Conflict with US Multinationals Put Fidel in the Cold for Five Decades

caastro-and-lumumba(L) Fidel Castro and (R) Patrice Lumumba of the Congo

By Dee McLachlan

I have written before on the assassination of Patrice Lumumba (17/1/1961). The “heinous crime was a culmination of two inter-related assassination plots by American and Belgian governments.” (The Guardian)

Lumumba’s downfall was that he spoke of the struggle against the colonizers (meaning global multinationals). This is a short extract from Lumumba’s Independence speech (Congo, 30 June 1960):

 “…Together we shall establish social justice and ensure for every man a fair remuneration for his labour…  We shall see to it that the lands of our native country truly benefit its children.  We shall revise all the old laws and make them into new ones that will be just and noble.  We shall stop the persecution of free thought. We shall see to it that all citizens enjoy to the fullest extent the basic freedoms provided for by the Declaration of Human Rights…” [My emphasis]

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro managed to survive hundreds of assassination attempts, and died last Friday at the age of 90.

untitled-duplicated-01Castro with his first wife Mirta and his son Fidelito (Rex)

A few months after Lumumba delivered his Independence speech, Castro arrived in New York City to head the Cuban delegation to the United Nations. His visit stirred both criticism and admiration — and then he gave his speech to the United Nations on September 26, 1960.

It is still the longest speech ever delivered at the UN — 4 hours and 29 minutes.

Castro declared at the time he was only pink. American officials believed he was leaning perilously toward communism. Earlier that year (March 1960) President Eisenhower had ordered the CIA to begin training Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro’s regime. (Sound familiar?)

When Castro was to arrive in New York, apparently the US orchestrated a hotel plan to make it difficult for the Cuban entourage, saying all rooms were booked out!  He and the group eventually found a hotel in Harlem that would have them — the Theresa Hotel – and then he was accused of staying in a brothel.

On September 26, Castro delivered his speech at the UN — attacking America for “aggression” and “imperialism.”

I’ll bet the then Fake Press sanitized it for the Western masses.

Now Fidel is with the angels – or devils – your choice. I think when you read this (very abridged) portion of Castro’s speech you will be moved to think how burdensome was the struggle for all in the Third World.

You may also be staggered at how ignorant we were as to what was really going on, I believe we are newly prepared to listen as the little tricks that were played against Cuba are now, beyond argument, being played against Australia.

Here is an extract of Castro’s grand speech (26/9/1960):

The Cubans who fought for our independence and at that very moment were giving their blood and their lives believed in good faith in the joint resolution of the Congress of the United States of April 20, 1898, which declared that “Cuba is, and by right ought to be, free and independent.”

…But that illusion was followed by a rude awakening. After two years of military occupation of our country, the unexpected happened:  at the very moment

that the people of Cuba, through their Constituent Assembly, were drafting the Constitution of the Republic, a new law was passed by the United States Congress, a law proposed by Senator Platt, bearing such unhappy memories for the Cubans.

That law stated that the constitution of the Cuba must have an appendix under which the United States would be granted the right to intervene in Cuba’s political affairs and, furthermore, to lease certain parts of Cuba for naval bases or coal supply station.

In other words, under a law passed by the legislative body of a foreign country, Cuban’s Constitution had to contain an appendix with those provisions.  Our legislators were clearly told that if they did not accept the amendment, the occupation forces would not be withdrawn…

Then began the new colonization of our country, the acquisition of the best agricultural lands by United States firms, concessions of Cuban natural resources and mines, concessions of public utilities for exploitation purposes, commercial concessions of all types. These concessions, when linked with the constitutional right — constitutional by force — of intervention in our country, turned it from a Spanish colony into an American colony.

… Let no one be mistaken. There was no independent republic; there was only a colony where orders were given by the Ambassador of the United States.

We are not ashamed to have to declare this. On the contrary:  we are proud to say that today no embassy rules our country; our country is ruled by its people!

