Tag Archives: Fidel Castro

Legitimizing Terrorists, BBC Style

This morning, I sat dumbfounded as a I listened to Nick Robinson interview Otto Reich.  For those who are unfamiliar with his name, Reich is an anti-Castro Cuban and former US ambassador to Venezuela, but more about that later.  At no point during the interview did Robinson mention his role in destabilizing governments or harbouring and funding  state-sponsored terrorists like Orlando Bosch or Luis Posada Carilles.  Instead, listeners were left with the impression that Reich was just another anti-Castro Cuban railing against the ‘tyrannical rule’ of Fidel Castro.

“I’m very proud of what the United States has done in Latin America”, Reich told Robinson without a shred of shame.  From the funding of the Nicaraguan Contras to the 1976 shooting down  of Cubana de Aviación Flight 455, Reich was behind the scenes pulling the strings in his role in the Orwellian-sounding Office of Public Diplomacy. When George W Bush became US President in 2000, he rewarded Reich by appointing him as Under Secretary of State. He had previously worked for Bush’s father during his presidency.

This article written by Duncan Campbell, appeared in The Guardian in 2002 and is worth reading. For not only did Reich pull strings, his dirty fingerprints are all over some of the most violent acts in Latin America, including the 2009 Honduran coup d’etat that overthrew the democratically elected government.

According to Counterpunch, he “dedicated himself to the release of Orlando Bosch”, the man who is thought to be responsible for shooting down Flight 455.  Reich’s role in the Venezuelan coup in 2002 was to generate and disseminate anti-Chavez propaganda and disinformation.

Jean-Guy Allard of Counterpunch reported:

On February 7, Colonel Pedro Soto, former aide to Carlos Andres Perez (president at the time of the 1992 coup led by Chavez), affirming that he represented “75% of the armed forces,” publicly attacked the Chavez government. (Invited by an international institute, a CIA client, Soto then visited Washington and Miami, where he was to be found on April 11, loudly celebrating the “return to democracy,” along with Cuban-American terrorist leaders).

Thus a rapidly and steadily more brazen deception campaign was mounted, rapidly joined by the Venezuelan private press, which ended up running a grossly hostile campaign against the government. El Universal daily and Radio Caracas Television, Globovision and Venevision TV networks were already actively preparing the media-military coup, channeling information and systematically harassing the constitutional government and the head of state.

During the coup, the same disinformation gang cut off the broadcast the president’s speech to the people and repeated lie after lie, unleashing violent incidents that would subsequently serve to justify the subversive operation. Meanwhile, the representatives of the new “order” were destroying state television program material.

Then the communications junta shamelessly spread the false information that Chavez had resigned, silenced all public pronouncements by members of the government, and the played up declarations in favor of the criminal coup. One of these was made by Ambassador Shapiro, who affirmed that April 11 was an extraordinary day in the history of Venezuela.

In the morning of Saturday, April 13, speaking before more than 30,000 people at rally in the municipality of Guira de Melena, Habana province, in the presence of President Fidel Castro, Bruno Rodriguez, Cuban ambassador to the United Nations, clearly denounced the media disinformation campaign in Venezuela. “The truth is that a coup d’etat has taken place in Venezuela and that a sellout and . junta is usurping, by means of force, the power invested in President Chavez by the Venezuelan people, with hopes of erasing decades of injustice and corruption by applying Bolivar’s ideals.”

Other lies followed the one alleging Chavez’s resignation, including the assertion that Chavez had sought asylum in Cuba, which was rapidly refuted by Havana.

Indeed, the media complicity with the coup organizers was so strong that when the latter attempted to take the imprisoned president out of the country to the United States, it was planned to transport him aboard a private plane registered in the United States in the name of Gustavo Cisneros, the owner of the Venevision TV network.

Meanwhile, CNN en Espanol linked up with Globovision to finally announce the taking of Miraflores Palace by the people and the presidential guard of honor… five hours after it happened.

