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Fidel Castro's Private Revolution

'The private nature of Castroism is revealed by hints of a dynastic succession whose main heirs appear to be members of the Castro family.'


Deception plays an important role in history. Man uses it as an instrument to achieve his goals, similarly to the way animals, through mimicry, disguise themselves, depending upon the environment around them, to escape their predators or to surprise their prey. Deception is an intrinsic part of human nature and, therefore, of society. Regardless of its ethical and moral implications, like it or not, we must learn to grapple with deception.  

Applied to public and State affairs, deception has been used to achieve political, military and economic objectives during various stages of the history of nations. Cuba is a good example.  Its republican history cannot be understood without acknowledging the prominent role of deception and, upon the beginning of the revolutionary process in 1959, deception rose to unprecedented levels in the country, essential to Fidel Castro's daily modus operandi. Official deception was utilized in very deliberate, refined and effective ways, in sync with actions of the revolutionary Government. These actions not only led to Castro's personal domination of all the State's power, but also virtually all the country's economic power, hitherto widely distributed among many private parties. In this way deception convinced a large segment of the population, perhaps most of it, that the concentration of power served morally superior ends, as embodied in socialist ideology. It would be pointing out the obvious to state that without deception the massive cataclysm called the "Cuban Revolution" that has plagued society since 1959 never would have transpired.

Herein I analyze the main official statements and measures that swiftly and radically transformed Cuban society in less than two years. It is not easy to find examples in history of change so rapid and so profound. It consisted of a refined conflict between Castro's public statements and the measures later implemented. This cycle of Deception-Betrayal (D-B) had its first major expression in the initial promise, dating from before 1959, that the Revolution was being carried out order to overthrow the Batista dictatorship, restore the Constitution of 1940, and organize free elections for a new democratic government. Such was the first segment of the "D-B" cycle, completed in early 1959 when the Government surreptitiously abandoned the constitutional restoration plan, and made it official in 1960 speech in which Castro rhetorically asked: "Elections? What for?" Although the D-B cycle was continuously repeated on various scales, and at different times, and for different audiences, here we shall focus on the most significant cases in the early process.

Thus, the next great cycle was that which also began before 1959, with multiple statements by Castro denying that he, his followers, and the revolutionary movement were Communist. However, already in 1959, even while denying these accusations, Castro was placing, without the public's knowledge, militant communists in key Government positions, even while he was getting rid of anti-Communist staff. All this led to protests and the subsequent resignation of President Manuel Urrutia in mid-1959, and Commander Huber Matos that October, with the latter's immediate imprisonment.

Castro's statements about the nature of his revolution, meanwhile, featured a vague definition of a "humanist" regime. While he persisted in disavowing that it was Communist, he initiated relations with the Soviet Union and implemented measures of a socialist nature, such as agrarian and urban reform laws. These laws violated the property rights of hundreds of thousands of Cuban citizens and those of a good number of foreigners, and reached their peak in the D-B cycles and the massive expropriations of 1960. The greatest of these cycles was completed on April 16, 1961, when Castro finally proclaimed, in a public speech, the socialist nature of the revolution. Later that same year the great B-D cycle came to head with Castro's confession that he was a Marxist- Leninist and would be his whole life.

It is noteworthy that a large portion of the documentation of many of these episodes of deception has gradually been erased from public records in Cuba, a practice that takes the deception to a higher level; that is, deception about deception. In this way Cuba repeated the well-known Communist practice of simply deleting  inconvenient parts of their histories, so as to maximize the Government's control over citizens.

Parallel to the process of expropriations in 1960,  Cuba's Central Planning Board (JUCEPLAN) was organized. This would be the megaorganization that would supplant the market economy that had prevailed in Cuba hitherto, and that would be in charge, in theory, of overseeing the country's entire economy under the socialist regime. In this regard it is crucial to understand that this new system would replace hundreds of thousands of product and service companies, of all sizes, each with their respective owners, managers and workers, with state monopolies. The disappearance of private owners generated a vacuum of economic and administrative authority that had to be filled, in a question of just months, with improvised personnel loyal to Castro, to prevent a production shutdown on the Island.

While the Board represented the essence of what should be the handling a new and efficient socialist economy, in practice it became the instrument of the Fidel Castro's last great deception: he would handle the economy at will, without well-prepared plans, while making use of expropriated companies as if they were his property. Instead of "social ownership of the means of production," as expressed in the sacred texts of socialism, the expropriated property was, de facto, privatized by and for Fidel Castro himself. He now had all the power, to use and distribute as however he pleased, without having to answer to anyone, and without a free and independent press, or supervision by the Communist Party or any competent State body. And instead of using those properties and the central planning system to promote Cuba's economic and social development, Castro used his resources to promote guerrilla wars in several Latin American countries, antagonize the US all over the world, and intervene in military conflicts in several African countries. This was an unknown aspect of his private agenda, in which socialism itself, as conceived by or dreamt of by socialist Marxists, did not apply. Another set of deceptive maneuvers came to light, constituting new instances of betrayal: instead of dedication to the welfare of the people, Cuban socialism morphed into a proletarian internationalism and a standard-bearer of anti-Americanism under its the country's new lord and master.

The Castro scheme constructed a veritable Trojan horse to surprise millions of unsuspecting Cubans, who were unable to defend their interests, rights and property. With the Castro regime donning a disguise of benevolent socialism, the deception was not limited to Cuba, but also exported for international consumption, with great success. Emulating the villages of Potemkin, the socialist facade was sold in other countries through a massive and costly propaganda effort. Many Cubans still do not grasp the private nature of the Castro regime, although now it is becoming increasingly clear, due to hints of a dynastic succession whose main heirs appear to be members of the Castro family. At this point one wonders whether the public outrage that will ensue when these truths are widely known just might generate the conditions necessary for a profound change in the regime.

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