Once against the Cuban people had to resort to fighting in order to achieve independence, and that independence was finally attained after seven bloody years of tyranny. Who forced this tyranny upon us?  Those who in our country were nothing more than tools of the interests which dominated our country economically.

How can an unpopular regime, inimical to the interests of the people, stay in power unless it is by force?…

The military group which tyrannized our country was supported by the most reactionary elements of the nation, and, above all, by the foreign interests that dominated the economy of our country.

Everybody knows, and we understand that even the Government of the United States admits it, that that was the type of government favored by the monopolies.

Why?

Because by the use of force it was possible to check the demands of the people; by  the use of force it was possible to suppress strikes for improvement of living standards;

by the use of force it was possible to crush all movements on the part of the peasants to own the land they worked; by the use of force it was possible to curb the greatest and most deeply felt aspirations of the nation.

That is why governments of force were favored by the ruling circles of the United States. That is why governments of force stayed in power for so long, and why there are governments of force still in power in America. Naturally, it all depends on whether it is possible to secure the support of the United States…

…It was the type of government of force — that of Fulgencio Batista — which suited the American monopolies in Cuba, but it was not, of course, the type of government which suited the Cuban people, and the Cuban people, at a great cost in lives and sacrifices, overthrew the government.

What did the Revolution find when it came to power in Cuba?  What marvels did the Revolution find when it came to power in Cuba?  First of all the Revolution found that 600,000 able Cubans were unemployed – as many, proportionately, as were unemployed in the United States at the time of the Great Depression which shook this country and which almost created a catastrophe in the United States.

That was our permanent unemployment. Three million out of a population of somewhat over 6,000,000 did not have electric lights and did not enjoy the advantages and comforts of electricity.

Three and a half million out of a total of slightly more than 6,000,000 lived in huts, shacks and slums, without the slightest sanitary facilities.  In the cities, rents took almost one third of family incomes. Electricity rates and rents were among the highest in the world.

 Thirty-seven and one half percent of our population were illiterate; 70 per cent of the rural children had no teachers; 2 per cent of population, that is, 100,000 persons out of a total of more than 6,000,000 suffered from tuberculosis.

Ninety-five per cent of the children in rural areas were affected by parasites, and the infant mortality rate was therefore very high, just the opposite of the average life span.

On the other hand, 85 per cent of the small farmers were paying rents for the use of land to the tune of almost 30 per cent of their income, while 1 1/2 percent of the landowners controlled 46 per cent of the total area of the nation. [Now 1% owns more than 99% — global stats]

Of course, the proportion of hospital beds to the number of inhabitants of the country was ridiculous, when compared with countries that only have halfway decent medical services.

Public utilities, electricity and telephone services all belonged to the United States monopolies.

A major portion of the banking business, of the importing business and the oil refineries, the greater part of the sugar production, the best land in Cuba, and the most important industries in all fields belonged to American companies.

The balance of payments in the last ten years, from 1950 to 1960, had been favorable to the United States with regard to Cuba to the extent of one thousand million dollars.

This is without taking into account the hundreds of millions of dollars that were extracted from the treasury of the country by the corrupt officials of the tyranny and were later deposited in United States or European Banks.

One thousand million dollars in ten years.  This poor and underdeveloped Caribbean country, with 600,000 unemployed, was contributing greatly to the economic development of the most highly industrialized country in the world.

That was the situation we found, and it is probably not foreign to many of the countries represented in this Assembly, because, when all is said and done, what we have said about Cuba is like a diagnostic x-ray applicable to many of the countries represented here.

What alternative was there for the Revolutionary Government? To betray the people?  Of course, as far as the President of the United States is concerned, we have betrayed our people, but it would certainly not have been considered so, if, instead of the Revolutionary Government being true to its people, it had been loyal to the big American monopolies that exploited the economy of our country…

…those who had something to do with the destiny of our country were the rulers who served the interests of the monopolies; until that moment, monopolies had been in control of our country.  Did anyone hinder them?  No one…

What was the state of our reserved when the tyrant Batista came to power? There was $500,000,000 in our national reserve, a goodly sum to have invested in the industrial development of the country.  When the Revolution came to power there was only $70,000,000 in our reserves.

