Obama completes the journey that JFK began

Presidents Castro and Obama. (Photo: MWC News)

This was the moment President John F. Kennedy was angling for 52 years ago: reconciliation between the United States and Cuba.

President Obama met yesterday with Cuban president Raul Castro, the first face to face meeting of the country’s leaders since the mid-20th century. Obama said “Cuba is not a threat to the United States.” His appearance was condemned by Obama’s Republican critics just as JFK’s Cuba policy was condemned by his opponents.

Ideological polemics notwithstanding, Kennedy was no hawk on Cuba. 

JFK was, according to his conservative critics, passive, if not weak, on Cuba. As commander in chief, Kennedy had not one but two opportunities to wipe out the Castro government — during the CIA-organized invasion at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and during the missile crisis of October 1962. Despite overwhelming military superiority and intense pressure from the Pentagon and most of his national security advisers, he refused both times. JFK was reviled for his willingness to co-exist with the communist government in Havana, just as Obama is reviled today.

Obama has taken the step that Kennedy was contemplating but unwilling to make going into the 1964 election year. In his last year in office, JFK turned on the Miami-based opposition to the Castro regime by aggressively shutting down freelance attacks on the island launched from South Florida. He authorized his prep school pal William Attwood, an aide to U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, to explore President Fidel Castro’s terms for normalizing relations.

To be sure, Kennedy publicly rejected Castro’s peace feelers. He  continued to countenance U.S. attacks on the island, organized by the CIA and Defense Department. He continued to use harsh rhetoric in his speeches. He wouldn’t have been unhappy if Castro had been overthrown or killed by his rivals. But he was open to reconciliation.

As Peter Kornbluh writes in his fascinating new book Back Channel to Cuba:

“Throughout the fall of 1963, a small group with in the Kennedy administration explored this new back-channel dialogue with Cuba. ‘This whole operation was very closely held,’ Attwood recalled. Besides Attwood only JFK, his brother, NSC Adviser McGeorge Bundy, NSC staffer Gordon Chase, U.N Ambassador Adlai Stevenson, and ambassador to the Soviet Union Averell Harriman knew about it.

JFK had signaled his willingness to co-exist with Castro as early as March 1963, according to Kornbluh. That’s when the State Department recommended Kennedy make a non-negotiable demand of the Cuban government: Castro had to break ties with his allies in Moscow and Beijing before the U.S. would recognize his government. To the surprise of his aides, JFK rejected the demand.

“The president does not agree that we should make the breaking of Sino-Soviet ties a non-negotiable point,” Bundy wrote in a memo on March 4, 1963, after meeting with Kennedy. Bundy summarized JFK’s thinking. “We don’t want to present Castro with a condition that he obviously cannot fulfill. We should start thinking along more flexible lines.”

The ambush in Dallas killed JFK’s incipient policy. Only a half century later would another American president complete JFK’s thought.

 

 

 

 

 

In March 1963

 

72 comments

  1. gerry campeau says:

    Ten US Presidents have come and gone and the rest of world have come to terms with Cuba. Obama without a mandate will posture with elegant words but nothing will change untill US comes to terms with assassination of Kennedy.

  2. Alex Burmester says:

    It is now clear that JFK was putting out feelers to Castro but, quite as clearly, he was also working at the same time on a fresh US-inspired attempt to remove him. One has to see al this in the light of the Cold War at its “hottest”, and Kennedy was a pretty active cold-warrior (I say this without any derogatory intention).

    Surely what must be at stake these days is not whether the US and Cuba resume normal relations, but if the people of Cuba ever get to enjoy normal and basic human rights. That must certainly be the litmus test for any opening to the island’s unreformed regime.

    I have seen people comparing Obama’s overture to Cuba to Richard Nixon’s one to China, but I think there is no comparison to be made: China was a very large country of great strategic importance, and Nixon, a consummated realpolitik operator, felt it could not simply be ignored. He also saw an opening in the deepening Sino-Soviet rift. Unlike China in 1972, Cuba poses no strategic threat to the US these days. The welfare of its people has to take center stage – and there is still a point to be made about possible compensation for the Cuban take-over of American assets all those years ago.

    • David Regan says:

      I believe the historical record clearly shows the transition Kennedy underwent from fierce cold warrior to staunch advocate for world peace. Post-assassination statements by Castro and Khrushchev reinforced this.

      • Alex Burmester says:

        Cold warrior and advocate for world peace are not necessarily mutually exclusive, David Regan. “If you want peace, prepare for war”, so the Romans said.

