Category Archives: Cuba

Richard Gott’s perverted KGB view of history

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Richard Gott: Guardian writer and onetime KGB agent

Richard Willoughby Gott, the upper-class English journalist and spy for the Soviet Union, was educated at Winchester and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. A communist, Gott was recruited by the KGB in the late 1970s and writes for the London Guardian newspaper.

Dalrymple observes that although Gott

accepted trips paid for by the KGB, that didn’t harm his journalistic reputation anything like taking them from the CIA would have.

The traitor Gott, Dalrymple points out, is

always on the lookout for a left-wing economic experiment to laud, preferably in the tropics,

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-23-24-51and one of his

more recent enthusiasms was for the late Hugo Chávez, about whom he wrote a book. Chávez’s policies could have produced a shortage of saltwater in the Pacific.

As for Fidel Castro, Western intellectuals have long retained a soft spot for the Cuban dictator, and Gott is one of his leading European champions, being entirely uninterested in

the economic effects of Castro’s regime. When Castro seized power, Cuba was at the economic level of Italy, and richer than Spain. It had a poor peasantry, but so did Spain and Italy. Like Perón in Argentina, but even more dramatically, Castro undeveloped his country.

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-23-23-58Nor is Gott interested in Cuba’s

  • mass emigration, or why it took place
  • executions
  • imprisonment of dissidents
  • censorship
  • constant surveillance
  • arbitrary arrest
  • omnipresent propaganda

Gott, says Dalrymple,

is now an elderly man, but he is still adolescent at heart, as so many intellectuals are.

Castro’s Cuba: a pile of rubble flying a skull and crossbones

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-22-47-22The dictator’s end came 60 years too late

Fidel Castro, writes Dalrymple,

was his own greatest admirer. His ego was more important than the fate of anything in the world, or of the entire world. As he put it in a speech, ‘The Cuban people did not hesitate to face the dangers of thermonuclear war.’ It goes without saying that Castro did not invite the Cuban people to express an opinion on the matter of their incineration by nuclear bombs. The Romans said, ‘Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.’ Castro, in effect, said, ‘Let the world end, so long as I play an important part in it.’ His willingness to approve an apocalypse for his own people was paralleled only by that of Hitler.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-22-48-22When the Russians ignored Castro in their negotiations with the Americans,

he felt humiliated by his insignificance in the larger scheme of things. The extent of his moral frivolity was demonstrated by the fact that he was reconciled with the Russians a year later after a long tour of the Soviet Union, during which the Russians fêted him as they had never fêted anyone else.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-22-49-41He liked nothing better, Dalrymple points out,

than to harangue hundreds of thousands of Cubans in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución for several hours at a time. (Attendance was compulsory.)

A diplomat in Havana told Dalrymple that he had once dined with Castro,

who had spoken uninterruptedly for seven hours, pausing only briefly to take food and drink.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-23-27-46Castro was a master at

manipulating the opinion of Western intellectuals, many of whom supported him unconditionally. His creation of an utterly servile Press and suppression of all liberty of opinion did not bother those intellectuals either. The combination of his rebellious rhetoric and defiance of the US more than compensated them for the dilapidation of Cuba, the tyranny, and the large numbers of political prisoners.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-22-54-36Dalrymple notes that Castro knew how to get the most out of foreign interviewers.

His technique was to keep journalists waiting for days or weeks, so that their tension mounted, and then suddenly call them at 3am. Their relief was so great that they were disarmed, and susceptible to Castro’s magnetic charms. Dutiful propagandists, they would trot out Castro’s achievements in health and education, which were said to counterbalance the food rationing, the deterioration of the housing stock and the absence of elementary freedoms.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-22-43-54His daughter Alina Fernández, who has inherited Castro’s temper, once shouted at him: ‘You’re a mediocrity!’ Although this sounds

absurd, given Castro’s career, it contains a truth: for all his ebullience and activity, his ideas never rose above the level of cliché, and mistaken cliché at that.

The centralised economy he established

did not work, because such economies cannot work. Havana, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, is crumbling into dust through lack of maintenance. Hundreds of thousands of people inhabit the ruins of a previous civilisation.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-22-59-07The only institution that functions in Cuba with anything approaching efficiency is

the secret police.

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Castro’s crude, dim-witted economics

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-21-56-22Fidel Castro, Dalrymple notes,

was born the illegitimate son of an impoverished Galician immigrant who became a landowning millionaire. No doubt his father’s great wealth had something to do with Fidel’s lifelong contempt for money: like a hidalgo, he despised it not only for himself but on behalf of everyone else as well.

It is probable that

his ambiguous social status as the illegitimate son of a very rich man caused him to be less attached to Cuban society than were others born with similar chances of prospering in it. Such an ambiguous position easily breeds both the confidence and the inclination to rebel.

