Gutman, “The Cuba issue” and actual history

next Lt. Governor
Ron DeSantis’s defamation squad, busily trashing the leader of the Miami area teachers’ union, who is the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. Their main slop is that when Fidel Castro died she acknowledged that the dictatorship had supporters in Cuba. DeSantis won’t, however, acknowledged the bomb that his friends tried to set off in Panama City, which would have leveled the University of Panama central campus and killed patients, doctors, nurses and orderlies at the hospital complex across the street. No need to hear ANYTHING that the book ban guy says about freedom.

When Cuba was America’s bordello

by W. E. Gutman

The ever-vindictive, eager-to-be-despised former President Trump’s ban on travel to Cuba was an act of infantile churlishness. He justified it by claiming that the island nation plays a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere and provides a “communist” foothold in the region by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes. Mr. Trump declined to respond to charges that the United States continues to destabilize the Third World by encouraging fascist footholds or propping up dictators and by fomenting insecurity and suppressing democratic processes in developing countries.

And when then-presidential contender, Senator Bernie Sanders, casually but justifiably praised Fidel Castro’s literacy initiatives, Mr. Trump, who worships tyrants pounced on the Vermont lawmaker, accusing him of deifying a dictator and promoting “communism.”

Whoa! President Fulgencio Batista, the man Castro unseated, was a despot under whose governance horrific human rights violations were committed against the Cuban people. Batista, “our man in Cuba,” suspended the 1940 Constitution and revoked most political liberties, including the right to strike. He then aligned with the wealthiest landowners who operated the largest sugar plantations and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between Cuba’s rich and poor. Eventually, most of the sugar industry was in US hands, and foreigners owned 70 percent of the arable land.

Batista’s repressive government then began to profit from the exploitation of Cuba’s commercial interests by negotiating lucrative relationships with both the States-side mob, which controlled the drug, gambling, and prostitution rackets in Havana, and with large US-based multinational companies that were awarded lucrative contracts. To quell the growing discontent among the populace — displayed through frequent student riots and demonstrations — Batista established tighter censorship of the media, while also utilizing his Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities (secret police) to carry out wide-scale violence, torture, and public executions. The long-awaited and since petulantly rescinded rapprochement between Cuba and the United States had been heartily applauded. Friendship and cooperation are always preferable to enmity, isolation, and distrust, especially in an epoch of worldwide turmoil and volatility.

Should things improve with Biden in the White House, I hope the good people of Cuba will restrict their association with the United States to those trade and cultural transactions that are of clear benefit to Cubans, that do not compromise the sovereignty of their nation, and that do not imperil the hard-fought Revolution. Cubans old enough to look back to the dark days of the Batista dictatorship will remember that Cuba, at the time, was a Mafia political puppet and America’s whorehouse. It would be a great tragedy if normalization of relations between the two countries resulted in the economic buyout of Cuba by US capitalist interests … and organized crime. Such takeover would inevitably bring back the corruptive influences and misdeeds that precipitated the downfall of Cuba’s economy in the 1950s. While I cannot hide my displeasure at some of Cuba’s Stalin-style inequities and aberrations, I salute its brave and forbearing citizens.

Born in Paris, W. E. Gutman is a retired Franco-American journalist and a published author. A former writer at the late-great futurist magazine, OMNI, and an ex-press attaché at Israel’s Consulate General in New York, he reported from Central America from 1994 to 2006.



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