        • Bill Clarke says:

          “Peace is that brief glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading”.
          –Thomas Jefferson

          I always liked Teddy’s “Speak softly and carry a big stick”.

        • “If you want peace, prepare for war”, so the Romans said.”~Alex Burmester

          Yes, and the Romans ran an Empire based on military might, just like the modern Pax Americana.

          “Being prepared for war” and waging endless war are quite distinct paradigms.
          \\][//

        • David Regan says:

          “I can tell you that in the period in which Kennedy’s assassination took place Kennedy was changing his policy toward Cuba…To a certain extent we were honored in having such a rival…He was an outstanding man.” — Fidel Castro speaking to members of Congress who visited Cuba in 1978.

  3. ed connor says:

    Before you anoint Mr. Obama with the Order of the New Frontier, remember the differences over 50 years; Castro had Soviet missiles, subs and support. Did I mention tactical nukes? JFK had little choice but to reach a non-invasion accommodation under those circumstances. Even so, he required the removal of the Atlas missiles in Turkey to be delayed, and not a quid pro quo to the resolution of the Crisis. He was a shrewd negotiator.

    Fast forward to 2015. The USSR is gone. Russia has neither the will nor the money to be involved with Cuba. Sugar and tobacco are no longer popular, nor valuable as exports. And, with the decline in crude prices and the death of Hugo Chavez, Cuba’s last sponsor has left the building.
    It is the perfect time for a Cuban Spring. But Obama wants to lift sanctions, allow free capital flows and tourism, all in return for…nothing. The arrests of dissidents have increased 300% since the announcement of the thaw.
    JFK knew how to deal with tyrants, and he knew how to cut a deal.
    To compare him to the incumbent president is an insult to his memory.

    • leslie sharp says:

      ed connor, there are numerous other instances of President Obama being paraded as little more than a doppleganger of President Kennedy. That is not an indictment of Obama the man but of the behind the scenes efforts to position him romantically not factually as having restored the “New Frontier” that Kennedy was dedicated to. Recall Kennedy’s “We’ve Got High-e-High Hopes.” It is as if the timing of Obama’s own version “Yes We Can” campaign theme on the international scene was orchestrated quite deliberately.

      Consider for example the current president’s attendance at the G8 summit held in of all locales – the first time ever – in “Northern Ireland” in June, 2013 just prior to the 50th anniversary of John Kennedy’s trip ‘home.’ While Ireland began celebrating the 50th anniversary of that historic visit, the media was drawn like fireflies to Loch Erne in The North, not to mention Dalkey, Co. Dublin in The South where Michelle Obama lunched with Ireland’s own rock star, Bono. Photo-ops everywhere served as distraction from what would have otherwise been an emotional memory for many US citizens not to mention Irish cousins.

    • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

      The perfect time for the Cuban Spring was also when the Soviet Union went down. Oppenheimer wrote Castro´s Final Hour and Willy Chirino song “Ya viene llegando”. Nothing happened. A Cuban Spring is implausible giving the so-called opposition, full of people trying to survive with federal funds without a single rational political project and with no popular support at all. The arrest of dissidents —for short time— is an everyday life issue that dissidents themselves simply considered a labor risk without further consequences.

      • Alex Burmester says:

        Well, Arnaldo M. Fernandez,the only way to find out whether the Cuban opposition has any popular support is to hold free elections, I dare say.

        I also find your definition of health & safety risks on the island very curious.

        • Photon says:

          Cuba is a country ruled by the Castro family and the original revolutionary participants-for their own profit. Forbes had it right years ago when they published Fidel’s net worth. The only thing they have done efficiently is to create a police state where everybody is afraid to say anything contradictory. Nobody outside of the original circle has ever achieved any lasting power or responsibility. A few years ago Lage and others actually showed some flexibility and imagination-and were promptly dumped. Alarcon was dumb enough to publically state that if Cuba opened its borders the sky would be full of planes full of people leaving. He had to retire to his estate.
          The bottom line is that most Cubans had it better under Batista in the 1950s then Cubans have it now under Castro-despite 50 years of technological advances. What do Cubans really think? The best example to me was the reaction to the show trial of Ochoa and his accomplices. He was a revolutionary hero, admired by many-but when you see the post trial interviews in Havana you see the same line as the politburo parroted almost without exception-from fear.

          • ed connor says:

            Photon, what do you make of Juan Almeida, who was the highest ranking black revolutionary under Fidel, and who was rumored to be planning a U.S. backed coup in late 1963?
            Dean Rusk confirmed the plan, according to Waldron.
            Agree that BHO has made his bed in a nest of thugs, who will survive him, as they have survived 10 other presidents.

