Cuba before Castro
In considering Obama’s embrace of Castro’s Cuban gang, it is useful to recall that the greatest danger free minds face today is the calculated rewriting of history. Tsarist Russia, whose economy was growing much faster than any major nation’s through 1914 and whose cultural achievements amounted to a Golden Age, is invariably presented as horrible. Republican China, the most vital and overlooked ally in the Second World War, which also had a thriving economy and remarkable scientific and artistic achievements, is likewise presented as corrupt and weak.
Marxists made it their business to paint their predecessors as presiding over despicable regimes whose deliverance by communists was glorious and noble. It is no surprise, then, that we know almost nothing at all about Cuba before Castro, and what we “know” (or think we know) is little more than the sort of crude and ugly caricature we have come to expect from radical leftists defining their enemies.
What was Cuba like before Castro? It was ruled by Fulgencio Batista, invariably and idiotically portrayed as a “right-wing tyrant,” but there are no “left” and “right” that make sense at all in modern history. Batista’s story shows this truth well. He was a mixture of several races – black, Chinese, Indian, Spanish – unlike pure white Castro. Batista worked in the sugar plantations, unlike the affluent Castro. Batista’s background was proletarian, while Castro’s was pure bourgeois.
What was the politics of Batista? Batista described himself as a “progressive socialist,” and in 1934, long before Castro, it was Batista who first legalized the Communist Party in Cuba and put communists in his cabinet. When he won the presidency in 1940 by a comfortable margin in a free election, the Communist Party actively supported Batista. Small wonder, then, that Sumner Welles, undersecretary of state, warned FDR that Batista was a communist.
Unlike communists, who were pro-Hitler until June 22, 1941, Batista strongly opposed Hitler even during the Nazi-Soviet Alliance. John Gunther noted in 1940 that “[t]he Batista government has taken as strong action against Fifth Columnism as any other Latin American state” and that almost alone in Latin America, Batista included the Phalange in his anti-Fifth Columnist ban.
Batista, unlike Castro, voluntarily gave up power when his chosen successor in the 1944 Cuban elections lost the presidency, although he did seize power in 1952 and held it until Castro overthrew him seven years later. When Castro began his guerrilla campaign against Batista, the Cuban Communist Party accused Castro of “Putchism,” a direct comparison to Hitler and his “Beer Hall Putsch.”
It was a fair comparison. Castro modeled his most famous speech on Hitler’s “History Will Absolve Me” speech, and he owned the complete works of Mussolini. Castro also deeply admired Franco, and when the Caudillo died, Castro ordered the flags of Cuba flown at half mast. (I cover this in much more detail in my book, Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie.)
So much for the notional “ideologies” of Castro and Batista – but how did Cubans live under these two strongmen? Under Castro in Cuba, like under Lenin and Stalin in Russia and Mao in China, millions tried desperately to leave their homeland for...anywhere else. This is a characteristic of modern totalitarians. There were no Cubans riding rafts and small boats to sea in order to leave Cuba under Batista like under Castro.
How did Cubans live under Batista? The standard of living of Cubans then was higher than that in any other Latin American nation. Caloric consumption was as high as in any other Latin American nation in the western hemisphere except America and Canada, and it was much higher in protein than in most other Latin American nations. Cuban infant mortality under Batista was lower than in France or Italy. Batista set up mobile health units for rural areas. He mandated compulsory industrial insurance for workers and enacted minimum-wage and eight-hour-workday laws.
Literacy in Cuba under Batista was among the lowest in Latin America. Cubans also owned more radios and televisions per capita than any other people in Latin America, and there were many independent radio and television stations Cubans could turn to for news and entertainment. There were also a number of independent newspapers and magazines, many of which were critical of the Batista government.
Cuba before the pox of Castro was imperfect but much better in every way than during the last fifty-six years of misery and darkness under the despicable regime of Castro. Obama, doubtless, does not care as he legitimizes this vile regime. Indeed, Obama, whose “education” was wholly within the re-education camps of academia, almost certainly does not know any better about Cuba before Castro.