Was there any concern for the industrial development of our country? No.  That is why we are astonished and amazed when we hear of the extraordinary concern shown by the United States Government for the Fate of the countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia.

We cannot overcome our amazement, because after fifty years we have the result of their concern before our eyes.

…No Revolutionary government wants international trouble when it comes to power.  What a revolutionary government wants to do is concentrate its efforts on solving its own problems; what it wants to do is carry out a program for the people…

I have with me a document… It is an old military pact, by virtue of which the Batista tyranny received generous assistance from the Government of the United States.  And it is quite important to know the contents of Article 2 of this Agreement:

“The Government of the Republic of Cuba commits itself to make efficient use of the assistance it receives from the United States, pursuant to the present agreement, in order to carry out the plans of defense accepted by both Governments, pursuant to which the two Governments will take part in missions which are important for the defense of the Western Hemisphere and, unless permission is previously obtained from the Government of the United States of America … such assistance will not be dedicated to other ends than those for which such assistance has been granted.”

That assistance was used to combat the Cuban revolutionaries; it was therefore approved by the Government of the United States…

… Fifty tanks of armoured cars and a few outmoded aircraft cannot defend a continent, much less a hemisphere.  But on the other hand they are good enough to oppress unarmed peoples. They are good for what they are used for:  to intimidate people and to defend monopolies.

That is why these hemisphere defense pacts might better be described as “defense pacts for the protection of United States monopolies.”

And so the Revolutionary Government began to take the first steps.  The first thing it did was to lower the rents paid by families by fifty per cent, a just measure, since, as I said earlier, there were families paying up to one third of their income.

The people had been the victim of housing speculation, and city lots had also been the subject of speculation at the expense of the entire Cuban people…

Then another law was passed, a law cancelling the concessions which had been granted by the tyranny of Batista to the Telephone Company, an American monopoly. Taking advantage of the fact our people were defenseless, they had obtained valuable concessions.

The Revolutionary Government then cancelled these concessions and re-established normal prices for telephone services. Thus began the first conflict with the American monopolies.

The third measure was the reduction of electricity rates, which were the highest in the world. Then followed the second conflict with the American monopolies. We were beginning to appear communist; they were beginning to daub us in red because we had clashed head-on with the interests of the United States monopolies.

Then followed the next law, an essential and inevitable law for our country, and a law which sooner or later will have to be adopted by all countries of the world, at least by those which have not yet adopted it: the Agrarian Reform Law.

Of course, in theory everybody agrees with the Agrarian Reform Law. Nobody will deny the need for it unless he is a fool. No one can deny that agrarian reform is one of the essential conditions for the economic development of the country.

In Cuba, even the big landowners agreed about the agrarian reform — only they wanted their own kind of reform, such as the one defended by many theoreticians; a reform which would not harm their interests, and above all, one which would not be put into effect as long as it could be avoided.

This is something that is well known to the economic bodies of the United Nations, something nobody even cares to discuss any more. In my country it was absolutely necessary: more than 200,000 peasant families lived in the countryside without land on which to grow essential food crops.

…And that is where the first major difficulty arose.  In the neighboring Republic of Guatemala a similar case had occurred.  And I honestly warn my colleagues of Latin America, Africa and Asia; whenever you set out to make a just agrarian reform, you must be ready to face a similar situation, especially if the best and largest tracts of land are owned by American monopolies, as was the case in Cuba. [OVATION]

…But the truth is that in our country it was not only the land that was the property of the agrarian monopolies. The largest and most important mines were also owned by those monopolies.  Cuba produces, for example, a great deal of nickel.  All of the nickel was exploited by American interests, and under the tyranny of Batista, an American company, the Moa Bay, had obtained such a juicy concession that in a mere five years — mark my words, in a mere five years — it intended amortizing an investment of $120,000,000.  A $120,000,000 investment amortized in five years!

