“Fidel Castro is one hell of a guy! You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him.” (Ted Turner to a capacity crowd at Harvard Law School during a speech in 1997.)
Within weeks, CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first-ever granted by Castro to a foreign network. Bureau chief Lucia Newman (now with Al Jazeera) assured viewers, “CNN will be given total freedom to do what we want and to work without censorship.”
Hard-hitting stories immediately followed. The Media Research Center reported how soon after Castro’s bestowment of a coveted Cuban “news” (i.e. propaganda) bureau, CNN featured Fidel’s office in its “Cool Digs” segment of “CNN’s Newsstand:
“When was the last time you saw a cup full of pencils on the boss’s desk?” asked perky CNN anchor Steven Frazier. “And they do get used – look at how worn down the erasers are! Years ago, our host worked as an attorney, defending poor people. … He’s Fidel Castro, Cuba’s leader since 1959!”
Not to be outdone this week CNN contributor Alan Dershowitz wrote about his recent trip to Cuba (i.e. enrichment of the Castro-Family-Crime-Syndicate.)
“The Cuban people suffered from the excesses of exploitive mafia influenced authoritarianism under Fulgencio Batista, and then from the excesses of tyrannical Communism under Fidel Castro….to this American visitor, it feels like the Cuban people may be somewhat better off today (under Raul) than they were under either extreme.”
First off, I’ll ask Dershowitz the same thing I recently asked Soledad O’Brien on MSNBC: “Who jumped on rafts to escape Batista’s Cuba?”
In fact, thanks to Obama’s (who Dershowitz supported both times) “opening” to the Castro-Family-Crime-Syndicate (habitually mislabeled as “Cuba” by the media and Democrats) repression in Cuba is at a twenty year high—much higher than under Fidel’s in the 90’s. And in comparison to both, Batista’s was a teenzy-tiny blip on the screen.
You hate to think that someone as erudite as Alan Dershowtiz relies on Godfather II for Cuban history but he’s hardly alone among prominent Obama-phile Democrats. To wit:
“All I know about pre-Castro Cuba I learned from the Godfather II.” (Jon Stewart, July 23, 2008.)
“I mean everybody who saw Godfather II knows what it was like when Castro took over.” (Chris Matthews, Hardball, Oct. 20, 2011.)
After his recent Potemkim visit to Cuba Dershowitz felt obligated to bad-mouth the Cuba that preceded the hell-hole created by his terror-sponsoring, mass-murdering hosts. Well, the “exploitative” pre-Castro Cuba Dershowtiz disparaged in fact offered its citizens a higher per-capita income than half of Europe, the lowest inflation rate in the Western Hemisphere and the 13th lowest infant-mortality on earth. At the time about the same number of Americans lived in Cuba as Cubans in the U.S.
In fact,in 1958 the Cuban Embassy in Rome had a backlog of 12,000 applications for immigrant visas from Italians clamoring to immigrate to Cuba. “A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in — and how many want out,” famously quipped Tony Blair. Well, millions of people “voted with their feet” in favor of pre-socialist Cuba.
The media and Hollywood love to dwell on how a few U.S. mobsters once bribed a few Cuban politicians to allow a few casinos in Havana. To hear them tell it, this tiny sideline of an economy that was overwhelmingly Cuban-owned, export and manufacturing-oriented, and provided Cubans with a per capita income higher than that of most Europeans made Cuba a hopelessly wretched place screaming for a communist revolution.
Actually: in 1955 Cuba contained a grand total of three gambling casinos, the biggest was at the Tropicana and featured ten gambling tables and thirty slot machines. The Hotel Nacional featured seven roulette wheels and twenty-one slot machines. By contrast, in 1955 the single Riviera Casino in Las Vegas featured twenty tables and one hundred and sixteen slot machines. This means that in 1955, one Las Vegas Casino had more gambling action than all of Cuba.
Cuba’s tourism industry as a whole generated $60 million in 1958. Havana by itself had 42 hotels. The mob reputedly had financial interest in seven of these–and these didn’t include among them Cuba’s biggest hotel, the Habana Hilton. Instead the biggest hotel on the island was majority-owned by the pension plan of the Cuban Federation of Gastronomic Food Workers. This fully-documented historical datum, needless to add, doesn’t mesh well with the fairy tale narrative about Cuba’s horribly exploited working class of the time, now does it?
Later the Castro regime’s partnership with Colombia’s cocaine cowboys made mob boss Meyer Lansky’s deal with Batista look like a nickel and dime gratuity. And the murder tally from the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, who partner with Cuban officials in the Yucatan, equaled about one St. Valentine’s Day Massacre every ten hours–for five years.
“We lived like kings in Cuba,” revealed Medellin Cartel bosses Carlos Lehder and Alejandro Bernal during their trials in the ’80s and ’90s. “Fidel made sure nobody bothered us.”
In 1996 a federal prosecutor in south Florida told the Miami Herald, “The case we have against Raul Castro right now is much stronger than the one we had against Manuel Noriega in 1988.” Four grand juries at the time had disclosed Cuba’s role in drug smuggling into the U.S. The Clinton administration, hellbent on cozying up to Castro at the time, refused to press ahead with the case against the Castro brothers’ dope trafficking.
You might recall that a similar crime by a Latin dictator (Manuel Noriega) got his nation (Panama) invaded by 26,000 U.S. troops. In the process, 23 American servicemen were killed and 350 Panamanians (both military and civilian) died. As a result, Panama’s sovereign head of state Manuel Noriega was captured, tried, convicted and jailed for drug trafficking.
The U.S. response to the Cuban dope-traffickers, mass-murderers and terror-sponsors — as dramatized most recently by Obama– has been markedly different.