans celebrating the death of Castro should not be celebrating his death. His brother still rules. The US is determined to bring Cuba back into its family and if (or when) it occurs, it will not be pretty for the people. It will be a return to a Cuba as it was under Batista--and far worse. Those elite wealthy aristocrats have been eager for decades to return and regain their wealth and glory. No, it will not be pretty and all those good works Fidel accomplished will be wiped out (or tossed aside if money cannot be made on them).

Castro made the country better and made it very clear taking on the US was not impossible, and winning. He will be long remembered when Obama is a mere footnote in history books (and one of the worse Presidents in historical ranking).

Yes indeed, the world will long recall Fidel Castro.


After the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, Kennedy began to focus on Viet Nam, and this increased after the informal agreement not to invade Cuba following the 1962 missile crisis. The administration decision to add more "military advisers" in Viet Nam appears to have been a reaction to the failure to remove Castro, a political calculation that made sense in an era of anti-communist hysteria. And then, the support that JFK gave to the 1963 coup that resulted in the murder of the authoritarian Vietnamese president Diem created a situation that made LBJ's rapid escalation of the war politically inevitable. Thus, it is likely that Castro's presence so close to the USA was key to the series of steps that led the US and most of Southeast Asia into disaster.

As to Castro himself, I regarded him as the great betrayer of the Cuban Revolution ever since he ordered the murder of the popular democratic leader, Camilo Cienfuegos. At the time, and since, I believed Castro to be an opportunist who seized upon Marxism solely in order to justify his dictatorship. The best that can be said of him is that he only employed murder and police state methods to the extent needed to suppress any opposition to his rule. He was never a megalomaniac like Stalin.


I'm sorry, Joe, but JFK did not wish for the Diem assassination.

Rather, he wired his Ambassador to Viet Nam, the newly appointed Henry Cabot Lodge (an attempt at reaching across the aisle, as Lodge actually ran against him as Nixon's VP), "We wish to give Diem REASONABLE opportunity to remove Nhus (Ngo Dinh Nhu and Madame Nhu), but if he remains obdurate, then we are prepared to accept the obvious implication that we can no longer support Diem."

Lodge took this as an opportunity to consult with longtime CIA ally Henry Luce, rather than his President, as to his course of action.

Lodge soon decided not to give Diem "reasonable opportunity"

In short order President Kennedy's wishes were undermined by Lodge.

He was informed by Michael Forrestal, that Acting Sec of State James Ball, Averill Harriman, ( yes, of THAT Harriman family), and Roger Hilsman had backed Lodge's decision to undermine the President's directive and give Diem no opportunity, at all, to forestall a coup.

Kennedy was furious that his decision making had been usurped and manipulated.

To Forrestal, who offered to resign for his role in short circuiting the process, Kennedy told him "You're not worth firing! You owe me something, so you stick around!"

Further attempts to reach and instruct Lodge, through Dean Rusk, were evaded.

LBJ's decision to reverse the direction of JFK's plan to leave Viet Nam, lock, stock and barrel, by 1965, was, as Jim Garrison later pointed out, made within hours of President Kennedy's murder, WITHOUT SO MUCH as a Position Paper or Fact Finding Mission to justify it.

This info, footnoted and corroborated, and much, much more, is readily available in James W. Douglass's 2008 work of Historical Non Fiction "JFK and the Unspeakable - Why He Died and Why It Matters"

It should be required reading in all Public Schools.



Are you a Central American refugee?

Do you work with, or know, refugees from Central Americans?

Do you know the means by which Central American refugees get to the US?

Give the high number of fatalities among refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean to get to Europe, do you think it would be easier, or less risky, to cross the shark infested Carribean sea to get to Cuba than the overland route to the US?

When was the last time you were in Cuba?

Isn't the high number of Haitian Creole (non-Spanish) speaking refugees inconsistent with your thesis regarding how bad it is in Cuba?


This article, albeit in my view still limited, gives a good perspective of the historical USA/Cuba context in which Castro must be judged, and a fairly fair evaluation of him. But the full context really is that of the dueling systems of Communist Dictatorships vs Capitalist "Democracies."

Lamonte7 quote: "Oppression and single party rule is the only way to impose socialism on a people. Haven't we learned that yet?"

I think he is wrong in his assessment. All we have learned from the Eastern Block (Cuba included) is that Socialism can not work via a single party rule, which does not necessarily mean that Socialism cannot work. Scandinavian countries, although not perfect, have shown an in between way.

Yes, there is no denying of the extreme political oppression that existed in the Eastern Block (Cuba too), but on the other hand, the basic securities of life were guaranteed - and the exploitation of people for profit did not exist. While in extreme capitalistic societies as the US, there are political freedoms, but what use are they without the basic securities of life and when coupled with an extreme cruel exploitation of people from birth to death? Many answers to these and other questions can now be found in the Eastern Block, where life remains far from rosy.


Gracias Belén, mi hermana.

Sin duda, hay se puede criticar Fidel, y el gobierno Cubano, por la falta de libertades civiles en Cuba. Pero no se puede negar los avances en el bienestar y dignidad de los pobres en Cuba, y en el tercer mundo, que el mismo Fidel ha logrado.

Hay mucho trabajo que hacer para que Cuba sea un pais que asegura el igualdad, bienestar, y participacion democratica de todos los cuidadanos. Pero, mientras los EEUU camina hacia atras con su Presidente Trump, Cuba sigue en su lucha por la justicia social.


I worked in a warehouse, for a year, over forty years ago, with Central American refugees, from whom I learned to speak pretty fluent, pretty pure Spanish, who told me that the land mass of the American Continent was such that they could drive to the US.