Castro as Machiavelli: Bush and Cuban Exiles
by Saul Landau
July 17, 2007
Reprinted from Monthly Review
Imperial rulers and violently fixated Cuban exiles need Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program to accelerate learning processes and not continue to repeat mistakes. Hey, on Cuba policy, it's only been 48 years!
Fidel Castro, in contrast, learned fast. He used Washington and Miami to improvise material for three chapters in future releases of Machiavelli's The Prince, the classic text on political realism.
CHAPTER 1: "Export Internal Enemies to External Enemy?"
In 1959, Cuban revolutionaries seized power. Washington immediately welcomed Cuba's most hostile opponents. Or, Fidel exported his homegrown enemies to his larger enemy. Anti-Castro Cubans became -- and remain -- a serious problem for U.S. society. Once a government aids and abets terrorism, as the CIA did with thousands of Castro-hating Cubans, it institutionalizes terrorism in its own culture. In the 1960s alone, the CIA launched, financed, and equipped Cuban exiles to carry out thousands of assassination attempts and sabotage and destruction missions against their former homeland. Some of those who carried out assassinations and sabotage missions became vocationally committed to such "work."
Now, ironically, Bush wages a war against terrorism and harbors anti-Castro terrorists. Luis Posada illustrates the dilemma. Recently declassified CIA cables show Posada notified CIA officials in September 1976 of his plans to sabotage a Cuban jet over Barbados. CIA officials neither stopped him nor notified the Cuban government. In October, his agents triggered a bomb. Seventy-three passengers and crew members perished.
U.S. agencies worked intimately with Posada on terrorist acts. Does this explain the government's reluctance to charge him with terrorism -- despite publicly disclosed evidence -- or to deport him to Venezuela where he would face trial? Lawyers in Justice wring their hands over such "incongruities," because in 1971 the U.S. government signed the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Civil Aviation. Article 7 of that document states: "The Contracting State in the territory of which the alleged offender is found shall, if it does not extradite him, be obliged, without exception whatsoever and whether or not the offense was committed in its territory, to submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution."
Orlando Bosch, Posada's co-author of airplane sabotage, also escaped prosecution. Indeed, in 1990 Daddy Bush pardoned Bosch. He now resides in Miami. Bosch still gloats when he describes orgasmic feats like firing a bazooka at a Polish ship in Miami Harbor in 1968 and knocking down the Cuban airliner in 1976.
In January 1965, Bosch launched phosphorus bombs at a Cuban sugar mill. He told the Miami press: "If we had the necessary resources, Cuba would burn in flames from one end to the other."
On November 10, 2001, Bush warned UN members: "Some governments still turn a blind eye to the terrorists, hoping the threat will pass them by. They are mistaken. The allies of terror are equally guilty and equally accountable." Bush's Florida congressional backers, Lincoln and Mario Diaz Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, consider Bosch a patriot, not a terrorist.
Miamians understood what it meant to bring terrorists into their womb: car bombings and assassinations. These included the 1975 Rolando Masferrer car bombing, a 1976 Post Office explosion, and a bomb assassination attempt against Emilio Millan. Anti-Castro Cubans carried out a rampage of violence in the 1970s and 1980s including the assassination of former Chilean Chancellor Orlando Letelier in Washington and a Cuban diplomat in New York.
In 2000, Al Gore coped -- badly -- with tactics used by Castro-haters. He may even harbor residual hard feelings about the Florida Cubans who helped steal the 2000 election. One Miami witness saw buses of seniors at a polling station. He greeted his great uncle, who retained Cuban citizenship. The old man declared, "It's my duty as a Cuban citizen to vote for George Bush."
Vote counters in some areas reported Cuban Americans entering the counting rooms, showing guns under their jackets, and ordering: "Stop counting."
For Castro, however, the absence of such people in Cuba facilitated the rapid consolidation of revolutionary power. U.S. leaders, not learning from 48 plus years of importing the opposition, continue to encourage boatloads of Cubans to land on U.S. shores. Thanks to the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, they may claim refugee status and gain rapid accession to green cards.
Did U.S. decision makers think about applying this status to Chinese, Indians, or Mexicans? Bush and the Castro-despisers in Florida seem to carry an obsession only with Fidel, a mental condition that makes clear thinking impossible.
CHAPTER 2: "How to Obsess One's Enemies"
Obsession blocks learning and clear thinking. After 48 years of futile violence and untempered linguistic hostility, Orlando Bosch continued to plot. In December 2001, between visits to gerontologists and proctologists, Bosch, 81 years old, boasted of sending explosives to Cuba that very month.
