Awash in Blood and Broken Promises, Castro Marks 30 Years
By: Manuel A. Tellechea
The San Diego Union
January 1, 1989
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the triumph of the Cuban Revolution. Castro officially proclaimed Cuba a Marxist-Leninist state in 1961, but prefers to date communism in Cuba from his assumption of power in 1959.
According to Castro, he had to wait till 1961 to proclaim the "true character" of the Cuban Revolution because "the Cuban people were not prepared in 1959 to accept Marxism." Apparently, Marxism can only be accepted when it has already been imposed and it can be imposed only through subterfuge.
That Cuba is a totalitarian state is no longer questioned today — even Sartre stopped questioning it long before he stopped questioning altogether. The absence of human rights in Cuba is also a widely accepted fact, and thanks to Armando Valladares, a fact acknowledged even by the United Nations. There persists, however, the belief that Cubans have benefited from the Revolution in other ways — that what they have lost in liberty, they have gained in social justice, economic independence (from the United States), dignity, or what have you.
Before the advent of "economic independence" in 1959, Cuba was the world's chief producer and exporter of sugar; but now, whenever a sugar crop fails due to the inevitable natural disaster or CIA-created fungus (and fail it will every year since God and the CIA are relentless), Cuba buys sugar on the world market at prices far below the cost of producing it for export, and re-sells that "nationalized" sugar with a 1000 percent mark-up to the Soviet Union.
With the credit it receives for its re-exported Dominican or Jamaican sugar, Cubans buy petroleum from the Soviets at cost, which it in turns sells at a substantial profit to other underdeveloped countries. Thus, 30 years after the Revolution, the vicious hold that sugar once had on the Cuban economy has at last been broken: Cuba is now an exporter of sugar and an exporter of oil (somebody else's sugar and somebody else's oil).
For some unknown reason, news of this revolutionary triumph was kept a state secret for many years. It was only in 1985, when the Cuban-American National Foundation obtained a copy of the National Bank of Cuba's annual report to its European creditors, that the world first learned of the peculiar scheme whereby Cuba receives the Soviet Union's dole "with dignity."
The report also revealed that Castro wants to borrow $60 million for feasibility studies to determine if Cuba could relieve its $30 billion national debt — the largest per capita indebtedness in the world — by exporting artificial teeth, marbles and a "synthetic fodder obtained from sugar-cane waste for the feeding of pigs." Also, Cuba's Western creditors were asked to finance the exploration of "Cuba's gold fields." (By the way, 500 years ago Columbus and his successors worked to death Cuba's indigenous inhabitants in a frantic and fruitless search for gold. When all the Indians were gone, the Spanish imported blacks. There are no snakes in Iceland and there is no gold in Cuba).
Diversification has certainly had a dramatic effect on Cuba's economy, though not perhaps what is exponents had anticipated: Before the Revolution, Cuba had the 3rd-highest GNP in Latin America, ranking just behind Venezuela and Argentina; it now ranks 15th, just ahead of Haiti and Bolivia, according to the World Bank's 1983 Development Report.
Of course, there is one aspect of Cuba's economy that cannot be factored into its GNP, but which nonetheless accounts for a significant part of its income. For years now, Cuba has been trafficking on the human exchange. It is the only market where Cuba still has something of its own to sell.
For a fee payable in Yankee dollars, Cuba supplies cannon fodder to more than 20 countries and one U.S. corporation (Gulf-Chevron of Angola). But a Cuban doesn't have to go abroad to shed his blood for the regime: he can do so right at home. In fact, he must. Cuban law requires every citizen over the age of 15 and under 55 to donate two pints a year to Cuba's version of the Red Cross. By use of coercion Cuba "pumps" more blood annually from its 10 million inhabitants than is collected by voluntary contribution in the United States. A small country like Cuba — even one perennially at war — does not require and could not use more than a fraction of what of what the Castro regime collects in plasma annually. The rest is sold on the world market, where Cuba has only recently displaced Haiti as the chief purveyor.
But Cuba has gone beyond vampirism in its quest for survival. Alone among the nations of the earth, Cuba sells humans for biological experimentation to the USSR and the Eastern bloc, according to Resistance International, a human rights group founded by Soviet dissidents Vladimar Bukovsky, General Piotr Grigorenko and Cuban writer and former political prisoner Armando Valladares, now U.S. ambassador to the United Nations' Human Rights Commission in Geneva. Warmer than anything the gravedigger could provide but just as animate, these "living corpses" are cultivated in prisons and are especially coveted by medical researchers because the privations to which they've been subjected over a span of several decades cannot be duplicated in the laboratory. Thus Castro is able to turn even political prisoners to good account.
To nations that do not want for guinea pigs but have no quacks to torment their citizens, Castro exports "guinea doctors," tasseled orderlies whose zeal coupled with their inexperience has on more than one occasion caused their patients literally to take up arms, as in Bluefields, Nicaragua, where a community of 2000 rose up against three Cuban physicians in 1980, a revolt which required 1500 Sandinista soldiers to put down.
Every type of technician and engineer is also for sale by the regime. "Some 150,000 Cubans," according to Ernesto Meléndez Bachs, minister and president of the State Committee for Economic cooperation, have "lent their services as internationalists in 45 countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America."
Some markets in the human exchange are inexhaustible, but others clearly are not. Cuba's command of the "Hessian" market is especially tenuous and it appears that Cuba will soon have to relinquish it: A nation of 10 millions cannot supply the progressive world's needs forever. The will may be there (on the part of Castro) but not the materia prima.
If demographically things were not bad enough for Castro, Cubans insist on conspiring against him by denying him the use of their bodies. Every year thousands of Cubans embark on a 90-mile trek to freedom; for every Cuban that reaches the Florida coast strapped to an inner tube or hugging the wheels of an airplane, how many hundreds more must die in the attempt, shot by Castro's Coast Guard, eaten by sharks, or drowned in the world's most dangerous waters. Nonetheless, 1.5 million Cubans have managed to make it out alive and millions more await their opportunity. Not all, however, have the stamina to wait 20 years to emigrate or the courage to brave the seas. For these there is yet another way of denying Castro the use of their bodies — self-extinction.
According to World Health Statistics (the annual of the World Health Organization), Cubans now can claim the highest suicide rate in the hemisphere and the 2nd highest in the world: 27.5 suicides per 100,000 population. Suicide is the major cause of death for Cubans between the ages of 45 and 49 — the generation that fought Castro's revolution.
What they cannot bear themselves Cubans are loathe to bequeath to posterity. The official Cuban birth rate has declined by 60 percent since the Revolution from 35.1 per 1000 population in 1963 to 14.1 by 1980.
If a healthier and better-educated society were Castro's legacy to his slaves, it would not make him less of a despot or the Cuban people a whit freer. But Castro's claim to fame lies not in what he has done for his people but in what he has done to them. His vaunted "achievements" are Potemkin villages that survive only in the rarefied imaginations of those who have never felt his lash or been forced to subsist on his bounty.