There is some talk going around that President Trump is planning to roll back former President Obama’s policies towards Cuba. If so, he will hopefully insist on human rights, particularly for the political prisoners and dissidents like the Ladies in White and Yoani Sanchez.
I was ten when my parents put me on a plane bound for Miami. Before passengers left the airport in Havana, the Communists would strip each of all valuables. Children were not exempt. When they saw I had an American quarter, they pounced on it. Let me tell you, no one’s greedier than a Communist.
In 1959 when dictator Fulgencio Batista left the island, the country was happy. People thought life would improve. Instead, within a year, life began to get worse. Suddenly, food became scarce—in Cuba, of all places! And not just food, everything: shoes, toothpaste, books, deodorant, cars, gasoline, furniture, comic books, toys, nails, pencils, hammers. Store shelves were empty. People had to form long lines when a store got a shipment. To make things worse, there were always the stooges in line who would start pro-government chants, which everybody was expected to join.
The Soviet Union would send stuff over, like cans of food teeming with deadly botulism. People learned to avoid Soviet food unless they had a death wish. They also sent Soviet films, which were so bad, so plotless, so mind-numbing, that they would empty movie theaters. Even the mice would scurry away.
The Terrors Were Mental as Well as Physical
And there was the persecution, the paranoia. In every street block there was one official informer who would stick his nose into everyone’s business, especially having an ear out for any comments the regime might disapprove.
The schools added a new innovation to education: brainwashing. The new regime wasn’t just praised by the teachers and the textbooks. Children were encouraged to spy on and denounce their parents to their teacher if they overheard a wrong comment. The teacher would then pass on the information to the newly created secret police.
Children were told to close their eyes and ask God for a toy, then open their eyes. Nothing. Then they were told to close their eyes ask Fidel Castro for a toy. A toy would be put on their desks and they were told to open their eyes. Christmas was abolished.
Cubans began to learn the literal meaning of totalitarianism. The regime’s grip was on every facet of society: politics, literature, art, economy, entertainment, food, social affairs. It was total. By contrast, in the run-of-the-mill dictatorship, if you did not mess with the government, the government did not mess with you. In fact, if you were oblivious to politics, you did not even know it was there, but with totalitarianism, there was no escape, no privacy. The regime wanted your labor, your money, your children, your soul.
Then I Found the Communists Inside My Refuge
Since Cuba was following the script that always happens when Communists take over a country, the next phase was the mass exodus of people, beginning in 1961. In the long run around 20 percent of the population fled the prison island, half going to Florida. There is no telling how many ended up at the bottom of the sea, courtesy of storms, sharks, and machine guns on patrol boats. But when Cubans arrived in Florida, Mexico, Spain, or Costa Rica, thinking that we left the Communists behind, lo and behold, we had to deal with a new set of Communists.
I’ve met quite a few of them over the years. Most Americans don’t like to think that there are Americans who are Communists—only foreigners should be Communists. Even Americans who are Communists get offended at being called Communists. Whenever they would find out I’m from Cuba they would grin and say they admired Fidel Castro or Che Guevara, expecting me to join in. They would always get upset if I told them what life was like under the dictatorship. They didn’t want to hear anything I had to say.
The important fact for them was that Castro and Che hated America. Soon they began to develop a racist hatred for Cuban-Americans, which spread to many in the media to the point that Pat Oliphant of The Washington Post once floated the idea that American citizens of Cuban background should not be allowed to vote in national elections. I never heard any liberals being outraged by that.
No sooner had the guns gone silent in Cuba did Hollywood began to crank out pro-Castro and anti-exile movies: “Cuban Rebel Girls,” “Cuba,” “Havana,” “Scarface,” “Creature from the Haunted Sea,” “The Godfather 2,” “The Motorcycle Diaries,” “Che,” “Che,” and still more “Che.” And since history is for leftists not a scholarly subject but an instrument of power to manipulate and mold, historical facts were distorted. In one film, Batista, who was a black man, was actually portrayed as a white blonde. (Incidentally, Allan Ryskind’s “Hollywood Traitors” is a truly priceless, highly detailed, book on Communists in the film industry.)
Don’t Give Those Murderous Communists a Thing
When the old, psychotic dictator finally died, I kept hearing in the news and on YouTube about all the good things about him, like he was the George Washington of Cuba, and supposedly invented athletics, and Cuba’s health care system is the best in the world. It didn’t help my cousin, who died from beriberi due to malnutrition, since the health system is reserved for Communist Party members and foreigners who will spread good news about the revolution through films like “Sicko.” Also, other countries, from Costa Rica to Switzerland, have good health care and athletics, and they did not see the need to impose dictatorship, censorship, secret police, or starvation.
Anyway, Castro finally kicked the bucket and was cremated. I hope they sealed the lid on the container real good and sent it to the bottom of the ocean, to make sure he doesn’t come back from the dead, like one of those demons you hear about. However, the geriatric leadership continues with Raul Castro and his cohorts.
But to return to the possible rollover in policy, don’t forget an important aspect. The Communist regime is bankrupt. It took a beautiful, prosperous country and, as with every country Communists control, ran it to the ground. Through the years, the government has taken out loans and in every case has defaulted. The regime wants to take out additional loans in the United States with which to buy food, weapons, etc. Then they can default again, and since the American banks will get stiffed, that will be frosting on the cake. I hope President Trump nixes this little ploy.