          • leslie sharp says:

            photon, please tell us you recognize the irony.

            “The only thing they have done efficiently is to create a police state where everybody is afraid to say anything contradictory. Nobody outside of the original circle has ever achieved any lasting power or responsibility.”

            Do you argue that Kennedy was not “outside of the original circle?”

          • Photon says:

            Almeida was loyal to Fidel; if any plot actually existed he would have told Fidel. As the only visible black leader of the Revolution he was granted a lot of leeway-particularly romantic. He had no power base and was never a threat to the Castros- unlike Pais and Cienfuegos, both of whom were given the Kirov treatment.
            Leslie, I had no idea that any Kennedy has ever been part of the Cuban government. Please clarify.

          • gerry campeau says:

            Proton Cuba has a longer life expectancy than the US!http://www.omgfacts.com/lists/10007/Cuba-has-a-longer-life-expectancy-than-the-US
            Of the country’s 22,500 international students, some 19,000 are enrolled in its highly reputed medical schools.

          • leslie sharp says:

            photon, I thought surely you would recognize I was being sardonic. Our democratically elected government was violently overturned November 22, 1963. Our society sits on the precipise of becoming a police state; African American men are being barbourously murdered in our streets, whistle blowers are either exiled or jailed or ostracized and jobless, our community police forces are being militarized. We are virtually a one-party nation (funded and controlled by corporations). I don’t know . . . do you see any parallels here?

        • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

          You don’t need free elections to probe it. If you go to an election in which, as in Cuba, all the candidates come from the government, you simply do not vote for any of them. And the overwhelming majority of the Cuban people vote for these candidates. They do it alone in a voting booth.
          My operational definition of health & safety risks derives from the premise that the overwhelming majority of the dissidents considered the political opposition as a job. The last straw was a leader of a “political party” asking the U.S. Interest Section in Havana for… salaries (See Jonathan Farrar´s report from April 15, 2009).

  4. Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

    As JFK, Obama is branded as a traitor by the Cuban exiles, who think that the Cuban problem must be solved by the U.S. Unable to gain popular support inside Cuba, the opposition or dissidence has been always seeking support abroad, specially through U.S. funds, while the Castroit regime stood in its position for more than half a century and the Cuban people did not enter into a popular revolt, which is the same myth voiced by the CIA for convincing JFK to give green light to Operation Pluto in 1961.

  5. Brad Milch says:

    President Obama made the 1st move towards peace with Cuba. It’s now Cuba’s turn to come clean about its role in the ambush & death of President Kennedy.

    • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

      Cuba came clean since the very beginning. Its role was nothing, zero, nada.

      • Otus Chambers says:

        Cuba has not come clean about what Castro knew from intel flowing to him from his agents buried inside anti-Cuban exile groups. Trusting him after allowing the Soviets to park nukes aimed at the USA on his imprisoned island is not my cup of tea & never will be.

        • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

          If Castro agents inside anti-Cuban exile groups would have known about it, Castro himself would have taken action for avoiding the plot, which was clearly set up for framing him up. All the declassified archives from Eastern Europe embassies in Cuba by 1963 coincided in stating that JFK was the best presidential option for Cuba in the coming elections. There is no logical connection here with the Missile Crisis.

          • Johnny Gumm says:

            I don’t buy that at all. If Castro was so concerned about being framed & JFK’s wellbeing, why did he not tell JFK about the USSR nuke weapons in strike positions in Cuba?
            LBJ had a more realistic analysis of the situation, ‘Kennedy was running a Murder, Inc. in the Caribbean & was trying to get Castro, but Castro got him first’.

          • David Regan says:

            The CIA certainly tried to make it appear that way, but the Castro-did-it theory does not wash.

            In a blatant attempt to destroy both Kennedy brothers, Desmond Fitzgerald, using a false name, met with Rolando Cubela in Paris on 10/29/63 at a CIA safehouse. Fitzgerald posed as a U.S. senator representing AG Robert Kennedy. The Church Committee, following the CIA’s top secret Inspector General’s Report, discovered that Richard Helms had “agreed that Fitzgerald should hold himself out as a personal representative of Attorney General Robert Kennedy.”

            As the CIA’s own internal report admitted, Helms had also decided “it was not necessary to seek approval from Robert Kennedy for Fitzgerald to speak in his name.” The CIA’s impersonation worked, convincing Cubela that he had been authorized by the AG’s representative to assassinate Castro.