Lies, deception, violence, terror: everything smacks of Otto Reich in this failed coup. Even that hysterical rabble of Cuban-Venezuelan emigres that surrounded the Cuban embassy in Caracas for a number of hours, destroying cars and threatening to enter by force – before fleeing when the Bolivarian leader’s return was announced.

Since the death of Fidel Castro, the British mass media has been circling around Cuba like vultures and offering highly-slanted reportage on the 9 days of mourning. The not so hidden discourse of the media expresses the hope that the US will  force the Cuban people to accept American-style freedom. Let’s hope that never happens.

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Fidel Castro: Some Perspective

fidel-castro

So Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90 and while tributes are being paid to him by many on the Left, the capitalist media has gone full throttle with its “He was a brutal dictator, who repressed his people” schtick.  It was inevitable. The commentators on the Right on both sides of the Atlantic will wilfully overlook the many brutal dictators their countries supported to advance a particularly weak argument about ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. If we take Cuba’s neighbour, Haiti, we can see that for the much of the 20th century, the United States has interfered in the country since the end of its occupation (1915 – 1934).  Later, the bloodthirsty Duvalier family was kept in power with the United States’ connivance since the 1950s until Jean Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier was deposed in a popular uprising in 1986.  Even today, the US continues to interfere in that country and its people continue to suffer high levels of poverty, infant mortality and illiteracy.

In the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean, the United States propped up a series of dictators, most notably Augusto Pinochet and the Somoza family of Nicaragua.  The US invaded and occupied Nicaragua in 1909 and installed the Somoza dynasty, which it kept in power until the Sandinista Revolution of 1979.  Even then, the US supported an insurgency campaign led by the so-called Contras, who were funded with money from the sales of arms to Iran, a country that the US was ostensibly hostile towards. In Chile, Pinochet was assisted by the CIA’s efforts to destabilize the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. Thousands perished or were ‘disappeared’ at the hands of the DINA, Pinochet’s secret police. Today, that country continues to feel the effects of the Pinochet era, particularly in the fields of education and public services.

In Guatemala and Honduras, two countries in which most of the land was owned by the United Fruit Company, workers were repressed and their governments were puppet regimes that were installed at the behest of the company.  In 1954, for example, the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was brutally overthrown in a CIA supported coup that was led by Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas.  We should also recall that Eisenhower’s CIA director, John Foster Dulles and his brother, Allen, had once been on United Fruit’s payroll in one form or another.

This morning on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, they presented a predictable one-sided narrative of Fidel and Cuba. Invariably the Cuban Missile Crisis was brought up but not the actual cause. Instead, listeners were simply told that Castro had allowed Soviet missiles on Cuban soil and how these missiles were only a mere “60 miles from the United States”. The BBC News Channel later repeated the same narrative. What the BBC failed to mention is that the US had sited missiles on Turkish soil years before the USSR began building missile silos on Cuba. So much for facts, eh?

Perhaps the most bizarre moment on the Today programme was when Mishal Husain suggested to Ken Livingstone (via a question) that  it was better to live in a supposedly democratic country with poor rates of literacy than in Castro’s Cuba where literacy rates are high.

In Africa, it was Castro’s intervention that stopped the advance of CIA backed thugs of UNITA, who were supported by Britain, South Africa and the US, who sought to extend Western hegemony on the continent. Castro also opposed the apartheid regime of South Africa, while Thatcher and Reagan provided it with unqualified support.

As for repression, it is worth remembering that during the 1950s, 60s and the early part of the 1970s, African-American voters were prevented from exercising their democratic rights in the US Deep South. The Black Panthers and other groups were routinely harassed by COINTELPRO and many were imprisoned on trumped up charges.

Yes, there are human rights abuses taking place on Cuban soil… in a place called Guantanamo Bay, which is run by the US military.

Fidel Castro wasn’t perfect but he was, by no means, the world’s worst dictator.

Viva la revolucion! Viva Cuba!

 

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