Castro’s 12 Victories
Since winning the Spanish-American War in 1898, the United States has been responsible for the Western Hemisphere. But even before the Spanish-American War, the Monroe Doctrine decreed no outside power could establish hegemony over the countries of the Western Hemisphere. Even so, the Monroe Doctrine permits Western Hemisphere nations to adopt whatever political system they wish. That is what happened in 1959 when Fidel Castro toppled the regime of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Score one for Castro.
Just as soon as he felt secure, Castro revealed he was a communist. He allied Cuba militarily and economically with the Soviet Union. Cuba became a satellite of the USSR.
Cuba’s alliance with the Soviet Union should have invoked the Monroe Doctrine. But the U.S. was in the midst of a presidential election. The U.S., which could have smashed Castro’s tiny Army like a Palmetto bug, did nothing. Score two for Castro.
So, for 41 years, Cuba has been, in essence, a giant, hostile aircraft carrier anchored only 90 miles off our mainland. What Great Power worthy of the name would allow a hostile aircraft carrier equipped and controlled by the Soviet Union to remain in such a threatening position?
In 1961, President Kennedy saw the danger. He directed the CIA to land an armed band of Cuban refugees at the Bay of Pigs. Unfortunately, JFK withheld the air power the invasion needed to succeed. Castro’s fledgling army easily mopped up the invaders. Score three for Castro.
In 1963, the Cuban Missile Crisis produced two long-lasting results: Soviet missiles were withdrawn from Cuba and the United States promised to never, ever invade Cuba again. Score four for Castro.
Secure against invasion, Castro began the systematic exportation of communism into Central and South America and even into the African countries of Angola and Ethiopia. Castro became, and remains, a Third-World hero. Score five for Castro.
President Kennedy directed the CIA to eliminate Castro. The CIA hired the American Mafia to act as its executive agent. But when Attorney General Robert Kennedy directed the FBI to attack the Mafia, the Mafia felt its Prohibition-days, rum-running “agreement” with Joseph P. Kennedy (JFK’s father) had been betrayed. Some believe the Mafia and Castro then made a deal to cause Lee Harvey Oswald to shoot Kennedy or to make it appear that Oswald was the shooter. Score six for Castro.
In 1980, when internal riots forced his hand, Castro allowed 125,000 boat people (to include thousands of criminals and the mentally ill) to flee to the U.S. from the Port of Mariel. The riots staged by the Marielitos in the U.S. contributed to President Carter’s reelection defeat in 1980 and the reelection defeat of Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton as well. Score seven and eight for Castro.
In 1983, Castro engineered a bloody coup on Grenada that threatened the lives of hundreds of U.S. medical students. President Reagan ejected Castro’s troops by force, rescued the students and stopped Castro from building an airfield designed to support Soviet aircraft. At last, score one for the U.S.
In 1994, Castro ordered his gunboats to ram a refugee raft drowning 41 escapees, to include 14 children. Bill Clinton’s response was to order a change in the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. Clintons change was designed to discourage escape attempts by making it more difficult for Cuban escapees to claim political asylum. Score nine for Castro.
In 1996, as U.S. radar controllers watched, Cuban MiGs shot down two U.S. civilian aircraft killing three U.S. citizens and one U.S. resident. Bill Clinton did nothing then or afterward. Score ten for Castro.
Now, Castro is using the Elian Gonzalez controversy to split the White, Black and Latino communities in Miami. When Clinton’s storm troopers were photographed in a chilling pre-dawn raid on a private home, Castro’s stock in the Third World soared and ours dropped. Score 11 and 12 for Castro and his ability to make the U.S. look foolish.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist, is a former professor of History and Political Science.