martedì, gennaio 24, 2006

Myths and Realities in Castro's Cuba

Myths and Realities in Castro's Cuba
Jaime Suchlicki*

Myth # 1: Fidel Castro was a naïve, Robin Hood revolutionary when he reached power.

• Fidel Castro was a seasoned revolutionary by the time he reached power in 1959.
• He had received military training during preparations in Cuba in 1947 for an expedition against Dominican Republic’s dictator Rafael Trujillo.
• He participated in the violence that rocked Colombian society in 1948 and distributed anti-U.S. propaganda in Bogota.
• While in jail in 1954 in Cuba, he instructed one of his allies: “smile at everyone, later there will be time enough to crush all the roaches together.” Castro later revealed that he had read Lenin and became an admirer of the Russian revolutionary.
• While in the mountains, fighting the Batista dictatorship in 1958, Castro wrote: “my real destiny when I reach power is to fight the U.S.”

Myth # 2: The U.S. pushed Castro and the Cuban revolution into the Soviet camp.

• In 1959 Castro was an anti-American leader seeking to transform Cuba and remain in power indefinitely.
• He sought and received Soviet support to achieve his political agenda.
• The Soviets introduced nuclear missiles in Cuba to alter the balance of power in the World and to force the U.S. to offer concessions over Berlin, not to defend Castro from the U.S.
• If the Soviets wanted to defend Cuba they could have signed a military agreement with Castro, bring Cuba into the Warsaw Pack, or place several Soviet military divisions in the island, not introduce surreptitiously nuclear missiles that brought the World to a nuclear confrontation.
• The Cuban/Soviet alliance was one of mutual convenience and strategic interest to both countries.

Myth #3: The U.S. embargo is the cause of Cuba’s economic suffering.


• Cuba can sell to and buy from most countries except the U.S.
Food and medicines are not part of the U.S. embargo and Cuba can purchase
them from the U.S.
• The U.S. is not the cheapest country for Cuba to buy food, technology, etc.
• Cuba does not have the financial resources to purchase great quantities of needed
products in the world market and Castro’s priorities are military spending and
support for this international causes. These are the reasons there are shortages of
consumer goods in Cuba.
• Cuba’s state dominated economy, like that of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is unproductive, inefficient, riddled with mismanagement and corruption.
• The suffering of the Cuban people is not the result of the U.S. embargo, but of a failed economy dominated by Castro and his military elite for 47 years.

Myth # 4: If we are nice to Castro he will reciprocate.

• There are leaders in the world that have their own political, religious, and ideological convictions and oppose and dislike the U.S. and its policies.
• For 47 years Castro has shown his animosity and hatred for the U.S.
• Cuba has supported terrorist, revolutionary anti-American groups throughout the world.
• Castro is unwilling to change those policies for better relations with the U.S.
• Castro’s closest allies today include Venezuela, China, Iran and North Korea.

Myth # 5: If American tourists visit Cuba, we can bring democracy to the island.


• For the past four decades millions of Latin American, European and Canadian tourists have visited the island: yet, Cuba is today more totalitarian and repressive than ever.
• American tourists will visit Cuba’s isolated resorts, spend U.S. dollars in State owned hotels and stores that strengthen government owned businesses while having little impact on Cuban politics.
• There is no empirical evidence that tourism, trade or investment had anything to do with the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe.
• If we believe that tourism can change a society, we should begin a massive program to send American tourists to North Korea and Iran.

*Jaime Suchlicki is Emilio Bacardi Moreau Professor and Director, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. He is also the Director of the Cuba Transition Project and the author of numerous books on Cuba including, Cuba: From Columbus to Castro, now in its fifth edition.

The CTP can be contacted at P.O. Box 248174, Coral Gables, Florida 33124-3010, Tel: 305-284-CUBA (2822), Fax: 305-284-4875, and by email at The CTP Website is accessible at