For many decades, the United States controlled Cuba through military means as well as by installing and propping up corrupt governments and politicians who allowed the U.S. criminal class to steal everything from Cuba, while keeping the Cuban people living in desperate poverty without any rights. Fidel Castro as well as others were committed to overthrowing the corrupt government of dictator Batista, getting the U.S. out of Cuba, and throwing out the mafia and their local upper-class Cuban collaborators who, as Castro said, turned the Cuban children into beggars, women into whores, and men into thieves.
When Castro and his followers launched an attack in 1953 against a fort known as the Moncada, they were routed, captured, tried, imprisoned. At the conclusion of his trial Castro gave a four-hour closing argument which is now known as one of his greatest speeches, and is commonly referred to by its final line: History will absolve me. (See Below for an excerpt). The strange thing is that when you read his speech, he could be talking about the U.S., or many other countries today: unemployment, money-lenders (credit card companies and Wall Street), unaffordable housing, unaffordable education, no healthcare, a corrupt government on the payroll of big money.
What did Fidel Castro promise and what did he do that earned him the role of #1 enemy of the U.S.? He did everything that we should do in this country, everything that should be done throughout Latin America. He appropriated the wealth of those who had too much, and who had gained from a system which allowed them to amass wealth beyond imagination while their countrymen starved. He took the resources of the nation away from the multinational corporations who claimed them, and committed a large percentage of profits to the benefit of the people.
He took the land away from the wealthy and distributed it to everyone. He gave subsistence farmers a plot of land and helped them build homes. He developed a national education system so that Cuba has an extremely high literacy rate. He developed a medical education system so that Cuba now has so many well-trained professionals that they can send teams into countries suffering from disasters. He took the wealth of the nation and used it for the benefit of the people. That is why he is the enemy of the U.S. Or at least the enemy of the wealthy. An enemy of the tiny group of people (2% of the world's population) who own 50% of the world's wealth, while most people are left to starve.
Fifty years ago, this tiny island nation became involved in a dispute with the wealthy and powerful U.S. neighbor to the north. For over fifty years the U.S. has continued a program of hostility, has invaded, and has attempted again and again to assassinate Fidel Castro. The former upper class of Cuba, the mafia collaborators, friends of the dictator, still scheme in Florida to invade Cuba, take everything for themselves, and restore the dictatorship which formerly cursed that tiny nation.
Today it was leaked that President Obama plans to begin to allow Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba and to send money there. That's an excellent start. Then we need to open up all travel and trade. For heaven's sake, there are a few thousand old, rum-soaked, bar-stool dwelling right-wing morons in southern Florida who are carrying on the anti-Castro vendetta solely because they get Congress to send them millions of dollars every year to fund "anti-Communist activities."
These fanatics' "activities," for which they are given millions of taxpayer dollars, consist of parading around once a year and chanting "Death to Fidel." Give it a rest. This is all just another con, another way to steal American taxpayer dollars. The Anti-Castro Cubans who get these millions of dollars kick-back a percentage to their Republican representatives in Congress. The same type of criminal and corrupt system that let them get rich in Cuba under Batista.
Let's end it. Cut off all the anti-Cuba money that we spend every year, including the ridiculous radio broadcasts that are supposed to make the Cuban people "rise up" against their government. Give it a rest. Let's have trade, free travel, baseball, music, culture, educational exchanges and end this insanity.
(Note: Fidel Castro and his followers attempted to overthrow the corrupt dictatorship of Batista, but they were repelled by Batista's army. Many young Cubans were slaughtered immediately after the uprising, and Fidel Castro as well as some of his followers were arrested and tried. Castro was kept in isolation, kept away from the trials of his followers, tried by himself in secrecy, and ultimately acted as his own attorney. "History Will Absolve Me" was his closing argument at the end of his trial. It really shows what a brilliant man he was and is, and why the people of Cuba love him. The speech shows the inanity of the U.S. buffoonish-version of Castro that has been portrayed in the media and by our government. He is a highly intelligent person and was motivated by the intolerable circumstances of his nation, and a desire to make the lives of the Cuban people better. His success is the main reason the U.S. continues to fight this tiny little nation. His example to the rest of Latin America, the idea that they do not have to succumb to being controlled by the U.S., is indeed revolutionary).
Excerpts from Fidel Castro's Closing Argument, 1953, "History Will Absolve Me
Never has a lawyer had to practice his profession under such difficult conditions; never has such a number of overwhelming irregularities been committed against an accused man. In this case, counsel and defendant are one and the same.
The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their hearts, nothing can isolate them - neither prison walls nor the sod of cemeteries. For a single memory, a single spirit, a single idea, a single conscience, a single dignity will sustain them all.
