WHO THE REAL OGRES ARE
U.S.-Cuba Policy Report issued on December 31, 1999 says, "Castro revealed his extensive support network in America saying ‘there are important sectors in the United States that want the child [Elián] returned. So when we protest and denounce to the world what is happening and unleash a battle, we are also unleashing a battle for those persons within the United States.’"
There are groups of Americans, who, because of romantic idealism, naivete, ignorance, anti-U.S. feelings, or plain die-hard fanaticism of socialist or communist regimes, are very damaging to the cause of freedom and human rights of others. These groups are not harmless. They are often associated with organizations that claim to be working for peace or humanitarian causes but for decades have been an effective roadblock for people who are working for democracy in Cuba. These groups claim they are helping the "Cuban people" inside the island when they are actually helping Castro and his goals.
When there is a pro-Castro crusade in the media or on Capitol Hill or a demonstration against U.S. policy toward Cuba, they are loyally there. You never see them protesting against Castro’s repression, or his crimes and violations of human rights, or demanding freedom for his political prisoners, or asking for democracy.
Having the freedom to dissent and oppose the policies of your own country, elect your representatives and unseat them, is a freedom that those groups need in order to exist. And they use and abuse that freedom to their own advantage, to advance and impose their own political agenda on others, who are not as fanatic, militant or well financed. All the while working to support Castro’s regime in Cuba that would prohibit their very existence and the freedoms these American groups so adamantly defend for themselves. So, why is it perfectly acceptable to them that Cubans do not have those freedoms?
In the case of 6-year-old Elián González - after Castro’s interference in an otherwise private family matter - this extensive support network jumped to side with their mentor, Castro.
Perhaps surprisingly, part of the extensive pro-Castro support network in the U.S. is the National Council of Churches (NCC). This "religious" group has a long history of pro-Castro activities. Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley, the editorial director of the Pacific Research Institute in San Francisco and author of From Mainline to Sidelines: The Social Witness of the National Council of Churches, says about the NCC for wanting to send Elián back to Cuba, "This should come as no surprise since the NCC does not represent American Protestants and has long served as a lobby for the Marxist dictatorship of Fidel Castro."
Billingsley, explains that the NCC remained silent about Castro’s crimes from its beginning in 1959. In 1968 the NCC issued their first statement about Cuba urging the U. S. to recognize the Castro regime. This despite the fact that one of the first casualties of Castro’s revolution was organized religion.
Billingsley says that in 1977, a year before his election as NCC president, Methodist bishop James Armstrong "led a delegation of American church officials to Cuba, where they supported the regime's repression." After this first NCC official delegation visit to Cuba, they declared to be "challenged and inspired by Cuba and flatly denied that the Cuban regime persecuted Christians." However, in 1977 Amnesty International stated that Cuba had "the longest-term political prisoners to be found anywhere in the world." He points out that "In 1980, the NCC published a book claiming that "Cubans are the only Latin Americans who have broken with dependent capitalism and its accompanying dehumanization of the common people."
According to former imprisoned poet Armando Valladares, "Cuban officials used pro-Castro statements of American clergy to torment prisoners. That was worse for the Christian political prisoners than the beatings or the hunger. Incomprehensibly to us, while we waited for the embrace of solidarity from our brothers in Christ, those who were embraced were our tormentors."
About the case of Elián González, Billingsley concludes that the NCC "should drop its religious affiliation and register as an agent of the Cuban government."
On January 19, 2000, in the National Post in Canada, Neil Maghami wrote about NCC Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, who has been actively working on Castro’s behalf, "’Politics’ seems to be Rev. Campbell's (a Baptist) way of dismissing out of hand the case made by the Cuban exile community (and Elian's relatives in Miami) that this six-year-old boy deserves better than to be sent back to a totalitarian backwater and trained to recite endless paeans to [the maximum leader]. Elian's mother seems to have been forgotten, drowned in the Florida straits in order to give her son the opportunity to live free."
According to Maghami, both Rev. Campbell and the NCC have backgrounds containing a well-defined pro-Castro political agenda. He says, "It was certainly keeping with the established behavior patterns of the NCC that last June, it sent a group that included Rev. Campbell to Havana. Fidel Castro provided an audience of thousands for his visitors. At the event, Maghami continues, Rev. Campbell said, "It is on behalf of Jesus the Liberator that we work against this embargo," referring to her desire that the U.S. embargo be lifted. "But" continued Maghami, "invoking Christ's name against it without also criticizing Castro for the persecution of dissidents, including Christians, is not a moral stance but a political leeching off religious capital."
Maghami concludes, "Despite the testimony of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn et al, Rev.Campbell is firmly wedded to the myth that the true nature of Communist regimes is somehow misunderstood in the West."
During the recent trip of Elián’s grandmothers to the U.S. it was noted by Spanish/English speakers that the translators provided by the NCC were embellishing the script that the women were repeating. Neither the NCC nor Rev. Campbell is the innocent neutral party they pretend to be.
Another one of the most militant, fanatic and violent "religious" and "humanitarian" organizations part of this network in the U.S. appearing to be working for Castro’s tyranny are the "interreligious" group Pastors for Peace. These "pastors" as well as the NCC have received grants from the Arca Foundation, which according to scholar Irving Louis Horowitz is a "highly pro-Castro and partisan," grant-giving agency. From 1994 to1998, Arca awarded about $3 million for pro-Castro projects.
Pastors for Peace apparently doesn’t care about the war that Castro has been waging for decades against his own people, causing the death of at least 87,000 (according to a book-in-progress by Dr. Armando Lago). They don’t care about the 150,000 deaths that follow Castro’s guerrillas in Central and South America, not to mention the 1.7 million deaths in Angola and the Horn of Africa and the deaths caused by Castro’s drug-trafficking.
As an important part of Castro’s network in the U.S., Pastors for Peace is also actively involved in the return of 6-year-old Elián González to the same brutal regime his mother, Elisabet Broton, died escaping from so that her son would be free at last. The tragic case of young Elián González has shown very clearly who the real ogres are hidden under the guise of religion.
Agustín Blázquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Mr Blazquez is the Producer/Director of the documentaries COVERING CUBA and CUBA: THE PEARL OF THE ANTILLESABIP@netkonnect.net