"How the Mob Owned Cuba, and Lost it to the Revolution," is the bestselling book's title. T.J. English is the author.
Several facts get in the way of the books title and thesis. To wit: Cuba's Gross Domestic product in 1957 was $2.7 billion. Cuba's foreign receipts in 1957 were about $750 million--of which tourism made up only $60 million. Gambling was a small fraction of this $60 million. How could the beneficiaries of that tiny fraction of Cuba's income "own" the entire country, and "infiltrate its levers of power from top to bottom," as the book asserts? Well, we have it on the good authority of Castro regime officials, primary sources for this book, which neglects to mention how "the Revolution" has made multiple times that few million in cahoots with Colombia's cocaine cowboys.
"We lived like kings in Cuba," revealed Medellin Cartel bosses Carlos Lehder and Alejandro Bernal during their trials. "Fidel made sure nobody bothered us." The Cocaine cartel's deal with Castro made Meyer Lansky's with Batista look like a nickel and dime gratuity.
"The financial largese that flooded Cuba (in the 1950's) could have been used to address the country's social problems" continues the bestselling author who (lest he dissapoint his Cuban regime sources) proceeds to list them:
"Hight infant mortality"--(in fact, Cuba's infant mortality in 1958 was the 13 lowest--not in Latin America, not in the Hemisphere--but in the WORLD.)
"Subhuman housing" --(in fact, Cuba's per capita income in 1958 was higher than half of Europe's.)
"Dispossession of small farmers"-- (in fact, Cuba's agricultural wages in 1958 were higher than half of Europe's. And--far from huge latifundia hogging the Cuban countryside-- the average Cuban farm in 1958 was SMALLER than the average in the U.S.)
'Illiteracy"-- (In fact, in a mere 50 years since a war of independence that cost Cuba almost a fifth of her population, Cuba managed 80 per cent literacy and budgeted the most( 23 % of national expenses) for public education of any Latin American countr. Better still, Cubans were not just literate but also educated, allowed to read George Orwell and Thomas Jefferson and not kust the arresting wisdom and sparkling prose of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.
Unsurprisingly, English's sources (like Jon Lee Anderson's sources for "Che, A Revolutionary Life" ) are primarily officials of Cuba's Stalinist regime which English visited often. Indeed, English dedicates his book to one such official, Enrique Cirules, who he calls a "Cuban author." Fine, I'll call Julius Streicher "a German author."
“The Bay of Pigs,” is the tile of another new book on Cuban matters, Univ of Alabama professor Howard Jones is the author and Oxford Univ. Press is the publisher. The book, naturally, starts with the premise that the invasion itself was a criminal act. “Cuba had given the U.S. little cause to go to war under international law,” asserts the eminently scholarly book.
You would have hoped that an eminent PHD, and even more so, his fact checkers at Oxford University, (widely regarded as the world' oldest and most prestigious center of learning, certainly in the English-speaking world,) might have been aware that within three months of taking power Castro launched unprovoked invasions of four neighboring countries, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Panama, Nicaragua. At this time the U.S. was subsidizing his regime to the tune of $200 million, and U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, Phil Bonsal , was alerting Castro of plots against his regime by anti-communist Cubans.
Moreover, Castro's invasions of his neighboring nations--in sharp contrast to the Bay of Pigs invasion which involved only Cubans—involved very few nationals of the nations invaded. Most of the invader/aggressors were Castroite Cubans. Alas, these hapless jackasses had been trained in military skills by an even bigger jackass, Che Guevara. So they were stomped out by the native Latin American and Caribbean forces with all the exertion and difficulty most people use to stomp out a cigar butt. But it's the thought that counts.
This brings us to The Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, (also known as the Rio Treaty) ratified by most nations of the Western Hemisphere in 1947. Here's article 3 of this treaty:
“The High Contracting Parties agree that an armed attack by any State against an American State shall be considered as an attack against all the American States and, consequently, each one of the said Contracting Parties undertakes to assist in meeting the attack in the exercise of the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations."This treaty also declared “Marxism-Leninism incompatible with the Inter-American System.”
Again you would have hoped that either a PHD author or an Oxford Univ. editor might have been aware of this treaty, which gave the U.S. every legal right to invade Castro's Cuba—and not only in April of 1961-- but even at the time the U.S. was subsidizing Castro and alerting him to threats against his rule.
The Oxford published book continues the predictable “Idiot's Guide to Cuban History" format by rationalizing Castro's Stalinist regime from the day one. “U.S. business owned much of the prime land.”
In fact, of Cuba's 161 sugar mills and properties in 1958, only 40 were U.S. owned. And United Fruit -- the outfit generally cast as the Boss Hog/Luigi Barzini/JR Ewing/Snidely Whiplash/Hannibal Lecter in this episode-- owned only a third of these.
“Prior to Castro's Revolution,” continues the Oxford published book, “Cuba's governments' ignored their peoples welfare.. the great masses of peasants were dirt poor.”
“44 per cent of Cubans (a higher percentage than Americans) are covered by social legislation,” starts a report on Cuba at the time. "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class. Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8 hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. According to the Geneva-based International Labor Organization, the average daily wage for an agricultural worker in Cuba is among the highest in the world, higher than in than in France, Belgium, Denmark, or West Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent."
Prior to Castro, Cuban industrial workers had the 8th highest wages—not in Latin America, not in the hemisphere—but in the world. Cuba had established an 8 hour work-day in 1933 – five years before FDR's New Dealers got around to it. The much-lauded (by liberals) Social-Democracies of Western Europe didn't manage this till 30 years later.
The above figures are all from a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report on Cuba from 1957.
When no New York Times reporters, CNN correspondents, and eminent American Ivy League scholars are within hearing range, Communists can be extremely frank with each other.
Early in the Cuban revolution, for instance, Czech economist Radoslav Selucky visited Cuba and was rudely awakened: “We thought Cuba was underdeveloped except for a few sugar refineries,” he wrote when he got home to Prague. “This is false. Almost a quarter of Cuba's labor force was employed in industry where the salaries were equal to those in the U.S.”
Now here's Che Guevara himself n 1961 after he returned to Cuba with his Cuban underlings from a lengthly tour of Eastern Europe: “We're not going to say we only saw marvels in those countries, “ admitted Che who had undoubtedly heard much scoffing and snickering from his Cuban subalterns during the trip. “ Naturally for a 20 th Century Cuban with all the luxuries which Imperialism has accustomed him, much of what he saw (in eastern Europe) struck him as belonging to uncivilized nations.”
Astoundly, this book published by Oxford Univ. in the year of our Lord 2008, still claims that “Castro took office as a result of a guerrilla war.”
In most historical genres any outfit with a title like: “Veterans Association of (the military event you're covering)” might have been consulted during the writing of any book involving this military event, especially when such veterans are relatively rare.
But an outfit known as The Bay of Pigs Veterans Assoc, consisting of hundreds of participants in this invasion all of them (now) perfectly free to talk about the things they experienced and witnessed first hand, was shunned completely by the eminent author, in perfect keeping with most “scholarly” research on all matters Cuban.