From Christian C.
"The U.S. did not 'fund and arm Batista's forces...'"
It armed Batista’s forces up until the arms embargo, after which the U.S. continued to clandestinely back Batista in every other way possible. The arms embargo was a symbolic blow that had no practical implications as Batista easily continued purchasing arms from other countries. The U.S merely wanted to be seen as a neutral actor in Cuba’s "civil war" after having supplied Batista with the means to murder and oppress the opposition.
By 1958, Castro’s political positions were ambiguous (indeed, nearly identical to what was promised by other Cuban leaders who had come to power on the tails of revolutionary movements; a platform Batista himself endorsed at one point), and the Batista regime was completely untenable. The U.S. hedged its bets, believing that in the event Castro prevailed he would, as precedent indicated, ultimately bring stability and protect the role of American interests in Cuba. Those who fell victim to Castro’s shrewd political calculations collectively contributed to his rise: the U.S. government, American corporations, Herbert Matthews, elements of the private sector, the moderate Batista opposition, and most importantly, the Cuban people. The Cuban Revolution was more a public relations victory than a military triumph.
You acknowledge the fact that Cubans supported the 26th of July Movement after its victory (“victory”?) and that many Cubans supported him based on false pretenses, but stop short of accepting that this support encompassed a majority of the island’s population in spite of the overwhelming evidence. Why is the fact that the majority of Cubans initially supported him so inconceivable?
Fidel came into power making a strong case for what every Cuban desired — sovereignty, democracy, and justice — after it had been cruelly abrogated by Batista. The nation was reeling from the repression, economic recession, and corruption wrought by the Batista regime and Castro promised to unite them in a path to national redemption. Fidel was also buoyed by the messianic narrative of the revolution that swept Cuba’s vast media landscape (before it was nationalized). This catapulted him above the rest of the anti-Batista opposition, which ultimately united in support of his revolutionary program.Support for the revolution was powerfully demonstrated in hours-long rallies attended by masses of Cubans of all backgrounds and in all provinces — by some estimates, some of the largest mass rallies in the history of the Western hemisphere — which Fidel saw as a form of “direct democracy” (he would address the million+ attendees as “the General National Assembly of the People.”).
To accept that he was initially supported by the people does not diminish or justify his crimes. History provides us with many examples of charismatic dictators who were able to successfully consolidate totalitarian states by deceiving the people through demagoguery, stoking nationalistic fervor, politicizing everything under the sun, and uniting them against a foreign enemy— Hitler in Nazi Germany and Mao in Communist China, for example. Totalitarianism is unachievable without that initial process of mass mobilization. Do Cubans possess some superhuman trait that renders them immune to duplicity?
P.S. — You should ask me about my Cuban bona fides instead of speculating. I’m a Hialeah-born Cuban-American. My maternal grandparents were Batista-era exiles, and my paternal grandparents were Castro-era exiles. My paternal grandfather was involved in the anti-Castro insurgency and held as a political prisoner. On my mom's side, my great great great grandfather was a major general in Cuba’s 10 Years War and is honored with a marble statue and park in his native Holguín, check him out —> http://www.ecured.cu/index.php/Julio_Grave_de_Peralta
Now put that in your pipe and smoke it.
I'll reply to some of your other points in a subsequent post.
You have a wonderful facility for reiteration, which you have demonstrated on prior occasions in our dialogue. Rather than address points which I have already answered, I will identify whatever is new in your reply and confine myself to that.
The U.S. arms embargo on the Batista government was not a "symbolic blow." It telegraphed to all Cubans that Batista no longer enjoyed the support of the United States and that they were free to choose for themselves between Batista and Castro.
I do not care what Castro promised the Cuban people prior to 1959 because everything he promised was a lie. If they supported the Revolution based on those lies, then their support was for what he promised, not for what he really represented nor for what he actually delivered. In short, they supported an illusion. The con-artist who created that illusion before their eyes was actually its very negation. I do not understand why you place so much importance on Fidel Castro's supposed popularity, which as I've already explained was obtained fraudulently and hence was meaningless.
There were mass demonstrations in Cuba in support of the Revolution before 1959 (the largest at Frank País' funeral). But there were also mass rallies in support of Batista. I am not impressed by Batista's mass rallies as much as I am by the fact that Batista allowed Castro's supporters to gather en masse in support of the Revolution. The rallies staged by Castro after 1959 impress me no more than the Fascist and Nazi rallies on which they were modeled. If these are credible in your eyes, then Hitler's rallies, which were much better choreographed and attended, must seem positively mystical to you.
Do you seriously believe that attendance at Castro's rallies was a spontaneous expression of support for him? Ask your parents and grandparents, whom I'm sure attended them. Did they feel that their yearning for democracy was fulfilled by standing in the hot sun listening to that charlatan spew lies for hours on end? What these rallies "powerfully demonstrated" was that dissent of any kind was already lethal in Castro's Cuba. Listening to you gush about these rallies ("some of the largest mass rallies in the history of the Western Hemisphere... attended by masses of Cubans of all backgrounds and in all provinces"), I am convinced that you would have attended them out of conviction rather than compunction.
Fidel Castro enjoyed his greatest popularity immediately after the triumph of the Revolution. First, because everybody wanted to be on the winning side. Second, because the people had not yet realized that they had been deceived by him. And, lastly, because Cubans were confident that the U.S. had their best interests at heart and would rescue them if necessary. (If nothing else has been accomplished by the Revolution, the Cuban people at least have been cured forever of that dangerous assumption).
As for your "bona fides," my dear Vana must be laughing, because she knows mine. Of course, I don't have to "check out" who Julio Grave de Peralta was. But more about that on another occasion.
BTW, why would I put your cubanidad in a pipe and smoke it? If you had written, "OK, Sherlock, put that in your pipe and smoke it," you would have scored a point.