My life (Fidel Castro & Ignacio Ramonet) [2006]

Helt enastående bok. Det känns som att hålla ett stycke livs levande historia i sin hand. Den enda gången det blir riktigt dåligt – och jag skriver det här för att få det avklarat – är när Castro, av oförklarliga anledningar, ger sig in på ett slags kändisskvaller bland statsöverhuvuden – Kung Carlos har de här egenskaperna, en annan är ”öppen” och ”ärlig” etc, och t.o.m. vilken mat han åt på vissa möten (!) vilket är inte bara totalt ointressant utan provocerande, liksom djupdykningarna i Mitterrands omgivning etc (som jag antar är adresserat till Ramonets franska publik). Med all respekt Comandante – vi skiter i att Gérard Depardieu odlar vin. Fullständigt.

Castro är skrämmande encyklopedisk i allt han talar om, från personliga minnen till filosofi, kultur, skönlitteratur, politik, historia, allt som tänkas kan. Jag hoppas att historien verkligen gör honom rättvisa en dag, och att han omnämns som exempel på en ny slags människa. Arbetsam, fullständigt dedikerad och orädd, upplyst på ett sätt renässansmännen bara kunde drömma om, moralisk och klarsynt.

Ett berömmande ord också till intervjuaren som är kunnig, påläst, och ibland faktiskt tränger in Castro i ett hörn så han måste slingra sig. Även en stor eloge till översättaren Andrew Hurley som med fotnoter och inflikningar i den löpande texten underlättar förståelsen på ett sätt som vittnar om enorm sakkunskap och skicklighet i sitt yrke.

Ramonet:

He slept about four hours a night, and sometimes one or two more during the day, when he had a chance. His workday, all seven days a week, usually ends at five or six in the morning, as the sun is rising. More than once he interrupted our conversation at two or three in the morning, because, weary but smiling, he still had to attend an ‘important meeting.’

Castros mor var kuban, från västra delen av ön. Fadern var spanjor (galicier) (obs parallell till Martí, vars bägge föräldrar var spanjorer), som skickades för att bekämpa frihetskrigarna (som ”vann” delvis pga oönskad hjälp från USA) och återvände till det självständiga Kuba och började arbeta som en knegare åt (!) United Fruit i Oriente. Hade fallenhet för att organisera (ärftligt?) och slutade upp med en hel del mark på sina händer. Castro växte således upp som ett rikemansbarn, med misär och armod runtom sig. De flesta (inklusive hans föräldrar) i området var analfabeter, och Castro berättar att en av de skeenden som formade honom (liksom för övrigt många framstående röster från den generationer; inte minst Noam Chomsky) var det spanska inbördeskriget.Det var där fascisterna visade sitt sanna jag, men ”Västvärlden” var alltför upptagen med att hylla dem och göra affärer med dem, istället för att kväva fascismen i sin linda, och därmed troligtvis hindra andra världskriget och allt den gav upphov till, inte minst rötterna till dagens fascism. Den knappt tioåriga Castro lärde om kriget när han ombads av byns kock att läsa högt från tidningarna åt honom. (Visar för övrigt att det inte behövs en akademisk titel och massor av läsning för att vara engagerad i världshändelser – alla ni som idag inte orkar bry er.)

No doubt what has had the greatest influence is that where I was born, I lived with people of the most humble origins. I remember the illiterate unemployed men who would stand in line near the cane fields, with nobody to bring them a drop of water, or brakfast, or lunch, or give them shelter, or transport. And I can’t forget those children going barefoot.

Castro börjar grundskolan här men skickas till en slags internatundervisning i Santiago [de Cuba]  för senare årskurser. Där hamnade han i slagsmål med en av eleverna, som råkade vara lillebror till vice-rektorn, varpå Castro blir indragen i ett pennalistiskt drama som slutar med att han kastar skolmat i ansiktet på vice-rektorn och ”hoppar på honom som en tiger”. När föräldrarna till de tre bröderna kommer för att hämta dem till julledigheten, får de höra av rektorn att deras barn är ”de tre största banditer som någonsin gått på skolan”.

