FORTY THREE YEAR STRUGGLE AGAINST CASTRO
by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Castro’s latest “no-alternative referendum” scheme pretends to lie once more about the legitimacy and approval of his totalitarian regime making it ”untouchable” within the text of that rag euphemistically called the “Cuban Constitution of 1976.”
I say “euphemistically” because that “constitution,” deprives any citizen of all liberties and human rights when any citizen expresses any disagreement with the dictums of the revolution (Castro), as well as deprives all citizens of their parental rights concerning the education of their children. Castro’s 1976 “constitution” is the antithesis of the Constitution of the United States.
Castro was so sure that no one would dare to challenge him that his “constitution” includes a passage that says a request for a referendum can be made by the citizens if a petition with at least 10,000 signatures is presented.
And now (26 years later), immediately after the Varela Project presented over 11,000 signatures asking for a referendum in accordance with his “constitution,” Castro’s answer is an amendment to guarantee the perpetuity of his corrupt brand of tropical “socialism” which is much closer to Fascism and Stalinism.
Hopefully this ruse will serve to open the eyes of his many admirers in the U.S. and realize that he will not change. The secret of his long- lived power is the result of his unparalleled repression.
Castro's brutality and repression is not new. An examination of his record shows that it began when he took power in January 1959. Resistance to Castro’s criminal and dictatorial behavior by Cubans began at the same time. Thus his unrelenting, 43-year war against the Cuban people and their will for freedom and democracy continues.
Son of a corrupt Spaniard landowner, Castro was upper middle class, as were his friends. Due to the romantic myth created by the media - inaugurated by the articles of Herbert Matthews in The New York Times - only those who knew him personally knew of his violent past as a university student gangster, his manipulative ways, thirst for power, admiration for the Fascist regimes of Hitler and Mussolini, could foresee the dangers to come.
The struggle against Batista, Castro's predecessor, was dominated by Cuba’s huge middle class and some segments of the upper classes; but the early opposition to Castro came from all walks of life, including his old comrades in his fight against Batista.
One of Castro’s comrades in the fight against Batista was Mario Chanes de Armas, who came with him aboard the Granma. But from 1961 to 1991 Chanes de Armas was sent to jail for disagreeing with Castro’s communist ways. Chanes de Armas was the longest held political prisoner in the world.
The democratic opposition was threatening his hold on power and in January 1960, Castro decreed the death penalty (that did not exist in Cuba) for helping or joining the new revolt. By the end of 1960, there had been many violent clashes between Castro and groups opposing him inside Cuba.
Contrary to Castro’s propaganda - repeated as Gospel by the U.S. media, which had kept the American people ignorant of the struggle of the Cuban people to get rid of his regime - there were resistance groups in the cities and rebel groups in the countryside as close as 36 kilometers to Havana, and extending to other provinces.
According to conservative estimates there were 10,000 rebels across the island (much more than the some 3500 that fought against Batista). While Batista’s army was 40,000 men, Castro needed an army of more than 250,000 men to fight them. Castro's revolution was bloody from the beginning.
In January 1960, a group of peasants - frustrated by the abuses of the communist-leaning Castro revolution - went into the Escambray Mountains in the first open revolt against the regime. Soon the peasant rebels numbered in the hundreds and later people from all walks of life joined them resulting in a total of about 3500.
Following the Hitler and Stalin models, Castro, maligning the peasants as "bandits," ordered in 1961 the massive relocation of thousands of them from the Escambray area, with the objective of cutting off the increasing number of rebels, their support, contacts and food supply. (This relocation-of-peasants technique was also followed by the Castro-supported communist Sandinistas in Nicaragua in the 1980s to crush a similar opposition uprising.)
Thousands of families were forcibly evicted from the Escambray Mountains at gunpoint from their properties. As during the times of Hitler and Stalin, the peasants were herded into trains where families were separated and banished. The men were sent to prisons and forced labor camps throughout Cuba. Women and children were housed in expropriated houses converted into detention centers in far away cities.
The communist technique was to hold these families incommunicado from their relatives in distant areas of the island. When their children were six years old, they were removed from their mothers and interned in communist indoctrination schools.
For years the men were subjected to abusive and inhumane treatment. Using them for forced labor, the “closed towns” of Ramon Lopez Pena, Sandino, Briones Montoto, Miraflores, Imias, Mamamantuabo and Velaco were built in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Matanzas and Camaguey.
Eventually, the family members from throughout Cuba were relocated to these closed towns. They were ordered never to return to their original land. These towns were guarded concentration camps off limits to the rest of the population. This operation lasted until 1972, but these peasants have never been allowed to leave their assigned towns. Today, four decades later, they are still being treated as prisoners and hostages of Castro's regime.