            The CIA’s strategy of hiring Cubela in the name of RFK to assassinate Castro laid the foundation for the repeated claim that Castro, to preempt the threat on his own life, ordered JFK’s murder – and that RFK had triggered his own brother’s assassination.

            This CIA scheming (along with unauthorized Alpha 66 raids, etc) went on all the while JFK sought rapprochement with Castro and Khrushchev in 1963.

        • Gerry Simone says:

          Castro told Jesse Ventura that if they did it, Cuba would’ve been just a big hole in the ground.

          Also, check out Fabian Escalante.

      • Preston Newe says:

        I respectfully disagree with you, Mr. Fernandez. Attempting to work with ruthless dictators has never worked out for the USA. Richard Nixon had a better way to deal with the Castro brothers. Unfortunately, US anti-Castro black ops failed to get close enough to the double headed snake to unplug it IMHO.

        • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

          It works with the Soviet Union. China is worst than Cuba, and here you know. And if Castro won the dirty war, how can we have a quantum of hope with the lunatic dissidents in Cuba? It´s better to deal with Castroism than with the anti-Castro show business.

          • Jeremy Faust says:

            You seem to be a PR man for the Castro brothers (or a big fan). At one time, Saddam Hussein had his own PR man too. Many feel opening the door to Cuba will be exploited by terrorists for easier entry into the USA for attack purposes. Perhaps one or two attacks on USA soil that originated via travel from Cuba is what is needed to close the door again? Why not open the door & drop the sanctions against Iran too? How many bitter divorces does it take to convince someone that their ex-spouse is not worthy of a second chance?

          • Fearfaxer says:

            @Jeremy Faust

            “Many feel opening the door to Cuba will be exploited by terrorists for easier entry into the USA for attack purposes.”

            Why would those supposed terrorists bother to wait for a path into the US from Cuba when currently they can go to Mexico and cross over the border with the many already coming into the US? That Mexican route is already being spoken of as a way for terrorists to enter the country of course. I guess it is interesting to see a paranoid mind go through its paces.

        • “I respectfully disagree with you, Mr. Fernandez. Attempting to work with ruthless dictators has never worked out for the USA.”~Preston Newe

          Actually it worked out just peachy for the USA for close to a century, propping up right-wing tyrants throughout Latin America, for companies like United Fruit and others. The US has continued such policies in the middle east and Africa as well.
          Do not forget the part the US played in toppling Mossadegh in Iran, the western intelligence role in support f the Colonels Coup in Greece, and on and on…
          \\][//

        • gerry campeau says:

          Preston Newe What is your evidence that Castro is ruthless dictator? The use of capital punishment in Cuba has declined in the last decade, with the last executions in 2003
          https://www.google.co.th/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=&oq=death+penalty+in+cuba&hl=en-GB&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADSA_enTH470TH484&q=death+penalty+in+cuba&gs_l=hp…0j0i22i30.0.0.0.13865………..0.WnEHye9rjNc&gws_rd=ssl

  6. David Regan says:

    “I believe that there is no country in the world including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country’s policies during the Batista regime…. I will even go further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries.” – John F. Kennedy, October 24, 1963

    • Bill Clarke says:

      David Regan
      April 12, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      I’m not sure I’d agree with JFK here, David. Certainly not defending Batista or our support of him but some of these foreign colonial administrators were ungodly brutal. Even the French, to supposedly be a civilized people, were extremely brutal in Indochina. Many starved to death under their watch.

      • Fearfaxer says:

        In terms of the great colonial powers, the British were probably the least awful, which is remarkable considering how bad they were. The French were awful, the Belgians even worse, right up (or down) there with the Spaniards and Portuguese in terms of inhuman depravity. As for Batista, his second regime (don’t forget he’d ruled Cuba during the 1930s and early to mid 1940s too) was nothing but government by gangsters, with various Mafia dons and Meyer Lansky being de facto government ministers. If he was any less bad than the European colonialists, it was only because there were fewer Cubans for him to torture and kill than the Europeans ruled in Africa and Asia.

  7. Robert Paul says:

    What are we gaining from this “normalization” with the Castro brothers and their 50+ year-old killing machine? Releasing political prisoners, ending massive human rights violations, free elections for the Cuban people – anything? Sounds like just another “quid pro – nada” foreign policy mistake.

    • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

      We´re gaining a lot of savings for the American constituents, since the anti-Castro movement officially swallowed more than a billion since 1996 in order to promote democracy in Cuba without a single minimal result. The soft power of commerce and relations is the only alternative available.

