Obama’s Trip to Cuba Solidified Tyranny
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
Call it a big plus for Raul and Fidel Castro and their oppressive rule. Barack Obama’s trip to the island nation 90 miles from Florida could be termed, “He came, he saw, and they triumphed.”
The caving in started a year ago when Mr. Obama announced his intention to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than five decades of cold war animosity. The Castro brothers, known to be lifelong communists by many, assumed power on January 1, 1959, but the Eisenhower administration not only refused to admit that the two were unworthy of diplomatic recognition, the U.S. aided their takeover. Finally, in 1961, relations were broken. But for more than 50 years, the small nation has been a bastion of tyranny for its people and the spreader of communist subversion throughout the Western Hemisphere.
Whenever they could flee, Cubans numbering in the thousands left their home country and fled in small boats and rickety rafts to Florida. Many perished in the sea. Those left behind continued life in a totalitarian state where human rights were non-existent and fear of government was everywhere. In 1962, U.S. leaders reluctantly announced that Russian missiles, troops, and bombers had been placed in Cuba. The so-called “Cuban Missile Crisis” ended when the Soviet ruler Nikita Khrushchev agreed to take his missiles back to Russia. But the cost to America, other than being humiliated by the Castro brothers and their Soviet allies, included removal of U.S. missiles from Turkey and Italy.
Sustained monetarily by the Kremlin and by the Soviet forces stationed in the island, Cuba paid for the help it received by sending some of its own troops to maintain communist control of the African nation of Angola. The Castro-led regime demonstrated in many ways its subservience to Moscow, receiving financial and military aid along with schooling in how to maintain a brutal and repressive tyranny.
In 2015, with no indication of relaxation from the Castros, President Obama reopened the U.S. embassy in Havana and laid down a welcome mat for a Cuban emissary to Washington. The State Department then erased Cuba’s name from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. President Obama met with Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in Panama, the first instance of dignity bestowed on a Cuban leader in half a century. Most restrictions on travel to Cuba were cancelled. And several U.S. cabinet members traveled to meet with Cuban counterparts in Havana.
One would think that Cuban leaders would respond to all these favors showered on them by relaxing the oppression of their people. But tyranny has actually worsened with more than a thousand arrests in the single month of November 2015, according to Amnesty International (AI). Even the United Nations joined AI in condemning the escalating number of arrests and detentions.
So far, the Obama gestures regarding Cuba have amounted to proceeding down one-way street. The nation is still a huge prison. But Barack Obama’s disastrous legacy is filling up. He swapped five Islamic terrorists for an American military deserter. He arranged to pay millions to Iran for a nuclear arms promise no one expects Tehran to keep. He failed to build the wall at our Mexican border. And now he’s the architect of bestowing favors on the murderous regime located 90 miles from Florida. If the Castro brothers could arrange it, they’d surely keep Mr. Obama in office. That is something the Cuban people don’t want, and neither do many Americans.
Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.
Ignoring the Full Truth About the Castro Brothers
by JBS President John F. McManus
Press coverage of President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba avoided any mention of the fact that Fidel Castro and his companions were helped to take control of the island nation by the U.S. government and elements of the American mass media. Had not pro-communist personnel in Washington and elsewhere assisted in the takeover, Cuba would not have become a bastion of communism only 90 miles from portions of Florida. And while many thousands of Cubans succeeded in fleeing their native land for Southern Florida, untold numbers didn’t make it in waves of rickety boats and rafts.
Castro didn’t just become a communist after he took control of the island nation. As far back as April 1948, Fidel participated in a communist-led uprising in Bogota, Colombia that left thousands dead or wounded and a huge portion of the city in ashes. Arrested for murder, Fidel boasted, “I did a good day’s work today; I killed a priest.” Incarcerated for a time, he won release and then led a band of his followers into Cuba in July 1956 where he was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Given amnesty by the government of Fulgencio Batista, he went to Mexico where he studied guerilla warfare under communist Alberto Bayo. Back into Cuba in early 1958, the bearded revolutionary seized control of the nation on January 1, 1959.
Plenty of competent people knew of Castro’s history and were ignored. Arthur Gardner served as U.S. Ambassador to Cuba in 1957. He came upon information about Castro’s background, reported what he’d learned, and was forced to resign on June 16, 1957. His replacement, Earl E.T. Smith, likewise made the same discovery but State Department officials ignored his warnings and he resigned in June 1959. Veteran Latin America diplomat Spruille Braden, a former ambassador to Cuba, released a statement in the summer of 1958 in which he called Fidel “a pawn in the Kremlin’s international intrigue.” He termed Cuban leader Batista “America’s best friend in Cuba.”
In the September 1958 issue of American Opinion magazine, publisher and soon-to-be founder of The John Birch Society, Robert Welch wrote that “the evidence from Castro’s whole past, that he is a Communist agent carrying out Communist orders and plans, is overwhelming.” On November 4, 1958, the Communist Party of Cuba stated its allegiance to Castro and an English translation of that declaration appeared in the next issue of Political Affairs, the official publication of the U.S. Communist Party. And in the February 1959 issue of American Opinion, J.B. Matthews filled several pages with of evidence that Castro was a Red.
All of this amounted to nothing at the State Department. On March 14, 1958, State Department officials imposed an embargo on arms shipments to the legitimate Cuban government. Batista fled the island nation and the communist forces led by Castro took control, as noted previously, on January 1, 1959. Had Castro not received diplomatic aid and hugely favorable press coverage in the United States, he would never have succeeded. He came to America where he was feted as a glorious revolutionary, praised on popular television programming, and promised substantial aid. Less than two years later, he admitted that he’d been a communist all his adult life. Some U.S. officials and Castro lovers in the mass media said, “Don’t believe him!” But Fidel and his comrades started a reign of terror in Cuba that has claimed an untold number of victims.
In April 1961, 1,400 brave anti-Castro Cubans conducted an amphibious assault at the Bay of Pigs in hopes of ousting the communist regime that had seized their homeland. They were betrayed when promised U.S. air support for their venture never arrived. In October 1962, the American people were frightened during what was termed the Cuban Missile Crisis. Though no Cuban missiles (whatever they had was supplied by the USSR) were ever fired at the United States, the episode strengthened the hand of the Castro government, then considered a formidable foe backed in numerous ways by the Soviet Union.
The recent change in the official U.S. attitude toward Cuba amounts to a huge victory for the Castro government now led by Fidel’s brother Raul. Accompanied by a prisoner swap in which the Cubans were given five while only one American was released and sent home, the diplomatic maneuvering has amounted to another victory for the Castro regime. And both the U.S. government and the mass media have never mentioned the above summary you have just read.
Mr. McManus joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966 and has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and now President. He remains the Society’s chief media representative throughout the nation and has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs. Mr. McManus is also Publisher of The New American magazine and author of a number of educational DVDs and books.