You Can’t Believe Those Crazy Cubans!

By Humberto Fontova

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

It’s a mantra by now. Pink political wizards and soothsayers all assure us that "more contact" with Castro will lead to an "opening" of the system. Farm state politicians eager to augment their fleecing of the U.S. taxpayer via the Farm Bill with further fleecing via the Export-Import Bank follow suit.

Never mind that 40 years of daily "contact" with every nation on earth hasn’t had a dime’s bit of influence on ANY Castroite policy ... I take that back. In 1983 Castro’s troops on Grenada got some "foreign contact" that – MERCIFULLY for his subjects – shut him up for a few GLORIOUS weeks. This "contact" came from the same gentlemen rolling up Baghdad as I write.

And thanks to Ollie North, Castro’s "advisers" in Nicaragua received a little "foreign contact," too. This sent them scurrying home with their tails between their legs. But that’s the very type of "contact" that sets Pinks whining and squirming in their seats till their undies wad up. They have something else in mind entirely. And they’re making headway. To wit:

In 1957, when it was touted as the "playground" for Americans, Cuba hosted a grand total 272,265 U.S. tourists. Last year, smack in the middle of the nefarious U.S. "embargo" – nay, the diabolical "imperialist blockade!" 205,000 Americans visited Cuba. Some sources say that – unofficially – tens of thousands more Americans visited, which sounds about right to me.

Heck, just ask around. I’d be hard pressed to find one of my sailing, diving or fishing chums who hasn’t. What’s more, these imperialist bloodsuckers, hell-bent on strangling the gallant little island while in hock to Miami Mafiosi, allowed U.S. companies to rack up $200 million worth of business with Cuba last year. And over the past 30 years, foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies have done ALL the business their little hearts desire with Castro.

Point is, this "opening" is with us. Heck, it’s BEEN with us for decades. Last week we got the results. It happened while we were riveted to Fox, cheering and high-fiving as Fidel’s soul mate got his clock cleaned. Surely you know where the Mesopotamian Maximum Leader got his cigars. A few years back, Fidel even made his personal doctor available to cure his buddy’s back pain. I’m afraid it’ll take more than a little outpatient surgery to alleviate his ailments this time.

Our den erupted in cheers almost hourly. (My brood includes two teenaged boys with older friends and a cousin in the thick of the fight.) "YEAH!" They roared as the Iraqi tank’s turret blew off and spun through the air like the keg they put over the cherry bomb New Year’s Eve. "AWRIGHT!!" they whooped as the truck erupted in flames like when their father put the match – WHOOM!! – to their gasoline-drenched bonfire later that night. ("Are you CRAZY?!! The SHED! Get the HOSE!! You’d think a GROWN MAN …!!" That was their mother a split- second later, addressing their father, who was a bit preoccupied extinguishing his eyebrows and mustache.) Anyway, many whoops and high fives in my den lately. I’m afraid we’re hopeless jingoes. I know, I know, we shouldn’t rejoice about Iraq. People are dying, for heaven’s sake. So I’ll borrow the Reds’ own line: "You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs." You betcha. And we’re breaking very few of them, mostly rotten ones, and the resulting omelet will compare to any omelet ever cooked by the Reds the way a Key Lime pie compares to a cow pie. So there. My dad was on the phone almost hourly. "Saw the latest! (He says this in Spanish) I say the s.o.b.’s dead! (Se la cepillaron!!)" And how ‘bout that little gal! (La rubita!) Is she SOMETHING! ... and another thing: Why don’t they hang that Arnett guy?!" Ten minutes later the phone rings again. "We’re in BAGHDAD! .... SAW it! Some QUAGMIRE!" It’s Dad again.

Point is, many of us missed the horrible stuff going on 90 miles from our shores. Saddam’s Caribbean soul mate planned it that way, of course. So here it is: Last month Castro’s own Fedayeen pounced. Almost 100 Cuban dissidents were rounded up by Castro’s goon squads and clamped in jail. They’re all looking at 15 years to life in Castro’s dungeons, complete with free electroshock treatments and a foolproof weight-loss nutritional regimen. A few could face death by firing squad. Their crime? Basically what I’m doing right now: reporting facts. Some attempted to protest peacefully. Others had the temerity to meet with U.S. diplomatic representative James Cason.

One of those (re)arrested and roughed up is Juan Carlos González Leiva. He’s completely blind. According to journalist Carlos Alberto Montaner, Castro’s Fedayeen have been amusing themselves with Mr. Leiva for several years now. Until this final incarceration last week, they’d made a habit of kidnapping him from the street in front of his house, stealing his Braille Bible (not an easy thing to get in Cuba, believe me) and driving him to an unpopulated area far from home. Along the way, they’d beat him with rifle butts while cackling in mirth. The joy ride over, they’d place bets.

The issue? How many hours would it take the blind, bruised, stumbling and utterly helpless Señor Leiva to find his way home and rejoin his grieving and terrified wife. Remember Lucca Brazzi in “Godfather I”? Remember when Barzini’s boys surrounded him at that restaurant counter? I say that’s too good for these swine. WHACK! – the knife through the hand, alright. But then I’d like to see the wire around their necks pulled more s-l-o-w-l-y ... so we can see their eyeballs BULGING in s-l-o-w m-o-t-i-o-n ... so we can hear the gurgles and gasps as their tongues s-l-o-w-ly p-r-o-t-r-u-d-e. A little pepper spray in the face wouldn’t hurt either.

