Saturday, May 3, 2008

Why There Has Been No Successful Revolution to Overthrow Castro in 49 Years

Why hasn't there been a revolution in Cuba to topple Fidel Castro? That question is often posed in defense of the Cuban dictator as if the absence of such a revolution argued against the need for one or represented a silent — very silent — referendum on Castro's continuation in power. Of course, there have been many foiled revolutions against the Castro regime over the last 49 years, more, in fact, than we know or will know until the mass graves are excavated and the witnesses can at last break their silence.

In the early years of the regime it was more difficult to conceal popular uprisings: the anti-Castro rebels in the Escambray Mountains, who waged a real revolution as opposed to Castro's operetta revolution in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, were too numerous and successful over too protracted a time to be ignored, and were not, ultimately, defeated by Castro but abandoned by the the Americans, as the freedom fighters of the Brigade 2506 had been abandoned before them. The fact remains, however, that all these attempts to topple Castro, known and unknown, great and small, have failed. Putting aside for the moment U.S. duplicity as a factor, why has no revolution succeeded in toppling a regime which only the greatest disdain for the Cuban people could suppose is acceptable to them or worthy of them?

Perhaps if we examine the history of other revolutions the answer will become clearer.

The American Revolution was possible because Britain's colonial subjects enjoyed all the rights of Englishmen, and, therefore, were the freest people on earth, so free, in fact, that they regarded a penny tax on tea as "tyranny."

The American Republic itself, which replicated British liberties in its Constitution and Bill of Rights, nearly succumbed to a domestic revolution shortly after it was founded known as the "Whiskey Rebellion," when Americans, taught to regard taxation as tyranny, rose against their government because it levied a tax on distilled spirits. Washington himself marched at the head of the army against the "rebellers" (i.e. revolutionists). It was the Whiskey Rebellion that was the real "Second American Revolution," not the War of 1812. If this country's Founding Fathers had created a police state rather than a democracy (flawed, but still a democracy), there would have been no Whiskey Rebellion or even the Great Rebellion (i.e. Civil War), for that matter, because it is freedom not the absence of freedom that provides the necessary conditions for revolutions, rebellions and civil wars.

At the time of the French Revolution, the peasantry of France was Europe's wealthiest and could well afford to eat cake, the popular myth notwithstanding. The Bourbons, though autocratic, were not despotic. When the Bastille was stormed, no political prisoners were found inside and the revolutionaries had to content themselves with freeing a pedophile (the prison's sole inmate). The guillotine was introduced by the Revolution and thousands of political dissidents or just "people in the way" fell prey to it. Under Louis XVI, there were no executions of the opposition. The Reign of Terror began with the Revolution, not the King.

The outcomes of the American Revolution and French Revolution were quite different, but both were made possible because neither George III nor Louis XVI was a despot. Revolutions require a certain amount of freedom to succeed. There has never been a successful revolution against a police state; nor was a revolution ever waged by people with empty bellies. It is the day-to-day struggle to avoid starvation that keeps the people too busy to rebel. A man who is too hungry to rise in the morning will never be able to rise in arms in the evening.

The Cuban Revolution was no exception to this rule, and the fact that the Castro regime is still in power also conforms to it. Before 1959, Cubans enjoyed the highest standard of living in Latin America and were constrained by none of the restrictions of a police state. Most importantly, the Rule of Law prevailed and there was no capital punishment. Castro, when he surrendered in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Moncada barracks, did so because he knew his life was inviolate and that he would live to fight (or run) another day.

Cubans have no such assurances today. Castro's Cuba is a police state which uses food (rationed in Cuba for 47 years) as an instrument of social control and requires internal passports to move from province to province, or city to city. Official permission is even necessary to move to another house across the street and the authorities must be notified when guests (even family) are staying in one's home. On every street, of course, there is an official neighborhood vigilante committee charged with spying upon and denouncing all "unusual activity."

Before Fidel Castro confiscated anything else, he took all firearms from the Cuban people. There was no "gun control" in the Thirteen Colonies, Bourbon France or Batista's Cuba. Without food, without freedom of action and without guns no revolution can succeed. Or, rather, every revolution which is attempted will fail.

The fact that there has been no successful effort to overthrow Fidel Castro in the last 49 years does not argue that the Cuban people have not wanted to overthrow him but that it is impossible for them to do so under prevailing circumstances. They can, certainly, shed rivers of blood; the regime will surely oblige them in that respect and has. They can fill the prisons and the regime will build more prisons; the only "housing stock," incidentally, that has increased in Cuba over the last half century. The Cuban people can choose to die on their feet rather than live on their knees, which means, of course, that they can commit collective suicide and end up that much closer to the ground.