Detta är trettiotal, Kuba styrs av den hänsynslöse Machado och i bakgrunden försöker USA mjölka ur sina kolonier pengar för att täcka sin egen finanskris, där en tredjedel av arbetsstyrkan förlorar jobb och hela samhällen utplånas. Massvälten blev det som enligt Castro blev slutet för Machado och möjliggjorde att Fulgencio Batista kunde ta makten i en militärkupp. Batista själv en mörkfärgad kuban utestängd från de fina kretsarna, som många diktatorer duktig på att konspirera, vann mer och mer makt i armén och styrde i princip landet som president mellan 1934 och 1940. Ännu senare kom Castro så till en jesuitskola, som, i hans egna ord, trots att den diskriminerade mot svarta och var en skola för unga ur ‘haute bourgeoisie‘ (storborgerligheten; bank- och finansvalpar), uppmuntrade till framåtanda och arbetsvillighet. Castro säger om sig själv som student:

I’ll tell you – I never paid any attention in class… I would study from the books… [w]hen everybody else would go off to sleep, instead of turning out the lights and leaving I’d stay there reading until two or three o’clock in the morning, and then go off to bed. So mathematics and everything else, I learned on my own.

Annat kort: tre månaders sängliggande efter postoperativ infektion efter appendektomi. Skriver brev till Roosevelt och får ett ”svar” (förstås skrivet av någon pr-människa) som sätts upp på skolans anslagstavla och gör honom populär. Brevet är för roligt för att undvaras:

And there are people who’ve told me that if Rooselvelt had only sent me $10 I wouldn’t have given the United States so many headaches!

När han började universitetet var han en ‘political illiterate’:

At the university, which I arrived at with only a spirit of rebelliousness and some elementary ideas about justice, I became a revolutionary, I became a Marxist-Leninist, and I acquired sentiments and values which I still hold today and for which I have struggled throughout my life. […] Marxism taught me what society was. I was like a blindfolded man in a forest, who doesn’t even know where north or south is. If you don’t eventually come to truly understand the history of the class struggle, or at least have a clear idea that society is divided between the rich and the poor, and that some people subjugate and exploit other people, you’re lost in a forest, not knowing anything. […] I had a compass; it was what I’d found in Marx and in Lenin. And the ethics – I repeat – that I have found in Martí.

[Om studievanorna:]

I was a dreadful, terrible example as a student, because I never went to classes. In high school, as I told you, I never attended a lesson. Since I had to be in the classroom – I was a boarding student, after all – I’d just letmy imagination fly [during the lesson period] and study at the end of the term, just before the exams. At the university I never went to class, either. What I’d do was talk to other students in the park… with the guys, and especially with the girls, because they paid a little more attention to me, they were better educated.

På universitetet röstas han fram som klassrepresentant, och lyckas hamna i konflikt med maffians kandidat till ”studentfederationen”, varpå han fick börja gå runt med pistol. Hans internationella medvetenhet utvecklades, bl.a. genom hans del i olika studentkommittéer och säkert ännu mer av hans delaktighet i många historiska skeenden i grannländerna, t.ex. mördandet av den populäre colombianske ledaren Gaitán och gatuupproren som följde. Precis som Che gjorde han sin Latinamerika-resa.

Vidare, om Batista:

Then, Batista himself, under a certain amount of pressure, folded – he’d been elected president after the constitution was approved, in 1940. At that time he was pretty progressive in some respects, because of the influence of the Communists, who at that time were allied with him in a popular front.

Munich was the place where the attempt took place by France and England – the two great colonial powers, the biggest in the world – to push Hitler into attacking the USSR. I don’t think, however, that those imperialist plans should have ever justified the pact between Hitler and Stalin. It was hard, very hard. All the Communist parties, which were characterized by their discipline, were forced to defend the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and to bleed themselves to death politically.

[Ur fotnoterna:] On 29 and 30 September 1938, in Munich, Germany, representatives of France (Daladier), Great Britain (Chamberlain), Italy (Mussolini) and Germany (Hitler) signed a series of accords whose practical effect was the democracies’ capitulation of the expansionist designs of the Fascist powers. For fear of a war, which was nonetheless inevitable, London and Paris allowed Hitler to annex the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia, and this encouraged the Third Reich in its expansionist agenda. This action also led the USSR to seek an agreement with Germany. [Smått otroligt. Varför pratar man om den Sovjetiska invasionen men inte denna utförsäljning?]

