Sunday, December 21, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New 2009

Best wishes for a Feliz Navidad & Prospero Año Nuevo to all our readers
from Manuel Márquez-Sterling and RR Aranda

Jews and Cubans share similar values, strengths, burdens, and lessons. Among the most important shared lessons is that those on the side of truth and light eventually prevail (even against overwhelming odds), but it is essential to keep faith with appreciation that it is our Maker that secures the victory. Diaspora has taught both the need to preserve history and tradition while in exile.

The Babylonian Captivity forced the leading citizens, nobility, craftsmen and scholars of ancient Israel to leave their homeland. These exiles in good measure managed to keep alive their traditions and history throughout seven decades of exile, and their heirs who retained those traditions and history eventually returned to rebuild the ruins in the wasteland that had once been their glorious nation.

Among the sufferings of Cubans in exile has been witnessing the falsification of Cuban history by the thugs who hijacked the country in 1959 and their useful idiots masquerading as journalists and scholars.

In addition to having their country stolen, Cuban exiles have had to endure an unending series of grotesquely false portrayals (by Castro’s media and academic confederates) misrepresenting the glorious old republic they proudly remember as a poverty and disease-ridden backwater whose illiterate citizens were oppressed and exploited by a brutal tyrant in concert with US businessmen and gangsters. These untruthful propagandist portrayals further present the brutal thugs who hijacked, looted and destroyed the nation—and slaughtered untold numbers—as noble, admirable, heroic figures who greatly improved Cuba and the lot of its citizens.

It seems hopeless to swim against this tidal wave of falsified history and utterly distorted “studies” and “documentaries” of the actions, impacts and results of the Castro revolution. But we do so armed with a force stronger than can be marshaled by the aggregate of Castro’s thugs and their battalions of useful idiots. That force is Truth.

As Christmas approaches on this the longest night of this year, a year that most of us see as a dark time, it seems especially appropriate to reflect on the words of Christ:

For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.

As we look back on this year and what we have to be grateful for, and look ahead to what we will do with a New Year, we offer for your consideration a story told by Robert Fulghum about a question he asked Alexander Papaderos (a noted Greek teacher, philosopher and politician) at the end of seminar in Crete, a soil where the scars of brutal Nazi invasion and occupation still reverberate.

The Meaning of Life

He turned. And made the ritual gesture: "Are there any questions?"

Quiet quilted the room. These two weeks had generated enough questions for a lifetime, but for now there was only silence. "No questions?" Papaderos swept the room with his eyes. So I asked.

"Dr. Papaderos, what is the Meaning of Life?"

The usual laughter followed and people stirred to go. Papaderos held up his hand and stilled the room and looked at me for a long time, asking with his eyes if I was serious and seeing from my eyes that I was.

"I will answer your question."

Taking his wallet out of his hip pocket, he fished into a leather billfold and brought out a very small round mirror, about the size of a quarter. And what he said went like this:

"When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

"I tried to find all the pieces and put them together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine--in deep holes and crevices and dark closets. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

"I kept the little mirror, and as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child's game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light or the source of the light. But light --truth, understanding, knowledge--is there, and it will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

"I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world--into the black places in the hearts of men--and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life."

And then he took his small mirror and, holding it carefully, caught the bright rays of daylight streaming through the window and reflected them onto my face and onto my hands folded on the desk.

extract from: It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It by Robert Fulghum
(The author published an expanded version in his 2008 book What on Earth Have I Done?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cuba 1950s LIFE photos

Looking out into the courtyard of Havana University, April 1958 | by Joseph Scherschel, LIFE
Links below retrieve 1950’s Cuba photos from the LIFE magazine photo archive. Google image search recently made the LIFE magazine photo archives available on the web. The vast majority of the archive was previously unpublished.For your own searches of the LIFE photo archive, just go to Google's LIFE image search, or go to Google image search and add " source:life" at the end of your search query.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

50th Anniversary of Cuba’s Last Free Elections (interview)

(from Martí Noticias)

In this interview by Pedro Corzo, the 1958 elections, the last political attempt at preventing the triumph of Castro’s revolution, are analyzed by Professor Manuel Márquez-Sterling (Plymouth State University), historian and son of one of the history-makers of that time: presidential candidate Dr. Carlos Márquez-Sterling.

Manuel Marquez-Sterling is also known for his acclaimed historical novels La Cúpula and Hondo Corre el Cauto.

(interview audio in Spanish | entrevista en español)

Related post: Manuel Márquez-Sterling paper: 'Anybody but Batista' or The Politics of 'The End Justifies the Means', Cuba: 1957-1958

Monday, November 17, 2008

Memorias de Carlos Marquez-Sterling

Below is a short video clip from the 1990 documentary Memorias de Carlos Márquez-Sterling (in Spanish) which was presented tonight as part of a special Florida International University program, Carlos Márquez Sterling: A cincuenta años de las elecciones de 1958 (Carlos Márquez-Sterling: A 50 year retrospective on the 1958 Elections).

(video extract) Memorias de Carlos Márquez-Sterling, 1990 (Coral Gables, FL: Village Films)

The documentary was introduced by Uva de Aragón, Associate Director of FIU's Cuban Research Institute (CRI), who was closely associated with the film's direction and production as part of CRI's Cuban Living History Project. The full documentary is available at FIU’s Green Library as part of the Cuban Living History collection For further information or access about the collection contact Dr. de Aragón at (305) 348-1991.

