Last week we ended with the Communist supporters of Castro making a disastrous attack on the Army barracks at Santiago. This turned into a real tragedy for the men in the barracks hospital. They were cut to pieces by Castro’s raiders. It was also a defeat for Castro’s men. They were met with overwhelming odds and captured or killed. Survivors were subjected to torture and eventual death in retaliation for their attack on the hospital wards. Thus, was born the “26th of July Movement”. Castro managed to assign himself to a less dangerous post in the attack and when he saw that the assault was failing, he fled shouting, “Every man for himself!” His brother, Raul, also escaped. Later both Castro brothers were captured and sentenced to prison. Fidel was sentenced to 15 years while his brother received only 13 years. Both of them served only 22 months because after General Batista had put down the attempted insurrection, he commuted their sentences. For this political generosity by Batista, both Castro brothers displayed only contempt. During July 1955, they left Cuba to go and organize an invasion force…headquarters established near Mexico City. People flocked to support Castro. Some were political enemies of Batista, some were opportunists, and many were sincere liberals. Just as in Africa, hard-core Communist personalities moved in close to provide a ‘guiding hand’. Castro’s chief of staff turned out to be Dr. Ernesto Guevara…better known as ‘Che’…an Argentinian Communist assigned to work with Castro by the Soviet apparatus called “Asistencia Tecnica.” Raul Castro, having received considerable training during a trip to Prague, Moscow, and Red China, was made commander of Castro’s army. Other trained Communist also moved in. Thus, the planning for the invasion of Cuba was on.
In spite of all the training, intrigue, and planning, the famous ‘Invasion of Cuba’ by Castro’s forces turned out to be a real fiasco. Castro and 82 ‘invaders’ climbed aboard a leaky yacht on November 16,1956 and set out to sea. The captain of the yacht was Hipolito Castillo, a well-known strategist of the Soviet organization for the subversion of Latin America. The yacht finally made it to the shores of Cuba, and when the men waded ashore in their invasion, they were cut to piece with gun fire. Most were captured or killed. Castro and a few of his surviving warriors managed to escape into the hills…into the 8,000-foot heights of the Sierra Maestra. ‘Che’ Guevara took over and began using propaganda and tactical strategy to dominate the immediate area and gradually rally others to the cause…especially Cuban youth. (The Communists have always known that to gain control, the youth must be converted to Communist ideology. That is easy to do when that ideology promises lots of ‘free stuff’.) It was in short order that revolutionary ardor began to build, and soon civil war was reaching out across the country.
Two major factors led to the final success of Castro’s revolution. One was centered in the Soviet Union and the other was centered in the United States.
Raul Castro had previously been behind the Iron Curtain and made several trips to Russia and Czechoslovakia to negotiate for arms and finances. The arms arrived by submarine; the money came by couriers. During the last months of the revolution observers were amazed at the quantities of Czech and Russian equipment being used by Castro forces. The vast supplies of money Castro had available was equally surprising…money for wages, food, equipment, liquor, bribery, and favors.
Batista, on the other hand, suddenly found himself at the other end of the supply chain. Because of his pro-US policies, he had assumed that when the struggle for Cuba became critical, he would be able to rely on the United States for arms and supplies. Unfortunately, he discovered that his request for permission to buy arms in the US fell on deaf ears. Numerous liberal media writers had been eulogizing Castro and castigating Batista. In Congress, Senator Wayne Morse, and Representatives Charles Porter and Adam Clayton Powel, had thrown their combined weight behind the Castro cause. All the ‘Robin Hood’ propaganda definitely had its influence. At the same time, Assistant Secretary of State Roy Rubottom and Caribbean Director William Wieland…the two persons who were supposed to know what was going on…blandly assured all inquiries that Fidel Castro was the hope of Cuba and had no Communist taint whatsoever. Congressman Porter even went so far as to assure his colleagues: “No one in the State Department believes Castro is a Communist, or a Communist sympathizer, nor does any other responsible person who wants to get his facts straight.” (Nathaniel Weyl, Red Star Over Cuba, p. 157). In the closing months of the conflict American policies were attributed to either ‘stupidity, incompetence, or worse.’ Now that the Iron Curtain had come rumbling down on little Cuba, some Americans reflected on the glowing description of Castro which the liberal reporter Herbert Matthews wrote for the New York Times in 1957: “Castro, has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the constitution, to hold elections.”
