REFLECTIONS BY THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF
The Basics of the Killing Machine
The founding fathers of the American nation could not imagine that what they were proclaiming at that time, as any other historical society, was carrying within it the seeds of its own transformation.
The attractive Declaration of Independence of 1776, which celebrated its 231st birthday last Wednesday, stated something which in one way or another captivated many of us: “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 it or abolish it, and to institute 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.”
It was the
result of the influence of the best minds and philosophers of a
Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated in his famous Social Contract: “The strongest is never strong enough to be always the master, unless he transforms strength into right, and obedience into duty.” (…) “Force is a physical power, and I fail to see what moral effect it can have. To yield to force is an act of necessity, not of will…” (…) “To renounce liberty is to renounce being a man, to surrender the rights of Humanity and even its duties. For him who renounces everything no indemnity is possible.”
In the Thirteen Colonies that obtained their independence, there were also forms of slavery as atrocious as those in ancient times. Men and women were sold at public auction. The new nation emerged with its own religion and culture. The Tea Tax was the spark that set off the rebellion.
In those vast lands slavery continued for at least 100 years, and after two centuries, slave descendants are still feeling the consequences. There were native communities which were the legitimate natural inhabitants, as well as forests, water, lakes, herds of millions of bison, natural species of animals and plants, abundant and various foods. Hydrocarbons were unknown then, as was the enormous wasting of energy carried out by today’s society.
Had the same declaration of principles
been proclaimed in the countries crossed by the
The Philadelphia Declaration was written at a time when there were only small printing presses and letters took years to get from one country to another. There were only a few people who could read and write. Today, images, words and ideas travel in a fraction of a second from one corner to another in a globalized planet. Conditioned reflexes are created in the minds of people. We cannot speak about the right to use, but rather about the overuse of free expression and mass alienation. Likewise, with modest electronic equipment, anybody, during peacetime, can send their ideas out into the world without any authorization from any Constitution. It would be a battle of ideas; in any case, a mass of truths versus a mass of lies.
Truths do not need commercial advertisements. Nobody could disagree with the Philadelphia Declaration or with Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract. Both documents support the right to struggle against the established world tyranny.
Could we ignore the pillaging wars and the slaughters which are forced upon the poor peoples who make up three-quarters of the planet? No! Those are typical of today’s world and of a system that could not sustain itself otherwise. At an enormous political, economic and scientific cost, the human species is being pushed to the edge of an abyss.
My aim is
not to repeat concepts that I have mentioned in other reflections. Based on simple events, my purpose is to
carry on demonstrating the immense hypocrisy and the total lack of ethics which
characterize the actions, chaotic by nature, of the government of the
In "The Killing Machine”, published last Sunday, I said that it was through one of the declassified CIA documents that we found out about the attempt to poison me using an official of the Cuban government with access to my office. It dealt with a person about whom I should have sought out some information, since I didn't have the elements on hand to make the necessary judgement. In fact, I offered my apologies if I was hurting the feelings of any descendants, whether or not the concerned person were guilty. I later continued to analyze other important subjects in the CIA revelations.
During the early days of the Revolution, I used to visit, almost on a
daily basis, the recently created National Institute of Agrarian Reform, located
where today we have the headquarters of the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed
Forces. We were not able to use the
Palace of the Revolution yet, since that was the venue of the
offices of INRA, on
We know that
everything was carefully planned by the Central Intelligence Agency right from
the port where the ship was loaded. The
ship had passed through the ports of
the name of freedom of information, do they not declassify a single document
that will tell us how the CIA, almost half a century ago, exploded the
What was I devoting my time to during the
feverish days previous to the attack through
large-scale clean-up in the
A flood of
weapons was arriving in ships from the
It would have taken at least a year to train by traditional methods the personnel needed to use all that weaponry. We did it in a matter of weeks. We dedicated practically one hundred percent of our time to that task almost two years after the triumph of the Revolution.
aware of an imminent attack, but didn’t know when or how it would come. All possible access points were being
defended or guarded. The leaders all had
their headquarters: Raúl in Oriente,
Almeida in the center, and Che in Pinar del Río. I was headquartered in the capital: a former bourgeois residence had been adapted
for that purpose on the highest right bank of the
It was already daylight on April 15, 1961, and there I was, since the first early morning hours, receiving news from Oriente, when a ship had come from the southern United States, skippered by Nino Díaz, with a group of counterrevolutionaries on board dressed in olive green fatigues similar to the ones worn by our troops, ready to land in the Baracoa area. This was to create a diversion far from the exact site of the main attack, in order to create maximum confusion. The ship was already at the crosshairs of the antitank cannons, but in the end the landing did not take place.