In late January 2007, Posada groupies rallied to support the aging co-author of the airplane bombing. "But they didn't just rally," stated a January 30, South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial. "They also attacked two counter-demonstrators, chasing the young men back to their car while punching, kicking and spitting on them as they fled. This, you see, is why the exiles left Fidel Castro's Cuba: to embrace freedom and the inalienable right to such things as free speech. Unless the speech happens to disagree with theirs."
The editorial concluded that such activists "give Miami a bad name." U.S. authorities arrested Posada two years ago after he held a press conference to announce his presence. Charged with suspicion of illegally entering the country, he faced charges of naturalization fraud and six counts of lying to U.S. officials (the charges dismissed by U.S. District Judge Kathleen Cardone on 8 May 2007 but are under review by the Justice Department). Ironically, as the Sun-Sentinel observed, "Scores of people died in the bombing Posada is suspected of plotting. The U.S. government has strong evidence linking Posada to the bombing. That alone should keep him in U.S. custody even if he weren't charged with immigration violations." But, the editorial asked, "The government has shown a tendency to bow to political pressure from the Cuban exile community, but why should it?"
The answer, as even the obsessed Posada and Bosch have figured out, lies in the government's history of complicity with terrorism. Antonio Veciana provided an example of such cooperation. In 1971, Posada joined Veciana, founder of Alpha 66, to assassinate Castro in Chile where the Cuban leader planned to visit. CIA lab ghouls invented a gun that fit inside a 16 mm camera that the assassins, posing as a news crew, would fire at Castro at his Santiago news conference. So, Veciana laughed, CIA knowledge made possible a terrorist plot. The hired cameramen-assassins chickened out. So, Posada hired a new crew to shoot Castro in Caracas en route his return to Cuba. This also failed. Five years later, Posada did destroy the Cuban passenger plane. He "escaped" from Venezuelan custody -- Miami pals bribed the jailors -- and in the mid-1980s joined Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North to re-supply the Contras. In the 1990s, Posada masterminded sabotage against Cuba's tourist industry, resulting in the death of one Italian tourist and extensive damage to hotels. Declassified documents show that he got help and financing from Miami-based buddies. U.S. anti-terrorist squads knew of this.
Former and current U.S. officials have tainted themselves by aiding and abetting Posada -- and Bosch -- plots. No wonder the government refuses to prosecute -- aside from the debt the Bush family owes for the Florida elections.
CHAPTER 3: "Getting Your Enemies to Finance Your Economy"
Castro escaped more than 650 assassination attempts. His revenge emerged after the Soviet Union collapsed. As Cuba's economy spiraled downward in 1991 Castro lured the obsessed exiles into supporting his treasury. By mid-1996, Cuba's Central Bank was taking in a billion dollars in yearly U.S. remittances. Even the ranting Castro-despising radio host Armando Perez Roura paid, lest his family "starve to death." As if!
In 2005, U.S. Treasury bureaucrats equally obsessed with "punishing Castro" threatened foreign banks handling Cuban dollar accounts. So, the Cuban government announced that Cubans had to exchange dollars for convertible Cuban money or suffer monetary penalties. Within weeks, Cuba's Central Bank accumulated $1 billion -- a free loan!
Recovering from last year's surgery and reading how Bush allow the Justice Department to not seriously oppose bail (in April) for Luis Posada Carriles, the Osama bin Laden of the Western Hemisphere, Castro must have chuckled. Posada with Orlando Bosch authored the 1976 sabotage of a Cuban commercial airliner, in which all 73 passengers and crew members died. He also tried numerous times to assassinate Castro. How the high priest of the violent Miami flotsam has become an embarrassment to the President who has made "tough on terrorism" his unique stance. On August 26, 2003, Bush declared in St. Louis, Missouri: ". . . if you harbor a terrorist, if you support a terrorist, if you feed a terrorist, you're just as guilty as the terrorists."
Sure! In 2001, Bush's Justice Department prosecuted five Cubans who infiltrated Florida terrorist groups to stop terrorism. Intimidated -- by the terrorists -- Miami juries convicted them. Ironically, Google shows no reference to Bush excluding himself or members of his government in his warning. But consistency, as Bush said, is a virtue of small minds. He forgot to add that inconsistency is the virtue of the mindless or the stupid. For a literary metaphor one would find Bush's equivalent in Alfred Jarry's King Ubu, the moral-free thug who used violence to insure his and his friends' profits.
For Fidel, whose mind is immense, the Machiavellian tendency has always been tempered by refrains from Don Quixote.
Saul Landau is author of many books and producer of many documentary films. His most recent book is A Bush and Botox World (Counterpunch/AK Press, 2007). His new documentary film is We Don't Play Golf Here -- And Other Stories of Globalization in Mexico. Get it through firstname.lastname@example.org