Som ett svar på Batistas statskupp 1952 planerades och genomfördes attacken på Moncada-barracken 26:e juli 1953 (och den betydligt mindre kända Bayamo-attacken som hände samtidigt):

That movement began not with the intention of carrying out a revolution all by ourselves, but rather on the basis of another premise: everyone would fight to return to the situation prior to 10 March… to the constitutional and political situation destroyed by the coup. […] The Moncada barracks could have been taken, and if we’d taken Moncada we’d have toppled Batista, without question… I would do it exactly the same way; I wouldn’t change a thing. What failed there was that we lacked sufficient combat experience. Later, we picked it up…

Fem rebeller dödades i strid, och ytterligare 56 (!) mördades efteråt. Castro överlevde genom att officeren som arresterade honom var sympatisk till rörelsen; denne sägs ha sagt till soldaterna ‘Don’t shoot. You can’t kill ideas.‘ och därefter tagit Castro till ett civilt fängelse, istället för tillbaka till den anfallna baracken, där Castro själv menar att han skulle bli styckad i bitar.

1868 gjorde den rike kubanske advokaten Carlos Manuel de Céspedes som John Brown i USA: han befriade sina slavar och gjorde väpnat uppror (stupade sedermera i Sierra Maestra). Castro benämner detta startskottet på frihetskriget, och således i sin tur även på på den kubanska revolutionen. Efter slavuppror på Haiti blev Kuba även världsbäst på kaffeexport. Orkaner förstörde kaffeodlingarna och bönderna gick alltmer över till sockerplantager (betydligt mer resistent mot väder och vind). (1808 hade Napoleon utsett sin bror till Spaniens kung, varvid det spanska kolonialväldet försvagades och många uppror blossade upp. Jämför med befrielserörelsernas uppblomning i Indokina under Vichy-regimen.)

Castro höjer sin förebild José Martí till skyarna poet, filosof, tänkare, organisatör och framför allt otrolig ledare som lyckades, trots sin privilegierade bakgrund, ena ffa generaler och krigsveteraner för ett enat Kuba utan spanskt styre. Det som är mycket intressant är att Ramonet väcker frågan om Marx inflytande på Martís antikoloniala politik. Castro är själv tveksam; berättar att Marx då han började formulera sina teorier såg USA:s invasion av Mexiko 1845 som något positivt; industrialisering av kolonin skulle påskynda det kapitalistiska samhällets inre konflikter. Han menar på att den moderna antikoloniala komponenten i socialism formulerades av Lenin.

Generalstrejken i april 1958 (som organisationerna inne i städerna organiserade) blev ett misslyckande, då tiden inte var mogen. Enligt Castro uppmuntrade det fienden och ledde till deras slutoffensiv, då 10 000 soldater anföll Sierra Maestra i en strid som varade över två månader och slutligen ledde till intågen i Santa Clara, Santiago och Havana.

Terrorattackerna mot Kuba efter revolutionen:

