"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win"
It is one of my favourite apothegms and is credited variously to Mohandas Gandhi and to a spokesman for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Whoever said it clearly understood the nature of struggle like my illustrious colleague Fidel Castro who has now turned journalist after 50 years inventing a civilisation.
Fidel does not often lose his temper in public, but this week it was obvious he was sorely tried by the results of the Americas Summit in Port of Spain. In a piece of biting sarcasm Fidel questioned the fitness of the Organisation of American States to be the guarantor of any new and just dispensation in the Western hemisphere.
In a reflection entitled "Delirious Dreams" Fidel lets rip:
"Is the OAS perchance the guarantor of the sovereignty and integrity of the peoples of Latin America? Always!
"Did it at any point intervene in the internal affairs of any country in the hemisphere? Never!
"Is it true that it has always represented a docile instrument of the United States? Never!
"Did one single Latin American or Caribbean die on its account? Not one! Those are calumnies of Castro-Communism emanating from Cuba, a country expelled from the OAS because its government proclaimed Marxism-Leninism, a country where there was never an election, nobody votes or is elected, and in which a dictatorship reigns that has had the effrontery to confront a country as weak, defenceless and poor as the United States throughout half a century."
Even from those who claim to be least biased in the ideological contention, it is impossible to get a fair hearing for anyone but the United States. So-called journalists, like Robert Novak and Judith Miller, Wolf Blitzer, Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck, to name only the most grotesque, have made it almost impossible for the 'average American" to discover what's happening in his own country much less the world outside.
And since the mainstream media determine what most people believe, US politicians are among the most ignorant in the world.
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, one of the better informed think tanks in the US was constrained to comment on Fidel's reflection on the Summit:
"Fidel's latest interjection follows the almost scientific pattern of Cuban authorities of shooting t themselves in the foot at precisely the moment that meaningful dialogue appears achievable with the U.S. For Fidel to spell out restrictions to discussions with the U.S. at this early stage is premature."
The unspoken assumption is that President Obama was justified in saying that the US had shown willing, now it was Cuba's turn.
Fidel Castro is the only political figure in history of whom it can be said that he fulfilled every promise he made to his people. I am not aware of anyone else whose actions have been at all times guided by the highest principle, by a sense of justice and honour.
If you don't believe me go read his speech in his defence against the charge of treason at Santiago in October 1953.
I wrote about that speech in my column "History will Absolve Fidel" in December 2005. Among other things I said:
"Looking back at the speech today, more than fifty years later, I am struck by two things: the idealism of the aims and the fact that most of those aims have, in fact, been achieved. There have been mistakes made, many of them serious, but overall, if one compares Cuba to its nearest neighbors, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Jamaica, it is clear that Cubans enjoy a far better quality of life than citizens of the others. And in World Bank terms it is poorer than all except Haiti.…
"…The care given to the weakest and most vulnerable is extraordinary and Cuban health care is recognized as among the very best in the world. The same is true of education, and just as Cubans now have a doctor in every neighborhood (1 doctor to every 100 Cubans) they are getting university-level centers set up in every borough. And education is almost completely free."
What is most extraordinary about the Cuban achievement is that it was done while Cuba was (and is) in a state of war –declared by the United States, invaded, infiltrated by gangs of terrorists, bombed and sabotaged, its people and economy attacked by biological warfare agents, hemorrhagic dengue, thrips, tobacco mosaic and other plagues, and its leader subject to at least 637 known conspiracies to murder him.
Some of the leading terrorists against Cuba, Orlando Bosch and "Bambi' Posada Carriles are at this moment under the protection of the government of the United States. These noxious creeps were responsible for murdering Cubans abroad and in Cuba, from fishermen to diplomats, and most horrifically, the destruction of a Cubana plane with 73 people, including the young Cuban Olympic fencing team.
In addition, the US is illegally squatting on Cuban property at Guantanamo Bay and to add injury to insult has used that property as a base to attack Cuba and worse, to set up camps for the criminal denial of human rights to people accused, but never convicted of crimes against the United States.
A bizarre footnote to all this is that while providing aid and protection to known and notorious terrorists the US has imprisoned five Cubans in solitary confinement and in circumstances which constitute cruel and unusual punishment. This, despite the fact that the United States admits that the men have done nothing to injure the interests of the United States.
Meanwhile, the people responsible for killing innocent people by bombing hotels and nightclubs enjoy protected status in the US.
In January 2000, the Cuban government and people launched a lawsuit against the USA claiming $121 billion in damages for, among other thing, the killing of nearly 4,000 Cubans and the maiming of thousands more, the damage or destruction of 294 fishing boats, 78 airplanes, 135 urban and rural schools, and 63 Cuban embassies and consulates – targets of terrorism and sabotage, encouraged and financed by the United States.
Against all this, the American press demands that Cuba should open up, introduce 'democracy' and freedom of the press. It is claimed that there are dozens of prisoners of conscience, people the Cubans say are proven paid agents of the US and criminals under Cuban law.
Unlike the American prisoners at Guantanamo Bay the Cuban 'dissidents' have been charged and tried.
Of course, Fidel Castro and the Cubans do not have a case. Their claims have never been reported by the free American press. On the other hand anti-Castro apparatchiks like John Bolton, Otto Reich, Roger Noriega and Luigi Einaudi, all official representatives of the United States, have between them claimed that Cuba is preparing bio-warfare against the US, that Cuba was supplying Nicaragua with Soviet MiGS to bomb California and have helped to rescue terrorists like Bosch and Posada from the justice they deserve.
Perhaps, just to clear the air, the United States should present Cuba with its own list of grievances.
Copyright©2009 John Maxwell