[News] Fidel Castro on the Republican Candidate

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 12 17:31:51 EST 2008



(Part One)

These reflections are self-explanatory.

In that already famous Super Tuesday, a day of 
the week when a number of States of the Union 
were selecting the candidate of their choice for 
the presidency of the United States from among a 
group of contenders, one of the likely candidates 
to replace George W. Bush was John McCain. Due to 
of his pre-packaged hero image, and his alliance 
with strong contenders such as Rudy Giuliani, the 
former governor of the state of New York, other 
candidates had already gladly endorsed him. The 
intense propaganda of social, economic and 
political factors having great significance in 
his country, and his personal style had turned 
him into the frontrunner. Only the extreme 
Republican right represented by Mitt Romney and 
Mike Huckabee, in disagreement with some 
insignificant McCain concessions, was still 
offering some resistance on February 5th. 
Subsequently, Romney would also withdraw in favor 
of McCain. Huckabee is still in the contest.

On the other hand, the struggle for the 
Democratic Party candidate is much tougher. Even 
though we are dealing, as usual, with an active 
part of the enfranchised population that tends to 
be a minority, we are already hearing all kinds 
of opinions and speculations about the 
consequences of the final outcome of the 
electoral battle for the country and the world, 
if mankind escapes the warmongering adventures of Bush.

It is not up to me to talk about the history of a 
candidate for the Presidency of the United 
States. I have never done so, and perhaps I would 
never have. Why should I be doing it at this time?

McCain has said that some of his comrades were 
tortured by Cuban agents in Vietnam. His 
advocates and publicity experts tend to emphasize 
that McCain himself suffered such torture at the hands of the Cubans.
I hope that the U.S. people will understand that 
I consider it my obligation to enter into a 
detailed analysis of this Republican candidate 
and to respond to him. I shall do so on the basis of ethical considerations.

The McCain file shows that he was a prisoner of 
war in Vietnam from October 26, 1967.

As he tells it himself, he was 31 years old at 
the time and flying his 23rd bombing mission. His 
plane, an A-4E Skyhawk was shot down over Hanoi 
by an anti-aircraft missile. Because of the hit, 
he lost control and ejected over Truc Bach Lake, 
in the middle of the city, suffering fractures in 
both arms and one knee. A patriotic crowd, seeing 
an aggressor come down, gave him a hostile 
reception. McCain himself says he was relieved at 
that moment to see the arrival of an army squad.

The bombing of Vietnam, begun in 1965, shocked 
international opinion, very sensitized to air 
attacks by the superpower against a small third 
world country which had been turned into a French 
colony, thousands of miles away from distant 
Europe. The Vietnamese people fought against 
Japanese occupation forces during World War II 
and, when that war ended, France once again took 
control. Ho Chi Minh, the modest leader who was 
much loved by all, and Nguyen Giap, his military 
commander, were internationally admired figures. 
The famous French Foreign Legion had been 
defeated. In trying to avoid that, the aggressor 
powers were at the point of using a nuclear weapon at Diên Biên Phu.

The noble “anamitas”, as José Martí 
affectionately called them, holders of millenary 
culture and values were portrayed, to U.S. public 
opinion, as a barbarian people unworthy of 
existence. In terms of suspense and commercial 
advertising, nobody can compete with the American 
specialists. The specialty was used 
unrestrictedly in the case of the POWs, and particularly in the case of McCain.

Going along with that, McCain later said that the 
fact that his father was an Admiral and commanded 
the U.S. forces in the Pacific led the Vietnamese 
Resistance to offer him early liberation if he 
would admit that he had committed war crimes; he 
refused, arguing that the Military Code provides 
that prisoners be liberated in the order they 
were captured, and that meant five years of 
prison, beatings and torture in a prison area the 
Americans called the “Hanoi Hilton.”

