How and when the Cuban experiment of Fidel Alejandro ‘the Great’ will end?
By Carlos Alberto Montaner*
Dear friends, thank you very much for inviting me to be with you. Very special thanks to Frank Calzón and James Cason.
[On] Friday, December 7, 2018, Mr. Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS, emphasized what he should emphasize. He said that Castros’ Cuba is the origin of all the political disorders in Latin America and that had been the case since 1959.
Note that I said Castros’ Cuba and not Communist Cuba. Communism is an expression of political misery, but it can be just an internal thing. Fidel and Raúl, on the other hand, added a violent imperial spasm that has not stopped.
Why did this phenomenon happen? When Fidel Hipólito Castro was of legal age to change his name, he became Fidel Alejandro Castro.
His role model was Alexander the Great, the energetic Macedonian who very quickly built one of the greatest empires in history.
The first youth action of Fidel Alejandro Castro was that of Cayo Confites in 1947, an expedition organized by the Caribbean Legion and, fundamentally, by the Cubans.
The Cuban Alexander the Great was already mobilized and on his way, even though nobody noticed it.
Although aborted by the State Department, it was a huge effort that included 2,700 men, mostly Dominicans and Cubans (almost two times the size of the Bay of Pigs expedition) and 27 planes and light aircraft.
By the way, Fidel had two of the leaders of that expedition killed–his sworn enemies, Eufemio Fernández and Rolando Masferrer, after he took power in Cuba.
Eufemio was shot in 1961, and Masferrer’s car was blown up in Miami in 1975. He has also been accused of participating in the murder of a third chief of Cayo Confites, Manolo Castro, with whom he had no family ties. Manolo Castro was assassinated in February 1948.
Weeks later, in April 1948, it was the turn of the Bogotazo. There Fidel Castro saw some action and felt the pulse of death. All this reinforced his vocation, as a Nicaraguan commander once told me, of a “machine gun nest in motion.”
In 1952 Fulgencio Batista organized a military coup against the legitimate government of Carlos Prío, and Fidel Alejandro ‘the Great’ was unleashed forever. Violence was the atmosphere that suited him.
In 1958, in the Sierra Maestra, she told her lover, secretary and close friend Celia Sánchez in a letter that after Batista’s defeat, he planned to devote himself to fighting the United States.
Alejandro was delirious with his plans for planetary conquest. He repeated it to the Venezuelan historian Guillermo Morón in 1979.
When he became the master of Cuba, he used the island to send his guerrillas and his agents into dozens of countries, until he became the most audacious revolutionary condottiero of the second half of 20th century.
But even more serious is that he imposed on his government and Cuban society his own adventurous nature, which is difficult to avoid, although the vast majority of Cubans think it was and is insane to persist in these crazy tasks.
Fidel Castro’s interventionism reached its apogee during his invasion of Angola, in Africa, the longest military operation in the history of the Americas, from 1975 to 1991. It was the Soviets who, against the Cuban’s will, forced him to leave his African prey. He was very upset when he was abandoned by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
That is why, after three decades of intense collaboration with Moscow, when the Soviet Union and European communism disappeared, Fidel Alejandro continued his fight alone. Like an obsessed individual, he kept “doing the revolution” as a shooting spree.
Fidel Alejandro did not believe in resting or quitting. The “luta continua” (the struggle goes on), as the Mozambicans said.
But he was not alone for a long time. He looked for Brazilian President Lula da Silva and, with the rubble of destroyed communism, plus the power of Brazil’s Workers Party, he put together the Sao Paulo Forum. He did it to protect himself and to continue fighting.
The Spaniards have a humorous and baroque expression to describe this behavior: Fidel was unattainable to discouragement.
He did not care that Marxism-Leninism had been discredited. It still served him as a pretext to continue his incessant struggle.
Nor was he interested in the economic destiny of the Cubans, already without the protection of the Soviet subsidies.
A few thousand Cubans became blind as a result of the optic neuritis caused by the disappearance of the meager portion of protein that protected them.
It was the “special period”, from which we have not even left after almost thirty years of useless hardship.
Fidel was willing to “sustain it, but not amend it,” as the motto of the worst stubborn Spaniards says, those poor people who confuse stubbornness with character.
Then, in 1994 Hugo Chávez appeared on the island scene and Fidel conquered him for his delirious plans. To Fidel Alejandro, Chávez seemed a variant of the useful idiot.
