I am a daughter of the Cuban revolution but I am also the daughter of a US American who was born in Tampa, Florida, the son of a Sephardi US American who was himself born in Rutherford, New Jersey. My father, Richard Anthony Brandon, chose to identify as a Cuban citizen when he became of age, his mother, after all, was a Cuban citizen and feminist activist, but the Empire which never forgets a slight, even though he had been born stateside to a US citizen father, made him go through all the rigmarole of anyone born abroad. He had to file for permanent residence and then for citizenship, as did I, the daughter of a US citizen father who was born in the continental United States. So much for fairness and fair play.
I came to the United States as a young girl of 11 because my stepfather had decided to emigrate. We had been in La Habana when dictator Fulgencio Batista took off with the country’s funds on December 31, 1958. On January 1, 1959, there was a declaration, since the dictator had flown the coop, that the Cuban revolution had succeeded. Most of the people in the country were exultant, and we waited for the milicianos to come down from the Sierra Maestra to La Habana. About ten days later, those who had survived torture at the hands of the Batista death squads, led by the infamous Conrado Carratalá (who also left in a hurry on January 1, 1959) and Esteban Ventura, started to show up on television and show their terrible disfigurement and to tell their stories, of rape, mutilation, endless torture. To this day the name of this dynamic duo of torturers and satraps, henchmen of the dictator in his search for endless power, is synonymous with sociopathic torturers and murderers.
(Batista, Richard Nixon 1955)
Carratalá, in particular, saw his fortunes rise as his crimes rose; he went from being a commander to Lt. Colonel to Colonel of the first Division of the Police Force. He was, after all, a part of the group of conspirators who supported Batista in his coup d’état, need I repeat, with U.S. funds? The tyrant needed the help of everyone to maintain the corruption of the police forces, which in La Habana represented tremendous profits. This is because most of the police helped the “businesses” of the capital city to develop and flourish, including gambling, prostitution, and drug trafficking. Let us not forget that La Habana was an occupied territory of the US Mafia (remember Sam Giancana) and of the U.S. Empire, from the inception of the “new” and “free republic” to the victory of the revolution. His bravery worked best in group attacks against the people, supported by other hired guns (sicarios) such as Esteban Ventura. His crimes were legion; he was congenitally immoral and felt no guilt in committing his crimes against humanity.
And who trained these groups of torturers and murderers, agents of repression? The United States through the CIA and the FBI; schools of assassins such as the School of the Américas, and similar groups paid for with the tax dollars of U.S. citizens who knew little about what was going on. When they left Cuba with the contents of the National Treasury, who welcomed them with open hands in the United States of America? The Immigration Service, despite knowing that these men were killers and murderers.
Much as we are enmeshed in this ridiculous conspiracy theory against “Russia” and “Putin,” no longer a Communist country or leader, we saw the Red Scare in the United States affect Cuba. As it would later use drug monies to fund the Contras against the Nicaraguan revolution, the United States did whatever was in its power to fund, in Batista, one more dictator and his henchmen. As it had done in the Dominican Republic, in Haiti, in Puerto Rico, a country which is still a U.S. colony, the Revolution became non grata when it began to nationalize U.S. owned industries. The sugar cane plantations, the hotels, the banks, were owned by U.S. money. I have written previously on this blog about the United States installing a military governor in Cuba after we won our independence from Spain, and occupying the Philippines, who were also part of the Spanish Empire, and carrying out the first genocide of the Twentieth Century against the Philippines. Never mind occupying Puerto Rico and outlawing the speaking of Spanish on that island, among other repressive measures.
The title of this post starts with “non-violence.” I have been variously arrested in protests, and have gone to trial, and have paid bail here and there, and anytime I propose to engage in direct action, I have to take non-violence training. Yesterday I was sent an interesting review of the new Star Wars movie where it talks about Luke Skywalker and violence. https://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/will-last-jedi-make-luke-skywalker-reject-turn-toward-nonviolence/ The author, David Goodner, is a community organizer in Iowa and a labor union staff representative in Wisconsin. He is currently a Catholic Worker writing and reporting from the frontlines of Midwest social movements.
Although I agree with a great deal of this post, I find some of it disturbing. When the Empire is training killers and sociopaths, what are the people to do? We in Cuba would still be beholden to killers and rapists had the people not risen against oppression. The Jesus (Yeshua, Isa) that I follow is not completely peaceful. Our protesting is not completely peaceful. It disturbs others, disturbs “the peace.”
This is something I am working on, and have been working on for a very long time. I want peace, I want the rule of law to be followed punctiliously, no matter the color, gender, sexual orientation, financial situation of the accused. I want an end to crimes against humanity. And I am well aware that the courts in many places, no less in the United States of America, do not protect the common people. They in fact frequently hand out sentences against the innocent and let the guilty go free. I am above all a defender of peace and of human rights, but it is not quite as simple as it is presented by those who would only allow non-violence. At Standing Rock, the water protectors and their allies were savaged by the forces of the State, which sprayed freezing water, caused severe injuries, and also sprayed toxic chemicals against people in prayer.
Years ago the Black Panther movement arose in order to defend children and women and elders in communities that were being terribly attacked, burned down, the people lynched, their organs collected as spoils of war. All the terrible dictatorships that the US defended over the years committed atrocities against the people. How do you end it? Sometimes you have to fight back. As Oglala Lakota leader Crazy Horse sang just before he entered battle: / Hoka hey! Follow me / Today is a good day to fight / Today is a good day to die. And don’t forget that the Declaration of Independence of the forefathers of this country states, quite clearly:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Can we deny that “a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object,” have been taking place against the people of this nation? PLEASE UNDERSTAND that I am not inciting to the overthrow of the government, but I am reminding each and every one of you who read this that those who founded the nation stated that it is their right [the people], it is their duty, to throw off such Government. Hopefully we can do this by establishing a people’s party, and by resisting, with every breath in our bodies, until we have been able to establish a system that derives its just powers “from the consent of the governed.” But let’s stop playing with the peace of the planet, with the destruction of the beautiful Earth that we inhabit. The two parties as they exist today are in collusion to destroy it all, if they can make a buck out of it.