Not to worry. There’s a special corner of hell reserved for these sick, cowardly swine – in Dante’s first circle, too. Right next to their boss. One group in the U.S. has argued relentlessly that any idea of a "liberalization" in Cuba as a result of this economic "opening" was a chimera. These nuts insist that Castro is Castro – period. He’s a totalitarian today and will be equally totalitarian tomorrow. Coddle him, shower him with presents from the U.S. taxpayer, he won’t change. What he needs is a cruise missile up his ...

But who listens to them? (Besides Ronald Reagan, I mean.) Who takes these people seriously, for heaven’s sake? They’re all crackpots and hotheads, embittered exiles with an ax to grind. Every last one is a screeching, bellowing, arm-waving hysteric. And half are senile by now. Only a fool would take them seriously. Let’s look at this group’s baseless claims and ravings over the years, shall we? A few came over in 1957-58 with bulging dossiers on a certain guerrilla leader’s violent, Communist background. "Laughable!" snorted the State Department. "Why, we have it on the good authority of the New York Times and the fourth Floor of our State Department that this Fidel Castro is the very reincarnation of Robin Hood, with a dash of Gandhi, a pinch of St. Augustine and a smidgeon of Thomas Jefferson. Now please go away. As enlightened liberals we deplore any hint of intervention in our southern neighbor’s politics. As such, we’ve already informed Señor Batista that he’s to leave office immediately. Now please excuse us. We’re busy preparing a massive foreign aid package for when Señor Castro takes over. Good day." Two years later, many more were coming over. "Appeasement won’t work with this Castro guy," raved these lunatics. "The core of his movement is Communist. His agrarian reform plan is right out of Stalin’s Russia. He’s intent on robbing your properties and turning Cuba into a Soviet satrapy!"

"Preposterous!" harrumphed the Best and the Brightest. "He’s a transparent liberal, a bit impetuous perhaps. But he’ll come around. You watch. Our carrot minus the stick is a flawless plan, a product of endless brainstorming by the Ivy League’s most highly calibrated minds. We’re convinced that Castro is a sensitive and idealistic young chap. So we mustn’t offend his nationalist sensitivities. Now, will you please excuse us? We’re busy adding another fifty million to his aid package."

He ended up getting $200 million in U.S. aid by late 1960. But this just "wet his beak" (remember Don Farnuci?). A month later Castro snatched every U.S. property and investment in Cuba, $2 billion worth. Thus the truth of the mantra by Pinko professors that we "pushed Castro into the arms of mother Russia." Our beastliness left him no choice, you see.

By the summer of ’62 even more of these hotheads were pouring over. And by now they’d completely lost it. "Missiles," they claimed. Soviet missiles being installed west of Havana. Well, this was the last straw. Camelot’s intellectual wizards had simply HAD IT with these Cassandras. "Have they no shame!" They gasped. "Is there no obloquy to which these people will not stoop in order to reclaim their mansions and sugar mills?!"

JFK’s national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, was particularly incensed and dismissive. His scoffing was made public on the Sunday chat show “Issues and Answers.” The date was Oct 14, 1962. "Refugee Rumors" was his exact phrase. "Nothing in Cuba poses a threat to the U.S.,” he stressed.

It was a whole week later that JFK addressed the nation about the missiles, now plain as day in U-2 photos, and the world held its breath. Nary a Cuban exile got one word of thanks or even of acknowledgment from the Best and the Brightest – and the most gracious, of course. Here’s what had happened in the interim: While Ivy Leaguers scoffed, snickered and moved these wild-eyed, mustachioed foreigners to the back of the bus, a senator named Strom Thurmond invited them into his office for coffee and a sympathetic hearing. He was a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and these "refugee rumors" seemed to corroborate some other bits of troubling intelligence he’d been getting.

In other words, but for that hopeless bigot from South Carolina – but for that small-minded and provincial yahoo (to hear the Beltway about him), these dark-skinned, Spanish-speaking strangers might never have gotten their story out, and this nation might have continued sleeping as the deadliest threat in its history assembled itself 90 miles away, like a rattlesnake coiling for a strike.

Not that these Cuban clowns spent ALL their time rabble-rousing and rumor-mongering. Somehow (according to the ’98 census) second-generation Cuban-Americans found themselves with higher educational and income levels – not just higher than other "minorities" – but higher even than "Anglo" Americans in general.

"The NERVE!!" snarled Democrats. "The GALL!" growled liberals. And here they’d been trying to herd this "minority" into their liberal plantation for decades! They noticed, however, that these insufferable people persisted in standing afar and holding up one hand. Closer inspection showed it wasn’t the peace sign they were giving. Indeed, only one finger seemed upraised.

Payback time came on April 22, 2000. For months the Democrats’ Beltway press cronies had prepped the nation about these exasperating Cuban-Americans. Ingrates, according to Bryant Gumbel. Near fascists, according to Katie Couric. "Nuke them," lisped Alexander Cockburn.

Yes, this "rabble" was up to its old tricks again, screeching and bellowing self-serving lies. They claimed that the whole Elian circus was being stage-managed by Castro and Clinton, and that Juan Miguel (Elian’s father) was being coerced to play along. Who ever heard such nonsense?

Thanks to INS documents unearthed by Judicial Watch, the "send Elian back" crowd now finds itself in the jackass dock next to McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara and the rest of the Best and Brightest. They’re scooting over in their seats, though – making way for the "End the Embargo" bunch. After Castro’s mass jailings last week, these are crowding in too.


Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in history from Tulane University. He's the author of "Helldiver's Rodeo," described as "Highly entertaining!" by Publisher's Weekly, "A must-read!" by Booklist, and "Just what the doctor ordered!" by Ted Nugent. You may reach Mr. Fontova by e-mail at

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