Fidel and Raúl Castro — Communist Brethren

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Exclusive for HaciendaPublishing.com
Article Type: 
Book Review
Published Date: 
Thursday, March 7, 2013

In his book, After Fidel — The Inside Story of Castro's Regime and Cuba's Next Leader, author Brian Latell, a National Intelligence Officer (1990-1994) and the top analyst for Cuba and Latin America for all the U.S intelligence agencies, describes in persuasive detail the personal relationship between Fidel and Raúl Castro. At the time this book was written, Raúl Castro was the anointed successor to the Maximum Leader. (He would assume power in 2006.) After Fidel contains dramatic revelations about the Castro brothers, even for those familiar with the history of the Cuban Revolution and the many biographies of Fidel Castro. I suAfter Fidelspect that many authorities, who thought they knew the brothers intimately, will still find pearls of wisdom and psychological insights in this book explaining the various aspects in the lives and times of the brothers, even motives, which, heretofore, had been unexplainable. This insightful information comes from interviews with many former comrade-in-arms, who were personally close to the Castro brothers, also friends and family members, as well as previously published material, which the author has weaved together in a masterful interconnected analysis. 

The most important points made in the After Fidel relevant to the history and future of Cuba are the following:

1) In April 1959, Raúl Castro needlessly feared that Fidel would deviate from the path of communism, while glowing in the spotlight of a very successful U.S. tour. Raúl confronted his older brother in Houston, Texas, and for the first time the two brothers argued about Fidel's jovial and troubling attitude during the tour and Cuba's future relationship with the U.S. As it turned out, there was no real disagreement, only a misunderstanding, and Raúl had nothing to fear. Even though Fidel was basking in the limelight of his apparent popularity in the U.S. in early 1959, he was not deviating from the authoritarian, communist understanding that had been traced by the brothers for Cuba. Fidel intended to follow the path of absolute power using the accommodating doctrine of Marxism-Leninism. And the brothers soon learned to complement each other in their repressive rule of the island: Fidel Castro was the impulsive, charismatic personality and orator; Raúl, the loyal defense minister and competent administrator who got things done.

2) For me (and probably most Cubans, who were not privy to the very personal and little Frei Bettoknown early life of the Castro brothers), the most astounding revelations were the specific and very humiliating details of Fidel and Raúl Castro’s upbringing in rural Biran in Oriente province as illegitimate children of their Spaniard father, Angel Castro, and Cuban mother and maid, Lina Ruz. Some of this information first became public in 1987 when Fidel finally talked openly about this to the Brazilian Marxist and liberation theology priest, Frei Betto.(photo, right) Fidel told Betto he considered himself "a victim of exploitation" in his childhood. More revelations about the dysfunctional family were disclosed to the French journalist Serge Raffy in 2004. "Fidel’s illegitimacy was profoundly traumatic for him as a young boy," and it influenced his outlook and contributed to his bellicosity and resentful personality as an adult, and then as leader of the Cuban Revolution.

Reading about the early life of Fidel Castro provides one explanation as to what motivated him to acquire power at any price and destroy the traditional society that had humiliated him as child. Fidel and his illegitimate siblings lived in a shack, not in the main house in his father's rustic but large hacienda with his primary legitimate family. Later, Fidel and the two older siblings, Angela and Ramón, were shunted off to Santiago, Cuba, where they lived in the home of an impoverished Haitian foster family. Fidel felt abandoned by his mother and father. And it was the Haitian who became Fidel's godfather — not Fidel Pino, Angel’s powerful friend after whom Castro had been named. Fidel spent 2 1/2 years at this home, and he felt shame and humiliation. Later at La Salle school, Fidel was taunted as a guajiro (uncouth peasant) and lack of baptism due to his illegitimacy.

