Predictably, Oliver Stone and others on the Grassy Knoll left have lauded Fidel Castro in moist eulogies. For them, he brought a “glorious revolution” of literacy and impeccable health care to Cuba, and showed that communism could work if freed from the Russian model.
On one hand, they assert that Castro never shied away from his Marxist intentions; on the other, they cannot transcend their “blame America first” mentality and assert that fanatical Cold Warriors such as Richard Nixon “pushed” Castro into the Soviet camp.
Their theory asserts that far from being a communist, Castro was a democratic leader. Despite repeated assurances to the Eisenhower administration, Ike snobbishly snubbed the grubby revolutionary, authorizing Vice President Nixon to meet with Castro. After the meeting, Nixon declared Castro a communist. For Stone and company, this was not only a misperception, it was also the stuff of tragedy, for Nixon’s assessment kick started Operation Mongoose, a feverish assassination effort against Castro that would be continued even more obsessively by JFK.
To bring this in line with their JFK assassination theory, that the military industrial complex knocked off Kennedy, JFK has to have been dovish on Castro, while being unaware of the CIA plots. Much is made of Kennedy’s back-channel negations with
Castro on the eve of his death. But this is only part of the picture. Ten days before the Kennedy assassination the President signed off on a sabotage operation against Castro. Track 1 was negotiations, but there was a Track 2, and it involved Kennedy continuing the assassination plots against the Cuban dictator.
Facts do not fit the portrait that Castro was a Jeffersonian. Indeed there is proof that Castro had been in contact with the KGB three years before coming to power. It would be the Soviet Union who supplied arms used by Castro in his revolution. After coming to power and months before the “turning point” meeting with Nixon, Castro was behaving in a decidedly Stalinist manner. His secret police rounded up supposed “war criminals,” executing 2500 army officers (Che Gueverra stayed up all night signing execution decrees). Opponents, some of whom fought with Castro, were sent to concentration camps. The dictator seized private property and criminalized free speech—-his slogan for this was “inside the Revolution everything, outside the Revolution nothing.”
And there was no one better equipped to detect Castro’s communist beliefs than Richard Nixon. After all, it was Nixon who saw through Alger Hiss, a smooth, disdainful Soviet spy with an array of character witnesses which included former Supreme Court justices. History would prove Nixon right on this matter, as it would with his assessment of Castro. Castro’s fanatical hatred of the United States was such that during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kruschev would have to restrain the leader from emptying the missile silos at the United States.
Grassy Knoll enthusiasts are on firmer ground in that the CIA had partnered with the Mafia to “hit” Castro. But it was their “dove” Kennedy who bankrolled said partnership (he would use his lover Judith Exner, the shared girlfriend of a Mafia boss as a cash courier to fund the mob hits against Castro).
For this group’s theory of a lost moment to work, they have to assert that the plots against Castro continued well beyond Kennedy’s death all the way up to the 21st century. But they neglect to mention that Kennedy’s successor Lyndon Johnson turned off the plots (“the Kennedy brothers were running a goddam Murder Incorporated in the Carribean”). Indeed one of the reasons for increased American involvement in Vietnam was because of this shift in focus.