The Politics of 'The End Justifies the Means'

Author's translation of paper presented (in Spanish) at:
Cuba 1952-1958: Entre votos y balas (Cuba 1952-1958: Ballots or Bullets), Florida International University Cuban Research Institute symposium, Miami FL, November 17, 2008.
Original Spanish language title:
'Mejor Que Batista Cualquiera' o La Política del Fin Justifica los Medios.

'Anybody but Batista'
The Politics of 'The End Justifies the Means',
Cuba: 1957-1958

by Manuel Márquez-Sterling

In 1957 Cuba the catchphrase in the title of this paper, "Anybody but Batista" ("Mejor que Batista Cualquiera") was the slogan of Cubans advocating revolutionary violence as the only avenue to resolve the crisis created by Batista's 1952 coup d'état. Today, with the detachment afforded by fifty years, we can fully appreciate the meaning of that catchphrase and its historical implications. Let's consider what this motto really meant and where it took us.

First and foremost, the phrase "Anybody but Batista" was an expression of the desperate powerlessness of politicians and revolutionary leaders, who from their comfortable air-conditioned quarters in exile had for five long and fallow years been planning violent solutions to the impasse created by Batista. For all their rhetoric, and a few failed conspiratorial plots, in 1957 these armchair revolutionaries ("revolucionarios de aire acondicionado")1 had not even a remote chance of violently overthrowing Batista. While they continued to bluster in their comfortable war rooms in Miami, Fidel Castro, in the Sierra Maestra since 1956, was increasingly in the limelight rendering them before public opinion as toothless old dogs, all bark and no bite.

At that time, the armchair revolutionaries had spent five years undermining all attempts at peaceful political solutions to the crisis, and assailing Batista opponents advocating such non-violent solutions. Their assaults, in the main calumny, took the form of an avalanche of insults and mud-slinging, at the worst naked character assassination. Amidst their invective, they grew increasingly apprehensive that the upcoming 1958 elections (in which Batista was not a candidate) would produce a solution to the crisis without achieving their prized goal of "Punishing Batista". "Batista must be punished" ("Hay que castigar a Batista") had been another of their slogans, and they branded anyone who did not chant it as a "sellout" to the regime.

Second, returning to the catchphrase "Anybody but Batista", the word "Anybody" betrays that it did not matter to the revolutionaries who overthrew Batista, so long as-and this must be emphasized-that it was "Anybody" not associated with the non-violent opposition to Batista, particularly those favoring an electoral resolution. This was because those in that camp did not advocate punitive or vindictive measures, believing (as Carlos Marquez-Sterling asserted) that the national interest and republican cohesion had to be placed ahead of vengeful reprisals, and that it was imperative to return the republic post haste to its constitutional footings. This posture ipso-facto rendered them unacceptable as leaders in the eyes of the armchair revolutionaries.

Mindful that Castro was rapidly supplanting their leadership of the revolutionary opposition, and that the 1958 elections could result in a peaceful political resolution ending Batista's rule, the armchair revolutionaries gathered in Miami in November of 1957 and founded a Liberation Junta to give the impression of unity among the armchair revolutionary factions and Castro's 26th of July Movement. One way or another, the armchair revolutionaries were trying to ride the coattails of Castro's masterful public relations and its resultant gain for his standing in Cuban, US and world public opinion. (It's important to note that many of these armchair revolutionaries frequently traveled to Cuba from Miami, without the 'repressive', 'murderous' Batista regime arresting them or interfering with them in any way-not even halting the emoluments and pensions some of them received from the Cuban government. Nary a one of them was reduced to menial work or laboring as farm workers in Florida's agricultural fields.

No sooner was their flamboyant Junta launched than it began issuing high-sounding declarations and resolutions, including the announcement of election by unanimous agreement of a Provisional President of Cuba, to take the reins upon Batista's downfall: the respected economist Felipe Pazos. When news of the announcement of the Junta agreements reached Castro in the Sierra Maestra, he flew into one of his frequent rages. Wasting no time, he fired off an angry letter to the Junta Miami officers on December 14, 1957. In that letter Castro repudiated the agreements to which his own delegates were signatories, and categorically rejected the creation of a military junta as successor to Batista- which the Junta had also agreed and announced. With characteristic arrogance Castro also affirmed, to the chagrin of Junta members, that there were no binding agreements whatsoever between him the Junta, and that maintaining public order and reorganizing Cuba's armed forces after Batista's fall was the exclusive prerogative of the 26th of July Movement. He added that, in regard to a provisional president, he had already designated Manuel Urrutia.

Castro's letter fell like a depth charge on Miami. The message was a take-it-or-leave-it diktat, à la Hitler. Castro's surly rebuff had put the Junta members at a crossroads. They had two alternatives. The first one, if they were still honest with themselves and especially with the Cuban people, was to flatly reject what was an unquestionably arrogant and arbitrary imposition by Castro, and denounce it as such before Cuban public opinion. Castro had in fact preemptively deposed the president designated by the Junta. and had also-arbitrarily and without consultation-imposed his own president.

The Junta's second alternative, in the face of Castro's treachery, was to suspend or withdraw their support, and if not accept the invitation to join the advocates of an electoral solution led by Carlos Márquez-Sterling, at least suspend their vicious and slanderous attacks across all news media against the electoralist opposition until the final outcome of the 1958 election.

Unfortunately for Cuba, however, the Junta revolutionaries chose neither of those alternatives. Choosing abasement instead, they bowed their heads and without so much as a whimper submissively capitulated to the diktat of the man already emerging as the new dictator of Cuba. They did so because for them the overriding goal was violently overthrowing Batista, as we can gather from Angel Pérez Vidal's candid description of these events in his history of the revolution.