He did not love him too much, to the extent that he diverted the Venezuelan’s relations to his then Chancellor, Felipe Pérez Roque, and to his second in command, Carlos Lage–later on, both were defenestrated–because to the racist and exalted eyes of Fidel Alejandro, Chávez seemed (and he said it in private) a “shameless black little boy”.
Chávez considered himself “equal” to Castro, and for Castro that was intolerable.
It was not difficult to seduce Chávez either. At that time Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chávez was under the influence of Norberto Ceresole, an Argentine fascist who came from leftist Peronism.
That consultant was well paid and retired to ruminate his annoyance. Then he chose to die away from the madding crowd.
At the beginning of 1999, the agents and political operators of Cuba’s State Security managed to make Hugo Chávez president of Venezuela. When they took up his cause, he barely had 2% of popular support.
As luck was with him in his presidential term, until cancer appeared as a silent thief, the price of oil rose outrageously and Fidel Castro was able to finance his new imperial toy: Socialism of the 21st Century (Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Rafael Correa’s Ecuador), plus an economic space called the ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of the Americas, which was the communist alternative to the FTAA, the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
The ALBA functioned as a mechanism to dispense favors and oil. Venezuela was the deep-pocketed host, while the FTAA offered, fundamentally, access to the North American market, so many Caribbean islets chose to subordinate their foreign policy to the whims and strategies of Fidel Castro and Chávez.
ALBA’s members are the same as Socialism of the XXI Century’s members, except Ecuador, which did not need Venezuelan oil, plus Suriname, and also the Caribbean islets: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Haiti as an observer.
The one which took care of the economic responsibilities of the group was Venezuela, but the State that traced the strategy was Cuba.
The Venezuelans paid the bill, which enriched some rulers, as was the case of Daniel Ortega through ALBANISA, a conglomerate of companies, which served him to receive large Chavista subsidies of which he used a certain percentage to support his Nicaraguan political clientele.
The only condition imposed on the members of ALBA was that they obeyed the dictates of Havana-Caracas in diplomatic matters, such as, for example, the election of the Chilean José Miguel Insulza as head of the OAS, a man who took part irresponsibly in the antidemocratic game of Chávez and Castro, despite Chávez insulted him more than once.
That world, as we know, has come to an end, at least for now. The election of Mauricio Macri in Argentina, Sebastián Piñera in Chile and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil demonstrate this, although the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico has a different sign.
Havana knows that, but the message and the example that emanate from Cuba is very negative. Raul Castro tells them, with his example, and surely with his words in private, to resist until the pendulum moves in the other direction, something that will happen in about a decade if the usual historical patterns are repeated.
In any case, how will the Castroite adventure end? To address this issue, I will take the example and reasoning of the great English journalist Bernard Levin.
In 1977, when the USSR was booming and Leonid Brezhnev ruled in Moscow, while Jimmy Carter began his shaky government in the United States, the London Times asked his best columnist, Levin, to speculate on the end of communism in the USSR.
Levin explained that one day a new face would become the ruler of the Soviet Union and would begin to change that country’s destiny. Why? Because the Soviets were not different from the Czechs who in 1968 had risen up against the abuses and excesses of the Communists. They had the same desire for freedom and the same intimate decency.
That new communist leader would fail in his reforms and be replaced by an opposition that would not take revenge, that would not hang those responsible for the dictatorship on the light poles, and communism would disappear without historical cataclysms.
Up to that point, Levin guessed the who and the how, but the most amazing thing is that he also forecasted correctly when it would happen.
In his famous article, written, I repeat, in 1977, he dared to predict that this would happen in the summer of 1989. That year, Polish Prime Minister Jaruzelski had to hand over Poland’s government to Solidarity labor union. Also, in November of that year, the Germans tore down the Berlin Wall and communism began to collapse like a house of cards.
Cuban communism will end in the same way. How do we know? Because those who rule have a morale of defeat and, except for psychopaths, nobody likes to belong to the group of the scoundrels.
The Castroists perceive that there is no possibility of redemption through the path chosen by the Castros. They know that every day they will be poorer, and the Cubans will be unhappier.
It is true that there are a few hundred at the head of the band that benefit from the Cuban “model” of State Military Capitalism, but they are not enough to stop the course of history. I do not think it will be long before the system and the government begin to fall apart. Maybe Raúl Castro and the Moncada generation will have to disappear. Every one of them is already around ninety years old. So, at least for the opposition, “la luta continua.”
*The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author.*
Center for a Free Cuba
Washington, December 8, 2018
*@CarlosAMontaner. CAM’s latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.