The final pull out from Vietnam was disastrous. 
An army which was half a million strong, trained 
and armed to the teeth, could not hold back the 
thrust of the Vietnamese patriots. Saigon, the 
colonial capital, today called Ho Chi Minh City, 
was embarrassingly abandoned by the occupation 
forces and their accomplices, some of them 
holding to helicopters. The United States lost 
more than 50 thousand of their precious sons and 
daughters, not counting those that were 
wounded.  They had spent 500 billion dollars in 
that war without taxes, always distasteful in 
their own right. Nixon unilaterally revoked the 
commitments of Bretton Woods setting the 
foundations of today’s financial crisis. Their 
only achievement was a Republican Presidential candidate 41 years later.

McCain, one of the many U.S. pilots shot down and 
wounded in the declared, or undeclared, wars of 
their country, was decorated with the Silver 
Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying 
Cross, Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

A TV movie based on his memoirs of the 
experiences as a POW was broadcast on Memorial 
Day of 2005 and he became famous for videos and speeches on the subject.

The worst statement he made regarding our country 
was that Cuban interrogators had been regularly torturing American prisoners.

As a reaction to McCain’s incredible words, I 
became interested in the matter. I wanted to know 
where such a strange legend had come from. I 
asked that someone find information on the 
attribution. I was informed that there was a 
highly promoted book which was the basis for the 
movie. This was written by McCain and Mark 
Salter, his Senate administrative advisor, who 
continues to work and write with him. I asked for 
it to be translated. This was done, as on other 
occasions, very quickly by qualified staff. The 
title of the book: Faith of My Fathers, 349 pages, published in 1999.

His accusation against internationalist Cuban 
revolutionaries --using the nickname Fidel to 
identify one of them who was capable of 
“torturing a prisoner to death”-- is totally lacking in any ethics.

Allow me to remind you, Mr. McCain: The 
commandments of your religion forbid you from 
lying. Your years in prison and the wounds you 
received as a result of your attacks on Hanoi do 
not excuse you from the moral duty of truth.

Some facts must be brought to your attention. In 
Cuba, we had a rebellion against a despot who was 
put into power by the United States on March 10, 
1952, imposed on the Cuban people, when you were 
just about to turn 16 years old, and the 
Republican government of a celebrated soldier, 
Dwight D. Eisenhower –who indeed was the first 
one to speak of the industrial-military complex– 
immediately recognized and supported that 
government. I was a bit older than you; I would 
have my 26 birthday that August, the same month 
when you were born. Eisenhower had not yet 
completed his presidential term that had begun in 
the 1950’s, some years after he became famous for 
the allied landing in the north of France, with 
the support of 10 thousand planes and the most 
powerful naval force known up to that time.

It was a war, formally declared by the powers 
fighting Hitler. The Nazis had launched a 
pre-emptive attack, without warning and without 
any prior declaration of war. A new style of 
producing great slaughters was imposed on mankind.

In 1945, two bombs of roughly 20 kilotons each 
were used against the civilian populations of 
Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I once visited the first of those cities.

In the 1950’s, the government of the United 
States came to build such nuclear attack weapons. 
One of them, the MR17, came to weigh 19.05 tons 
and measured 7.49 meters; it would be carried in 
their bombers and would unleash an explosion of 
20 megatons, equivalent to a thousand bombs like 
the one that was dropped over the first of those 
two cities on August 6, 1945. It is a fact that 
would infuriate Einstein who, in the midst of his 
contradictions, would often express regret about 
the weapon that, without meaning to, he helped to 
manufacture, with his scientific theories and discoveries.

When the Revolution triumphs in Cuba on January 
1st, 1959, almost 15 years after the explosion of 
the first nuclear weapons, and we proclaim an 
Agrarian Reform Act based on the principle of 
national sovereignty, consecrated by the blood of 
millions of combatants who died in that war, the 
United States response was a program of illegal 
deeds and terrorist attacks against the Cuban 
people, signed by the President of the United 
States himself, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

The attack on the Bay of Pigs followed the exact 
instructions of the President of the United 
States and the invaders were escorted by U.S. 
naval units, including an aircraft carrier. The 
first air assault with U.S. B-26 planes flying 
out of secret bases was a pre-emptive attack 
using Cuban markings on the planes so that world 
opinion would see this as a revolt by our national air force.