By accepting the premise that preserving public order and the reorganizing the armed forces after Batista's fall was the sole province of the 26th of July Movement, the Junta leaders had tacitly consented to forming revolutionary militias and disbanding the Cuban armed forces. This would potentially put the country in the hands of Communist rabble-and it did in 1959. By quiescence they also consented to the dismantling of all of Cuba's democratic institutions. Agreeing to treat the office of President as appointive at Castro's pleasure and accepting Urrutia as President-a political unknown without a constituency-meant that all executive, legislative and judicial powers would be in the hands of Castro and his 26th of July Movement. And of course the armchair Junta put at Castro's disposal their considerable public relations and propaganda resources within Cuba to harass the electoralists and undermine the 1958 elections.

In political terms, the Liberation Junta on December 14, 1957 anointed the tyrant who would enslave Cuba. From that day Cuba had two dictators: one waning at the exit door, the other waxing at the starting gate. The feckless and degrading abasement the Junta chose as their path elicited from Carlos Márquez-Sterling his prophetic declaration that "A somber tyranny is being incubated in the Sierra." There were few who at the time were able or willing to understand this utterance against the tide.

Years later, in exile from Castro's regime, many of the members of the Junta and the 26th of July Movement tried and continue trying to evade their historical responsibility with the lame excuse that they had been deceived by Castro. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nobody in the revolutionary leadership was deceived, in fact it was they who knowingly deceived the Cuban people who trusted and followed them. As Angel Pérez Vidal has chronicled, the members of the Junta were well-acquainted with Fidel Castro, his criminal past, his communist associations and his modus operandi of lies, tricks and impositions. Yet, knowing all of this, they continued to support him, and failed to denounce him in the public square as a duplicitous thug with a dark past. Quite the contrary, they presented him to the Cuban people as Martí reborn. And the tragic reality is that they did so because they had found their "Anybody" to replace Batista. The treachery of the discrepancy between what these revolutionary leaders knew privately and what they said publicly reveals nothing less than fanatical adherence to the deplorable principle that "the end justifies the means." The end, the violent overthrow of the hated Batista by "Anybody" justified continued support and submission to the basest denizens of Cuba's political gutter. Didn't these leaders know that those who follow this principle always end on the gallows while the accepted means occupies the throne?

By early 1958 Fidel Castro, then holding the reins of the armchair revolutionary opposition (whose leaders had capitulated a few months earlier) felt strong enough to call for a general strike by all Cuban workers on April 9, 1958. As is well known, the strike call was an abysmal (and very public) failure, which demonstrated that 26th of July Movement had not enrolled any significant support from the Cuban working class. At the same time preparations for the 1958 elections progressed, bolstered by the solemn promise publicly made by Batista to hold free and fair elections that year. And as the selection of electoral slates by opposition parties moved forward in an orderly and honest fashion, Cubans began to see the 1958 elections a viable way to be rid of Batista without the risks of a leap into the dark embracing an unknown "Anybody", Fidel Castro and his 26th of July Movement. This was a propitious moment for the armchair revolutionaries, who had submitted to Castro's diktat in December 1957, to separate themselves from Castro and his movement and, once again, if not join the electoral process at least adopt a neutral position.

But, once again, the Junta revolutionaries chose neither of those alternatives. Quite the contrary, in July of 1958 they held a all gathering in Caracas, Venezuela, to ratify a document titled the Caracas Pact ("Pacto de Caracas") formally consenting to the agreements of December 1957. In other words, to ratify and reaffirm the armchair revolutionaries' submission and fealty to Fidel Castro and their acceptance of the terms Castro imposed by fiat. By this time, it was well known that the Castro brothers had reached some type of agreement with the Communist Party. One of its most prominent leaders, Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, had traveled to the Sierra Cristal to deliver the considerable sum of eight hundred thousand dollars2 to Raúl in the name of the Communist Party. It was also well known at this time that Communist contingents were operating in the Sierra Cristal, that Communist literature had been introduced into the Sierra Maestra, including Marx's Das Kapital, to indoctrinate campesinos who had joined the rebel guerrillas, and that since 1957 Fidel Castro had personally approved entry of high ranking Communists to the Sierras.

All this clearly showed that Castro was in bed with the Communists. On his return from the Sierra, Carlos Rafael Rodríguez informed Junta leaders that Castro "wished" they officially include the Communists as permanent members of the Junta. Although the Junta leaders rejected Castro's "wishes" on this, the fact that Rodríguez was making large cash deliveries to Castro, and that he "wished" the Junta to accept the Communists should have alerted the armchair revolutionaries that their "Máximo Líder" was shady, and that something was brewing up in the hills. Many of the armchair revolutionaries had participated in the "Montreal Pact" meetings in Canada in 1953, and had witnessed Castro's fiery demand then that the Communists be invited as participants in the Montreal Pact meetings. At that time they had refused Castro's demand. But noting that for the second time Castro was an advocate for the Communists and the Communist Party, and what was happening in the Sierras, the least the armchair revolutionaries should have done was demand an explanation of what the Communists were doing up in the Sierras and what they were getting in return for their large cash infusions.

