[News] Cuba - The Return of C. Wright Mills Amid the Dawn of a New Era
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Sep 17 15:21:10 EDT 2007
September 17, 2007
The Return of C. Wright Mills Amid the Dawn of a New Era
By RICARDO ALARCÓN
"What planet are you from, anyway?" responded the
Guantanamero to the insistent question posed by
someone who apparently did not believe there were
schools, libraries, teachers, doctors and nurses
there who offered their services to everyone free
of charge, as they have been doing for several
decades in Cuba. This anecdote, mentioned in
Sicko, Michael Moore's latest documentary,
describes what many, in one way or another, have
experienced in the course of nearly half a
century of encounters positive and notbetween
beings that inhabit worlds which are at once
close to and cut off from one another. In 1960,
hoping to bridge the enormous gap through the
noble and generous voice of C. Wright Mills,
Cubans had noted: We are so far apart that there
are Two Cubas - ours and the one you picture to
yourselves. By the way, Cuba is not a nation
about which few things have been written or published.
Over the course of several years publishing
houses in the United States have printed texts
essential to understanding our history, which
have analyzed Cuban society and its Revolution
profoundly: true must-read classics. Avoiding
many a time, the barriers erected between our two
countries in their prolonged struggle and
overcoming the specific challenges I will address
later, US academia has given us highly valuable
works worthy of praise. Its efforts, however,
have been severely limited by the structures within which it must operate.
The mass media have devoted more attention to
Cuba than to most other Latin American and
Caribbean countries. They have created another,
unrecognizable Cuba through massive errors,
distortions and inaccuracies many times reaching grotesque proportions.
Voicing superficial opinions about Cuba, assuming
stances against its revolution and even boasting
of expert knowledge on the subject is something
which is not only natural and easy but also
lucrative for some. In the introduction to an
extensive study published in 1997, The UN
Economic Commission on Latin America underscored
the paradoxical fact that Cubas was one of
Latin America's most interpreted, but least studied, economies.
The lack of analytical rigor, superficiality and
even dishonesty often characterize the treatment
of the Cuban issue. Many were trained to react
with reflexive mechanisms and without thinking.
The mere mention of Cuba or Castro prompts an
instantaneous and automatic reaction, before the
brain can even pass judgement. Prejudice, in
short, is sown through modern instruments of
information and a cultural industry which, more
and more, divests thought of true content and encourages banality everywhere.
Another professor from Columbia, Brzezinski, put
it frankly: with the new technologies they could
manipulate emotions and control reason.
The commotion stirred up by recently-divulged
declassified documents which describe attempts by
the CIA and the mafia to assassinate Fidel Castro
is quite revealing. The plans were known, in
detail, and acknowledged by the US Senate more
than thirty years ago. Books on the subject were
published and box-office hits were made. Nothing
new has come to light. What is revealing is how
frivolously the mass media treated the idea of
assassination and other crimes and the
passiveness with which the public took in the news.
In a world in which information has become a form
of entertainment, you can tell the people that
their government has been involved in all sorts
of sordid actions without facing a scandal. Some,
parroting the CIA chiefs, pointed out that these
things happened so long ago that no one even
remembers them. Obliged to speak about the Iraq
war, Abu Grahib, Guantanamo and other current
realities, they will again avoid any connection
with the past; they will treat them as isolated
events, outside of history, present them as the
inexplicable images of a stupefying spectacle.
This is also how it has been possible, for over
two years now, to provide safe haven to Luis
Posada Carriles, prevent the resumption of a
trial began in Venezuela for the mid-air bombing
of a commercial airliner and the holding of a
trial in the United States in flagrant violation
of international anti-terrorist conventionswhile
perpetuating the incarceration of the Cuban Five,
young men, whose only crime was the peaceful
struggle against them and other terrorists
harbored by Washington. These two incidents have
been mentioned once or twice in some of the US
media, always in biased reports full of errors,
and have immediately been buried beneath an
unrelenting avalanche of misinformation and
rubbish, dumped upon a captive and defenseless
public day in and day out. The result: the cases
of Posada Carriles and our Five Heroes are known
around the world, voices of condemnation, protest
and solidarity are being heard more and more,
while ignorance and silence are forced upon the
people in the United States. All the while,
thousands of young Americans go to Iraq to kill
and die in the name of a supposed war against terrorism.