  • On 4 March 1960, at a dock in Havana, they blew up a French ship, the La Coubre, and more than 100 people were killed, among them six French sailors, and hundreds of Cubans were wounded.
  • The most disgusting thing was the hijacking and downing of a Cuban Airlines flight in October 1976, a plane full of passengers, killing seventy-three people…
  • In 1971, under Nixon, the swine fever was introduced into Cuba in a container, according to a CIA source. And we had to sacrifice more than half a million hogs. That virus, which originated in Africa, was totally unknown on the island until then. And they introduced it twice. And there were worse things than that: the dengue II virus, which often produces potentially fatal haemorrhagic fevers in the human being. That was in 1981, and more than 350,000 people were infected, 158 people died, 101 of them children… The virus serotype as completely unknown at the time anywhere in the world; it had been created in a laboratory.
  • [Posada Carriles – ansvarig för Cuban Airlines ’76, terrordåd i Nicaragua, m.m. som arresterades i sin exil i USA pga det nyss återuppståndna kriget mot terrorismen (version GWB, v 0,2), men som frikändes 2011 – och som år efter år vägrats lämnas ut till Kuba eller Venezuela (där han är medborgare). Orlando Bosch – medansvarig för Cuban Airlines, mördade Orlando Letelier (chilensk statsman i exil i Washington efter kuppen ’73) i Washington utan rättsliga påföljder, m.m. Bägge hyllade som hjältar i Miami.]
  • Grisbukten (Playa Girón):
    • A few miles out from the coast, on American warships – among them an aircraft carrier, the USS Essex – Marines were standing ready to disembark with naval and air support as soon as the ‘provisional government’ called on them.
    • They chose an isolated location, Playa Girón, which is separated by a large swamp from the rest of the area. It was [a place] very hard for us to counter-attack because we’d have to travel by the only two highways that entered the area around the bay, through six or seven miles of otherwise impenetrable swampland. They would have turned both those hightways into a sort of gates of Thermopylae [där 300 spartaner försvarade sig mot överväldigande mycket större persiska styrkor]. But within about sixty hours – between dawn of the 17th and 6 p.m. on the 19th – we defeated them, after a terrible battle in which we lost more than 150 men and had hundreds of wounded. The battle was fought within sight of the American ships offshore. We took about 1,200 mercenaries prisoner, allmost all the enemy forces who had been in the battle, the exceptions being, of course, the dead.
    • Who were those mercenaries? Some of them were war criminals who had fled to the United States, because the officers and principal commanders were almost all former officers in Batista’s army, and among the invaders there were many who were the sons of large landowners and wealthy families. There you clearly see the class nature of the invasion.
    • What’s incredible is that the lawyer who negotiated with me, the CIA tried to use him to bring me a wetsuit, for diving, that was impregnated with enough mould spores and bacteria to kill me. The lawyer who was negotiating the liberation of the Playa Girón prisoners!
    • …Kennedy really inherited the plan from Eisenhower and his vice president Richard Nixon. The invasion was a fait accompli [accomplished fact]; plans existed for destroying the Revolution despite the fact that at that point the Revolution wasn’t even officially Socialist.
    • Kennedy proposed, after the defeat at Girón, an ‘Alliance for Progress’, plus the Peace Corps, a very astute strategy for putting the brakes on revolution. He proposed a plan to inject $20 billion into the region over a period of ten years, and this money was to go towards a programme of agrarian reform – agrarian reform! The administration that had never wanted to hear the phrase ‘agrarian reform’, that had considered it a ‘Communist’ idea, was now suggesting that there was a need for agrarian reform in Latin America. And they also proposed many other initiatives: housing construction, fiscal reforms, educational programmes, health programmes – almost exactly the same things we were doing.
  • ‘Kuba-krisen’:
    • …Kennedy, a guy with a great deal of talent, really, had the misfortune to inherit that expedition against us, the Playa Girón invasion – he inherited it and he let it take place. He was brave in defeat, because he assumed all the responsibility for it, he put it this way: ‘Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.’
    • The world was on the verge of a thermonuclear war as a consequence of the United States’ aggressive, brutal policy against Cuba – a plan, approved about ten months after the disastrous defeat they suffered in Girón and about eight months before the crisis broke out, to invade the island with the direct use of that country’s naval, air and land forces. The Soviets managed to obtain absolutely trustworthy information about that plan, and they notified Cuba of the existence of the danger, although they weren’t totally explicit – the truth is, they protected their source. They said they’d come to that conviction after the meeting between Khrushchev and Kennedy in Vienna. The details of the plan were learned some twenty years later, then the documents related to the subject were declassified and published by the US government.