But they did not demand explanations or accountability from their "Anybody". They did just the opposite, in their degraded station they affirmed their commitment to a revolutionary course no longer theirs to set but now steered by Castro, and they tightened the yoke of a movement over which they had lost control. And before the ink on the Caracas Pact had time to dry they zealously renewed their efforts to derail the 1958 elections, implementing the designs of Cuba's new tyrant: Fidel Castro. As part of their campaign they commissioned Dr. José Miró Cardona to travel to Washington as their envoy to inform the US State Department that Caracas Pact members would never accept any candidates of an election held in submission to a tyrannical regime, nor would they accept the results of the 1958 elections "even if they were free and fair."

It goes without saying that the Caracas Pact was a response to the unending calls and invitations from Carlos Márquez-Sterling to the armchair revolutionaries to join a national civic front to participate in the 1958 elections and nominate their candidate. Márquez-Sterling steadfastly believed that a united national front which included all political parties, and integrated the armchair revolutionaries as stakeholders , would constitute a powerful force that would make it impossible to rig the elections in which Batista himself would not be a candidate.

Adherents of the politics of "The End Justifies the Means" achieved two Pyrrhic victories: their astonishing rejection of the 1958 elections "even if ... free and fair" and the accompanying refusal to accept as legitimate candidates men running in these elections who had for the preceding seven years publicly opposed Batista's regime at considerable jeopardy, having endured extreme harassment and attempts on their lives-including those personally directed by Fidel Castro under his Revolutionary Law #2. In that dictate from the Sierra, Castro decreed running for elected office a capital crime, and he dispatched thugs from the Sierra to carry out executions which cost many electoralists their lives. In the final analysis, the politics of "The End Justifies the Means" justified murder and violence against political opponents who advocated an electoral solution, in order to undermine an arrangement enabling a constitutional solution and averting violence.

The rejection of a national front to challenge not Batista (who was not a candidate) but Andrés Rivero Agüero (who albeit an honorable man enjoyed neither deep-rooted prominence in Cuban public opinion nor popular support) was in reality an invitation to Batista to rig the election. The mean-spirited small-mindedness of the armchair revolutionaries in opting to subvert the 1958 elections also created an incredible historical irony. It cast Batista-the man both opposition wings (peaceful and violent) had endeavored to remove for seven tragic years-as the arbiter to decide the dispute and Cuba's future, to in effect resolve the dispute he started. If Batista chose to allow free and fair elections the inevitable triumph of Márquez-Sterling and his party would have changed the course of Cuba's destiny and we'd be in a different situation today. If on the other hand, Batista rigged the elections (as he did) he would validate the violent opposition and deliver Cuba to Castro, the "Anybody" the armchair revolutionaries chose and surrendered to.

The important role adopting "The End Justifies the Means" as policy played in the collapse and destruction of our republic can be fully appreciated in examining the results of the November 3, 1958 elections. Márquez-Sterling was unable to campaign throughout the country, constrained by being under fire from revolutionary forces of the armchair revolutionaries and Castro, and scarce financial resources. Nonetheless, he emerged the winner in four of Cuba's six provinces: Pinar del Río, Havana, Matanzas and Camagüey. In the remaining two provinces, Oriente and Las Villas, where extreme electoral violence made it almost impossible to vote (especially in the former) Batista's government engaged in ballot-stuffing on a massive scale and haughtily declared that its candidate Rivero Agüero was the winner since he had won more votes in those two provinces than Márquez-Sterling had in the other four.

In the face of these cold facts, one can not help but wonder what would have happened if the armchair revolutionaries, instead of capitulating to Castro's fiat in 1957, rising to the ethical and moral demands of the situation had refused to support or follow Castro, denounced him publicly, and accepted Márquez-Sterling's invitation to join him in a powerful coalition to run a candidate acceptable to all parties against the government in the November 1958 elections. Can we today with the perspective afforded by half a century, and what we've seen happen in other countries, believe Batista would have dared to steal the elections (which were not for him) to install Rivero Agüero in the face of the immense force of organized civil society, from Cabo San Antonio to Maisí-against the will of an entire nation united? Márquez-Sterling never had doubts about the answer. Neither do I. Márquez-Sterling always thought such an electoral mega-fraud would have unleashed a true Cuban revolution dwarfing that of the Sierra tyrant. This painful question will always remain in our history, and future historians with a shred of disciplinary honesty will not be able to elude it.

But the armchair revolutionaries did not take the high road because that path would not achieve the result they desired of "Punishing Batista", and because by then (as Julio Alvarado expounds upon in his La Aventura Cubana) the armchair revolutionaries were well aware that Castro had supplanted their leadership of the revolutionary opposition, and so in their venality the best they could hope for was that upon his victory Castro might dole out (or even reward them with) positions of some standing in his government.

All this, as earlier explained, were the bitter fruits of adopting "The End Justifies the Means" as policy, which was embedded in the slogan "Anybody but Batista." This policy served to pave the road to absolute power for the "Anybody" the armchair revolutionaries had yearned for, and to completely destroy a republic that for all its faults had for fifty-seven years well served its people; and which, I sorrowfully fear, it would be impossible to rebuild today as a force for good in service to the good of the Cuban people.


1 Some used to call these principals in Miami “air conditioned revolutionaries,” to contrast their risks and hardships with those endured by the fighting revolutionaries in Cuba. Castro’s rebels in the Sierras were hunted by the army and occasionally exchanged gunfire with Batista’s troops. And Castro’s urban guerrillas engaged in terrorism were hunted by the police, and some were killed while building and planting bombs. The combination of Castro’s public relations genius and a complicit press greatly magnified the battles and bravery of the fighting revolutionaries, adding to the scorn for the armchair revolutionaries in public opinion.