The path that they have taken may not be more heroic but it is certainly more practical than walking off a cliff, which is what Gandhi advised Jews to do in the face of the Holocaust to give the rest of mankind a lesson in "moral greatness." Of course, there can be no morality where there are no mortals, nor humanity without humans. The greatest resistance to tyranny is not to die but to survive. Cubans have had enough martyrs to last us 1000 years, indeed, to share with all mankind. We do not need more martyrs. We needs more survivors, or else the future will not belong to men who love liberty but to men who are content with tyranny.


Anonymous said...

No comments today

Do I smell the end of RCAB Nation

KillCastro said...

Call it what you wish, KaSStro asked and Cubans complied. A seemingly peaceful question. Only three words, which condemned Cubans to 50 years of slavery.
When the end comes to The Beast he can look back and gloat that THAT was his crowned achievement. Now if we could only know WHOSE idea it really was!
I wonder why Hubert Matos has never touched on this.

Anonymous said...

Manuel, thank you for authoring this piece. It is an eloquent summation of the explanation on why domestic revolt in Cuba does not happen that my brother has been trying to make to me since we were both in Cuba in 2002. I understood intrinsically some of these things, and Joe put forth the rest in a very comprehensive and powerful argument...and now you've recreated that argument in a form that is consumable by the mass media and those who've never felt the soil in the fields outside of San Antonio de los Baños.

My brother and his family are in grave trouble now and I hope you will keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

Charlie Bravo said...

Anonymous, we keep Joe in our thoughts and prayers.

Fulano de Cal said...

Yes, Manuel, oh so true.

Whenever I hear the beginning of the Clash's song "The Gun of Brixton" -

"When they kick at your front door
How you gonna come ?
With your hands on your head
Or on the trigger of your gun"

- the lyrics resonate and I lament that us Cubans have not been able to do the same for the last half century.

Fulano de Cal said...


Good luck to you and your family.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Huber Matos is the hero of the "fidelistas sin Fidel," those who still believe after 49 years of evidence to the contrary, that the Cuban Revolution was a noble undertaking betrayed by one man. There was not one but thousands of betrayers, many of whom, like Matos, saw the error of their ways too late to help themselves or anybody else.

What Matos did in the immediate aftermath of the Revolution was no less monstrous than what Raúl did or "Che" Guevara. Did 20 years in Castro's prisons expiate for those sins? I think it would have if he had admitted and expressed remorse for them. But he never has, and at 89 his opportunities for doing so may be limited. I believe, however, he will go to his death upholding the banner of that putrid revolution which brought nothing to our people but suffering and death.

History will not treat him kindly. History will treat none of these traitors kindly.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Your brother by joining his life to the cause of the Cuban people was voluntarily taking up a cross which is not easy to bear, but love and faith, which alone can conquer hate and evil, will show him the way to liberate his family and bring them to freedom.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fulano de cal:

Disarming a nation leaves the guns in the hands of their verdugos.

No government that has ever existed on earth is deserving of such confidence on the part of its citizens.

The advocates of so-called "gun control" (really gun confiscation) are the greatest enemies of liberty.

john longfellow aka lou dobbs said...

Nicolae Ceauşescu

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


The overthrow of Ceausescu did not happen in a vacuum. It would not have happened in 1956 or in 1968. The collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union and its satellites led to the overthrow of Ceausescu. Without the implosion of Communism Caeusescu or his son would still be in power today.

I have never discounted the possibility that outside factors could achieve or hasten the overthrow of Castro.

The United States, of course, is not going the way of the Soviet Union, and it is this country which installed Castro in power and has maintained him there since it became the guarantor of his regime in 1962.

john longfellow aka lou dobbs said...

Mat, it took a few bullets to kill off Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife.

Stop peddling the shallow Cuban exile victimhood, and start taking responsibility!!

Im sure there is a merc in "Blackwater" at the right price, who would do what Cubans are too timid to do.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


By Castro's count there have been some 638 attempts to assassinate him, more than one attempt per month over 49 years. None has succeeded because Castro has always had his praetorian guard to protect him. It is when Ceausescu's own praetorian guard abandoned him that his enemies could deal him some long overdue justice.

Americans have also attempted to kill Fidel over the years. What happened to your countrymen? Were they too "timid" to do the job despite being backed by the most powerful government on earth? Surely they were not locked into issues of "victimhood" because Castro had almost managed to hoodwink them, blackmail them and otherwise get the better of them? Or was it just a question of "not getting the right price" to do the job right? Or, perhaps, even of Castro paying them the "right price" not to do it?

john longfellow aka lou dobbs said...

mat said: Americans have also attempted to kill Fidel over the years. What happened to your countrymen?

It aint our country. Cuba belongs to Cuba, and must ultimately be liberated by Cubans!!

Vana said...