      • Robert Paul says:

        Have we forgotten about freedom of the press and free elections? Are those two alternatives viable options? Did we get even a “soft promise” of that in our quid pro – nada outreach? Did we even ask for that? No.

        All the proceeds from commerce will go to the Castros and their buddies. That’s exactly where the tobacco and sugar money has gone for 50+ years.

        • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

          No, we have not forgotten all these. Just we have also realized that nothing have worked during more than 50 years and that the anti-Castro political machine is operated by a bunch of jerks.

    • Robert Paul,

      The biggest foreign policy mistake is Pax Americana, based on the power of Central Bankers to call the shots through the power of Usury, and buying all of the politicians, thus directing this maniacal empire based on war profits.
      \\][//

    • ed connor says:

      Just a minor quibble, Robert.
      I don’t want to be another Photon, but it should be:
      “quid pro nolo.”
      Latin is not really dead, nor is JFK (in spirit).

  8. Ronnie Wayne says:

    This is wonderful news. Obama is not JFK. Russia is gone from Cuba.
    We should be concerned about the Human Rights of our neighbors in light of the billions of dollars we have expended on such in countries half way around the world. As far a compensation for assets, we, or big business did in fact exploit all but the well to do land owners, and, big business has recovered and got along fine for 50 years. If you want to talk about the casinos how do you figure the MOB deserves compensation? We trade with our neighbor Mexico who have lots of people living in squalor. Hell, we have quite a homeless problem ourselves.
    Repatriation of former citizens or descendants who wish such should be a point of discussion.
    Our neighbors should be our allies if at all possible.

  9. Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

    Some Jeremy Faust used against me this ad hominen argument: “You seem to be a PR man for the Castro brothers (or a big fan)”, because I simply noted that the so-called Cuban dissidents are a bunch of jerks without popular support. It´s the same tactic used by these jerks whenever you told them they have taken the wrong way to fight against Castroism: media circus and U.S. money. I hate Castroism, but anti-Castro militancy has nothing to do with stupidity or idiocy.

  10. David Hazan says:

    I don’t believe Obama has completed any journey whatsoever… Fidel has one foot (perhaps even two feet) in the grave, Raul’s daughter Mariela is groomed to take over and she is all in with the “opening” of Cuba, inviting NGOs bubbling with CIA and State Dept. operatives. into Cuba, starting with the classic “gay rights agenda” which no one in his right mind can object… The rest of that story will go just as good for Cuba and Cubans as it has gone for all the other client nations: Destabilization, privatization, and unplayable IMF loan interests.

    But, if I am wrong (as i hope I am) and Obama has indeed completed JFK’s journey, I wish he would also complete the two other journeys that JFK had begun: Dismantling the CIA, and eliminating the Federal Reserve by having U.S. issue its own currency.

    • Arnaldo M. Fernandez says:

      The Cuban State is a dictatorship based on the one-party system, not a dynasty. Mariela Castro is not been grooming to take over. She is not even member of the Politburo. The next in line is the first vice president Diaz Canel, chosen by the Politburo, approved by the Central Committee, and elected by the National Assembly.

      • leslie sharp says:

        Arnaldo, kudos for your efforts to keep us honest and informed. Jingoism appears to be alive and well on this site. That is not to say I endorse any dictatorship, but Americans must cease defining other governments when in fact ours is so ill and/or falsely defined. We might look to that definition of ‘one party system’ next, no?

      • David Hazan says:

        I hear you Arnoldo, I do. And would certainly not disagree that, technically, the situation is exactly as you say.

        On the other hand, I’d say it would be somewhat limiting to see Obama’s Cuban Honeymoon as a product of just the presidency. This type of decisions are made, or at least need to be approved by, not the current CEO of the company temporarily living in the White House, but the board of directors.

        When such a big ticket foreign policy decision is made, and is executed with such fanfare, it is usually on the heels of years long negotiations and a mutual understanding of what is to follow after the relationship is re-established, and the wheels start turning. Guarantees are given, promises are made… Cuba has been spending every penny it has on renovating every major building and turning them into four and five star hotels. I can assure you that they were not banking on an unexpected influx of wealthy tourists from Venezuela and Angola.

        While Fidel is out of the picture, and Raul is getting old and frail, I can’t imagine the U.S. going in to such a venture with an old “enemy” on the edge of political and social uncertainty and possible volatility without a certain understanding of what follows the Castro brothers.

        It might not be a direct handover to Mariela. But the formula for color,revolutions is clear: manufactured dissent and unrest is created and fueled. Desirable leader is promoted, who ultimately walks in and saves the day with much support from the public.

