News Analysis - Perhaps a Reconciliation in Havana
"It's obvious that Marxist ideology, as originally conceived, no longer addresses reality, and thus it's impossible to build a society upon it" -- Pope Benedict XVI, in route to Mexico and Cuba, Mar. 23, 2012
"Marxism taught me what society was. I was like a blindfolded man in a forest, who doesn't even know where north or south is. If you don't eventually come to truly understand the history of the class struggle, or at least have a clear idea that society is divided between the rich and the poor, and that some people subjugate and exploit other people, you're lost in a forest, not knowing anything." -- Fidel Castro, quoted in My Life: A Spoken Autobiography, by Ignacio Ramonet (2009)
Fidel Casto, raised middle-class, educated in a Jesuit prep school and college far beyond the means of most Cubans, a lawyer by profession, has arguably accomplished more than many world leaders simply by surviving so long. He's outlasted the last 10 U.S. presidents, six of whom are dead. Barack Obama is # 11, and his 86 years notwithstanding, there's no good reason to believe that Fidel won't outlast him, too. Even if he doesn't, nothing will change in Havana that's not already changing of its own accord.
A young, newly elected American president took a quick dislike to Fidel and determined to dislodge his next door neighbor by one means or another. In April 1961, just 90 days after he was sworn in, John F. Kennedy approved a long planned operation to overthrow Fidel's regime with a rag-tag band of CIA-tutored Cuban exiles, as well as a curious assortment of American operatives. The country's armed forces, trained and equipped by Eastern Bloc nations, crushed the invaders in just 72 hours. It was a complete military rout and a major political embarrassment for Kennedy. The Bay of Pigs adventure was the last effort by the United States to change Cuba's government by the use of overt military force.
But other forms of pressure against Fidel continued to arrive from all quarters. Kennedy imposed a near total economic embargo against the island on Feb. 7, 1962. Fifty years later it remains firmly entrenched, and so does Fidel Castro. More than a few have argued that the embargo is precisely what has kept the regime in power; a former prime minister of Spain wrote several years ago that Cuba's government would collapse within 90 days if the embargo was removed. In any case, Kennedy's efforts to eliminate his nemesis to the south came to an abrupt end on Nov. 22, 1963. And in yet another assassination theory book which will be published next month, a former CIA analyst who is now a professor at the University of Miami argues that Fidel Castro was well aware that Lee Harvey Oswald would kill Kennedy in Dallas on that last Friday before Thanksgiving. Such are the curious courses of history. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Note: Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez returned once more to Havana over the weekend, to resume chemotherapy treatments. There's no indication that he will meet privately with the Pope, even though he professes to be a devout Catholic. One Church official said that if Chávez wants to see the Holy Father, he can do so tomorrow (Mar. 28) when Benedict celebrates a huge public Mass -- his last act before returning to Rome. Late this afternoon the ailing president said he didn't plan "to interfere" with the official agenda during the pontiff's brief stay in Cuba. Chávez will return to Caracas on Thursday. Hugo Chávez' condition in dispute after his latest cancer treatment in Cuba: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/03/hugo-chavez-condition-in-dispute-after.html.
Fidel Castro greets Pope Benedict XVI: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/03/fidel-castro-greets-pope-benedict-xvi.html#more.
50th anniversary of U.S. embargo of Cuba - Feb. 7, 2012: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/us-embargo-of-cuba-is-50-years-old.html.
Cuba - A paradigm for how not to conduct foreign policy: http://mexicogulfreporter-supplement.blogspot.mx/.
Gingrich spews the same old Cold War rhetoric on Cuba: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/gingrich-spews-same-old-cold-war.html.
What does Che Guevara have to do with Mercedes-Benz?: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-does-che-guevara-have-to-do-with.html.
The Ugly American - and the Jesuits: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/ugly-american-and-jesuits.html.
Have a free drink at the Hemingway Bar in Washington, D.C.: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/hemingway-bar-opens-in-cuban-diplomatic.html.