[My] brave comrades, with unprecedented patriotism, did their duty to the utmost.
'Yes, we set out to fight for Cuba's freedom and we are not ashamed of having done so,' they declared, one by one, on the witness stand. Then, addressing the Court with impressive courage, they denounced the hideous crimes committed upon the bodies of our brothers.
As the trial went on, the roles were reversed: those who came to accuse found themselves accused, and the accused became the accusers! It was not the revolutionaries who were judged there; judged once and forever was a man named Batista - monstruum horrendum! - and it matters little that these valiant and worthy young men have been condemned, if tomorrow the people will condemn the Dictator and his henchmen!
Our men were consigned to the Isle of Pines Prison, in whose circular galleries Castells' ghost still lingers and where the cries of countless victims still echo; there our young men have been sent to expiate their love of liberty, in bitter confinement, banished from society, torn from their homes and exiled from their country.
[Th]e dictatorship that oppresses the nation is not a constitutional power, but an unconstitutional one: it was established against the Constitution, over the head of the Constitution, violating the legitimate Constitution of the Republic. The legitimate Constitution is that which emanates directly from a sovereign people.
We have fomented a rebellion against one single power, an illegal one, which has usurped and merged into a single whole both the Legislative and Executive Powers of the nation, and so has destroyed the entire system that was specifically safeguarded by the [law] now under our analysis.
I warn you, I am just beginning! If there is in your hearts a vestige of love for your country, love for humanity, love for justice, listen carefully. I know that I will be silenced for many years; I know that the regime will try to suppress the truth by all possible means; I know that there will be a conspiracy to bury me in oblivion. But my voice will not be stifled - it will rise from my breast even when I feel most alone, and my heart will give it all the fire that callous cowards deny it.
This is how peoples fight when they want to win their freedom; they throw stones at airplanes and overturn tanks!
When we speak of the people we are not talking about those who live in comfort, the conservative elements of the nation, who welcome any repressive regime, any dictatorship, any despotism, prostrating themselves before the masters of the moment until they grind their foreheads into the ground.
When we speak of struggle and we mention the people we mean the vast unredeemed masses, those to whom everyone makes promises and who are deceived by all; we mean the people who yearn for a better, more dignified and more just nation; who are moved by ancestral aspirations to justice, for they have suffered injustice and mockery generation after generation; those who long for great and wise changes in all aspects of their life; people who, to attain those changes, are ready to give even the very last breath they have when they believe in something or in someone, especially when they believe in themselves.
In terms of struggle, when we talk about people we're talking about the six hundred thousand Cubans without work, who want to earn their daily bread honestly without having to emigrate from their homeland in search of a livelihood; the five hundred thousand farm laborers who live in miserable shacks, who work four months of the year and starve the rest, sharing their misery with their children, who don't have an inch of land to till and whose existence would move any heart not made of stone; the four hundred thousand industrial workers and laborers whose retirement funds have been embezzled, whose benefits are being taken away, whose homes are wretched quarters, whose salaries pass from the hands of the boss to those of the moneylender, whose future is a pay reduction and dismissal, whose life is endless work and whose only rest is the tomb; the one hundred thousand small farmers who live and die working land that is not theirs, looking at it with the sadness of Moses gazing at the promised land, to die without ever owning it, who like feudal serfs have to pay for the use of their parcel of land by giving up a portion of its produce, who cannot love it, improve it, beautify it nor plant a cedar or an orange tree on it because they never know when a sheriff will come with the rural guard to evict them from it; the thirty thousand teachers and professors who are so devoted, dedicated and so necessary to the better destiny of future generations and who are so badly treated and paid; the twenty thousand small business men weighed down by debts, ruined by the crisis and harangued by a plague of grafting and venal officials; the ten thousand young professional people: doctors, engineers, lawyers, veterinarians, school teachers, dentists, pharmacists, newspapermen, painters, sculptors, etc., who finish school with their degrees anxious to work and full of hope, only to find themselves at a dead end, all doors closed to them, and where no ears hear their clamor or supplication.
The little rural schoolhouses are attended by a mere half of the school age children - barefooted, half-naked and undernourished - and frequently the teacher must buy necessary school materials from his own salary. Is this the way to make a nation great?
Only death can liberate one from so much misery. In this respect, however, the State is most helpful - in providing early death for the people. Ninety per cent of the children in the countryside are consumed by parasites which filter through their bare feet from the ground they walk on. Society is moved to compassion when it hears of the kidnapping or murder of one child, but it is indifferent to the mass murder of so many thousands of children who die every year from lack of facilities, agonizing with pain. Their innocent eyes, death already shining in them, seem to look into some vague infinity as if entreating forgiveness for human selfishness, as if asking God to stay His wrath. And when the head of a family works only four months a year, with what can he purchase clothing and medicine for his children? They will grow up with rickets, with not a single good tooth in their mouths by the time they reach thirty; they will have heard ten million speeches and will finally die of misery and deception. Public hospitals, which are always full, accept only patients recommended by some powerful politician who, in return, demands the votes of the unfortunate one and his family so that Cuba may continue forever in the same or worse condition.