        She is Castro 2.0 for the 21st century. She’s a woman, she’s a liberal, she’s a Castro AND she is not a dictator. Young generation of Cubans who have no direct connection to the revolution will demand it. Diaz will not cut it. As you point out, the party structure is an impermeable hierarchical system, which will prevent the emergence of a new charismatic leader to steer Cuba in to the future. Except for someone who has no need to “emerge”… Not to mention that the strategy is being set up by her father, who is currently in charge.

        I could be wrong, of course. Mine is all opinion… Reading tea leaves, based on all the teas I’ve drunk in my lifetime. So, I say we agree to check with each other in 3-5 years and see how things are going.

  11. Robert Paul says:

    Accordingly to Sergei Khrushchev (Khrushchev’s son, a US citizen, and a professor at Brown University), Castro begged his father, to NUKE the US mainland using Soviet, Cuban based missiles – during the missile crisis. Realizing the insanity of Castro’s demands, Khrushchev wisely and quickly opted to settle the dispute by taking his missiles out Castro’s reach. IMO this is the principal reason that JFK and RFK wanted Castro dead.

    Even Khrushchev realized that Castro was (and remains) a maniac. Why should we do ANYTHING that benefits and encourages this mass murderer?

    • “Accordingly to Sergei Khrushchev”~Robert Paul

      This simply makes no sense! Do you think Castro was suicidal? Even a child in the 1960’s understood that radiation would have spread from the mainland back to Cuba, that general nuclear war would have ensued, and it would be the end of the world as we know it.

      Maniacs such as those on the Joint Chiefs – LeMay in particular were insane enough for this dance of Kali, and he said so publicly – but no one else has ever put such words in Fidel Castro’s mouth before.
      \\][//

  12. Neil says:

    Obama’s tense negotiations with Iran and the rhetoric from Hawks in DC seems to mirror JFK’s negotiations with Cuba and the USSR and the criticism Kennedy got from Hawks at the Pentagon.

  13. bogman says:

    In the book “Brothers” by David Talbot, JFK buddy Red Fay is quoted as saying Kennedy thought the Castro regime would best be undermined when the populace had a taste of modern life with American refrigerators and TV sets. I think that’s still true (except the part about American-made products — nothing’s made in America anymore).

    • Paulf says:

      That’s EXACTLY right. If you want to free Cubans of Castros, then give the people a taste of the outside world.

      The embargo against Cuba is absurd and counterproductive. It has lasted for the political fortunes of a very tiny group of politicians. 99% of the country doesn’t care one way or another about Cuba.

      However, 1) the very small number of Cuban refugees in Florida who do care have the potential to sway the electoral votes of Florida. This voting bloc is dying out and becoming irrelevant.

      And 2) a smaller number of Cuban refugees who love in the Democratic stronghold of Hudson County, NJ. This bloc, small as it is, has influence with the typically liberal Democratic Senators from New Jersey, giving the issue a sheen of bipartisanship. Sen. Menendez, for example, is of Cuban descent and is very strident on this issue.

      So what happens is that a small number of people who care strongly have more influence over this issue than the mass of people who have no real opinion.

  14. David Hazan says:

    The portrayal of Fidel on this page and in the U.S. in general as a ruthless dictator who would actively plot and execute plans to kill the American president, or allow the Russians to nuke the U.S. is simply preposterous and is a result of being subjected to decades and decades of anti-Castro, anti-soviet propaganda.

    Creating the perception of a cuban connection to the JFK assasination was just a transparent ploy to get public support for an outright invasion. This same narrative has been used ever since to create a distraction, a red herring, a certain level of doubt in the public’s mind to make them look away from the real perpetrators of the bloody coup that took place in Dealey Plaza.

    If the hypothesis were that the soviets were plotting to kill Kennedy using Cuba as a staging ground, I might find it a valid avenue to explore and consider. But, no one here is suggesting that, probably because it’s not true. But, to think that the fresh dictator of a small Caribbean island nation would take on the empire just across the water like that… Whether he’d succeed or fail, it’d be a suicidal move on his part no matter how you look at it. Say what you will about the man, he was no maniacal, suicidal psychopath!!!

    In any case, I am yet to see a convincing argument made as to how exactly JFK’s assasination would have benefited either the Soviets or Castro. The man allowed nukes on his island as a defensive move after an attempted invasion by a determined power just a year prior.