And who had given the Moa Bay company this concession through the intervention of the Government of the United States?  Quite simply, the tyrannical government of Fulgencio Batista, which was there to defend the interests of the monopolies. And this is an absolutely true fact.  Exempt from all taxes what were those companies going to leave for the Cubans?

The empty, worked out mines, the impoverished land, and not the slightest contribution to the economic development of our country.

And so the Revolutionary Government passed a mining law which forced those monopolies to pay a 25 per cent tax on the exportation of minerals. The attitude of the Revolutionary Government already had been too bold.

It had clashed with the interests of the international electric trusts; it had clashed with the interests of the international telephone trusts;  it had clashed with the interests of the mining trusts; it had clashed with the interests of the United Fruit Co; and it had in effect, clashed with the most powerful interests of the United States, which, as you know, are very closely linked with each other.

And that was more than the Government of the United States — or rather, the representatives of the United States monopolies — could possibly tolerate.

Castro concluded his 4 hour and 29 minute speech with:

“In short, The National General Assembly of the Cuban People condemns the exploitation of man by man, and the exploitations of underdeveloped countries by imperialists capital.

“Therefore, the National General Assembly of the Cuban People proclaims before America, and proclaims here before the world, the right of the peasants to the land; the right of the workers to the fruits of their labor; the right of the children to education: the right of the sick to medical care and hospitalization; the right of young people to work;

the right of students to free vocational training and scientific education; the right of Negroes, and Indians to full human dignity; the right of women to civil, social and political equality; the right of the elderly to security in their old age; the right of intellectuals, artists and scientists so fight through their works for a better world;

the right of States to nationalize imperialist monopolies, thus rescuing their national wealth and resources; the right of nations to their full sovereignty; the right of peoples to convert their military fortresses into schools, and to arm their workers — because in this we too have to be arms-conscious, to arm our people in defense against imperialist attacks — their peasants, their students, their intellectuals, Negroes, Indians, women, young people, old people, all the oppressed and exploited, so that they themselves can defend their rights and their destinies.”

What happened after that is another article.

The West is in the belief that they hold the lantern of democracy – but they blew out the flame a long time ago — thanks to the Fake news. 

Photo of family -- www.wsj.com/
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Comments

  1. Off Topic Notice:
    The Amira Droudis sentencing hearing will be held tomorrow (Wed Nov 30) at 2 pm – this is different from what Mary Maxwell announced. But the location is the same. Darlinghurst Courthouse, Sydney, Room 3

  2. James O'Neill says:

    According to one report I listened to today on RT, Cuba sent more doctors to work in poor countries than the eight members of the G8 combined. The commitment to health by the Cuban government has given Cubans the highest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere. This is despite decades of sanctions, economic warfare, demonisation of its leadership and more than 600 assassination attempts by the US Government. What was that about a commitment to the rule of law we hear so much about from the Americans?
    As was to be expected, our cowardly politicians were conspicuous by their silence. The thought that a basically poor country could provide world class health care and educate its citizens free up to Ph.d level would raise too many questions that they would prefer not to address.

  3. A ABC TV program yesterday a commentator on Cuba asked to summarize on the Castro said he had a first class health system and educational system, what he omitted to say is the state of Cuba before the Castro takeover was a complete corrupted system of significant depravity, and stated how Castro was tyrannical ad a abuser of human rights? depending how you interpret a take over depends whether you can interpret it as tyrannical and whether those who left Cuba for in the main Florida, rejoicing at Castro’s death, it is likely those who were rejoicing were committed to directly or otherwise all part of the parasitical regime.
    This is the sort summary put out by the ABC as fair comment rather than propaganda.

  4. Terry Shulze says:

    and to arm their workers — because in this we too have to be arms-conscious, to arm our people in defense against imperialist attacks — their peasants, their students, their intellectuals, Negroes, Indians, women, young people, old people, all the oppressed and exploited, so that they themselves can defend their rights and their destinies.”

    Sounds like the old ‘Right to Keep and Bear Arms’ idea – not exactly speech material for a tyrant.

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