I invoke Mills again, because this year, the 45th
anniversary of his physical disappearance, Cubans
ought to remember with gratitude, and to pay
tribute to this North American writer who, in
difficult and decisive times, struggled for
friendship and understanding between our nations
like very few did. To this cause he devoted his
exceptional talent and all of his energies; for
this cause, put simply, he gave his life.
From the time of Listen Yankee's publication in
1960, Mills had to struggle against all sides,
thrown into an uneven match with the powers that
be and the owners of the mass media. The FBI and
pro-Batista gangs based in Miami employed all the
instruments of persuasion, including threats and pressures against him.
A paradigm of the intellectual committed to truth
and justice, an independent, lucid and creative
thinker, he met his death before his time,
leaving an admirable oeuvre unfinished, an oeuvre
which was the inspiration of those young people
who, in that unique moment in US history, sought
to storm heaven. His indefatigable struggle on
behalf of Cuba had, for him, more than a present
significance as part of a debate; it was decisive
for the future relations of the United States
with the world and for the well being of the nation in general.
As a prelude of things to come, he wrote: Im
afraid there is going to come about a very bad
time in my country for people who think as I do
What bothers me, is whether or not the damned
heart will stand up to what must then be done.
We have, indeed, faced difficult times, bereft of
his irreplaceable rebelliousness.
In its policy towards the Cuban revolution, the
United States has traced an unbroken, unwavering
line which takes us all the way back to the
Eisenhower administration and already spans
across half a century. It is the policy of
misinformation and lies. While other elements of
US policy have varied over time, this, its
fundamental component, has not experienced the
slightest change since the now remote times when
Washington worked hard to perpetuate Batistas
dictatorship and prevent the revolutionary triumph.
In this battleground, the US government has
employed financial, material and human resources
impossible to quantify. Those who have sought to
delve into the issue of Cuba have had to do so
over a boggy and mined terrain, to face a single
and singular obstacle: the most powerful
government on the planet which has done
everything in its power, made use of all
available means, in order to lie, falsify reality
and deceive. Such premeditated efforts to conceal
the truth and divulge falsehoods, such
consistency over so long a period of time, are without precedents.
It is not only a question of prejudice, ignorance
or moral cowardice. Many who have opposed the
Cuban revolution have been the object of
deliberate and systematic intellectual and
emotional manipulation, victims of an operation
designed at the highest levels of US power, an
operation in which an immense governmental
bureaucracy and its many public and secret
agencies, reliant on the conscious and
unconscious complicity of politicians, academics,
journalists and other intellectuals, has been involved.
Though little was known about this operation in
Mills time, he was able to imagine that
something of this nature was taking shape and
alluded to this more than once. Today, we have
access to all its details, from the time of its
inception, through its development, to the present day.
In the 1990s, a good many official documents till
then kept secret came to light. In 1991, the US
Department of State published a thick volume
titled Foreign relations of the United States
1958-1960 Volume VI Cuba which contains hundreds
of documents, reports, internal Department
analyses, the minutes of the National Security
Council and other government agency meetings,
messages exchanged with the US embassy in Havana,
other diplomatic missions and allied countries
and other materials which cover the last years of
the Batista regime and the first two years of
Cuba - US conflict, up to the breaking of diplomatic relations.