    What rubs us, the cocky people of the empire, in the wrong way is that he actually won! While ALL of his allies around the world and here in the U.S. who challenged the empire were killed one by one through CIA coups, assassinations and invasions, he persevered. Yes, he killed quite a few… Just like we do here! Yes, he created a one party system… Just like what we have here! He indoctrinated and manipulated his people for obedience… Just like we do here.

    But what he also did was to manage to create, and stay as one of the last few truly sovereign nations that are not under the grip of the global, usury based financial control grid. Nor under the grip of the consumer-generating mind control and manufactured reality pumped into brains by corporate mass media, nor the grip of a reality distorting, fairy tale spewing church. Sadly, I am not able to say “just like here” on any of these counts.

    For those who look down on the mouse that roared and call him a “brutal dictator”, there’s an old jungle saying: It’s better being the head of a mouse than the butt of an elephant!

  15. Jeremy Faust says:

    Poor old Fidel. Those sneaky Russians took advantage of him & parked enough nukes aimed at the USA on Cuba to blow a good chunk of it off the planet. Then they took it back to the USSR & left Fidel defenseless. Then the CIA/Soviet Intel meanies had Oswald out on the street passing out the ‘Hands Off Cuba’ leaflets trying to make him look like a Cuban agent. Then the Mexico City Oswald charade. Who could blame poor old Fidel for threating US leaders in the newspapers weeks before Oswald is said to have gunned JFK down in Dallas. Enough abuse is enough…

    That’s story’s grown old, but is not forgotten. A snakebite is never forgotten. Who’s the modern Cuban dictatorship going to buddy up to next with nukes, North Korea or Iran?

    Great folks to do business with, right? Gimme a break, sheesh.

    • David Hazan says:

      I don’t know that this type of chauvinistic sarcasm makes a very convincing argument, which seems to be based purely on a version of history that was fictionalized by propaganda.

      Wars are not won, revolutions are not made by tender hearted pacifists… Fidel is Fidel. With the good, the bad, and the ugly, he is what he is. He won the hearts of his people and kicked the colonialists out of the island. . And he certainly did not do all that to give it all up at the first invasion attempt.

      Whether or not we like what he did is irrelevant

      As for the nukes… In the years leading to the Cuban missile crisis, U.S. had already positioned countless nuclear warheads in eastern Turkey, within a stone’s throw from Moscow. So, yes, Russian nukes in Cuba was one dangerous move… But, let’s please put it in the right historical perspective, which is a constant stream of chickens and eggs. No one knows which came first.

      You ask “Who’s the modern Cuban dictatorship going to buddy up to next with nukes, North Korea or Iran?”

      The answer to that seems to be obvious. They are going with the good old USA this time around.

      • Roy W Kornbluth says:

        Amen, David.
        Also, Cuba should hope they don’t import our gun violence and crime. My North Carolina, relatively civilized for the South, has a smaller population than Cuba, yet NC had TWELVE TIMES more gun deaths in 2011, 1,223 to 103. The US overall is a little worse, 13 times more gun deaths per capita than Cuba.

        And Cuba is 159th of 164 countries in prison population per capita, according to Nation Master (CIA). Guess what the USA is. Yup, we’re number one.

        Compared to the rest of Latin America, Cuba is off the charts for quality of life. In fact, compared to the entire Western Hemisphere except Canada, Cuban health and security are the shining exceptions.

        • Robert Paul says:

          Roy – Haven’t heard of ANYONE in the US flying to Cuba for a pending surgical procedure or (for that matter) ANY health care concern or need. I wonder why?

          • Roy W Kornbluth says:

            Travel restrictions make that problematic.

            Let me get this straight–an American is going to jump through a hundred hoops with the State Department or whatever one goes through. All to LEAPFROG 100,000 medical facilities in his own country to get, maybe, a better hernia repair?!?! Not exactly the path of least resistance.
            Anyone who can afford all that is going to get the gold-plated treatment right here. He’s not on Medicaid.

            That may not be the most preposterous objection ever made, Robert, though when you get that far off, it’s hard to tell. It’s like claiming that Canada doesn’t have good and plentiful maple syrup and flapjacks (and cane sugar products too because they get Cuba’s, because we had a hissy fit about Cuban products, and showed them)–why? Because the almighty Americans don’t fly there for breakfast. Quod esat demonstratum.

            You must have seen Michael Moore’s Sicko. He brought a BOATload of sick 9/11 responders to Gitmo–turned away. Then some little town took them in and treated them. Cuban and American firefighting brothers hugging and all that.