You accuse Cuban revolutionaries of being 
torturers. I seriously urge you to find a single 
one of the more than a thousand prisoners 
captured during the Bay of Pigs fighting who had 
been tortured. I was there, not in some protected 
position at a distant general command post. I 
personally captured a number of prisoners with 
the help of some assistants; I walked in front of 
armed squads who were still lying under cover of 
the forest’s vegetation, paralyzed by the 
presence of the Chief of the Revolution. I’m 
sorry that I have to mention this because it 
might appear to be boasting, and that is something I honestly detest.

The prisoners were citizens born in Cuba 
organized by a powerful foreign power to fight against their own people.

You have admitted that you are in favor of the 
death penalty for very serious crimes. What would 
have you done if faced by such acts? How many 
would you have sentenced for that treason? In 
Cuba, we tried several of the invaders who, under 
Batista's orders, had previously committed 
horrendous crimes against Cuban revolutionaries.

I visited the mass of Bay of Pigs prisoners, 
--that is how you call the Girón Beach invasion-- 
on more than one occasion, and I talked with 
them. I like to find out man’s motives. They 
showed surprise and expressed their 
acknowledgement of the personal respect with which they were treated.

You should know that while we were negotiating 
their liberation in exchange for compensation by 
food and medicines for children, the U.S. 
government was organizing plans to assassinate 
me. There is a record of this in what was written 
by people taking part in the negotiation process.

  I shall not go into detail about the long list 
of hundreds of assassination attempts on me. None 
of this is made up. It has been stated in 
official documents circulated by the U.S. government.

What ethics underlie such deeds, vehemently 
defended by you as a matter of principles?

I shall attempt to delve deeper into those matters.

Fidel Castro Ruz
February 10, 2008.
Time:  6:35 p.m.

(Part Two)

One of the most hostile U.S. newspapers when it 
comes to Cuba, headquartered in Florida, offers the following report:

“Taking advantage of the negotiations to free the 
Bay of Pigs’ prisoners, the CIA tried to use a 
key person in the talks, American lawyer James B. 
Donovan, to deliver a lethal gift to Fidel 
Castro: a wetsuit contaminated with a fungus that 
lacerates the skin and an underwater breathing 
device infected with tuberculosis...the gear in 
fact was given to the Cuban leader in November 1962.

“The revelation is one of many anecdotes in After 
the Bay of Pigs, a book on the negotiations held 
between the Committee of Relatives for the 
Liberation of Prisoners and Havana from April to December 1962.

“The 238-page book, published late last year, was 
written by Cuban exile Pablo Pérez-Cisneros with 
businessman John B. Donovan, son of the late 
negotiator, and Jeff Koenreich, a veteran member 
of the Red Cross who has promoted humanitarian 
missions between the United States and Cuba.

“Pérez-Cisneros is the son of Berta Barreto de 
los Heros, who was coordinator in Cuba of the 
Families Committee and interceded with Castro to 
trade off the 1,113 prisoners from the failed April 1961 invasion.

“Barreto de los Heros started the book but died 
in March of 1993. Her son, who spent eight years 
researching and finishing the book, was the 
person who bought the wetsuit and scuba gear at 
the end of 1962, not knowing that both were destined for Castro.

“In June 1962, Pérez-Cisneros visited James B. 
Donovan's office in Brooklyn for the first time 
to request his intervention in the negotiations 
with Cuba. The meeting was arranged by Robert W. 
Kean, son of a former congressman and 
brother-in-law of Joaquín Silverio, a jailed 
member of Brigade 2506. Donovan agreed to work 
for the Families Committee at no charge.

“Two months later, Donovan made the first of 11 
trips to Havana for mediation with the Cuban government.

''When Donovan returns to Cuba in October 1962, 
Castro tells him he wants to have an aqualung 
(scuba gear) and wetsuit for diving,'' 
Pérez-Cisneros told El Nuevo Herald in an 
interview to expand on the case. “So, Donovan 
tells me he wants to get quality equipment for a 
person, but without telling me they are for Castro.''

“Pérez-Cisneros, who had been a champion 
underwater spearfisherman in Cuba, bought a $130 
wetsuit and scuba equipment for $215 in a 
well-known store in Times Square, New York.