1958 was a crucial year which holds the key to
understanding what was to happen later. The
volume contains irrefutable proof of Washington's
close alliance with the bloody dictatorship which
scourged the island. Collaboration existed in the
most diverse spheres, even the nuclear energy
sector. Military aid was unlimited, extending
beyond the supply of weapons, munitions,
equipment and assistance at all levels. All
officers in Cuba's air force, nearly all army,
navy and police officials and complete units of
the troops that fought against the rebels in the
Sierra Maestra were trained in US military schools.
Batista found support not only in Cuba but also
in the United States. The FBI and Department of
Justice kept a tight rein on exiles and
anti-Batista émigrés and worked to thwart all of
their efforts to aid those who struggle for
freedom at home. The two governments exchanged
information and coordinated actions as part of
these efforts. In this regard, the actions
undertaken against then ex-president Carlos Prío Socarras are worthy of note.
As the Batista regime's exhaustion became more
and more evident, concealing the aid which his
government continued to receive became a priority
for the Eisenhower administration, as did the
obstinate and fruitless efforts aimed at
preventing the peoples victory. "We must prevent
a Castro victory" was the conclusion often repeated at White House meetings.
The declassified documents reveal more than a
political, military and economic commitment
between the authorities of two governments which,
at times, appear to merge into a single body. We
come across anxious and perplexed characters,
actors in a drama they are unable to understand.
In the course of 1958, more and more meetings see
Eisenhower, Nixon, Dulles and his generals draw
up desperate plans looking for a magic formula to
save the old regime and prevent its complete collapse.
As with soap operas, there is intrigue and
melodrama, like the scene in which the President,
in a grave and solemn tone, asks everyone present
to promise they will deny, without exception,
having heard what was discussed there. Or his
precise and unquestionable instruction, that the
hand of the United States remain hidden. And, as
if this were not enough, as though suspicious of
his closest advisors, his personal instruction to
the CIA director, to stop discussing plans
against Cuba at National Security Council meetings.
They were forced to interrupt or postpone dinners
and revelries. In the last hours of December
31st, from his office, Secretary Herter sends
Havana his last message of 1958. It is a bitter
and sorrowful letter which summarizes everything
Washington had done to support the despot until the last moment.
Before dawn broke that first morning of 1959,
Washington was already receiving reports from its
ambassador in Havana. The gentleman had not slept
a wink; he had been busy trying to prop up the
military junta which was scrambling to organize
itself and coordinating the departure from the
country of those leaders and collaborators who had no fled with Batista.
In those first early hours, already Cuba was to
receive one of the toughest blows of the United
States' economic war against the island. The
fugitives had literally plundered the Treasury of
the Republic, creating what the Department of
State itself described as a situation no
administration could bear. Not one cent was
returned. Neither were any loans granted the
provisional government, in spite of its discrete
and friendly appeals. Therein lies the origin of
the many fortunes that arose, later to be swelled
by privileges, tax exemptions and other benefits
no one else has ever enjoyed in the history of
the United States, fortunes which the official
propaganda extols as the supposed successes
stories of a community of enterprising émigrés.
Washington never let its loyal friend down. One
of the longest sections of the abovementioned
volume describes the steps diplomats and US
officials took to secure a pleasant and safe
retirement for the defeated tyrant. Since the
hand had to remain hidden, it had to be outside
of US territory, so it was the good will of the
then ruling government of Spain and Portugal with
the United States' approval that came to their
aid. The dictators wife, children and other
relatives and close friends settled comfortably
in the homes they had purchased, using stolen
money, in south Florida. There, they joined other
fugitives and created an artificial Cuba, with
all of the characteristics of the Cuba that had
forever disappeared. The government of the United
States gave them the resources to become, in a
short time, a force to be reckoned with, which
the US people was obliged to accept as
representative of fictitious values that had hitherto never been theirs.
The first counterrevolutionary organization, La
Rosa Blanca, was founded in Miami by Rafael Díaz
Balart, one of Batista's main ministers and
ex-chief of his political apparatus. Former
torturers, veteran gangsters, drug-traffickers
and thieves came to control media spaces and were
received at Congress meetings and in the offices
of politicians, both democratic and republican.