Alina FernandezAs for the younger and admiring brother, Fidel would mold Raúl's attitude and personality to fit his will, so that Raúl would do his bidding, just as Fidel did with thousands of his followers and millions of his countrymen. Latell consulted many useful sources, including Fidel's daughter, Alina Fernandez (photo, left), and his sister, Juanita Castro (photo, below on right), as well as the magnificent biography of Castro by Robert Quirk (Fidel Castro; 1993), in order to compose this veritable intelligence profile of the Castro brothers.

3) The book also catalogs the savagery of the Castro brothers and the criminality of Fidel Castro from his student days in Havana to the persecution of real or perceived personal enemies over his half-century in power. Besides two described assassinations, two other specific incidents are noteworthy. The first occurred in 1948, when, as a university student, Fidel wanted to use the occasion of a student meeting with Cuban President Grau San Martin to throw the president from a balcony and seize power. The other students, more morally attuned, refused! The second occasion was the public funeral of the politician Eduardo Chibas in 1951, when Fidel wanted to re-direct the funeral procession Juanita Castroand incite the crowds to create an uprising. Why? You guessed it, to seize power!

4) Latell documents it was Fidel Castro who had always been the big puppet master. We have always been told that Raúl was the first to openly declare himself a communist, and that Fidel became a Marxist-Leninist later. But in fact it was Fidel who led Raúl down the path to communism and the Soviet alliance as described in this book. Thus, Fidel was able to characteristically remain independent with the ability to act as he saw fit and to orchestrate and manipulate events from a safe distance, the ultimate puppet master. Fidel had probably became a communist in 1948, as he confessed to the priest Betto, about the time of the infamous Bogotazo riot, which, incidentally, he impulsively joined while participating in the international student meeting then held in Bogota, Colombia. Nevertheless, Fidel continued to camouflage his communist political philosophy, which meshed perfectly with his anti-Americanism and totalitarian thirst for power, until he was firmly in power. This is the same conclusion I had reached in my book, Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002).

Fidel also directed Raúl to lead sanguinary affairs, even the execution of former friends and comrades as alleged traitors! Raúl took to the bottle but did as Fidel directed! This happened in 1989 with the elimination of scapegoats in high places, including, Antonio Fidel and Raul Castrode la Guardia, a Colonel in the Ministry of the Interior (secret police), and General Arnaldo Ochoa, a Hero of the Revolution, who was also arrested, tried in a kangaroo court, and promptly executed via firing squad. Minister of the Interior Jose Abrantes also arrested, perished in his cell "accidentally." By purging the security organs at the top in swift Stalinist fashion, Fidel eliminated any chance of political opposition and the possibility of liberalization in Cuba in the wake of glasnost and perestroika in the USSR. Fidel's operating style, Latell writes, "often provokes one crisis with the intention of justifying extreme actions for political purposes."

As a reward for Raúl’s complicity in the purging of his friends, including the execution of Ochoa, who had been a close personal friend and greatly admired in the Cuban military, the younger Castro was allowed to reconstitute and man Cuba's intelligence service and security organs with his own followers. To head the Interior Ministry Raúl chose his loyal henchman, the three-star general, Abelardo Colomé Ibarra. Raúl had controlled the Defense Ministry; he now also assumed control of the Interior Ministry — i.e., the two most powerful posts in the Cuban Raul Castro in 2012repressive machinery of government. Raúl then became the provisional head of state in 2006 following Fidel's debilitating illness, and assumed power formally in 2011.

5) Finally, as intimated in the preceding paragraph, After Fidel also describes Raúl Castro (photo, right) as the successor to Fidel Castro, depicts his style of rule as more pragmatic than charismatic, and his steady consolidation of power, beginning with the military and ending with the security organs, the latter the personal turf of Fidel Castro. Latell predicted correctly that Raúl would continue Fidel's political line as long as Fidel is alive. Raúl remains the head of state and government of Cuba, and little has changed in terms of substantial reforms for Cuba. I highly recommend this book because of the elaboration of the intriguing points I have described, as well as an insightful introductory biography of Raúl Castro.