On the night of the 14th, we also got news that one of our three jet fighters, which were training craft ready for engagement, had blown up during a reconnaissance flight over the area of presumptive landing. This was undoubtedly a Yankee action perpetrated from the Guantánamo Naval Base or somewhere else in the sea or the air. There was no radar to exactly pinpoint the event. The outstanding revolutionary pilot, Orestes Acosta, died in that action.
From the headquarters I mentioned, I could see the B-26s flying low over the spot and, a few seconds later, I heard the first missiles launched without warning against our young artillery, who for the most part were being trained at the Ciudad Libertad Air Base. The response of those brave men was practically instantaneous.
Besides, I have no doubt whatsoever that Juan Orta was a traitor. The pertinent details about his life and conduct are where they ought to be: in the archives of the Department of State Security, born in those years under enemy fire. The most politically conscious men were the ones assigned that mission.
received the poisoned pills which had been proposed to Maheu by Giancana. Maheu’s conversation with Roselli, who would
play the part of mob contact, took place on
traitor, Orta, had no special merits. We
kept writing each other when we were looking for the support of Cuban emigrants
and exiles in the
He had received money from the mob supposedly for helping to reopen the gambling casinos. He had nothing to do with this. We were the ones who had made that decision. Urrutia's unilateral order, issued without previous consultation, was creating chaos and promoting protests by thousands of workers in the tourist and business sectors, at a time when unemployment was running high.
Some time later, the gambling casinos were shut down for good by the Revolution.
When he was given the poison, contrary to what used to happen in the early days, Orta had very little possibilities to coincide with me. I was fully involved in the activities I previously described.
saying a word to anybody about the enemy plans, on
had to put up with the betrayal of Rafael del Pino Siero in
this betrayal, we left
final offensive by the tyranny in the Sierra Maestra had finished, we had to
also fight against the bold tricks of Evaristo Venereo, an agent of the regime
who, disguised as a revolutionary, tried to infiltrate the Movement in
I have survived numerous assassination plots. Only luck and the habit of carefully observing every detail allowed all of us, Camilo, Che, Raúl, Almeida, Guillermo, who were later known as the leaders of a triumphant Revolution, to survive the trickery of Eutimio Guerra during the early and most dramatic days in the Sierra Maestra. We might have possibly died when we were at the verge of being eliminated with a ridiculous siege laid on our camp by surprise under the traitor’s guidance. During the brief clash that ensued, we suffered a sad loss: a wonderful, black sugar worker and active combatant, Julio Zenón Acosta, who moved ahead of me and fell at my side. Others survived the deadly danger, and fell in combat afterwards, as was the case of Ciro Frías, an excellent comrade and promising leader, who died in Imías, in the Second Front; Ciro Redondo, who fiercely fought the enemy with the troops of Che’s column, and was killed in Marverde; and Julito Díaz, who was relentlessly shooting his caliber 30 machine gun and died a few steps from our Command Post at El Uvero battle.
We set up the ambush at a very well chosen spot, waiting for the enemy, because we were aware of the moves they intended to make that day. Our attention slackened for a few minutes when two men from the group, who had been sent out as scouts before deciding to move, returned without news.
Eutimio was guiding the enemy dressed in a white ‘guayabera’ shirt, the only thing visible in the Alto de Espinosa woods, where we were waiting for him. Batista had the headlines ready about the elimination of the whole group, which was for him a sure thing, and had notified the press. Out of excessive confidence, we had in fact underestimated the enemy which was taking advantage of human weaknesses. At that time, we were a group of about 22 well-seasoned and selected men. Ramiro, wounded in one leg, was recovering at some distance from us.
The column of more than 300 soldiers, who were advancing one abreast through the sheer and wooded landscape, was spared a storming blow, thanks to a last-minute move that we made.