Castro’s genocide war following a scorched-earth technique of encircling the rebels was concluded in 1965, after killing a total of 2236, according to Dr. Armando Lago’s research for an upcoming book. From this total, Dr. Lago says, 1415 were executed on sight without trial. Castro’s policy was to execute all prisoners by shooting or hanging after being viciously tortured.
According to the book Cuba in Revolution-Escape From a Lost Paradise by Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D., a note on page 113, reveals that Castro’s brother Raul admitted that Castro’s communist army “suffered 6000 deaths” from the freedom fighters at the Escambray Mountains.
The cost in human lives of the Escambray Mountains’ revolt against Castro was far greater than in the prior fight against Batista. Dr. Lago’s documented research also shows that the total number of deaths during the struggle against Batista’s dictatorship (March 10, 1952 to December 31, 1958) was 2826. And that Castro’s rebel forces killed 1432 and Batista’s army, 1394.
In 1996, a group of uprooted sons and daughters of the massively-evicted 1961 Escambray area peasants challenged Castro's regime by soliciting the Ministry of Justice in Cuba that their parents' properties be returned to them. Indeed a daring act in totalitarian Cuba! But no information on the outcome has made it out.
CNN (known to Cubans as “Castro News Network”) and the other foreign news agencies allowed in Havana cooperate with the regime and do not touch this issue. José Martí, the XIX century Cuban patriot said, “To gaze idly at a crime is to commit it.” Meantime, the people in Cuba continue to suffer as a result of this criminal silence.
On June 22, 2002, The Cycle of Cuban Films of the Miami Dade Community College presents at the Tower Theater in Miami a documentary about the Escambray saga written by Enrique Encinosa and directed by Pedro Suarez titled Al Filo del Machete [At the Edge of the Sword].
This film is part of the effort of the Institute of the Cuban Historic Memory against Totalitarianism to document little known or twisted chapters of the armed struggle against Castro’s tyranny since 1959.
Al Filo del Machete presents the testimonies of a group of survivors that took part in the struggle for freedom during the 1960s on the Escambray Mountains in the center of the island and the urban struggle as well.
Discredited as “bandits” for years by Castro’s propaganda machinery, this film documents why these peasants didn’t have any alternative than fight back a regime that was cutting off the most fundamental civil rights and liberties.
Unfortunately for the benefit of the English speaking American public that ignores the reality of the Castro regime, this documentary does not have English subtitles now, but hopefully will in the near future.
Another sample of Castro’s brutality was carried out in the early hours of April 17, 1961, when Castro ordered the massive detention of about 250,000 citizens suspected of being unsympathetic to his revolution in order to cut off public support for the Bay of Pigs invasion. They were housed in stadiums, theaters and prisons. Many of them were executed or remained in prison. Once the invasion failed, Castro ordered the installation of dynamite in all jails housing his political prisoners, so that if another invasion occurred, they could be killed quickly.
If the Cuban people really love Castro and his regime as some claim, why not hold free democratic elections in Cuba? Why not allow other political parties besides the Communist party? Why not have a free press and freedom of expression for the citizens? Why no freedom of association and why automatically consider all private organizations illegal?
Why can’t parents educate their children according to their own beliefs? Why can’t citizens own property and enter in business partnerships with foreigners? Why can’t ordinary Cuban citizens enjoy the same facilities as foreigners? And the list of depravation of the most elementary human rights goes on.
The notion that Castro was not and is still not opposed in Cuba is false. For 43 years he has been waging a war against Cubans, who, since 1959, rejected his betrayal of the democratic ideals of the political revolution against Batista. Castro has ruled and maintained power by repression, brutality and terror. Castro is not only involved in international terrorism but also in national terrorism directed against millions of citizens.
This situation has affected all Cubans in all walks of life. That is why it is so inaccurate for the U.S. media and others to dismiss anti-Castro Cuban Americans as "upper class,” "conservatives," “right wing” and other negative and derogatory epithets very much in vogue and with the seal approval of the far-left engendered “political correctness.”
Being anti-Castro is being pro-democracy and in support of human rights and the principles of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Producer/director of the documentaries
COVERING CUBA, COVERING CUBA 2: The Next Generation & the upcoming COVERING CUBA 3: Elian
Author with Carlos Wotzkow of the book COVERING AND DISCOVERING and translator with Jaums Sutton of the upcoming book by Luis Grave de Peralta Morell THE MAFIA OF HAVANA-The Cuban Cosa Nostra