The death of the brutal Cuban Communist dictator Fidel Castro closes the door, in some respect, on another disastrous page in US foreign policy history. For all the denunciations and criticism of Castro from conservative elements and exiled Cubans, his despotic rule was the outcome of decades of American imperialism which began with President William McKinley’s infamous decision to wage war on hapless Spain in 1898.
The defeat of Spain and the confiscation of its possessions, which the US imperialist and corporate forces had longed prized, set the stage for the nation’s hubristic foreign policy course throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. America’s action against Spain showed its ungratefulness for it attacked the country that did more for it than any other (including France) in its struggle for independence. Maybe Castro’s interminable reign, which had always been a thorn in the side of US globalists, was payback for America’s wanton aggression against Spain.
Castro’s rise to power came about not only through the bungling of American diplomacy, but also from genuine “populist” support directed against the thoroughly corrupt regime of the US puppet in charge at the time, Fulgencio Batista. Even by Latin American standards, the corruption which existed under Batista was legendary!
The US government played an enormous role in Batista’s second presidency which began when he seized power in 1952. Throughout his second tenure, Batista received massive kickbacks from American multinational businesses for grants of monopoly privileges on the island. The most notable was the ITT corporation.
Batista used his unjust gains to enrich himself and buy weapons to be used against his opponents. It was claimed that when he fled Cuba he took a personal fortune of $300 million with him. While Batista and his ruling clique were enriching themselves through US assistance, the Cuban population suffered as the gap between rich and poor continued to widen.
Like Castro, Batista was ruthless in political repression which even American politicians noticed. In a speech during the 1960 presidential campaign, John Kennedy claimed that Batista had murdered some 20,000 Cubans!
Of course, the US empire learned little from the fiasco with Castro and continued on its rampaging, destructive ways – destabilizing, bombing, and squelching populist uprising across the globe. No sooner had the island become a lone communist outpost in the Western Hemisphere and the “Cuban Missile Crisis” was defused, than the nation plunged itself into a far bigger and more costlier quagmire in Vietnam.
Donald Trump rightfully condemned Castro’s murderous reign:
The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who
oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel
Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable
suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human
The President-elect must, however, understand the reason why Castro came to power and was able to maintain his totalitarian grasp for so long if America is to begin a new and hopefully peaceful foreign policy path.
Trump promised that the US would do all that it can to bring about a “free Cuba:”
Though the tragedies, deaths and pain caused by Fidel Castro
cannot be erased, our administration will do all it can to ensure
the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity
The best way he could accomplish this task not only in Cuba but in regard to all other nations is to heed the words of America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, on the proper foreign policy path for the nation: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations – entangling alliances with none.”
Maybe the demise of Castro and the ascendancy of Donald Trump is not a coincidence, but an opening which points to a new direction in foreign affairs: one that rejects nation building, intervention, and financial terrorism against friend and foe alike. Let us hope so.
*David Jackson, “Trump Condemns Castro as ‘Brutal Dictator.’” USA Today. 26 November 2016.