CubaBrief: 72 years without Democracy in Cuba. March 10th: Cuba and Tibet’s shared day of tragedy.

Translation: #WeAreContinuity #TheyAreDictators

Cuba marked 72 years without democracy on March 10, 2024. General Fulgencio Batista carried out a military coup against the legitimately elected democratic government. The last democratically elected president, Carlos Prío Socarrás, and his first lady went into exile, and over the next seven years, this authoritarian dictator ruled Cuba, becoming increasingly unpopular. This ended a half century of democratic rule with 17 different Cuban presidents elected in competitive, multiparty elections.

Cuba’s last legitimately elected president, Carlos Prio Socarras, was voted in by Cubans in free and fair elections on July 1, 1948 and assumed office on October 10, 1948. He was a democrat, who respected civil liberties, and presided over years of prosperity and freedom for Cubans.

Fulgencio Batista (Left) Carlos Prio Socarras (Right)

President Prio Socarras was a member of the Autentico Party and had succeeded Ramon Grau San Martin, another member of the same political party in the Cuban presidency. On his watch Cuban diplomats played an important role in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In June of 1951 before Jose Marti’s tomb, President Prio Socarras also warned Cubans not to be consumed by hatred and called on them to “rise up and tell the few Cubans that tend to the garden of your island, that they uproot the poisonous flower of hatred and throw the plant into the abyss of oblivion! Unfortunately, his advice went unheeded.

The Castro regime has tried to diminish and slander this Cuban democratic period in what amounts to a big lie.

There is one witness who spoke out on behalf of this democratic era on October 16, 1953, in a speech that the current dictatorship cannot dismiss when it is referenced. On trial for the armed assault on the Moncada military barracks on July 26th of the same year, Fidel Castro addressed the Court and spoke of the Cuba that existed prior to Batista’s coup.

” Once upon a time there was a Republic. It had its Constitution, its laws, its freedoms, a President, a Congress and Courts of Law. Everyone could assemble, associate, speak and write with complete freedom. The people were not satisfied with the government officials at that time, but they had the power to elect new officials and only a few days remained before they would do so. Public opinion was respected and heeded and all problems of common interest were freely discussed. There were political parties, radio and television debates and forums and public meetings. “

Cuba had been a free and progressing society with a growing middle class, and a vibrant cultural life and civil society. World renowned artists such as Rafael Soriano and Wilfredo Lam emerged out of this world. Some of their art work would be seized by the communist dictatorship.

A second big lie is that the Batista regime was “U.S. backed.” If that had been true in 1958 Fidel Castro would never have taken power.

President Carlos Prio Socarrás and his wife Mary Tarrero de Prio go into exile in 1952.

First, the U.S. government was not informed beforehand and was not happy with the General’s 1952 coup, and it was expressed in official documents.

In a Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador in Cuba (Willard Leon Beaulac) with Dr. Miguel Angel de la Campa, Minister of State, datelined Habana, March 22, 1952, and marked secret the U.S. Ambassador indicated that, according to Dr. Campa:

“ Cuba intended to restore normal relations with countries toward which the former Cuban Government had had an attitude of hostility. He mentioned Spain and the Dominican Republic in particular. He said he thought the United States should recognize promptly; that it was in our interest that the situation should develop in an orderly way. I reminded Dr. Campa that our Government had not been consulted about the coup d’etat and that Cuba could not expect automatic recognition from us.”

On March 24, 1952 in a memorandum by the Secretary of State Dean Acheson to President Harry S. Truman expressed surprise and ” deplore[d] the way in which the Batista coup was brought about and is apprehensive that this kind of thing may occur in other countries of Latin America where elections are being held this year.”

Secretary of State Dean Acheson and President Harry S. Truman

The U.S. eventually recognized the Batista regime, but the ambivalence remained.

Prio, Cuba’s last constitutional president announced his plan to return to the island as early as 1955 and did so during a brief “amnesty” in 1956 only to be expelled at gunpoint a short time later after efforts at dialogue failed.

On May 20, 1957, Fidel Castro requested that the United States stop sending arms to Batista. The United States complied with an arms embargo imposed on the Batista regime less than a year later.

In January of 1958, the United States was pressuring Batista to restore Constitutional guarantees in exchange for the sale of arms.

On March 14, 1958, the State Department in a telegram to the U.S. Embassy in Cuba requested that the export license for 1,950 M-1 rifles for the Cuban Army awaiting shipment be suspended. This was done because the State Department felt that the Cuban government had failed to “create conditions for fair elections.”

Manuel Urrutia

On March 17, 1958 Fidel Castro’s future candidate for provisional president, Manuel Urrutia, along with a delegation of other supporters in exile of the July 26th movement, met with officials at the State Department. They lobbied the U.S. government and argued that arms shipments to Cuba were for hemispheric defense, and they claimed that Batista using them against Cuban nationals was in violation of the conditions agreed to between the two countries. On the same day the Cuban Government presented to the U.S. Embassy in Havana a formal note protesting the delay in the shipment of M-1 rifles to the Cuban Army, and warned that it would weaken the Cuban government and lead to its possible downfall.

The United States placed an arms embargo on the Batista dictatorship in March 1958

On March 26, 1958 in another telegram from the State Department to the U.S. Embassy in Havana the view was expressed how the arms embargo could lead to the fall of Batista’s regime:

“Department has considered the possibility its actions could have an adverse psychological effect on GOC and could unintentionally contribute to or accelerate eventual Batista downfall. On other hand, shipment US combat arms at this time would probably invite increased resentment against US and associate it with Batista strong arm methods, especially following so closely on heels of following developments:
Government publicly desisted from peace efforts.Government suspended guarantees again.Batista expressed confidence Government will win elections with his candidate and insists they will be held despite suspension guarantees but has made no real effort to satisfy public opinion on their fairness and effectiveness as possible means achieve fair and acceptable solution.Batista announced would increase size arms and informed you he would again undertake mass population shift Oriente, and otherwise acted in manner to discourage those who supported or could be brought to support peaceful settlement by constructive negotiations.”

The United States would continue to pressure Batista to hold free elections and leave office for the remainder of 1958. Earl E. T. Smith, the U.S. ambassador to Cuba, on December 17, 1958 delivered a message from the State Department to Fulgencio Batista that the United States viewed “with skepticism any plan on his part, or any intention on his part, to remain in Cuba indefinitely.”

Ambassador Earl E. T. Smith

The U.S. government had dealt the Batista regime a mortal blow, and fourteen days later the Cuban dictatorship fell, and the Castro era had started.

President Prío Socarras would return again in January 1959 when Fulgencio Batista fled power.

Fidel Castro and his guerillas promised to restore democracy, quickly obtaining the support of the United States, but transitioned Cuba from an authoritarian left wing dictatorship to a totalitarian communist one.

President Prío Socarras departed for exile again in December 1960 as the Castro government turned into a communist military dictatorship, and spent the rest of his life resisting Cuba’s communist dictatorship.

President Carlos Prio Socarrás returned again to Cuba in 1959.

The struggle for the restoration of democracy in Cuba continues 70 years after the first 1952 departure into exile of Carlos Prio Socarras, Cuba’s last democratically elected president.

What is a fair assessment of the U.S. role in Cuba in 1958? They did not understand who Fidel Castro was. The U.S. government was trying to live up to its democratic values pressuring Batista to reform, and as the Cuban dictator dug in took stronger measures, and finally pressured him to leave.

Both Cubans and Tibetans looked to 1959 as an opportunity for democratic restoration and liberation. Instead tyranny entrenched itself in both countries, one from without (China fully occupying Tibet) and another from within (Fidel Castro taking power claiming he was a democrat, while secretly plotting with his brothers, and other communists the imposition by force of a communist regime in Cuba).  

Communists in their rhetoric, and theoretical constructs claim to be anti-imperialists, but in practice they have no problems when it is carried out by their ideological fellow travelers. They also have a hostile view of multi-party democracy.

The Castro regime’s claim of “anti-imperialism” proved hollow and history demonstrated that it was conditioned upon ideology. This was witnessed with the Castro regime’s support of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and later its invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

The same holds true for Tibet. Fidel Castro in his March 31, 2008 “reflection” titled “The Chinese Victory” denies that Tibet was ever independent justifying and defending the Chinese occupation of that small country. It is a shameful rewriting of history.

The Castro regime has continued this practice to the present day with both China’s and Russia’s repeated aggressions against their respective neighbors.

On July 1, 2020 the Cuban dictatorship introduced a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council praising China for the passing of the Hong Kong National Security Law. Fifty three governments backed this resolution endorsing the death of a free Hong Kong. One day earlier, the Chinese Communist Party in a secretive legislative process circumvented Hong Kong’s sovereignty and imposed this new law on June 30, 2020, the 23rd anniversary of the British handover of Hong Kong. This action was a breach of the agreement made with the British, and was endorsed by Havana.

Chinese dictator Xi Jinping and Cuban dictator Raul Castro meet in Cuba.

No one expects Havana to speak up for the sovereignty of Taiwan. The Cuban dictatorship has tripled down in their support of Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin’s attacks against Georgia in 2008, Crimea in 2014 and the eight years long low intensity war in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine, and the February 24, 2022, multipronged Russian invasion of Ukraine were all acts of aggression in violation of international law.

The Russian dictator’s repeated aggressions were backed by Cuba in 2008, 2014 and now in 2022. The Castro regime’s foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez on Putin’s latest invasion of Ukraine said that Russia “has the right to defend itself.”

Many point out the Castro regime’s history of backing Russian aggression, but should not leave out Havana’s support for Chinese aggression too.

Vlaidmir Putin and Raul Castro embrace.

The regime in Cuba is an enemy of democracy that has backed the invasion of small countries by powerful neighbors in order to advance their ideological and dictatorial project.

After 72 years without democracy in Cuba, its restoration depends on recognizing the true nature of the Castro dictatorship.

Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter, March 10, 2024

72 Years without Democracy in Cuba: Seven Years of authoritarianism with Batista and 65+ Years of totalitarianism with the Castros

 From bad (authoritarian dictatorship) to worse (totalitarian dictatorship)

#TheyAreContinuity #TheyAreDictators ( #SomosContinuidad #SonDictadores)

Democracy ended in Cuba seventy two years ago on March 10, 1952. It was ended by General Fulgencio Batista who carried out a military coup against the legitimately elected democratic government. The last democratically elected president, Carlos Prio, and his first lady went into exile, and over the next seven years, an authoritarian dictatorship ruled Cuba, becoming increasingly unpopular.  

The refusal of Batista to give up power through a process of dialogue opened the path for Fidel and Raul Castro to violently seize it, but they did not do it alone.

They had the help of the Communist InternationalThe New York Times, an arms embargo placed on Batista in March 1958 by the United States, and pressure from the U.S. Ambassador to Cuba in December 1958, the authoritarian dictator fled Cuba in the early morning hours of January 1, 1959.

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Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter, March 10, 2024

March 10th: Cuba and Tibet’s shared day of tragedy

We remember

Tibetan national uprising crushed, Cuban democracy destroyed.

Notwithstanding our dissimilar histories and religious practices, Cubans and Tibetans have two things in common which unite us in our misery. For both countries, March 10th is a somber day. March 10th is a day for sad reflection despite being seven years apart.

Since the early 1950s, both peoples have endured oppression, and more than 70 years later, they are still fighting for the restoration of freedom. In 1949, China adopted a communist government and soon started claiming Tibet as its own. In 1950, Communist China invaded and occupied Tibet.  

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