Vodka Ain't Good for Cuba Libre
(The Cuban situation in a nut shell)
How treason and deception
killed the Cuban dream
By Dr. Robert A. Galloso
Chapter 1 A poor excuse
Chapter 2 Paving the road to absolute power
Chapter 3 Deception, treason and infamy
Chapter 4 Before and after (What Cubans had then and now)
Chapter 5 The daily grind
Chapter 6 The myth of the embargo
Chapter 7 Travel into and from Paradise
Chapter 8 Communications with Paradise
Chapter 9 The political prisons
Chapter 10 Good old Jimmy Carter & the Varela Project
Chapter 11 Should the Cuban situation be MYOB for the USA?
This is not the end
And then, amidst the nausea of all the lies, of all the cruel derision of the world, rage is felt; tragic and noble rage
of a provoked lion that went to sleep free and wakes up in a cage.
(“Manelic”, Antonio Mediz Bolio)
“’The Cuban Tyrant’ fought his revolution under the banner of democracy, not of communism, and publicly turned to Marxism-Leninism only after his victory was assured”.
(“Today’s ISMs”. Edwin Fogelman/William Eberstt)
There was a newspaper columnist in the Isle of Cuba who had the following motto for his daily column:
Nothing human is alien to me
In the confusing noise of the present geopolitical realities, we ought to consider this motto as a sound philosophy of practical application in our relations with the rest of the world. Consider for a moment that in our present world, for many different reasons, no country is any longer an island to itself. We must think of our world as a small pond where even a minute stone cast unto its surface creates waves that, centering on that stone, inexorably reverberate touching all the shores of the pond. If the happening (the stone) is a positive one it will create waves that will be pleasantly received all over. Lets the occurrence be a negative one, so will the effects be felt all over. We can no longer bury our head in the sand and wait until “it is all over”. That is no longer a practical and effective approach to world happenings. All of a sudden Timbuktu is very close to every country. There are no small or remotes areas. Our modern technology, at the same time that has brought great progress in many areas, improving our quality of life many times fold in the last forty or fifty years, has also dragged alone terrible and sometimes fatal consequences making modern life very complex and inextricably dependent on other countries and cultures.
There was a time when something that occurred in far away places was, in almost all instances, so distant from us that maybe we never even heard of them. If we did it was just a matter of being informed, at the most. There were no consequences, immediate or otherwise. It was like hearing about a monsoon in the Far East. We could sympathize, emphasize and even send help as soon as possible. But the effects could not be felt in our shores. We were too far away for that. The same principle applied to political movements, revolutions, wars and other sociopolitical convulsions. Very seldom was any other country, ours included, affected by any of these occurrences that took place in remote areas, small countries, etc. Sometimes even the news would not reach our media until a few days, or even weeks, later. So, for us in this good old USA was a MOOB (mind our own business) approach in all these situations. Paradoxically, the Cuban situation has been treated in that manner by our great nation. A “distant occurrence” unworthy of any attention as if it had no relevance for or effect on us. Gross mistake. Unbelievable geopolitical blindness as we shall see in the following pages.
With Cuba at ninety miles of our Southern Coast, it is not wise to dismiss it as a small, harmless enemy. In our modern world there are many ways in which even a small country can endanger, harass and threaten a bigger neighbor. September 11 is a flattening proof of that. It was the climax of many attacks coming from the same deceptively “small source” that was ignored despite its ever increasing intensity. The presence of the Cuban tyranny in our midst is something that cannot be ignored. Its capabilities to inflict considerable and disastrous damages and civilian casualties to our country are only too real to be dismissed by bureaucratic complacencies or manipulative lobbies and politicians. We have seen before what that approach can bring to America. If we have learned nothing from WWI, WWII and Sept 11, to mention only three big ones, we better read the History books again and again until we glean from them the bitter lessons of past miscalculations or misreading of “symptoms and signals” that were apparent, evident or, maybe, obscure and questionable, but that nonetheless were there and were ignored. We must wake up to the realities that are so evident around us in the “Caribbean Front” which cannot be ignored in the War on Terrorism we have been dragged into. Let us wake up and smell the danger before it is too late.
Cuba has been in the news very often for the last 45 years. Too often, in fact, for the average Cuban who lives in the Island as well as for the one who has been forced into exile by the its tyranny. The saying “no news is good news” could be a most desirable situation for us Cubans. It would mean that we were again living quietly, peacefully and doing well, staying put in our small and proud country, the way we were before the advent of the most vicious, ludicrous and insidious tyranny ever to hit the American continent.