For those interested in reading about Cuban espionage against the U.S. and the evidence for Fidel Castro’s knowledge about the assassination of JFK’s, my review of Brian Latell's excellent second book Castro's Secrets — The CIA and Cuba's Intelligence Machine, is also posted on this website.

Written by Dr. Miguel Faria

Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D. is Clinical Professor of Surgery (Neurosurgery, ret.) and Adjunct Professor of Medical History (ret.) Mercer University School of Medicine. He is an Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI), and an Ex-member of the Injury Research Grant Review Committee of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2002-05; former Editor-in-chief of the Medical Sentinel (1996-2002). Author, Vandals at the Gates of Medicine (1995); Medical Warrior: Fighting Corporate Socialized Medicine (1997); and Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise (2002). His website is http://www.haciendapub.com.

Copyright ©2013 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

This article may be cited as: Faria MA. Fidel and Raúl Castro — Communist Brethren.  HaciendaPublishing.com, March 7, 2013. Available at: http://www.haciendapub.com/articles/fidel-and-ra%C3%BAl-castro-%E2%80%94...

After Fidel — the Inside Story of Castro's Regime and Cuba's Next Leader by Brian Latell, 2005; Palgrave-Macmillan; 273 pages.

The photographs used to illustrate this exclusive book review for Hacienda Publishing came from a variety of sources and do not necessarily appear in Latell's After Fidel.


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Cuba before Castro for doubting Thomases...

For those who doubt what Cuba was like before the Revolution, and the catastrophe that the Castro brothers and communism brought to the island paradise, watch the video of Havana in 1958, posted in this website.

And this little video was filmed during and in the midst of the insurgency against Fulgencio Batista. Compare these pre-revolutionary videos to any of Cuba in the last 20 years and cry!:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwqxFnE1YHw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OvWKVmcaZ6k

Fidel Castro is dead!

Fidel Castro is dead!

November 25, 2016: The communist sultan is finally dead. My immediate thoughts have been put into three little paragraphs. Suffice to say, then that his end so late in coming was anticlimactic after all the decades of suffering he has caused.

Fidel Castro wins Confucius Prize!

Despite Fidel Castro's “Armageddon Letter” during the Cuban Missile Crisis, China honored and awarded the ailing but still feared Fidel Castro with China’s alternative peace prize, the Confucius prize, for "important contributions on eliminating nuclear war. "

What was the Armageddon Letter? On October 22, 1962, the last day of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Fidel Castro sent to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev a letter in which Castro advocated a preemptive nuclear strike against the U.S., using not only the island's strategic and tactical assembled missile force but also the USSR nuclear arsenal.Aged Fidel Castro

Khrushchev not only turned him down but the emotionally charged, diabolical impetuosity of the Cuban leader frightened and prompted Khrushchev to immediately cave in to JFK’s demands.

We must assume Castro was not aware that the U.S. had a significant nuclear superiority over the USSR. The “missile gap” that existed in 1962 was stacked in U.S. favor within the tripod of strategic nuclear forces — the hardened silos of ground intercontinental missile launchers, air bombers, and submarine forces. Khrushchev, of course, knew of this gap and "capitulated." JFK won the PR victory!

Read more on this topic: Cuban Espionage — The Saga of Florentino Aspillaga and the Assassination of JFK.

Crimes against humanity!

CUBA: ON THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TUGBOAT MASSACRE
 
July 1, 2014, Summit, New Jersey.  Among the most flagrant atrocities committed by the Castro regime in its long history of human rights’ abuses, two incidents stand out that took place in the month of July —the Canimar River Massacre of 1980 and the Tugboat Massacre of 1994. Perpetrated by the Cuban regime still in power, they illustrate its profound disregard for human life and fundamental freedoms. On this anniversary, we remember the victims —their tragic loss is compounded by the continued impunity the Cuban dictatorship enjoys for these and many other crimes against humanity. 