Awsome Manuel and oh so true, a hungry people cannot rise against tyrants, indeed free people who have arms and are able to meet together have a better chance at rebellion, when you must wake up each day worried about what to feed your children, the last thing in your mind is to take to the streets unarmed.

I'm off to the Cuban Festival! gonna go rub elbows with my country men and catch up with old Cuban friends, will see you all tomorrow.

Vana said...

Anon 12:08, good luck to your family and yourself, I will say a prayer for Joe.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Fidel Castro just killed one of your presidents and nearly blew up your country, but, hey, he's not your problem.

KillCastro said...

Mr. T
It never fails me, any dialog with you (as minor as it may seem) teaches me something that I had not even considered before. The Hubert Matos issue is one of those.
It ALWAYS bothered me how evasive he was about question regarding the "revolution". That farce that only now after 50 years of waving in the wind is becoming a tattered flag that allows us to see the truth through its raged gaps. A sham! The Madison Aveneue revolution. Calvin Klein should’ve been proud of this one. As for Matos? Why was Camilo killed and Hubert was not? And as you say if Hubert believes that he participated in a patriotic endeavor playing a part on this piece of histrionic bullshit 50 years ago, but claims that ONE man was the traitor but that the ideals were pure and patriotic, he deserves whatever fate had befallen him and the absolute disdain of those he deceived and keeps on deceiving. And yes Mr. T, I thoroughly agree. No one who participated at any level in that murderous charade is without guilt. That includes my family members who occupied high ranking positions in El Directorio Estudiantil.
In my trips to Cuba I have confronted this issue and have been told “we were deceived" Okey, so why didn’t you IMMEDIATELY take back weapons against the monster?
There is never a good answer. KaSStro by himself could not have done it all!
There are MANY whose Revolution facade will be removed and the bare truth will reveal agendas that had little to do with patriotism.

john longfellow aka lou dobbs said...

Sorry i have been gone all day, but i have been stomping my ex-liberal brothers and sisters all day long. This post bothered me like none other i have ever seen. Freerepublic has joined the battle, now Air America has joined in.

Fantomas said...

perdio el referendum evo morales fidel y chavez en bolivia con un 85% en favor de la autonomia departamental

ya no es el perfecto de Santa Cruz ahora es GOBERNADOR de Santa Cruz

Srcohiba said...

Actually the Colonists prior to shots at Lexington desired to be given full rights as English citizens. They were not. They were given second class citizenship and were subject to the Privy council and English governors.

If you will recall Ben Franklin's petitions before Parliament during his years there in the decades before the War of Independence, his argument was they were not treated and given the full rights of English citizens esp. when it came to their own affairs.

Hence why the outcry against taxation. They got taxed by the crown and did not receive any benefits from the crown.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Sr. Cohiba:

The colonists received considerable benefits from the Crown, not least of which was its protection. Taxes were levied to pay for that protection much as they are levied in the U.S. today.

Americans were by no means second-class citizens in the Thirteen Colonies, but had their own legislatures with the power to pass laws to govern them, so long, of course, as these were not in conflict with those approved by parliament.

Englishmen who settled in America enjoyed the same rights as Englishmen born in America. Englishmen born in America enjoyed the same rights in England as Englishmen did.

Of course, the Colonies were colonies much as Puerto Rico is a colony of the U.S. This does not mean that Puerto Ricans are not free. It simply means that they are not independent.

I think it would be fair to say that most people on earth today would be a lot freer and happier if they enjoyed the rights that the colonists did under Britain. Certainly, in 1776, there weren't any people freer in the Americas, or, indeed, anywhere else.

That was precisely my point: revolutions happen because freedom abets them. Without freedom, there are no revolutions.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Half the colonists did not want independence from Britain. They had their property confiscated by the rebels and were driven into exile in Canada. Sounds familiar?

Charlie Bravo said...

Social lobotomy and socialized misery are the basic tools of control for any police state worth its salt.
Then these tools become tenets.
No freedom of assembly.
No freedom of thought.
No freedom of speech.
No freedom of movement.
No economic freedoms.
No food.
And of course a "foreign culprit" for everything.
The symbols of the nation are determined to be the symbols of the revolution. The revolution revises and rewrites erased history at will.
And a paternalistic state that determines what to give you when and why, be it as a punishment or as a reward.
And still, there are idiots who would love nothing more than to label Cuban refugees as "economic migrants".
The failure of the economy is by design one of the most evident traits of a police state, since they have to control every mouthful the citizens ingest in order to control their minds and wills.
Can it be clearer?

Anonymous said...

your numbers are falling

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


In any case, the 25 comments on this post are more than Babalú has gotten in its last ten posts.

Julio Rey said...

Best post I ever read on this blog. And you've had some great ones before....

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Thank-you, Julio.

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