During these almost five decades we have seen countless books, films, television programs, and articles about the country and its political situation. Some have been partially close to reality (precious few and far between), many have been just either propaganda from left wingers or twisted and absurd prose from the ignorant turned experts. Some have been well intentioned and some have been bent on the intent of doing a disservice to the Cuban people in the name of what ever was motivating the producers. True that some have briefly and sporadically tried to investigate the matter, but most of them have been ill informed or ill intended in so doing. The very few and honorable exceptions have been too brief and casual to give the world an idea about the real situation, the nitty-gritty so to speak, of the hopeless, depressing and miserable situation of the Cuban holocaust and diaspora. (Sorry Jewish friends for using two words that seem to be reserved exclusively for you). Nobody that we know of has dwelt on the pre-tyranny Cuba and the “development of the revolutionary ferment” seeking the truth. At least we do not believe so based on the resulting output.
The first three chapters give you a background of how all this came about. You will see how a solid democracy, with the most advanced constitution of all Latin America, became the pawn of some power-hungry men to end up subject to the most abominable tyranny in this continent. Even those who have lived through all these abrupt and uncalled for changes, look backward and wonder and ponder in disbelief how is it that it happened. It looks like a nightmare, something that could happen to somebody else, not to us. But the nightmare has lasted over four decades with the complicity of most of the nations of the world that have aided and abated the tyrant. Some countries have looked the other way (like when the Jews were being massacred in Hitler’s Germany), while others have lent a hand with credits, commerce and other deals.
If you really and truly want to know what kind of hell is living in that Isle that only 90 miles from your coast, and what the Cuban exiles (so often maligned by the media)have suffered during all these years, read on. What you will see here is the naked truth of that daily grind, that day-to-day living trying to feed your family and survive while being a slave with no rights at all in a country which one evil man has turned into his “private hacienda”. There are no laws, so to speak, no legislative body, no secretaries or ministers in actual reality. They exist in name only. The final and flattening say so rests with one lunatic who hates everybody and everything in the world. A man bent on destroying that country, vanishing everything once it stood for: family, religion and country. If you ever have read Eudocio Ravines’ “The Great Fraud” (“La Gran Estafa”) or George Oswell’s “Animal Farm”, you would be in a better position to relate to what has been going on in Cuba. If you have not, maybe you should read both first to get a better grasp of what follows in the next few pages. If it were not because it is such a tragic depiction of a tyrant-made calamities, ignominies, depravation, degradation and sheer subjugation, it could be turned into a very interesting sit-com. Unfortunately, for the long suffering Cuban people it is not funny at all.
This book is dedicated first and foremost to all the Cubans who have suffered under this bloody and cruel tyranny: the ones who have died one way or the other, the ones sent to political prison and the ones who have suffered another types of cruelty.
Thousands have been murdered by the firing squads, mostly sentenced by kangaroo courts, others without even having that type of trial (just a “shoot them would do” type of thing) by the so called revolution. There are hundreds of cases. The most arbitrary one was the massacre of officers and enlisted army men early in January 1959 in the yard of El Cuartel Moncada. There, after the tyrant had spoken to the troops, that were elated by his “patriotic” speech, his younger brother ordered his gang to bring in a bulldozer to dig a big hole (fosa comun) to start shooting the prisoners. Very little, if anything, has been ever mentioned anywhere about this massacre.
Many died later at “el paredón” (wall used by the firing squads) and still do. Others have been murdered in cold blood, in political prisons in most cases. (In the late sixties the Spanish government had conservatively estimated that about 20,000 have died at the “paredón”). Political prisoners have been left without medical attention and subject to various forms of punishment that killed them. Others have perished crossing the Florida Straits (Elian’s mother being the most prominent one). Others have been murdered while trying to escape (the “13 de Marzo” tug boat being the most brutal one and maybe the only one fairly known outside Cuba). Others murdered by Russian Mig planes while piloting unarmed small single engine civil aviation planes in international waters on a humanitarian mission, including 3 American citizens. Many others we will never know. Only God knows.
We should also mention the ones who died in Angola while serving as mercenaries so that the tyrant could collect some dollars per soldier. Nobody knows the exact figures but they are estimated at about ten thousands. Some were “executed” there by the Cuban troops for “different reasons”. Only God knows why and how many.