On July 13, 1994, a group of around seventy family members and friends boarded the tugboat “13 de marzo” in the middle of the night hoping to escape to the United States. As they made their way out of Havana’s harbor, three tugboats that had been waiting in the dark took up a chase. Soon, they began to relentlessly spray the boat with high-pressure water jets, ripping children from their parents’ arms and sweeping passengers off to sea. Finally, the tugboat was rammed to make it sink. Passengers who had taken refuge in the cargo hold were pinned down; they desperately pounded on the walls and the children wailed in horror as the boat sank and they all drowned. The three pursuing tugboats circled around survivors who clung to life, creating wave turbulence to make them drown. The attack stopped suddenly, apparently to conceal the crime, when a merchant ship with a Greek flag approached Havana Harbor. Cuban Navy ships standing by began picking up survivors and took them to shore. The traumatized women and children were interrogated and sent home, the men imprisoned for months and given psychotropic drugs. 

Thirty-seven perished, including eleven children. None of the bodies were returned to their families for burial. Survivors and relatives of the dead were denied information and put under surveillance. Many were dismissed from their jobs and systematically harassed by the authorities, most eventually left for exile. It later transpired that an infiltrator had helped plan the operation; the goal was to set them up to serve as example and discourage future escapees. The Cuban government claimed it had been an accident and, as usual, blamed it all on U.S. immigration policies. An international outcry prompted the government to promise an investigation, but instead it awarded the head of the operation, tugboat pilot Jesús González Machín, a "Hero of the Cuban Revolution" medal. Requests by international organizations for information and redress were all disregarded.

Fourteen years earlier, on July 6th 1980, a similar incident had transpired. Three youngsters had hijacked a recently inaugurated excursion boat navigating inland along the scenic Canimar river flowing into Matanzas Bay. Surprised passengers screamed their approval to go to the U.S. but authorities commanded a chase, Navy boats and an Air Force plane fired freely on the boatful of passengers and an industrial boat was brought to ram and sink the vessel. There were at least 56 reported victims, including four children. The actual number was kept secret, recovered bodies were not handed to the families, and communal funerals were forbidden. Survivors were silenced with the threat of prison and kept under surveillance for years. The Cuban government claimed it had been an accident.

The world community largely ignores that the Castro regime has for decades systematically murdered civilians for trying to escape their country. Even after a new migration law allowing more widespread travel since January 2013, Cuba's Penal Code continues to punish attempts to leave without government authorization with up to twenty years in prison or death and authorities have reportedly shot at civilians trying to leave by sea. In 55 years of the Castro brothers’ dictatorship, hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been killed by government authorities for attempting to escape by sea, by seeking asylum in foreign embassies, or by trying to cross into the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo. Today the U.S. base remains sealed off by barbed wire and surrounded by mines, with Cuban border guards ready to shoot to kill. Thousands have served prison under very dire conditions over the course of decades for the so-called crime of leaving without government authorization. Today, many are serving long sentences for attempting to escape the country. We highlight the case of five very young men who were part of a plot in 2003 to hijack a boat to escape Cuba. Though no one was harmed, the three main conspirators were executed and five young men remain imprisoned; four are serving life sentences —Harold Alcalá Aramburo, Yoanny Thomas González, Ramón Henry Grillo, and Maikel Delgado Aramburo; one, Wilmer Ledea Pérez, has 19 years to go of a 30-year sentence. 

 Cuba Archive calls on world governments, international organizations, and all people of goodwill to hold the Cuban government accountable for its crimes and demand respect for the fundamental rights of Cuba’s citizens to life, personal security, and the right to leave their country at will. We extend an invitation to raise awareness of these crimes and organize or join activities of remembrance worldwide.♣
 
Report: Tugboat Massacre (with photos of all victims):
www.CubaArchive.org/english_version/articles/97/1/The-Tugboat-Massacre
 
Report: Canimar River Massacre:
http://www.cubaarchive.org/english_version/articles/88/1/The-Canimar-Riv...
 
Short video interviews of exit attempts:
In Multimedia section of www.CubaArchive.org (in Spanish):
María Iglesias on killings by Cuban Border Guard at Guantánamo; Jorge Grave de Peralta on Cuba’s Berlin Wall at Guantánamo; Jorge García on Tugboat massacre of 1994; Nilda Pedraza on her son, killed in exit attempt in 1994.
 