2 The amount of $800,000 in 1957 is the equivalent of more than $6 million in 2008 dollars.

La política del fin justifica los medios

(Ponencia oral:) «'Mejor Que Batista Cualquiera' o La Política del Fin Justifica los Medios».
Cuba 1952-1958: Entre votos y balas
Florida International University/Cuban Research Institute, Miami FL, 17-XI-2008.
English translation title: 'Anybody but Batista' or The Politics of 'The End Justifies the Means'

CUBA: 1957-1958

Por Manuel Márquez-Sterling

Hacia el año de 1957, la frase que encabeza esta ponencia, "Mejor que Batista Cualquiera," se había convertido en el "eslógan" de aquellos cubanos que preconizaban la violencia revolucionaria como medio único de solucionar la crisis cubana creada por el golpe de estado de Batista en 1952. Hoy, a cincuenta años de la crisis tenemos la distancia apropiada para apreciar esta frase en todo su significado. Veamos lo que en realidad ese eslógan significaba y a donde nos llevó.

Primeramente, la frase "Mejor que Batista Cualquiera" en realidad revelaba la manifestación de una franca y desesperada impotencia de aquellos políticos y líderes revolucionarios, que desde sus cómodos salones refrigerados en su exilio de Miami, llevaban ya cinco estériles y largos años proponiendo una solución violenta al impasse cubano. A pesar de toda su retórica y de algunas conspiraciones fracasadas, estos revolucionarios, por ese año de 1957, se hallaban muy lejos de ponerle fin al régimen.

Y mientras ellos solamente hablaban y amenazaban con las revoluciones que iban a hacer desde sus aires acondicionados en el exilio, Fidel Castro, en la Sierra Maestra desde 1956 cada día más y más les iba robando "el show," y poniéndolos frente al pueblo cubano como un grupo de "canes que ladraban pero que no mordían."

Al mismo tiempo los revolucionarios de "aire acondicionado" que se habían pasado cinco años torpedeando todas las soluciones pacificas electorales y lanzando contra los proponents de la solución pacífica un verdadero alud de insultos y calumnias, sentían una creciente aprensión de que al acercarse las elecciones nacionales de 1958, en las que Batista no era candidato, se produjera la solución nacional electoral sin lograr lo que ellos tanto querían que era: "Castigar a Batista." "Hay que castigar a Batista" había sido otro de sus lemas favoritos y aquél que no abogara por esa solución se le tildaba de vendido al régimen.

En segundo lugar, y volviendo a la frase "Mejor que Batista Cualquiera," la palabra "cualquiera" delataba que para estos revolucionarios ya no importaba quien fuera el que derribara a Batista siempre y cuando, claro está, y esto hay que destacarlo con verdadero énfasis, ese "cualquiera" no proviniera de la cantera pacifista-electoral. Como los políticos pacifistas no contemplaban nada de castigos o revanchas, por estimar que por encima de puniciones, como afirmaba Márquez-Sterling, estaban los intereses comunes de la nación, y de que había que regresar cuanto antes al gobierno constitucional, los pacifistas quedaban de esta forma, ipso-facto, tachados y eliminados en la mente de los "revolucionarios de aire acondicionado."

Concientes de que Castro les estaba suplantando en la lideratura del campo revolucionario y de que se podía producir en 1958 un compromiso nacional por medio de unas elecciones, los "refrigerados" decidieron reunirse en Miami, en noviembre de 1957, y fundar una "Junta de Liberación" la cual para dar la impresión de verdadera unidad revolucionaria también incluía a los delegados castristas del Movimiento del 26 de Julio, nombrados por Castro para representarlo. De alguna forma los refrigerados tenían que unirse o montarse en el carro de la Sierra Maestra. [Es necesario apuntar aquí que muchísimos de estos refrigerados con frecuencia viajaban de Miami a Cuba sin que el régimen "asesino" los arrestara o interrumpiera los emolumentos o salarios que devengaban de cargos públicos. Muy pocos de ellos, ninguno, se vieron obligados a limpiar pisos o a recoger tomates en las tomateras de la Florida.

Una vez lanzada, la flamante "Junta" acordó varias altisonantes mociones y por unanimidad eligieron presidente provisional de Cuba, a la caída de Batista, al respetado economista Felipe Pazos. Al recibir Castro en la Sierra Maestra la comunicación de los acuerdos de la "Junta," montó en una de sus habituales cóleras. Sin perder tiempo alguno Castro disparó a Miami una carta dirigida a la "Junta" en diciembre 14, de 1957. En la misma desautorizaba lo que sus propios delegados habían firmando y categoricamente rechazaba la creación de una junta militar como sucesora de Batista, como la "Junta" también había acordado. Con su acostumbrada arrogancia Castro afirmó que entre la "Junta" y él no existian ningunas obligaciones mutuas, y que era la prerogativa exclusiva del "Movimiento 26 de Julio," a la caída de Batista, el mantenimiento del orden público y la reorganización de las fuerzas armadas. Y que respecto al anuncio de la designación de un presidente provisional ya él había designado el suyo, Manuel Urrutia.