Other victims include thousands condemned to prison by the same type of kangaroo courts. We cannot go into detail (persons, places). That would be a never-ending task. The brutality, the ferocity and the refined methods of torture used by the tyrant’s gangs would make the nazis and the Stalinists very proud of their “excellent pupil”. We shall mention only a few (a very tiny sample and you draw the conclusions) to give you an idea. That we will do under the “ergastula” (ergastulum, a special prison for slaves) chapter. Many died there and still are dying in those dungeons.
And last but by no means least, those who have suffered under other forms of torture (mental and psychological) by the repression forces (“Seguridad del Estado”) the tyranny has in place. Family separation, blackmail and extortion, humiliation without end, to mention just a few of the wide range of “techniques” used to denigrate and morally destroy those who do not think like the tyrant and his gang, those who are not willing to unconditionally serve him.
In general, this work is dedicated to the long-suffering people of Cuba. While the world has been, for the most part, ingratiating themselves with the tyrant and treating him like royalty and catering to his every whim, the Cubans have been enduring the most brutal, repugnant and impudent tyranny of the Americas. One that paraphrasing F. D. Roosevelt “shall live in infamy” in this continent.
A very special dedication to the people of the USA, in hopes that the lies and deceptions of the tyranny, aided and abated by most of the media, some “heavy weight” lobbyists and some people in power, will not mislead this noble nation into accepting it as “an equal partner” and lifting the embargo to let that cancer that has made socio-political metathesis into a good part of Latin America, do even more damage to America. It is about time the American people and the rest of the world take a good and sobering look into our situation, not for the sake of the Cubans, but for selfish national security reasons.
Glossary of a Cuban “revolutionary”
The following words shall be useful to you in following what is presented here. They are part of the jargon imposed by the tyranny.
Compañero (Kompanyero) They adopted it to eliminate the formal
sir or madam, to give it the “populist”
touch to the so-called revolution. For
obvious reasons they avoided the word comrade.
El caballo (The Horse) Name given to the tyrant, with
his acquiescence. Later on he sort of
shied away from it. Now the people
call him, sotto voce, “El penco”
Barbudos Nickname of the “rebels”, most of
whom had beards. Later on (early
sixties) only the tyrant could sport
Batistiano A batista fan and supporter.
Gusano (Worm) Depreciatory label for
everyone not “loyal” to the
Robolucion Popular name given to the
“revolucion” by the people after
seeing it in action. “Robo”,
which means theft, robbery,
plunder in Spanish, replaced
A poor excuse
Stephen Zweig, in his book “The Vienna of Yesterday”, said that it was easier to move the people to hate than to love and therefore, tyrants foment and cultivate hate in every shape and form to “grab the attention and favor of the masses”. So did the Nazis, the Soviets, the radical Muslims, et al. So has done the Cuban tyrant even before he grabbed power. First he instigated hate and animosity between civilian and members of the military. As he took control of the government he focused the rhetoric of his personal hate toward the masses, preaching hate and animosity between different groups of the population (rich against poor, religions against each other, etcetera, etcetera). Later on he poisoned the minds of the people preaching hate against the United States of America. Although he was under the direct guidance and control of the Soviets, he needed no encouragement from any one to preach hate. He already hated the world and everybody in it. He was a devout reader of “Mein Kampf” and was ready to put it into practice at the very first opportunity he would have. Hate and rage were, and still are, his weapons of choice in his “personal struggle” against the world. His ego is bigger than the island he rules with an iron fist. Hate and rage are his life blood. He hates the world and everybody in it.
The tyrant was an obscure “rebel without a cause” and nobody paid much attention to him, neither when he attended the High School “Colegio de Belen”, a private Catholic school for the well to do (where he was nicknamed “El Loco” – the nut), nor when he was a student at the University of Havana, where he was given the nickname “Bola de Churre” (grime ball). He was never gainfully engaged in any type of business or professional activity. He lived off his rich family money. His father had been a large “terrateniente” (land-holder) owner of a huge tract of land in the Oriente province. Some say his father was a “geofago” (land-eater) who had managed to take away from other people a lot of land. The tyrant came into the world out of wedlock, something that nobody can hold against anybody, for obvious reasons. But he did hold that against his family and against the world. He never forgave the world that he was born a bastard (no pun intended), thus his hateful feelings. There lies the roots of his personality problems and how he has behaved socially and politically.