But those who burn warehouses and stores to collect insurance do not go to jail, even though a few human beings may have gone up in flames. The insured have money to hire lawyers and bribe judges. You imprison the poor wretch who steals because he is hungry; but none of the hundreds who steal millions from the Government has ever spent a night in jail. You dine with them at the end of the year in some elegant club and they enjoy your respect.
In Cuba, when a government official becomes a millionaire overnight and enters the fraternity of the rich, he could very well be greeted with the words of that opulent character out of Balzac - Taillefer - who in his toast to the young heir to an enormous fortune, said: 'Gentlemen, let us drink to the power of gold! Mr. Valentine, a millionaire six times over, has just ascended the throne. He is king, can do everything, is above everyone, as all the rich are. Henceforth, equality before the law, established by the Constitution, will be a myth for him; for he will not be subject to laws: the laws will be subject to him. There are no courts nor are there sentences for millionaires.'
The nation's future, the solutions to its problems, cannot continue to depend on the selfish interests of a dozen big businessmen nor on the cold calculations of profits that ten or twelve magnates draw up in their air-conditioned offices. The country cannot continue begging on its knees for miracles from a few golden calves, like the Biblical one destroyed by the prophet's fury. Golden calves cannot perform miracles of any kind. The problems of the Republic can be solved only if we dedicate ourselves to fight for it with the same energy, honesty and patriotism our liberators had when they founded it. Statesmen like Carlos Saladrigas, whose statesmanship consists of preserving the statu quo and mouthing phrases like 'absolute freedom of enterprise,' 'guarantees to investment capital' and 'law of supply and demand,' will not solve these problems.
To those who would call me a dreamer, I quote the words of Martíí: 'A true man does not seek the path where advantage lies, but rather the path where duty lies, and this is the only practical man, whose dream of today will be the law of tomorrow, because he who has looked back on the essential course of history and has seen flaming and bleeding peoples seethe in the cauldron of the ages knows that, without a single exception, the future lies on the side of duty.'
What is more, my comrades are neither dead nor forgotten; they live today, more than ever, and their murderers will view with dismay the victorious spirit of their ideas rise from their corpses. Let the Apostle speak for me: 'There is a limit to the tears we can shed at the graveside of the dead. Such limit is the infinite love for the homeland and its glory, a love that never falters, loses hope nor grows dim. For the graves of the martyrs are the highest altars of our reverence.'
... When one dies In the arms of a grateful country Agony ends, prison chains break - and At last, with death, life begins!
Batista delivered himself into the hands of the great financial interests. Little else could be expected from a man of his mentality - utterly devoid as he is of ideals and of principles, and utterly lacking the faith, confidence and support of the masses. His regime merely brought with it a change of hands and a redistribution of the loot among a new group of friends, relatives, accomplices and parasitic hangers-on that constitute the political retinue of the Dictator. What great shame the people have been forced to endure so that a small group of egoists, altogether indifferent to the needs of their homeland, may find in public life an easy and comfortable modus vivendi.
The right of rebellion against tyranny, Honorable Judges, has been recognized from the most ancient times to the present day by men of all creeds, ideas and doctrines.
It was so in the theocratic monarchies of remote antiquity. In China it was almost a constitutional principle that when a king governed rudely and despotically he should be deposed and replaced by a virtuous prince.
The philosophers of ancient India upheld the principle of active resistance to arbitrary authority. They justified revolution and very often put their theories into practice. One of their spiritual leaders used to say that 'an opinion held by the majority is stronger than the king himself. A rope woven of many strands is strong enough to hold a lion.'
The city states of Greece and republican Rome not only admitted, but defended the meting-out of violent death to tyrants.
In the Middle Ages, John Salisbury in his Book of the Statesman says that when a prince does not govern according to law and degenerates into a tyrant, violent overthrow is legitimate and justifiable. He recommends for tyrants the dagger rather than poison.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, in the Summa Theologica, rejects the doctrine of tyrannicide, and yet upholds the thesis that tyrants should be overthrown by the people.
Martin Luther proclaimed that when a government degenerates into a tyranny that violates the laws, its subjects are released from their obligations to obey. His disciple, Philippe Melanchton, upholds the right of resistance when governments become despotic. Calvin, the outstanding thinker of the Reformation with regard to political ideas, postulates that people are entitled to take up arms to oppose any usurpation.