    • [En sovjetisk agent läckte missilernas koordinater 16:e oktober. Sex dagar senare började den diplomatiska krisen. Castro skyller krisen på Khrushchevs vacklande ledarskap.] …while surface-to-air missile batteries were located all over the island, there’d been no attempt to prevent the adversary from spotting the Soviet-Cuban defence positions [with] spy planes… gave the adversary, for free, an extraordinary advantage. It gave them an entire week to organize their plan of response, both politically and militarily.
    • On 20 October, on the advice this time of Robert McNamara, his Secretary of State, Kennedy decided to impose a naval blockade on the island with 183 warships, among which were eight aircraft carriers, and 40,000 Marines on transport ships… But the American people, and people around the world, still didn’t know what was happening.
    • [Kennedy framträder i TV. Kubanska militären och miliser mobiliseras. Adlai Stevenson bemöter sovjetiske ambassadören Zorin i FN med bevisen; denne är oförberedd/saknar direktiv och påstår att bilderna är förfalskade.] He [Zorin] made the mistake of rejecting the real debate, which should have been over the sovereignty of Cuba…
    • On 27 October, in Oriente province, a battery of SAM missiles operated by the Soviets fired on and brought down a U-2 spy plane. It was at that pont that the moment of maximum tension occurred… the Soviets sent a proposal to the United States. And Khrushchev didn’t consult with us about it. They proposed to withdraw the missiles if the Americans would withdraw their Jupiter missiles from Turkey. [Kennedy accepterade ”kompromissen”, men kubanerna var missnöjda eftersom de hade kunnat vinna mycket mer i en förhandling – t.ex. stängning av basen i Guantánamo. Sovjet gick t.o.m. med på att amerikanerna skulle övervaka bortforslingen av missilerna – när Kuba vägrade ställde det Sovjet i ett ännu sämre läge; men man kom överens om inspektioner en route; d.v.s. till havs.] Our relations with the Soviets deteroriated. For years, all this had an influence on Cuban-Soviet relations.
    • [Castro och andra kubanska ledare uppmanade Sovjet att använda kärnvapnen om amerikanerna invaderade med marktrupper. Ur brev:] I did suggest to you, Comrade Khrushchev, that the USSR attack in the midst of the crisis, as it seems from your letter you think, but rather that after the imperialist attack, the USSR act without hesitation and never commit the error of allowing the enemy to strike you first with nuclear weapons. And in that sense, Comrade Khrushchev, I maintain my point of view, because I believe it to have been a fair, realistic assessment of the situation at the time [Castro uppger att många var inställda på en invasion och ett fruktansvärt påföljande krig.]. You can convince me that I’m wrong, but you cannot tell me that I’m wrong without first convincing me…
    • The problem wasn’t the legality of the agreement [Cuba-Soviet] – everything was absolutely legal – but rather Khrushchev’s mistaken political handling of the situation, when, even though both Cuba and the USSR had the legitimate right, he started spinning theories about offensive and non-offensive weapons [Khrushchev uppgav till Kennedy att missilerna var ”strategiska”, inte ”offensiva” – vad nu det innebär.] In a political battle, you can’t afford to lose the high moral ground by employing ruses and lies and half-truths.
    • [Om Kennedy.] …he didn’t take advantage of the October crisis to intervene against us as many generals and many of our enemies were advising him to do. That may be who was behind the conspiracy to assassinate him. [Castro ifrågasätter misstänkliggörandet av Oswald; denne hade tidigare varit gift med en sovjetisk kvinna och försökt att komma in i Kuba – men nekats, och kanske var det väl tur det. C spekulerar i om han kan ha varit dubbelagent och pekar på det högst suspekta sätt mördaren själv gick sitt öde till mötes.]
  • Internationella insatser:
    • [Kriget mellan det nyligen självständiga Algeriet och Marocko, stött av USA. Kuba skickar en bataljon med tanks, m.m.]
    • [Guinea-Bissau.] …a fierce struggle for independence had been going on there since 1956. It was led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) under its brave and heroic leader Amílcar Cabral. Finally, in September [24; vinti-quatro!] 1974, Guinea-Bissau gained its independence. At that time, about 600 Cuban internationalists, among them about seventy doctors, had been with the guerillas for some years, since 1966…
    • [Mozambique] under the direction of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and its leader, the unforgettable brother and compañero Samora Machel, also achieved its final independence. But Mozambique, even after independence, was invaded every so often by South African troops, as was Zimbabwe, which had been liberated under the command of Robert Mugabe, an intelligent, tenacious, firm leader… The last of the Portuguese colonies to win its independence was East Timor… in 1999. [Glöm inte Cape Verde och São Tomé i den räkningen!]
    • Che managed to meet all the great African patriots: Kwameh Nkrumah in Accra, Sékou Touré in Conakry, Modibo Keita in Bamako, and Massamba Débat in Brazzaville. In Algiers he had also had long conversations with the leaders of the liberation movements in the countries that were still under Portuguese colonialism: Agostinho Neto and Lucio Lara of Angola, