The United States, the Intimate Enemy of Fidel Castro / Iván García

Photo: Richard Nixon, then vice president, met with Fidel Castro during his U.S. tour in April 1959.

One morning in 1958, in intricate landscapes of the Sierra Maestra, after a heavy bombardment by dictator Fulgencio Batista’s air force on defenseless villages, the guerrilla leader Fidel Castro wrote a note to his secretary and friend Celia Sánchez. He vowed to her that after the air raid and verification that the bombs used were made in the USA, from that moment on, he would begin his real war against the United States of America.

And so it happened. The support in arms, logistics and military training which the United States provided Batista, was the starting point for his personal crusade against the gringos. As a lover of history, the young lawyer from Biran had antecedents. Since the island was a colony of Spain, the imperial cravings of the colossus of the north were clear.

After 1898, the U.S. military occupation and the outrageous Platt Amendment–which was like a sword of Damocles over our fledgling sovereignty–were the breeding ground that increased the hatred and frustration of many, given the foreign policy of their neighbors on the other shore.

Castro’s political enemies had seen signals of his war against the Yankees in the letter he sent to President Roosevelt in 1940, while studying at the Colegio Dolores, Santiago de Cuba:

“My good friend Roosevelt, I do not know much English, but I know enough to write. I like listening to the radio and I’m very happy because I heard that you will be President for another term.

“I am 12 years old (which was not true, because he was born on August 13, 1926 and the date of the letter is dated November 6, 1940, so he was already 14). I’m a boy, but I think a lot and I can’t believe I’m writing to the President of the United States.

“If you would like, give me (or send) a real American greenback of ten dollars because I’ve never seen a real American greenback of ten dollars and I would like to have one.

“If you want iron to build your boats, I’ll show you the biggest mines of iron of the country (or world). They are in Mayarí, Oriente, Cuba.”

Roosevelt neither answered him nor sent the money. Castro opponents believe that this was the real beginning of his anti-imperialist crusade. I think not. Before the triumph of his revolution, Castro’s relationship with the United States was not incendiary.

When the July 26 Movement needed money to buy weapons, Fidel took a trip to New York and Florida in search of the greenbacks of Cuban immigrants. It was from the start of the bombing in the eastern mountains, that he saw for the first time what his future campaign would be.

It is also likely that after his extensive U.S. tour in April 1959, where he visited universities and monuments, chatted with the press, organizations and personalities, and met with then Vice-President Nixon, but not with President Eisenhower, who refuse to meet him, giving an excuse for not receiving him that he had a date to play golf, that Castro decided to open fire from his island of reeds in the Caribbean.

Castro would explain his motives one day in his memoirs. The truth is that since 1959, Fidel has held an aggressive verbal duel with 11 leaders of the White House. And he even put them on the brink of nuclear war in October 1962. He has done everything possible to arouse the ire of the Americans.

The United States has had its share of blame, with its dirty war and its surplus of stupidity. I think it was a senator, Jeff Bridges, who once said that to Castro’s stupidity, the United States responded with a greater stupidity.

But in January 2009, Barack Hussein Obama came to the presidency. Castro was not ready for Obama. With his mind trained to the presidents of the Cold War, he could not decipher this mestizo with the strange name.

Looking for clues, he quickly read two books by Obama, Dreams From my Father and The Audacity of Hope. But he found nothing. In them, Obama never mentions the Cuban revolution and Castro and Che Guevara. In The Audacity of Hope, he mentions only Cuban Americans and their success.

Cryptic Obama, Castro would think. Perhaps because the young Barack lived much of his childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia, the coming to power of the bearded one didn’t make his stomach jump. Castro has tried to seduce him. But Obama did not answer, not even the insults of old commander.

The point, in my opinion, is that Castro does not understand Obama. He can’t even understand how it was possible that this skinny black guy reached the White House.The reason is simple. The one and only comandante is still stuck in the Cold War period. United States and the world have changed. And Castro suspects that this is impossible.

March 26 2011