La carta de Castro cayó como una bomba de profundidad en Miami. El mensaje era en realidad de "lo toman o lo dejan." Simplemente un terminante "diktat" al estilo de los de Hitler. Rechazados así tajantemente por Castro los miembros de la "Junta" quedaban frente a una encrucijada con dos caminos o alternativas: La primera, si eran sinceros con ellos mismos, y especialmente con el pueblo de Cuba, era la de rechazar lo que descarnadamente constituía una imposición arbitraria de Castro, y como tal denunciarla sin ambages algunos ante la opinión pública cubana. Castro, de hecho, había destituido a su presidente, y sin consulta previa y arbitrariamente, impuesto el suyo.

La segunda alternativa de la "Junta," en presencia de la artimaña de Castro, era la de suspender o retirar su apoyo a su movimiento, y si bien no aceptar integrarse en la solucion electoral en un frente cívico nacional, como los electoralistas con Márquez-Sterling al frente, les pedían que hicieran, sí al menos suspender hasta el resultado final de las elecciones señaladas para 1958, su campaña de calumnias y ataques verbales fulminantes que ellos rutinariamente les lanzaban por la prensa y por todos los medios de comunicación nacionales.

Desgraciadamente para Cuba los revolucionarios de la "Junta" bajaron la cerviz y sin hacer la más mínima protesta pública se sometieron al "dicktat" del que ya surgía como el nuevo dictador de Cuba porque para ellos el fin era derribar a Batista por encima de todo, como bien se colige candidamente de la narración de los hechos por Angel Pérez Vidal en su historia de la revolución. Al aceptar la "Junta" que el 26 de Julio era el que se arrogaba la exclusiva función de preservar el orden público y de reorganizar las fuerzas armadas a la caída de Batista, la "Junta" había asentido a la formación de las futuras milicias y a la disolución del ejercito nacional. Esto de hecho habría de poner el país en manos de una canalla comunista como así sucedió en 1959. También la "Junta" había asentido tacitamente al desmantelamiento de todas las instituciones democráticas de la república. La designacion de dedo de Urrutia como presidente, un hombre desconocido y sin arraigo alguno en el pueblo de Cuba, significaba que se ponía en manos de Castro y el "26 de Julio" el futuro control de las funciones de los poderes legislativos, ejecutivos y judiciales. Y por supuesto también los miembros de la "Junta refrigerada" aceptaban y ponían a disposición de Castro sus fuerzas propagandistas y su maquinaria dentro de Cuba para que hostigaran de manera brutal a los pacifistas, y rechazaran las elecciones generales señaladas para 1958.

De hecho, en términos políticos la "Junta de Liberación" se había ungido al yugo del futuro tirano de Cuba ese 14 de diciembre de 1957. Cuba, de ahora en adelante, tenía dos dictadores: uno caduco y en el umbral de su salida, y el otro joven y lleno de energía y a las puertas de su triunfo. La actitud de la "Junta" y su sumisión a la lideratura de Castro provocó en Márquez-Sterling una declaración profética: "Que en la Sierra se estaba incubando una tenebrosa tirania." No fueron muchos los que en aquel momento comprendieron o quisieron comprender esta clarinada.

Años más tarde, en el exilio bajo el régimen de Castro muchos de los miembros de la "Junta" así como del 26 de Julio, trataron y tratan de evadir su responsabilidad histórica alegando la tullida explicación de que ellos habían sido engañados por Castro. Nada más lejos de la verdad. Nadie fue engañado. Quizás si alguien fue engañado fue el pueblo de Cuba, no los políticos "refrigerados. " ni los miembros del "26 de Julio." Aquellos miembros de la "Junta" de Miami sabían perfectamente bien quien era Fidel Castro, y cual era su "modus operandi," sus mentiras, sus "zancadillas" e imposiciones como bien dice Pérez Vidal, y su pasado gansteril universitario donde hasta existían sombras de estar ligado al comunismo internacional. Resultó entonces que sabiendo todo esto continuaron, sin embargo, ayudándolo y no lo denunciaron ante a la opinión pública que Castro era un hombre de muchas caras y que no era trigo limpio. Muy al contrario, se lo presentaron al pueblo de Cuba como José Martí redivivo. Y no lo hicieron así porque en realidad para muchos de ellos ya habían encontrado a su "cualquiera," para sustituir a Batista. La duplicidad de lo que estos revolucionarios sabían en privado, pero que no denunciaban en publico, fue nada mas ni nada menos que una aceptación del principio de "que el fin justifica los medios." El fin, derribar al odiado Batista por la fuerza, por "cualquiera que fuera," justificaba seguir apoyando y somentiendose a la alcantarilla de Cuba. ¿No sabían estos hombres que cuando se escoge guiar su conducta por ese principio siempre se termina con los medios en el trono y con el fin en el cadalso?

Al llegar el año 1958 Fidel Castro ya en poder de la oposicion "revolucionaria refrigerada" que se le había sometido unos meses antes, se sintió lo suficientemente fuerte para llamar a la huelga general a los trabajadores cubanos el día 9 de abril. Como se sabe la huelga fue un verdadero fracaso poniendo de manifiesto que su movimiento estaba aun muy lejos de haber calado en muchas de las clases populares del país. Al mismo tiempo el proceso electoral continuaba su reorganización y Batista había solemne y publicamente prometido a la nación que las elecciones nacionales iban a ser honradas. Y como la reorganización de los partidos politicos de la oposición iba desarrollándose honradamente el país empezó a contemplarlas como una solución para salir de Batista sin caer en el salto a la oscuridad abrazados a "cualquiera," a Castro y su movimiento. Este era precisamente otro momento propicio para aquellos "revolucionarios de aire acondicionado" que habían visto y aceptado la imposición arbitraria de Castro en diciembre del 57, para que se separaran de su movimiento y, una vez más, si no querían participar en el proceso electoral, al menos adoptaran una posición neutral.

