What If We Had Befriended Cuba?

Fidel Castro has been our Caribbean bogey man for the past 50 years. He and his government have been depicted in the US as perfect example of communist tyranny and repression of freedom and we have waged overt and covert war on Cuba in the name of freedom and democracy since Battista was overthrown.

In 1961, Dick Goodwin, a Kennedy speech writer and confidant, was the administration’s point man in South America. He had a private meeting with Che Guevara after an OAS meeting in Uruguay. After the meeting he sent a secret memo to Kennedy with the details of that meeting.

Please, before weighing in on the subject, RTFM. This meeting took place after the Bay of Pigs debacle, yet Che was conciliatory. He sought a detente with the US, offering among other things, to pay thru trade for US assets confiscated by the Cuban Government AND to refrain from entering into a political alliance with the Eastern Bloc. JFK blew him off and drove him into the arms of the USSR.

Kennedy had many political difficulties to face: the disgrace of the BOP, Cuban refugees in Florida whom we had “let down”, loss of Mafia owned casinos in Havana, sugar growers in this country not wanting competition from Cuban cane fields and a vociferous right wing led by Barry Goldwater. And, IMHO, the real deal breaker was the thought of a successful socialist state, 90 miles off our coast, hoovering US tourist dollars to finance free UHC and education. A very poor example to the US electorate and the rest of the world.

Go to it.

First off, the premise is incorrect. We did make friends with Cuba. For various and sundry reasons, the United States has been Cuba’s greatest benefactor after Spain. Its independance and much of its wealth in the early 20th century came from American efforts and American investment. It was not free of self-interest, but European observers were sure we had conquered the island and would shortly exploit it for resources - just as they would. We did not.

As for Che and Castro, evening assuming that document is correct, these were some of the most evil and tyrannical men. Castro (although largely useless now) created a totalitarian thugocracy and ruined the relative wealth enjoyed by Cubans. Che was a bloodthirsty monster who comitted numerous acts of mass murder, and then went abroad to satiate his lust for murder.

I think I’d rather burn my house down than have anything to do with them. They were actually much worse than common everyday tyrants, as they were prone to the usual Communist “kill and lock up everyone just because” until they msotly ran out of targets. They were little more than latter-day Stalins. Castro was reputedly later quite willing to let all of Cuba be burned from the earth in order to have some nukes protecting him. No, we were not going to sudednly make them our friends.

Well, neither of them was a Pol Pot, so a lot of their demonization is exaggerated. While I appreciate how Krushchev ignored Castro’s demands that he push the button in October '62, mostly Castro has been an incomptetent ideocrat and thug, and we’ve had good relations with lots of them.

Cite, please.

It is true that Castro was happy to have the soviet missiles because he thought and had no reason not to think we might try another invasion. One part of the resolution of the crisis was our promise not to invade.

Right. And as a result …

Spare me friendship like this.

Doesn’t sound much different than Cuba under Batista. :dubious:

And 50 years after the revolution, despite our egregious embargo of Cuba (basically undeclared war) we find in Nature, that radical left-wing rag :

Damn that tyrant Castro.

Haven’t we discussed that the abortion rate is much much higher in Cuba so the infant mortality rate would be much lower (ie, abort the high risk pregnancies)? (Maps of percentage of pregnancies aborted worldwide--by country)

BTW, I’d like to make it clear that I’m NOT defending Castro. Just saying that it’s not like the Cuba we were friends with was such a wonderful place, smiling bandit. Quite the opposite.

Batista was also a brutal thug – just on the opposite side, politically.

Castro, on the other hand, was convinced that an invasion was soon at hand, and he dictated a letter to Khrushchev which appeared to call for a preemptive strike on the U.S."

Castro is and was a turd. He just, usually, wasn’t as big a turd as his enemies here claim, since that would put him on the far side of Hitler. But he’s had his moments of being a psycho.

I think the problem here is that there are some people on BOTH sides of the ledger who ignore the gray between black and white.

Well, if it makes any difference:


And a quote from my previous post:

I’d love to see the text of that letter. Got one handy?

And as for a reason for Cuba’s “excessive” abortion rate.


Sweet of us ,eh. Even so


This is also what we call a “gross perversion of history”.

batista was no friend of the United States; he fell from poewr in great part because we decided he was too much of a jerk to support, dropped him like a heavy rock, and verbally, at least, began supporting Castro. It was only later that Castro went kleptocrat and Che went over the top psycho-killer.

Yes, if you’re talking about your own posts on the subject. As in the following:

We liked him just fine until it became clear that he could no longer support our economic interests against the rising populist tide. We got around to withdrawing military support in April 1958.

BTW, just what do you mean by he was “too much of a jerk”?


While economics was an issue, nobody liked Batista, not the least in the US. It was hardkly unknown that he was a tyrant, and at the time it was a matter of hoping to get someone better. That didn’t turn out so well.

Of course, Batista is an exception.

Why don’t you name just a few of the regimes in South America, the Middle East and/or Southeast Asia which we have installed/supported which were not held in place by the military against the will of the local populace?

The US, however, has a looooooong history of supporting tyrants in Latin America – all in the name of economics. Around that same time, we were overthrowing the government in Guatemala, (a DEMOCRATIC one, I might add), for the sake of the United Fruit Company.
AND we were also overthrowing the government in Iran, to re-install the Shah, after his own people had tossed him out. (This was about oil)

So it’s not about how much we liked these people – it’s about what we could get out of them. No, I’m not one of those, “Bash America!” types. But it’s ridiculous to ignore history just because it’s ugly.

Yeah…And, our policy of the last nearly half century has really done a number on that Castro fella! It is good that we behaved the way we did toward him. :rolleyes:

I mean, seriously, what has our psychotic hatred and antipathy done except provide him with a ready-made excuse for failings of his regime? We didn’t have to treat him like our best buddy but we certainly could have walked more of a middle ground. Instead, because of Cold War fears and some very angry expats in Florida who didn’t like that Castro “stole” their plunderings (and, who apparently are a minority…but a very influential minority…in the Cuban American community), we have probably done nothing more than prolonged his regime and delayed any reforms.

And, while Castro is undoubtedly a totalitarian tyrant, he did actually do some good for Cubans in areas such as health care and literacy (as other posters here have pointed out) as compared to his predecessors.

I go on vacation for one week, and this thread starts!

The literacy rate BS always gets mentioned when talking about Cuba. In 1958 Cuba’s literacy rate was 82%, which I think was 3rd in the hemisphere behind the US and Canada. After the literacy campaign in the 1960’s Cuba’s literacy rate has remained in the high 90’s, but it did not have far to go.

But assume for a second that the literacy rate was in single digits and Castro’s government magically turned into he 90s. Would you trade literacy for freedom? For the right to assemble? For the right to speak your mind? For the right to state political opinions? For the right to travel? For food? Cubans have been forced to trade all that for literacy, and little more.