How did that machine work in the face of the Cuban Revolution?
as April of 1959, I visited the
I was so
aware of this inexperience, that I enrolled in three university degree courses
in order to qualify for a scholarship that would allow me to study Economics at
Harvard. I had already finished and had
written the exams for all the Law, Diplomatic Law and Social Science
courses. I only had two subjects to be
examined on: History of Social Doctrines
and History of Political Doctrines. I had
been studying them carefully. That year,
no other student was making the effort.
The path had been cleared, but events were on the fast track in
I went to
Harvard on a visit at the end of 1948.
As I returned to
qualm about speaking with Nixon was the distaste I had in frankly explaining my
philosophy to a Vice-president and a likely future President of the
What was the gist of that meeting which took hours, according to the author of the declassified memo that refers to it? I only have my own memories of what happened. I have selected the paragraphs from this memo which, in my opinion, best explain Nixon’s ideas.
“He (Castro) was particularly concerned about whether he might have irritated Senator Smathers for the comments he made with regard to him. I reassured him at the beginning of the conversation that 'Meet the Press’ was one of the most difficult programs a public official could go to and that he had done extremely well – particularly having in mind the fact that he had the courage to go on in English rather than to speak through a translator.”
“It was also apparent that as far as his visit to the United States was concerned that his primary interest was ‘not to get a change in the sugar quota or to get a government loan but to win support for his policies from American public opinion.”
“It was this almost slavish subservience to prevailing majority opinion –the voice of the mob– rather than his naïve attitude towards Communism and his obvious lack of understanding of even the most elementary economic principles which concerned me most in evaluating what kind of a leader he might eventually turn out to be. That is the reason why I spent as much time as I could trying to emphasize that he had the great gift of leadership, but that it was the responsibility of a leader not always to follow public opinion (but to help to direct it in the proper channels,) not to give the people what they think they want at a time of emotional stress but to make them want what they ought to have.”
“I in my turn, tried to impress upon him the fact that while we believe in majority rule that even a majority can be tyrannous and that there are certain individual rights which a majority should never have the power to destroy.”
doubt that I made too much of an impression upon him but he did listen and
appeared to be somewhat receptive. I
tried to cast my appeal to him primarily in terms of how his place in history
would be affected by the courage and statesmanship he displayed at this time. I emphasized that the easy thing to do was to
follow the mob, but that the right thing in the long run would be better for
the people and, of course, better for him as well. As I have already indicated he was incredibly
naïve with regard to the Communist threat and appeared to have no fear whatever
that the Communists might eventually come to power in
“In our discussions of Communism I again tried to cast the arguments in terms of his own self-interest and to point out that the revolution which he had led might be turned against him and the Cuban people unless he kept control of the situation and made sure that the Communists did not get into positions of power and influence. On this score I feel I made very little impression, if any.”
“I put as much emphasis as possible on the need for him to delegate responsibility, but again whether I got across was doubtful.”
“It was apparent that while he paid lip service to such institutions as freedom of speech, press and religion that his primary concern was with developing programs for economic progress. He said over and over that a man who worked in the sugar cane fields for three months a year and starved the rest of the year wanted a job, something to eat, a house and some clothing.”
indicated that it was very foolish for the
“We had a
rather extended discussion of how
I was referring to the capital owned by the Cuban government.
himself acknowledged that I never asked for any resources from the
“… that government capital was limited because of the many demands upon it and the budget problems we presently confronted.”
It was evident I clarified him on that because right afterwards he pointed out in his memo:
“… that there was competition for capital throughout the Americas and the world and that it would not go to a country where there was any considerable fear that policies might be adopted which would discriminate against private enterprise.”
“Here again on this point I doubt if I made too much of an impression.”
tactfully to suggest to Castro that Muñoz Marín had done a remarkable job in
inclined to think that the real reason for his attitude is simply that he
disagreed with Muñoz firm position as an advocate of private enterprise and
does not want to get any advice which might divert him from his course of
“I also tried to put our attitude toward communism in context by pointing out that Communism was something more than just an idea but that its agents were dangerously effective in their ability to grasp power and to set up dictatorships.”
“Significantly enough he did not raise any questions about the sugar quota nor did he engage in any specific discussions with regard to economic assistance.”
appraisal of him as a man is somewhat mixed. The one fact we can be sure of is
that he has those indefinable qualities which make him a leader of men. Whatever we may think of him he is going to
be a great factor in the development of
“But because he has the power to lead to which I have referred we have no choice but at least to try to orient him in the right direction.”
That was the end of his confidential memo to the White House.