As soon as Castro took over, he used his revolutionary courts of mob justice to send over 600 persons to the firing squads. American liberals described the punishment as ‘harsh but deserved.’ Then he reached out and began a ‘reform’ movement of typical Communist dimensions:
> Confiscation of land and settling Cuban workers on what turned out to be large, Soviet-type collective farms.
> Confiscation of more than a billion dollars’ worth of American industry which Castro had neither technicians nor finances to operate.
> Breaking up of Cuban family life and placing medium-aged children in special communes so ‘the children will be under the influence of teachers and not their families.’ (Do we see something like this in the US nowadays?)
> Reorganization of the schools to serve as propaganda transmission belts to dispense Communist doctrine and the ‘Hate Yankee’ line.
> Suspension of civil liberties and other constitutional guarantees.
> Elimination of free elections.
> Capture of all press, TV and radio for government propaganda purposes.
> Termination of all cultural, political, and economic ties with the US.
> Alliances with Russia.
> Recognition of Red China.
> Trade with the Communist bloc.
Dean Acheson in his White Paper tried to explain why China was lost. His excuse was ‘inevitable’. Actually, China was lost because of bureaucratic stupidity, incompetence, or worse. China was lost when the State Department promoted an arms embargo against a long-standing US ally…Cuba…at a time when she was fighting for her very existence. None of the tragic errors of the past were any worse than the fatal blunder which occurred on April 17, 1961, when an abortive invasion of Cuba was attempted at the Bay of Pigs under circumstances which doomed it to failure before the attack was even launched. (Afghanistan might challenge this statement.) In the panic atmosphere which followed, Castro said he might trade tractors for prisoners. Immediately US liberals began collecting money for tractors to pay off Castro’s blackmail. Castro was so pleased to see citizens from the most powerful nation in the world cowering at his feet. It gave Castro the courage to even boost his demands. Trying to deal with Castro came to nothing. This was not the end of Communist efforts and demands to power over the world. More next week.
The study of Jeremiah might give us some insight as to how a nation founded on Godly principles might fall victim to evil. Judah’s sin was so deeply ingrained in the nation that nothing, but judgment, could dislodge it. Could this be true of nations today…even the United States? As in Judah, evil and godlessness pervade many of our institutions. The Lord’s first lesson to Jeremiah is that all human beings make a choice between two paths. There are only two paths: no more, no less. If you choose one you reject the other. You cannot travel both paths at the same time. One path is the path of trusting in man, drawing strength from mere human flesh, and living for self; the path of all who rely on their own intellect, their own skill, their own cunning as the ultimate solution to problems. This is the natural path of the flesh. The other path is the path of blessing for those who place their trust solely in the Lord. Biblical view of human nature is not harsh, not negative…but realistic. It explains why there is so much good in us, why we want to do good, why we are often loving, generous, and kind…the vestige of God’s image that still resides in us. Yet the Biblical view also explains why we sin when we want to do good, why we sometimes hurt the people that we love, why we lie, steal, lust, or hate, or over-eat or get drunk even when we try not to. Only the Biblical view of human nature accounts for both the good we do and the evil we do. The side we choose will determine how we think about politics, education, legislation, and every other major issue in life. How can anyone justify separating politics from the church…God’s church?
Next week we will look at the future of Communism and what we can expect if we treat it as a passing fad.
“Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.” Doug Larson, gold-metal running winner in the 1924 Olympic Games