“Castro received them in November 1962, and some 
weeks later, on another one of Donovan's trips, 
the Cuban President told the lawyer that he had used them.

“Only months after the negotiations had concluded 
did Pérez-Cisneros learn all the details about the real story.

“During World War II, James Donovan had worked 
for the Office of Strategic Services, which 
preceded the CIA. He was later named one of the 
prosecutors in the Nazi war-crimes trials in 
Nuremberg. In February 1962, he was the chief 
mediator in the most spectacular spy trade of the 
Cold War: the trade of Russian Col. Rudolf Abel 
for Americans Frederick Prior and captured U-2 pilot Gary F. Powers.

“When Donovan informed the CIA that Castro had 
requested diving equipment, the U.S. agency said 
it would take care of it. But the lawyer rejected 
any involvement in the proposal to contaminate 
the wetsuit and scuba equipment and preferred to 
give Castro the equipment bought in Times Square.

  “In May of 1963, Castro invited Donovan and 
lawyer John E. Nolan, who represented 
then-Justice Secretary Robert Kennedy, to a day 
of diving in the Bay of Pigs area and again used the U.S. equipment.

“In late 1963, ''Donovan told me that the idea of 
an attempt against Castro gave him goose bumps, 
and he refused to take the equipment from the 
CIA, thinking that if Cuba detected the 
operation, all the negotiations could be ruined 
and that he could be executed,'' 

“The book, sprinkled with curious and unexpected 
events, is a tense story of how love, 
determination and cleverness made possible the 
exchange of the Brigade 2506 prisoners for $53 
million in food, medicine and medical equipment.

“The efforts of Donovan and the Families 
Committee came at a moment of uncertainty over the prisoners' fates

“The committee's first meeting with Castro took 
place in Barreto de los Heros' house in Miramar 
on April 10, 1962. Four days later, 60 wounded 
Brigade members were flown to Miami.

“Donovan's entry into the negotiations accelerated the release process.

“Knowing that Barreto de los Heros' telephone was 
tapped, Donovan arranged a secret code for communications.

“In mid-December, Castro agreed to an exchange 
and handed over a 29-page list of food and 
medicine that was to be sent to Cuba by the 
American Red Cross. The last 10 days of 
negotiations were very intense because Donovan 
brought in a group of 60 lawyers in order to 
ensure all of the donations promised by 157 American companies.

“On Dec. 23, 1962, the first five planes left for 
Miami, carrying 484 members of the brigade. A day 
later, the 719 prisoners that remained flew in nine more flights.”
I have literally transcribed the article’s words. 
I wasn’t aware of some of the specific 
information.  Nothing that I remember is far from the truth.

My relationship with the Cienaga de Zapata 
(Zapata Marsh) began very early.  I learned about 
the place thanks to some American visitors who 
would talk to me about the “black fish", a very 
dark trout that was very abundant in the Laguna 
del Tesoro, at the heart of the marsh, at a 
maximum depth of 6 meters. In those days we were 
considering the development of tourism and 
possibly ‘polders’ like the land reclaimed from the sea by the Dutch.

The spot was famous from my days as a high school 
student, when the marsh was populated by tens of 
thousands of crocodiles.  Indiscriminate catch 
had almost exterminated the species. It was necessary to protect it.

We were impelled above all by the desire to do 
something for the charcoal burners of the marsh. 
That was how my relationship with the Bay of Pigs 
began, a bay that is so deep it reaches almost a 
thousand meters. There I met old Finalé and his 
son Quique, who were my teachers in underwater 
fishing. I used to go all over those keys. I came 
to know that area like the back of my hand.

When the invaders landed there, three roads 
crossed the marsh, some facilities had already 
been built and others were being built for 
tourism, even an airport in the vicinity of Giron 
Beach, the last stronghold of the enemy forces 
which our combatants took by assault on the 
evening of April 19, 1961. I have told that story 
before. We were at the point of recovering it in 
less than 30 hours. Diversion maneuvers by the 
U.S. Marines delayed our crushing tank attack in the early morning of the 18th.