However, although he was going nowhere politically or professionally, he was, and still is, a man with a mind aimed at taking any and all opportunities to climb. He has no scruples. He is shameless and ruthless. A coward in the opinion of many who know him well, but one who knows when he can bluff and dare to get into an action that he knows he can get out of, if not intact, with very little damage. But it had to be one that offers a big reward for him if he comes through with flying colors. So, he joined different “movements”, parties, etc., including the Communist Party, albeit as “non-carnet carrying one”. Officially he was a member of the Orthodox party, a major political force seeking the presidency in the 1952 elections. He was never “an official member of the Communist party” until his power grip on the enslaved isle was complete. But he was “trained and coached” by them and worked with/for them. One thing he definitively knew was how to “nadar y guardar la ropa.” (play it always safe, have a way out).
Without going into much detail about his personal life and his personality traits, let us mention one that is extremely important. He was always used to throw tantrums. Any time he wanted something that he could not get from the family he would go into one. His family usually gave in. He has always kept doing the same thing as an adult whenever he sees the possibility of doing something and getting away with it. There are many examples that we will not get into. But this has been a major feature of his paranoid personality that in so many ways resembles the “hero” he admired so much, Adolph Hitler.
A couple of incidents should be mentioned before we move to another subject. The tyrant had one of his nephews, a teenager son of his sister Juanita, murdered by the firing squad, despite her pleas for clemency. His crime was being counterrevolutionary (any one and anything could fit into that classification at that time and still does). The other one was his own mother going into exile in 1960 because she did not want to live “under his rule”. There was also the rumor that the tyrant received his inheritance after he took power. He asked that he be paid off in cash and the brothers and sisters keep the farm, real estate, etc. Not long after that his so-called agrarian reform confiscated his brothers/sisters properties. What a nice relative. However, his relatives have not been “deprived” under the tyranny.
The big opportunity for the tyrant-to-be to do something spectacular with the minimum of risk (or none at all) came in March 10, 1952 when Batista took control of the country in a bloodless coup. Whether he thought about the possibilities by himself or his “Soviet coaches” did it for him, nobody knows. We are inclined to believe that it was a “joint venture”. He had been used by them before in what was to be known as the “Bogotazo”, when he participated in an attempt to overthrow the constitutional government of Colombia in 1947. When the intent failed, he was safely taken out of Colombia by diplomats. So, whether they offered him the job or he brought it to their attention, he knew he would risk nothing, but he could win big.
It is very important that we give you some background on the coup carried out on March 10, 1952., by Batista and some civilians. Nobody had been killed during the take over. There were no political prisoners and anybody who wanted to leave (it was not necessary anyhow as nobody was being persecuted) he/she was free to do so. There were very few protests from the populaces. The troops in some provinces had offered the then president of the republic, Carlos Prio Socarras, to resist, but he opted for not doing so and went into exile. By the same token, being faithful to historic truth it must be said that a coup was more despicable than ever because of the historic moment it took place. It brought about a constitutional disaster. The country was going through a political crisis and the government had lost credibility, but general elections were already set, according to the Constitution, for June 1, 1952, that is, in less than three months. There was certainty that the opportunity to have changes in the political situation was just around the corner. What those changes would have brought is anybody’s guess, but it was change nevertheless because the opposition (the Orthodox party) was at that time showing strong signs of winning the election. Even if the government would have won, chances were there would have been some significant changes for the better. Never, never, never would the elections have brought about such evil climate as we got under the tyranny we now have.
The coup required some changes in the constitutional structure of the republic. This was, after all, a “de facto” government that could not run the country under the Constitution now in place. So, they made some changes to it and called it “Los Estatutos” (bylaws). The Congress was dissolved and a “Consejo Consultivo” (Advisory Council) was appointed in its place. All this, no question, was a hard pill to swallow by the people of Cuba and by the political leaders not aligned with him and his group, either before or after the coup. While this is true, it is also true that there have been no repression, no political prisoners, no use of force in the streets, life was moving as it normally did. The country was not in a desperate situation that called for drastic actions. A patient and concerted effort was needed to overcome the crisis, true, but no violence was called for, at least not at this time.
