Iván García, Translator: Unstated
One morning in 1958, in intricate landscapes of the Sierra Maestra,
after a heavy bombardment by dictator Fulgencio Batista's air force on
defenseless villages, the guerrilla leader Fidel Castro wrote a note to
his secretary and friend Celia Sánchez. He vowed to her that after the
air raid and verification that the bombs used were made in the USA, from
that moment on, he would begin his real war against the United States of
And so it happened. The support in arms, logistics and military training
which the United States provided Batista, was the starting point for his
personal crusade against the gringos. As a lover of history, the young
lawyer from Biran had antecedents. Since the island was a colony of
Spain, the imperial cravings of the colossus of the north were clear.
After 1898, the U.S. military occupation and the outrageous Platt
Amendment–which was like a sword of Damocles over our fledgling
sovereignty–were the breeding ground that increased the hatred and
frustration of many, given the foreign policy of their neighbors on the
Castro's political enemies had seen signals of his war against the
Yankees in the letter he sent to President Roosevelt in 1940, while
studying at the Colegio Dolores, Santiago de Cuba:
"My good friend Roosevelt, I do not know much English, but I know enough
to write. I like listening to the radio and I'm very happy because I
heard that you will be President for another term.
"I am 12 years old (which was not true, because he was born on August
13, 1926 and the date of the letter is dated November 6, 1940, so he was
already 14). I'm a boy, but I think a lot and I can't believe I'm
writing to the President of the United States.
"If you would like, give me (or send) a real American greenback of ten
dollars because I've never seen a real American greenback of ten dollars
and I would like to have one.
"If you want iron to build your boats, I'll show you the biggest mines
of iron of the country (or world). They are in Mayarí, Oriente, Cuba."
Roosevelt neither answered him nor sent the money. Castro opponents
believe that this was the real beginning of his anti-imperialist
crusade. I think not. Before the triumph of his revolution, Castro's
relationship with the United States was not incendiary.
When the July 26 Movement needed money to buy weapons, Fidel took a trip
to New York and Florida in search of the greenbacks of Cuban immigrants.
It was from the start of the bombing in the eastern mountains, that he
saw for the first time what his future campaign would be.
It is also likely that after his extensive U.S. tour in April 1959,
where he visited universities and monuments, chatted with the press,
organizations and personalities, and met with then Vice-President Nixon,
but not with President Eisenhower, who refuse to meet him, giving an
excuse for not receiving him that he had a date to play golf, that
Castro decided to open fire from his island of reeds in the Caribbean.
Castro would explain his motives one day in his memoirs. The truth is
that since 1959, Fidel has held an aggressive verbal duel with 11
leaders of the White House. And he even put them on the brink of nuclear
war in October 1962. He has done everything possible to arouse the ire
of the Americans.
The United States has had its share of blame, with its dirty war and its
surplus of stupidity. I think it was a senator, Jeff Bridges, who once
said that to Castro's stupidity, the United States responded with a
But in January 2009, Barack Hussein Obama came to the presidency. Castro
was not ready for Obama. With his mind trained to the presidents of the
Cold War, he could not decipher this mestizo with the strange name.
Looking for clues, he quickly read two books by Obama, Dreams From my
Father and The Audacity of Hope. But he found nothing. In them, Obama
never mentions the Cuban revolution and Castro and Che Guevara. In The
Audacity of Hope, he mentions only Cuban Americans and their success.
Cryptic Obama, Castro would think. Perhaps because the young Barack
lived much of his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia, the coming to power
of the bearded one didn't make his stomach jump. Castro has tried to
seduce him. But Obama did not answer, not even the insults of old commander.
The point, in my opinion, is that Castro does not understand Obama. He
can't even understand how it was possible that this skinny black guy
reached the White House.The reason is simple. The one and only
comandante is still stuck in the Cold War period. United States and the
world have changed. And Castro suspects that this is impossible.
March 26 2011
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