In order to deal with the issue of captured 
prisoners, I met Donovan, who seemed to me –and I 
am pleased to confirm it with his son’s 
testimony– to be an honorable man; I indeed once 
invited him to go fishing, and without a doubt I 
talked to him about a wetsuit and diving 
equipment. I cannot remember the other details 
too clearly; I would have to make some inquiries. 
I was never concerned with writing my memoirs, 
and today I understand that was a mistake.

For example, I was not able to remember the exact 
number of wounded so precisely. What stayed in my 
mind was the memory of those hundreds of our 
wounded; quite a few died because of a shortage 
of equipment, medicines, specialists and the lack 
of suitable facilities in those days. The wounded 
men who were sent earlier surely required rehab 
or better care, but that was not available to us.

 From our first victorious battle, on January 17, 
1957, it became our tradition to look after the 
enemy’s wounded. The history of our Revolution records that fact.

In the book of memoirs called “Faith of my 
Fathers”, written by McCain with the omnipresent 
help of Mark Salter, technically very well written, the main author states:

“I was often accused of being an indifferent 
student, and given some of my grades, I can 
appreciate the charity in that remark. But I was 
not so much indifferent as selective.  I liked 
English and history, and I usually did well in 
those classes. I was less interested and less successful in math and science.”

Further along, he assures us:

  “A few months prior to graduation, I had taken 
the Naval Academy entrance exams
did surprisingly well, even on the math exam.

“My reputation as a rowdy and impetuous young man 
was not, I’m embarrassed to confess, confined to 
Academy circles. Many upstanding residents of 
lovely Annapolis, witnesses to some of our more 
extravagant acts of insubordination, disapproved 
of me as did many Academy officials.”

Earlier, upon describing some of the events of his childhood, he tells us that:

“At the smallest provocation, I would go off in a 
mad frenzy, and then, suddenly, crash to the floor unconscious.

“The doctor prescribed a treatment that seems a 
little severe by modern standards of child care. 
He instructed my parents to fill a bathtub with 
cold water whenever I commenced a tantrum, and 
when I appeared to be holding my breath to drop me, fully clothed, into it.

Upon reading this, one has the impression that 
the methods that were applied to us in those days 
–both in my case, living in that pre-war era, 
just as in his –were not exactly the most fitting 
to deal with children. In my case, there was no 
doctor advising the family; they were ordinary 
people, some were illiterate, and many of them 
only applied traditional treatments.

Other episodes narrated by McCain relate to his 
adventures as a cadet on training trips. I am not 
mentioning them because they stray from the 
contents of my analysis and they have nothing to do with personal matters.

Naturally, McCain was not in the Congress hall on 
the night of Bush’s speech last January 28th, 
because some things in this man’s policies are 
compromising to him. He was in Little Havana, at 
the Versailles Restaurant, where he received the 
tribute of the Cuban community. It is just as 
well that we don’t look too closely into the 
background of several people who were there.

McCain supports the war in Iraq. He believes that 
the threat of Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea 
and the growth of Russia and China oblige the 
United States to strengthen its attack force. He 
would work together with other countries to 
protect the nation from Islamic extremism and continue in Iraq until victory.

He recognizes the importance of keeping strong 
relations with Mexico and the other Latin 
American countries. He is in favor of continuing 
the current aggressive Cuba policy.

He would reinforce security on United States 
borders, not just for the entry and exit of 
people, but also for the products that enter the 
country. He thinks that immigrants ought to learn 
English and the history and culture of the United States.

He wants the Latino vote, unfortunately most of 
these don’t vote or do it exceptionally; they are 
always fearful of deportation, of their children 
being taken away or of losing their jobs.  On the 
Texas wall, more than 500 continue to die each 
year. He is not promising an ‘adjustment act’ to 
those who go after the “American dream”.

He supports Bush’s “The No Child Left Behind 
Act”.  He supports the allocation of more federal 
funding for low interest scholarships and university grants.

In Cuba we offer everyone solid knowledge, an 
artistic education and the right to graduate from 
university without paying any tuition. More than 
50 thousand children with learning disabilities 
receive special education. Computer science is 
extensively taught. Hundreds of thousands of well 
qualified people are employed in these tasks. But 
Cuba must be blockaded to free it from such a terrible tyranny.