They were allowed to pocket hundreds of millions
of dollars more than $400 million, according to
calculations by experts from the National Bank
and New York Times editorialistsand, later,
incalculable sums taken from US taxpayers, as tax
exemptions for the supposed loss of properties
left behind in Cuba, and other, equally
exorbitant sums, through diverse anti-Castro
programs which have been generously financed with
money from the federal budget for nearly half a century.
Batista's lot was to die in Europe but his memory
lives on in the United States. Every March 10th,
the day he took power through a coupd´état in
Cuba when he liquidated its government
institutions in one fell swoop is celebrated in
Miami. Batista's relatives, and those of his
close friends, live in the United States, hold
positions in the judiciary, the executive and the
legislature, at the federal, state and local
levels. They are accorded honors and paid
tributes at public squares, universities and even
in the United States Congress. Today, in the 21st
century, a strange cult of Batista's regime
survives in the United States, the pathetic token of unconditional devotion.
1959 and 1960, as the recently declassified
documents tell us, were years in which the
powerful hand which sought to remain invisible
wrestled with a small country which sought to
ward it off. New acts of economic aggression soon
followed the brutal sacking of the public
treasury. Given Cuba's then almost complete
dependence on US financing and markets,
Washington strategists were confident that a few
blows to the country would suffice to make Cuba
collapse and come again under US domination.
With the passing of time, they coined phrases
which proved useful in concealing the meaning of
their actions. The learned refer to these actions
as sanctions which are part of an "embargo".
Now, it is possible for us to read that, as early
as 1959, one of the first measures, the
suppression of the sugar quota, was described by
Secretary Herter as "economic warfare.
We know, also, that, in those early days, US
authorities had a very precise idea of what they
were doing, of the moral implications of their
actions and the political ends they were
pursuing. Few times were they as sincere as when
they wrote: The majority of Cubans support
the only foreseeable means of alienating
internal support is through disenchantment and
disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction
every possible means should be
undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life
a line of action which, while as adroit
and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest
inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to
decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about
hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.
When this policy was designed and applied, it had
already been many years since the Nuremberg
Tribunal had handed down its final verdict and
the United Nations made its Convention on the
crime of genocide a universal law. Those in
Washington who coldly decided to apply a policy
which spelled genocide for the Cuban people were
fully conscious of these facts. Note that they
sought to make the people suffer and to destroy
them, to ignore and ultimately crush their will,
deny them the exercise of their democratic rights.
More recently, when these documents came to
light, making a mockery of decency and common
sense, U.S diplomats and their academic and
journalistic coryphaei went as far as attempting
to justify the policy of genocide, in the name of democracy.
In 1997, the Central Intelligence Agency
declassified another document it had zealously
kept secret for over thirty years, with the
pertinent omissions and finishing touches. It is
the report of General Lyman B. Kirkpatrick, CIA
inspector general for the actions undertaken in
1959, which, in essence, describes the policy the
United States has continued to apply to this day.
The program consisted in:
a. Formation of a Cuban exile organization to
attract Cuban loyalties, to direct opposition
activities, and to provide cover for Agency operations.
b. A propaganda offensive in the name of the opposition.
c. Creation inside Cuba of a clandestine
intelligence collection and action apparatus to
be responsive to the direction of the exile organization.
d. Development outside Cuba of a small
paramilitary force to be introduced into Cuba to
organize, train and lead resistance groups.
One finds surprising the importance accorded to
propaganda and political work, which according to
Kirkpatrick was allotted a greater part of the
assigned budget than intelligence and military
operations. The one aim of the organization in
exile was to cover up Agency operations to
guarantee, of course, that the hand of the U.S. Government would not appear.