The coup had, inadvertently, created the culture to allow “social microbes” to grow and multiply. Here enters the “need for the creation of something” that would generate hate and animosity between the people and the armed forces. It was necessary to create hate (remember what Zweig said) to exacerbate the masses and destabilize the country. As we say in Spanish “a rio revuelto ganancia de pescadores” (much profit may be reaped from confusion). That something had to be spectacular, capable of bringing national and international attention, violent enough (a lot of bloodshed) to create fear and hate (terrorism always does). It also required a safe, foolproof escape route for the tyrant-to-be and his younger brother who was participating in it too. The festivity of “El Carnaval Santiaguero” (Santiago de Cuba then famous carnival) was a propitious occasion. The place chosen was “El Cuartel Moncada” (Moncada Army Headquarters) in Santiago de Cuba. It was necessary to shed blood of civilians and military personnel to create the ill-omened equation. The civilians would murder the military and create havoc. The military would respond in kind and give no quarters to the civilians. That was what “was needed” to create pandemonium and plant the hate seed between civilians and military. Moscow did a fine planning job in choosing place and timing.
The attack was set for July 26, 1953, right in the middle of the festivity. The idea (as it was “sold to those who participated”) was to take over the military installation and get away with the arms and ammunitions they had and use them to start a “revolution”. If you would take a look at “El Cuartel Moncada”, right in the middle of the city, and know what the garrison was at that time, it will not be hard to realize that only gullible idealists would swallow that reasoning. The garrison had about 1,000 soldiers and officers, well trained and equipped. The assaulting group was less than one hundred, poorly armed and untrained young men, mostly students from the University of Havana. In his book “The Cuban Story”, NY 1961, Herbert L Mathews says that the tyrant “had led a suicidal attack on the Moncada Barracks” That is what he was told by the tyrant himself or what Mathews wanted to believe to spin a nice appealing yarn. The true story is very different. The tyrant never made it to the assault (that was of course an essential part of the plan). His car “broke down” thus he was “unable” to reach El Moncada. (The tyrant has repeatedly said so himself in other interviews). His little brother was supposed to go and take another government building (a likely story). The assaulting men were to get into the infirmary. They did and murdered 12 sick soldiers sleeping in sick bay “pasandolos a cuchillo” (put them to the sword). But one of them woke up and was able to start shooting. With this the whole garrison was up in arms in no time flat. What followed then was pure carnage. They were shooting and killing the assaulting men like targets in a shooting gallery. In the meanwhile, the tyrant and his brother did what had been planned for them. They went to hide under the frock of Monseñor Perez Serantes, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, asking for his protection. They knew (the coaches and the two brothers did) that Batista will no touch them while under the protection of the Church). They had done what they set out to do. Perez Serantes made Batista promise that he will guarantee the lives of the tyrant and his brother. Now it was only a matter of patience to wait for the trial and find a way of surviving until the time was ripe for reaping the fruits of hate seeds they had just planted. The archbishop was later on persecuted by the tyrant and had to go into exile. That was the way he said thanks to all who helped him!
The tyrant was tried and sentenced to a few years in prison. He was sent to “El Presidio Modelo” (Model Prison) in Isle of Pines, in the South of Cuba, where he lived like a guest in a hotel with all the comforts and amenities that he requested. After less than two years he was paroled and allowed to roam the streets of Havana to start all over again. The situation in the country was calm and there was no repression from the government. In this “quiet status quo” everybody went about his business as usual. The released mad man made a number of speeches but nobody paid much attention to him. Apparently Batista was not the bad guy they say he was after all. (Just for the record, we are not defending Batista and we were never “batistiano”, a Batista fan). But it is necessary to highlight the difference between the present tyrant and the then “dictator” who magnanimously pardoned him and granted him freedom to do as he pleased. Later on he was going to regret it big time.
Obviously the excuse for the assault was a poor one. There was no reason at that time for bloodshed and violence in the struggle against the dictatorship. We remember very well what a young Communist, who was in high school with this writer, told us when we met in our hometown, right after the attack. He was appalled at what had taken place. In his own words: “There had been no people killed by the government, no women raped, not even political prisoners, to justify putting to the sword sick and mostly unarmed soldiers at “El Cuartel Moncada”. But keep in mind one thing, this young Communist, as well as the rest of the official party, was not aware of what was going on. We believe that very few, if any, of the “old guard leaders of the party” knew what was going on. Officially they were “not fond of the tyrant-to-be”, for whom they publicly expressed harsh words of criticism. But the excuse served its purpose and the rest is history. However, although the tyrant-to-be said at his trial: “History will acquit me” (that was his defense speech), it is obvious that History will never justify what he did at “Moncada”, much less what he has done since for more than four decades. His excuse was unacceptable then and his behavior afterwards is unforgivable.