Pero una vez más no hicieron nada de esto. Al contrario, en julio de 1958 se congregaron todos en Caracas, Venezuela, para ratificar lo aceptado en Miami, en diciembre de 1957. O sea, para ratificar y remachar su sumisión a la lideratura de Castro en un documento llamado el "Pacto de Caracas." Por esta fecha ya era bien sabido que los Castros habían llegado a acuerdos con el partido comunista. Uno de sus más prominentes líderes, Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, había viajado a la Sierra Cristal para entregarle a Raúl Castro la respetable suma de ochocientos mil dolares a nombre del Partido Comunista. Por esta fecha también se sabia que en la Sierra Cristal estaban operando varios contigentes de comunistas, que se había introducido en la Sierra Maestra literatura comunista, incluyendo "El Capital" de Carlos Marx, para indoctrinar a los campesinos que se habían unido a las guerrillas, y que desde 1957 Castro, personalmente, había aprobado la entrada en las Sierras de un grupo de comunistas de alta jerarquía.

Frente a todo ésto ya era claro que Castro y los comunistas se habían metido juntos en la cama. A su regreso de la Sierra, Carlos Rafael Rodríguez informó a los miembros de la "Junta" que Castro "deseaba" que ellos oficialmente incluyeran a los comunistas como miembros permanentes. Si bien es verdad que los miembros de la "Junta" rechazaron los "deseos" de Castro, el hecho de que Rodríguez le había entregado esa sólida cantidad de dinero a Castro, y de que este "deseaba" que se incluyeran a los comunistas en la "Junta" debió haber alertado a los "revolucionarios refrigerados" que su "máximo lider" no estaba claro y que algo se estaba cocinando detras de las bambalinas.

Muchos de los "revolucionarios refrigerados" habían participado en las reuniones del "Pacto de Montreal" en Canada, en 1953, y habían sido testigos de la apasionada demanda de Castro de que los comunistas fueran aceptados como participes del "Pacto." En aquel entonces todos ellos se negaron a esta demanda. Era, por lo tanto, la segunda vez que Castro había abogado por los comunistas y su partido, cosa que unido a lo que estaba pasando en la Sierra, antes de haber ratificado el acuerdo de Caracas debió haber provocado entre los "revolucionarios refrigerados" la demanda de que Castro diera una explicación diafana de lo que pasaba con los comunistas en la Sierra, y el por qué de esa suma de dólares. Era lo menos que debieron haber hecho.

Pero no lo hicieron. No era el momento para plantearle a su "cualquiera" esta cuestión. Al revés. Ratificaron su sumisión a lo que en realidad ya no era su línea revolucionaria, sino la de Castro y se ajustaron más apretadamente el yugo de un movimiento del cual ya habían perdido su control. Y antes de que se hubiera secado la tinta en el acuerdo de Caracas, se lanzaron a reanudar sus esfuerzos por sabotear y evitar la celebración de elecciones en 1958, lo que era ni más ni menos que hacerle el juego a los designios del nuevo tirano de Cuba: Castro. Al mismo tiempo el Dr. Jose Miró Cardona fue comisionado para que viajara a Washington e informara al Departamento de Estado que ellos, o sea el "Pacto" no aceptarían jamás a ninguno de los candidatos presidenciales en una elección que se iba a realizar bajo un régimen tiránico, y que también no aceptarían de ninguna forma el resultado de las elecciones de noviembre, "aun cuando estas fueran honradas."

De más esta decir que esta declaración de los ratificantes del "Pacto de Caracas" era una respuesta a las incesantes llamadas e invitaciones de Carlos Márquez-Sterling para que ellos se unieran en un frente cívico nacional para acudir a las elecciones de 1958 y junto con él acordaran quien iba a ser el candidato presidencial. Márquez-Sterling siempre consideró que un frente nacional unido de todos los partidos políticos donde también militaran los "revolucionaios de aire acondicionado" constituiría una fuerza tan poderosa que haría imposible el escamoteo de las elecciones de un Batista que ya no iba a ser candidato a la presidencia.

El asombroso rechazo de las elecciones "aun fueran estas honradas" y que en ellas salieran elegidos candidatos que durante siete años se habían opuesto decididamente al régimen, junto con la aceptación y condonación de los atentados personales y ejecuciones decretados por Castro por su Ley # 2 de la Sierra contra los electoralistas, y llevados a cabo por sus matones, en los que perdieron la vida muchos de los que se habían integrado en el movimiento cívico electoralista, fue otro gran triunfo de la política del "fin justifica los medios." El fin, la destruccion de un posible arreglo cívico constitucional, había justificado el asesinato y la violencia lanzada contra los que así abogaban.

El rechazo de un frente nacional electoral que se enfrentara, no a Batista, que no era candidato, sino a Rivero Aguero, persona honorable, pero sin arraigo alguno en la opinión pública cubana ni en sus masas populares, y la declaración de que no aceptaban el resultado de las elecciones, "aun éstas fueran honradas," era en realidad una invitación a que Batista se robara con impunidad las elecciones. Esto, como ademas se puede comprender facilmente, creaba una ironía histórica increible. La de que al cabo de siete trágicos años Batista, el hombre al que ambas fuerzas, la violenta y la pacifica, querían remover del poder, había devenido en el arbitro de la cuestion y del futuro de Cuba. Si Batista dejaba que las elecciones se llevaran a cabo honradamente y reconocía el indiscutible triunfo de Márquez-Sterling y su partido, el destino de Cuba hubiera tomado otro cauce y hoy no estaríamos en la situación en que nos encontramos. Si Batista se robaba las elecciones, como asi hizo, le daba la razón y le entregaba a Cuba a Castro, al "cualquiera" al que se habían sometido los "revolucionarios de aire acondicionado."