No less a man that Juan Mariana, a Spanish Jesuit during the reign of Philip II, asserts in his book, De Rege et Regis Institutione, that when a governor usurps power, or even if he were elected, when he governs in a tyrannical manner it is licit for a private citizen to exercise tyrannicide, either directly or through subterfuge with the least possible disturbance.
The French writer, Franççois Hotman, maintained that between the government and its subjects there is a bond or contract, and that the people may rise in rebellion against the tyranny of government when the latter violates that pact.
About the same time, a booklet - which came to be widely read - appeared under the title Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, and it was signed with the pseudonym Stephanus Junius Brutus. It openly declared that resistance to governments is legitimate when rulers oppress the people and that it is the duty of Honorable Judges to lead the struggle.
The Scottish reformers John Knox and John Poynet upheld the same points of view. And, in the most important book of that movement, George Buchanan stated that if a government achieved power without taking into account the consent of the people, or if a government rules their destiny in an unjust or arbitrary fashion, then that government becomes a tyranny and can be divested of power or, in a final recourse, its leaders can be put to death.
John Althus, a German jurist of the early 17th century, stated in his Treatise on Politics that sovereignty as the supreme authority of the State is born from the voluntary concourse of all its members; that governmental authority stems from the people and that its unjust, illegal or tyrannical function exempts them from the duty of obedience and justifies resistance or rebellion.
It is well known that in England during the 17th century two kings, Charles I and James II, were dethroned for despotism. These actions coincided with the birth of liberal political philosophy and provided the ideological base for a new social class, which was then struggling to break the bonds of feudalism. Against divine right autocracies, this new philosophy upheld the principle of the social contract and of the consent of the governed, and constituted the foundation of the English Revolution of 1688, the American Revolution of 1775 and the French Revolution of 1789.
As far back as 1649, John Milton wrote that political power lies with the people, who can enthrone and dethrone kings and have the duty of overthrowing tyrants.
John Locke, in his essay on government, maintained that when the natural rights of man are violated, the people have the right and the duty to alter or abolish the government. 'The only remedy against unauthorized force is opposition to it by force.'
Jean-Jaques Rousseau said with great eloquence in his Social Contract: 'While a people sees itself forced to obey and obeys, it does well; but as soon as it can shake off the yoke and shakes it off, it does better, recovering its liberty through the use of the very right that has been taken away from it.' 'To renounce freedom is to renounce one's status as a man, to renounce one's human rights, including one's duties.
Thomas Paine said that 'one just man deserves more respect than a rogue with a crown.'
The people's right to rebel has been opposed only by reactionaries like that clergyman of Virginia, Jonathan Boucher, who said: 'The right to rebel is a censurable doctrine derived from Lucifer, the father of rebellions.'
The Declaration of Independence of the Congress of Philadelphia, on July 4th, 1776, consecrated this right in a beautiful paragraph which reads: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness; That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.'
The famous French Declaration of the Rights of Man willed this principle to the coming generations: 'When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for them the most sacred of rights and the most imperative of duties.'
All these reasons support men who struggle for the freedom and happiness of the people. None support those who oppress the people, revile them, and rob them heartlessly.
Still there is one argument more powerful than all the others. We are Cubans and to be Cuban implies a duty; not to fulfill that duty is a crime, is treason. We are proud of the history of our country; we learned it in school and have grown up hearing of freedom, justice and human rights. We were taught to venerate the glorious example of our heroes and martyrs. Cééspedes, Agramonte, Maceo, Góómez and Martíí were the first names engraved in our minds. We were taught that the Titan once said that liberty is not begged for but won with the blade of a machete. We were taught that for the guidance of Cuba's free citizens, the Apostle wrote in his book The Golden Age: 'The man who abides by unjust laws and permits any man to trample and mistreat the country in which he was born is not an honorable man ...
We were taught to cherish and defend the beloved flag of the lone star, and to sing every afternoon the verses of our National Anthem: 'To live in chains is to live in disgrace and in opprobrium,' and 'to die for one's homeland is to live forever!' All this we learned and will never forget, even though today in our land there is murder and prison for the men who practice the ideas taught to them since the cradle. We were born in a free country that our parents bequeathed to us, and the Island will first sink into the sea before we consent to be the slaves of anyone.
I come to the close of my defense plea but I will not end it as lawyers usually do, asking that the accused be freed. I cannot ask freedom for myself while my comrades are already suffering in the ignominious prison of the Isle of Pines. Send me there to join them and to share their fate. It is understandable that honest men should be dead or in prison in a Republic where the President is a criminal and a thief.
I know that imprisonment will be harder for me than it has ever been for anyone, filled with cowardly threats and hideous cruelty. But I do not fear prison, as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who took the lives of 70 of my comrades. Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.