Anti-Castro propaganda operations were
intensified throughout Latin America. To sustain
these operations, the initially assigned budget
was constantly being increased and the
clandestine CIA body in charge of these came to
have more staff and resources than any other the
Agency had during the Cold War.
The hidden hand was generous indeed.
It handed out no less than $35,000 a week for the
publication of Bohemia Libre magazine, whose
circulation reached that of 126,000 copies,
second only, in the Continent, to Reader's
Digest; the reprinting in exile of the daily
newspaper Avance years before financed by
Batista; Radio Swan broadcasts, television
programs and other publications, including comic
strips; not to mention the travel expenses of
lecturers, deployed to divulge propaganda across
Latin America. At the time, the CIA paid Cuban
leaders in exile $h131,000 in salaries each month.
The Bay of Pigs fiasco did not put an end to
these activities; rather, these became broader
and more intense. Clandestine radio broadcasts,
which have not ceased, were later expanded and
became special Voice of America programs, today's
Radio and TV Martí. Since then and up to today,
the CIA has financed newspapers, journals and
other publications and continues to have
lecturers, academicians and journalists on its payroll.
In addition to covert operations, the US
currently undertakes other, more visible actions.
The Cuba Program is still in effect, though it
enjoys a larger budget today, and, in addition to
the CIA's original program, there are now AID and
NED ones. Nothing has changed, not even the name.
With the passing of the Helms-Burton Act and the
reports of the so-called Commission for
Assistance to a Free Cuba, approved by President
Bush, US foreign policy has become
interventionist and arrogant like never before.
There wouldnt be enough time to go into an in
depth analysis. I will limit myself to saying
that, were the recommendations of these documents
followed to the letter, Cuba would cease to exist as a sovereign nation.
But this is an irrational and anachronistic
policy. The real world has not moved in the
direction longed for by the vindictive supporters
of Batista and their friends in Washington.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the failure
of what came to be known as real socialism
dazzled many in the capitalist world, who became
intoxicated with a simple-minded and
disproportionate optimism. Absorbed with talk of
the fall of the Berlin Wall, they were completely oblivious to the Caracazo.
Painstakingly, and not without ups and downs, the
world would in fact move in the direction Mills
wisely predicted. Rather than the end of history,
we witness the end of an era and the beginning of
a new one that recalls his theory; the same one Mills had long searched for.
Latin America and the Caribbean witness the dawn
of a new era. National revolutionary processes
are consolidating themselves, grassroots
movements are growing stronger, indigenous
peoples and other marginalized sectors have ever
greater participation in these and real and
efficacious alternatives are making progress,
impelling true unity and independence in the
region. New alliances and pursuits emerge as the
region moves towards the construction of
socialist projects which, in their diversity,
will make up the socialism of the 21st century; a
form of socialism which is wholly ours, and which
will not be a carbon copy" of previous systems,
but a "heroic creation", as Mariategui advocated.
The work of people capable of independent
thought, the type of people Mella dreamt of when
Cuban Marxism was coming into its own. As all
creations it will be unique, it will shatter
templates and be impervious to dogma. It will be
the rainbow already heralded by the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas.
Intellectuals on both sides of the Rio Grande
shoulder great responsibility and are duty-bound
to make this new age one of peace and friendship
among our peoples. With the Cold War behind us,
we now face new possibilities to establish new
relations, which will only be possible when all
hegemonic designs are abandoned.
Mills has finally returned. Let us take heed of
his words: What I have been trying to say to
intellectuals, preachers, scientists -as well as
more generally to publics- can be put into one
sentence: Drop the liberal rhetoric and the
conservative default, they are now parts of one
and the same official line; transcend that line.
Ricardo Alarcón is President of the National
Assembly of Peoples Power of the Republic of
Cuba. This is the text of a lecture delivered at
the Workshop Dialogos Políticos, XXVII
International Congress of the Latin American
Studies Association, 2007, Montreal, Canada. September 7, 2007.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News