Report - Documented victims of exit attempts:
http://www.CubaArchive.org/english_version/articles/89/1/ Cubans -killed-for-attempting-to-flee-Cuba
 
Individual records on all documented victims of exit attempts: www.CubaArchive.org/database/
 

Raul Castro

Raul Castro had been in the background of Cuba for so many years. He is now the leader in the island and lots of people are interested in personality and his leadership style. I for one admire him and wish him well.

Cuba & N. Korea Arms scandal!

From The Miami Herald's Editorial, July 21, 2013: Keep Cuba on Terrorist List

Cuba, North Korea and the Chong Chon Gang

OUR OPINION: Obama administration must push for stronger U.N. response and put N. Korea back on U.S. terror list

The seizure in Panama of the Chong Chon Gang, a rusty old North Korean ship carrying last century’s Soviet-era weapons from Cuba hidden under 250,000 sacks of brown sugar, may seem to have the wacky trappings of a Gilligan’s Island episode with a Cold War flashback that includes a rioting crew and a captain threatening to kill himself when Panamanian soldiers boarded his ship.

But as the ship’s containers begin to be cleared of the 100-pound bags of sugar and the weapons systems are exposed and analyzed by experts, no one’s laughing. The case for maintaining a tough line on North Korea and Cuba has been strengthened.

The Obama administration, which has spent years tossing carrots at both communist countries, keeps finding that neither wants to nibble. They’re too busy, after all, plotting against the United States and the United Nations.

Any talk of removing the communist island from the State Department’s terror list remains a fool’s errand when faced with more evidence of Cuba’s role as a pass-through for every renegade nation and terrorist group that seeks harbor there.

The Cuban and North Korean communist dictatorships maintain Cuba was sending “obsolete defensive weapons” for repairs in North Korea so that Cuba can “protect its sovereignty.” Among the 240 metric tons of weapons are two anti-aircraft missile systems, nine missiles “in parts and spares,” two Mig-21 bis jet fighters and 15 engines, the Cubans say.

But if the weapons are obsolete why repair them? In fact, a key radar component of the SA-2 surface-to-air defense system on the ship can still be used once upgraded to ward off newer Western systems that can disable the old SA-2, surface-to-air missiles designed for higher elevations like North Korea’s. Were these weapons headed for North Korea to spruce up for its own use now that neighboring China has toughened its position against Pyongyang?

North Korea’s arms deal with Cuba violates United Nations security resolutions that prohibit the Asian renegade from dealing in arms. The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions against North Korea after its first illegal nuclear test in 2006 and again in 2009, sanctions that authorize inspections of ships at sea. Yet North Korea was removed from the U.S. State Department’s terror list in 2008 after it agreed to international inspection of its nuclear program. Time has shown that this promise was made to be broken.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and past chair, is right to call for North Korea to be put back on the terror list. And those hoping to get Cuba pulled off the terror list should have gotten their wake-up call about the Castro brothers’ ill will, too.

As Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez noted, “Weapons transfers from one communist regime to another hidden under sacks of sugar are not accidental occurrences and reinforce the necessity that Cuba remain on the State Department’s list of countries that sponsor state terrorism. In addition to possible violations of Panamanian law, the shipment almost certainly violated United Nations Security Council sanctions on shipments of weapons to North Korea and as such, I call on the Obama administration to submit this case to the U.N. Security Council for review.”

This is no time to be chummy with rogue regimes. Keep Cuba where it belongs — on the terror list — and add North Korea to the membership because both countries have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted.



Diary of Dreams performs at the 2016 M’era Luna festival in Hildesheim, Germany. M’era Luna, “one of the biggest dark music events in Germany,” is held each year on the second weekend in August. Close to 25,000 people attend the festival annually to hear gothic, metal and industrial music performed on two large festival-style stages.