When Nixon started to talk, nothing could stop him. He was used to preaching Latin American presidents. He did not prepare any drafts of what he intended to say or took notes of what he actually said. He responded to questions that were never asked. He dealt with subjects based only on the opinions he had about his interlocutor. Not even an elementary school student would hope to receive so many lessons altogether on democracy, anti-Communism and other matters related to the art of governing. He was fond of developed capitalism and its domain of the world out of its own natural right. He idealized the system. He didn’t conceive otherwise, nor was there the slightest possibility of getting through to him.
The killings began under the Eisenhower and Nixon governments. There is no other way to explain why Kissinger exclaimed, and I quote, that “blood would flow if we knew, for example, that Robert Kennedy, the Attorney General, had personally directed the assassination of Fidel Castro”. Some blood had flown before. What the former administrations did, with few exceptions, was to follow the same policy.
memorandum dated on
As it was recognized by the CIA and the Church Senate Committee in 1975, the assassination plans sprang up in 1960, when the purpose of destroying the Cuban Revolution was included in the president’s agenda dated March that year. The J.C. King memo was sent to Allen Dulles, the CIA Director, with a note that expressly requested approval for those and other measures. They were all accepted and gladly welcomed, specially the proposal of assassination, as reflected by the following annotation in the document signed by Allen Dulles and dated one day after, on December 12: “The recommendation contained in Paragraph 3 is approved.”
draft of a book that would contain a detailed analysis of declassified
documents, written by Pedro Álvarez-Tabío, Director of the Historical Affairs
Office of the Council of State, it is stated that: "Up to 1993, the Cuban
State Security had discovered and neutralized a total of 627 conspiracies
against the life of the Commander in Chief Fidel Castro. This figure includes both the plans that
reached some phase of concrete execution and those which were neutralized at an
early stage, as well as other attempts that by various ways and for different
reasons have been publicly revealed in the United States itself. It does not include a number of cases that
could not be verified, since the only available information was the testimony
of some of the participants. This of
course did not include any of the plans plotted after
we were able to learn from the report by Colonel Jack Hawkins, CIA paramilitary
chief during the preparations for the
thought that this force would be landed in
“The concept for employment of the force in the amphibious/airlift assault was discussed at meetings of the Special Group during November and December 1960. The group took no definite position on ultimate employment of such a force but did not oppose its continued development for possible employment. President Eisenhower was briefed on the concept in late November of that year by CIA representatives. He indicated that he desired vigorous continuation of all activities then in progress by all Departments concerned.”
did Hawkins report about the results of the covert operations program against
Nothing less than the following:
“a. Introduction of Paramilitary Agents.
Seventy trained paramilitary agents, including nineteen radio operators, were introduced into the target country. Seventeen radio operators succeeded in establishing communication circuits with CIA headquarters, although a number were later captured or lost their equipment.”
“b. Air Supply Operations.
These operations were not successful. Of 27 missions attempted, only four achieved desired results. The Cuban pilots demonstrated early that they didn't have the required capabilities for this kind of operation. A request for authority to use American contract pilots for these missions was denied by the Special Group, although authority to hire pilots for possible eventual use was granted."
“c. Sea Supply Operations.
These operations achieved considerable success. Boats
“d. Development of Guerrilla Activity.
Agents introduced into
1) From October 1960 through
“(a) Approximately 300 thousand tons of sugar cane destroyed in 800 separate fires.”
“(b) Approximately other 150 fires were set in 42 tobacco warehouses, two paper plants, a sugar refinery, two dairies, four stores, 21 Communist homes.”
“(c) Approximately 110 bombings, including
Communist Party offices,
“(d) Approximately 200 nuisance bombs in
“(e) Derailment of 6 trains, destruction of a microwave cable and station, and destruction of numerous power transformers.”
“(f) A commando-type raid launched from the sea
So much for what we have known thanks to the Hawkins’ report. Anyone could understand that 200 bombs planted in the main province of an underdeveloped country which lived on the single crop farming of sugar cane, which is a semi-slave form of production, and on the sugar quota that had been earned for almost two centuries for being a guaranteed supplier, and whose major productive lands and sugar refineries belonged to large United States companies, constituted a brutal act of tyranny against the Cuban people. Add to this all the other actions that were carried out.
I will say no more. It is enough for today.
Fidel Castro Ruz