But Castro’s life is also

an illustration of the maxim that inside every rebel there is a dictator trying to get out. From the very earliest age, Castro was endowed with a huge and ungovernable ego. Constantly, often violently, rebellious from his infancy on, he brooked no opposition from others from the moment he reached a position of power. At university, he took part in violent political feuds, and may have been a killer. Top dog was and is the only position he could ever accept.

He never learned to know how much he did not know. This gave him

the feeling of omnicompetence: a failing that is minor, though no doubt irritating, in a pub bore, but disastrous in a dictator whose whim is law.

From the outset he

pursued policies that were economically disastrous because founded on an erroneous premise: that wealth is the mirror image of poverty, that the rich are rich because the poor are poor.

But as the Cubans

have discovered at their leisure, if you confiscate luxury cars, it does not mean everyone gets shoes.

Castro’s legacy is

a mess of gargantuan proportions which will take years and the wisdom of Solomon to sort out.

The mendacity of Castroite historiography

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-20-47-35When the horrors of socialist revolutions are inadmissible

There are those, writes Dalrymple, who feel — and advertise — a deep, lifelong, invincible sympathy for Castro and his putrid dictatorship.

From Sartre to Mme Mitterand, prominent personalities have raised hosannas to the Cuban caudillo and all his works.

From the very first, of course, like all murderous tyrants, Castro

deceived his followers and lied his way to absolute power. Many of his close associates learnt this to their cost.

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-20-57-10The dictator wanted nationalisation and he wanted war with America. Yet for some,

the blame for Cuba’s half-century of penury and totalitarianism lies only with America.

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George Galloway

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Wayne S. Smith

Danielle Mitterrand

Jean-Paul Sartre

Danielle Mitterrand

Danielle Mitterrand

Cubanos — your place is to obey

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-22-13-39The pitiful human results of a rotten tyrant’s folie de grandeur

Decay, writes Dalrymple,

when not carried to excess, has its architectural charms, and ruins are romantic: so romantic that 18th-century English gentlemen built them in their gardens, as pleasantly melancholic reminders of the transience of earthly existence.

screen-shot-2016-11-26-at-22-21-41But Fidel Castro

is no 18th-century English gentleman, and Havana is not his private estate, for use as a personal memento mori. The ruins of Havana that he has brought into being are the habitation of over 1m people, whose collective will, these ruins attest, is not equal in power to the will of one man. ‘Comandante en jefe,’ says one of the political billboards that have replaced all commercial advertisements, ‘you give the orders.’ The place of everyone else is to obey.

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The terrible damage Castro has done

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 01.54.59It will, writes Dalrymple, long outlive him and his regime. Havana

stands as a dreadful warning to the world—if one were any longer needed—against the dangers of monomaniacs who believe themselves to be in possession of a theory that explains everything, including the future.

The Western idea of a free Press

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 01.54.59Perhaps no tyranny in history, Dalrymple writes,

has enjoyed such a good Press, and for so long, as Cuba under the Castro boys. When it comes to Cuba, restrictions on freedom of opinion, thought and expression, which have been both severe and long-lasting, are deemed by liberals to be unimportant, of no fundamental significance in their assessment of the regime.

Meanwhile the Brooklyn Museum

has only to be prevented from showing pictures of the Virgin Mary surrounded by blobs of elephant dung — without any private institution being prohibited from showing them — for the cry of ‘Intolerable censorship!’ to go up.

The Holy Virgin Mary. Chris Ofili, 1996. Oil, elephant dung, polyester resin, glitter, collaged pornographic images.

The Holy Virgin Mary. Chris Ofili, 1996. Oil, elephant dung, polyester resin, glitter, collaged pornographic images

‘Millions dead, freedom unknown and nothing to show for it’

That is socialism, says Dalrymple. Milksop, Western, populist, vote-grubbing, ‘democratic’ socialism, of the type practised by Harold Wilson or François Hollande, entails, Dalrymple points out, the — at first mild — ‘replacement of the impersonal allocation by price, by allocation by political influence’. As for full-throttled socialism, as practised, for instance, by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it is theoretical fantasy and absurdity. It can only be imposed, Dalrymple notes, by force. The result in socialist countries was (is, in the case of North Korea and Cuba) ‘disastrous’. It has been murderous and very often genocidal, for socialism, as Michael Wharton famously described it, is like ‘a great road, stretching to infinity across a barren, waterless waste. Along it trudge half the peoples of the world, bowed, manacled, parched, exhausted. By the verges lie the gaunt wrecks of crashed and burnt-out nations; and skeletons picked clean by vultures and bleached by a pitiless sun’. Socialism, Wharton wrote, involves ‘the death of freedom, the enslavement of the masses, the withering of art and culture, the restless, ruthless hunt for scapegoats, the aggressive folie de grandeur of dictators’. Only a tiny number of fantasists deny that socialism was and is like this. But these fantasists, traitors and apologists for tyranny — the foremost example is the disgusting Alger Hiss — whether they be spies, fellow travellers or sympathisers, these ‘enemies of the open society’, have wielded, and continue to wield, very great power inside the Western establishment, indeed in one sense they are the Western establishment.