            The idiocy of American health care–we spend twice as much to do half the job of ANY other nation, making us four times less efficient than Canada and Europe. We’re five times more inefficient than Australia, who spends 40 percent what we do per capita, but does twice the job, gets twice the return. God knows how many times more efficient Cuba is than us.

            If nothing else, Kennedy was competitive and thrifty. He saw the rise of Tommy Douglas in the late 50s, early 60s, in Canada. He was well aware of Europe’s de facto law (since WWII!) that everyone receive basic, necessary health care. He pushed Medicare harder than anything else, and it was his biggest disappointment that it was turned down again and again. Only to have Lyndon take it off the shelf, dust it off and pass it. After Kennedy had his brains shot out by Lyndon and the military.

          • “Haven’t heard of ANYONE in the US flying to Cuba for a pending surgical procedure..”~Robert Paul

            Ahhh…haven’t you heard Mr Paul? There has been a US embargo on Cuba for decades.
            And, Cuba has been world renowned for it’s excellent health care in all of those decades.
            \\][//

          • JohnR says:

            Perhaps because it’s illegal. What’s your point? I hope you weren’t disputing the quality of Cuban medical care. That’s a losing argument.

  16. Gerry Simone says:

    As a Canadian, I’ve vacationed in Cuba since 2010, and usually stay in Havana, but have crossed southwards to snorkel in the Bay of Pigs (they call it Playa Larga – I wish I knew how to post pictures here – there is only one revolutionary sign as a reminder that Castro stopped advancing invaders at a certain point).

    My last trip to Havana was this past January. A few relic taxi-cabs (Chevrolets) sported little American flags.

    Interestingly enough, I met a vacationing gent who lived in Toronto but who currently resided in El Salvador (he works as a personal body guard). He said that if you speak to the older generation, they are somewhat content with life in general. The younger generation, who don’t remember the revolution, would leave the country in a heart beat if given the chance. They also want La Dulce Vida.

    My sense of the nice people in Cuba, is that they would welcome democracy and the fruits of freedom. Many people seem to engage in the underground economy, so capitalism exists in a covert way. One does feel the presence of the police state, which makes it safe for us tourists, but oppressive to the people of Cuba.

    After the demise of the Castro era, I can see changes coming.

    • Gerry Simone, the way you describe Cuba sounds just like it feels to be in Mexico, safe for tourists, repression for the locals. I’ve seen the Federales brutally rousting local families many times on trips down there.
      Police states come in many flavors, hues and colors. Take the North American police state (right here in the good ol’USA) …it is in the open, but it is a secret by cognitive dissonance, indoctrination, and double standards.
      \\][//

  17. tim,gratz says:

    There is a something just a tad wrong with the theory expounded in this thread. JFK and RFK were trying to kill Castro, not smooch with him. And whether he did anything to encourage LHO, FC knew exactly when JFK was to die. Rolando Cubela eas, it is now well known, a double agent for FC. That is why he asked for and received assurances that JFK and RFK approved the CIA plans to kill him.

  18. Robert Paul says:

    Where to go for my family’s health care has become a very tough decision, ever since we’ve embraced Castro’s Cuban paradise. Should we consider the medical centers at Johns Hopkins, HUP, NYU, UCLA, or use Cuba’s “world renowned” (see above) health care system? Can anyone help me decide?

    • Ramon F Herrera says:

      “Cuban cancer vaccine to be tested in U.S. sparks a new scientific bond”

      “A landmark agreement to allow an American cancer institute to begin testing a lung cancer vaccine developed in Cuba could be the start of a renewed medical research relationship between the two countries.

      “Cuba has long been a surprising leader in the development of medical treatments, from laying the groundwork to cure malaria to more recent advances in biotechnology to battle meningitis, hepatitis, diabetes and cancer.

      “But Cuban researchers have mostly been unable to share their experiences with their American counterparts because of the economic embargo the U.S. has maintained on the Communist island for more than a half-century.”

      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/05/13/cuba-lung-cancer-vaccine-scientific-collaboration/27241137/

  19. Robert Paul says:

    Willy Whitten writes: “Ahhh…haven’t you heard Mr Paul? There has been a US embargo on Cuba for decades.
    And, Cuba has been world renowned for it’s excellent health care in all of those decades.”

    Willy – Your global view is totally US centric. You’re correct, Cuba’s health care has been open for decades but travel is permitted to Cuba by almost all countries. If Cuba’s health care is “world renowned and excellent”, then why aren’t people from around the world flocking to Cuba for primary and tertiary medical care? Are the waiting lines at the world’s airports just too long?

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