Like any other candidate, he has his little 
government platform. He promises to reduce 
dependence on foreign energy. It is easy to say, 
but these days it is difficult to do.

He opposes subsidized ethanol production. 
Fantastic: I suggested just that to Brazilian 
President Lula Da Silva, that he demand the 
United States to suspend the hefty agricultural 
subsidies for corn and other cereals destined for 
the production of ethanol from foods.  But that 
is not what is being proposed, on the contrary, 
it’s to export U.S. ethanol to compete with 
Brazil. Only he and his advisors know it, because 
ethanol from corn can never compete in cost with 
that of Brazil which comes from sugarcane as the 
raw material, at the expense of the tremendous 
efforts of its workers who in any case improve 
their lot without the U.S. tariff barriers and subsidies.

Many other Latin American nations were set on the 
path of producing ethanol from sugarcane by the 
United States.  What would they do with the new 
decisions coming down from the North?

And we can’t miss the promises ensuring quality 
of air and water, the suitable use of green 
areas, the protection of the national parks that 
would become just a memory of what once used to 
be the nation’s natural splendor, victim of the 
unrelenting dictates of the market laws.  The 
Kyoto Protocol, nevertheless, would not be signed.

These sound like the dreams of a castaway in the middle of a storm.

He would reduce taxes for middle class families, 
keeping the Bush policy of cutting back the 
permanent taxes and leaving rates at their current level.

He wants greater control over the costs of 
Medicare and Medicaid. He thinks that families 
should be in charge of their healthcare dollars. 
He would carry out health and prevention 
campaigns. He supports the plan of the current 
President allowing workers to move money from 
social security taxes to private retirement funds.

Social security would suffer the same fate as the stock market.

He is in favor of the death penalty, the growth 
and build-up of the armed forces, and the expansion of the FTAs.

Some McCain maxims:
“Things are tough now, but we're better off than in 2000.” (Jan 2008)
“I'm well-versed in economics; I was at the Reagan Revolution.” (Jan 2008)
“To avoid recession, stop unchecked spending.” (Jan 2008)
“Loss of economic strength leads to losing military strength.” (Dec 2007)
“Republicans have forgotten how to control spending.” (Nov 2007)
“Certify border is secure; only then allow guest workers.” (Jan 2008)
“2003 "amnesty" didn't mean rewarding illegal behavior.” (Jan 2008)
“Round up and deport two million aliens who committed crimes.” (Jan 2008)
“Do everything I can to help all immigrants learn English.” (Dec 2007)
“No official English; Native Americans use own languages.” (Jan 2007)
“Immigration reform needed for national security.” (Jun 2007)
“Bipartisanship shows preparedness for presidency.” (May 2007)
“Maintain Cuban embargo; indict Castro.” (Dec 2007)
“Cuba: No diplomatic and trade relations.” (Jul 1998)
“Naive to exclude nukes; naive to exclude attacking Pakistan.” (Aug 2007)
“War in Iraq ‘we have diverted attention from our 
hemisphere and we have paid a price for that’.”(Mar 2007)
He promises to visit his properties on the 
continent. He said that after being elected to 
the White House in 2008, his first trip would be 
to Mexico, Canada and Latin America to “reaffirm 
my commitment to our hemisphere and the 
importance of relations within our hemisphere."

In his entire book, an obligatory reference in my 
Reflections, he states that he was good in 
history. There is not one single reference to any 
political philosopher, not even to one of those 
who inspired the Declaration of Independence of 
the Thirteen Colonies on July 4, 1776; in 4 
months and 23 days it will celebrate its 232nd birthday.

More than 2400 years ago, Socrates, the famous 
Athenian wise man, celebrated for his method and 
martyr to his ideas, conscious of human 
limitations, said: “One thing only I know, and 
that is that I know nothing.” Today, McCain, the 
Republican candidate, proclaims before his fellow 
citizens: “One thing only I know, and that is that I know everything.”

I shall continue.

Fidel Castro Ruz
Date: February 11, 2008.
Time:  5:35 p.m.

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