La importancia que la política "del fin justifica los medios" tuvo en el derrumbe y destruccion de nuestra república se puede apreciar en toda su magnitud cuando se observa que en las elecciones del 3 de noviembre de 1958, Marquez-Sterling, bajo el fuego graneado de las organizaciones revolucionarias de Castro y de los "revolucionarios de aire acondicionado," con escasos medios econonómicos, imposibilitado de poder llevar su campaña a toda la republica salió, sin embargo, triunfante en las provincias de Pinar del Río, La Habana, Matanzas y Camaguey. En las de Oriente y Las Villas, en las que apenas se pudo votar, especialmente en la primera por las condiciones reinantes en ella, el gobierno llevó a cabo la falsificacion de las boletas y olimpicamente declaró que había ganado y que como su candidato Rivero Aguero había sacado más votos en esas dos provincias que Marquez-Sterling en el resto se le declaraba presidente de la republica.

Ante esta fría realidad uno no puede dejar de pensar lo que hubiera pasado, si los "revolucionarios de aire acondicionado" ante la imposición arbitraria de Castro en 1957, y perfectamente apercibidos de su catadura ético-moral, se hubieran negado a seguirle y apoyarlo y lo hubieran denunciado ante el pueblo de Cuba, y escuchado la prédica de Marquez-Sterling de formar todos con él una poderosa coalición con un candidato aceptado por todos los partidos politicos para retar al gobierno en noviembre de 1958. ¿Es posible hoy, con la perspectica que nos ofrece medio siglo, con lo que hemos visto suceder en otros paises, dudar que ante esta inmensa fuerza popular cívica organizada de San Antonio a Maisi, Batista se hubiera atrevido a robarse unas elecciones que no eran para él, sino para poner en el poder a Rivero Aguero? ¿Frente a toda una nación unida, preguntamos? Márquez-Sterling nunca lo dudó. Nosotros tampoco. Ese mega fraude electoral, Marquez-Sterling siempre lo penso, habría entonces desencadenado la verdadera y cubana revolución y no la del tirano de la Sierra. Esta dolorosa pregunta habrá de quedar para siempre en nuestra historia y si los historiadores del futuro, si tienen un ápice de honestidad con su disciplina, no la podrán eludir.

Pero los "refrigerados" no hicieron esto porque esa formula no contemplaba llevar a cabo sus deseos de "castigar a Batista," y que también ya por esta epoca, como bien apunta Julio Alvarado en su obra "La aventura cubana" los "revolucionarios refrigerados" ya estaban perfectamente apercibidos de que Castro les había sustituído por completo en la lideratura del campo revolucionario y que ahora solo se tendrian que conformar que a su victoria les concediera y premiara -quizás otro de sus fines-, con puestos de más o menos categoría en su gobierno.

Todo esto, como hemos explicado más arriba fueron los frutos de la política del "fin justifica los medios," que englobaba la frase de "mejor que Batista cualquiera," politica que sirvió para allanarle el camino hacia el poder absoluto a ese "cualquiera" por el cual tanto los "refrigerados" habían suspirado y, por supuesto, para destrozar por completo una republica que a pesar de sus fallas, por cincuenta y siete años, había servido bien a sus ciudadanos y que hoy tal parece, como tristemente nos tememos, imposible de reconstruir para el bien y por el bien de todos sus ciudadanos.

Bibliografía Básica:

Monday, November 3, 2008

On the Anniversary of the 1958 Cuban Elections

Fifty years ago today Cuba held elections which would prove to be the last chance to avoid the destruction of the Cuban Republic and the yoke of communist tyranny that continues to the present day.

On November 17, 2008 a conference will be held in Miami to examine that fateful and pivotal moment in Cuba’s history and the period leading up to it, entitled Cuba 1952-1958: Entre votos y balas (Cuba 1952-1958: Ballots or Bullets). The colloquium will examine the efforts of pro-democracy opponents of dictator Fulgencio Batista to restore democracy to Cuba through peaceful political means while preserving the Republic and its democratic freedoms. This Spanish language symposium will also explore the failure of the pro-democracy opposition to prevail against the methods of revolutionary violence and terrorism advocated and used by Castro’s forces.

The program includes a special session, Carlos Márquez Sterling: A cincuenta años de las elecciones de 1958 (Carlos Márquez-Sterling: A 50 year retrospective on the 1958 Elections). This evening session will include a number of perspectives on the legacy of Carlos Márquez-Sterling, the candidate shown by all polls to have overwhelmingly victorious popular support in those elections. These include a video documentary, a presentation by historian Rafael Rojas, and a presentation by Manuel Márquez-Sterling, historian and author of Carlos Márquez-Sterling: Memorias de un Estadista (Carlos Márquez-Sterling: Memoirs of a Statesman).

The conference is co-sponsored by Florida International University’s Latin American and Caribbean Center (LACC) and its Cuban Research Institute (CRI). It will be held at FIU’s Graham Center Ballroom East on Monday November 17; the special evening session will run 7:30 pm-9:30 pm. For driving directions to the Graham Center or further information contact CRI at (305) 348-1991.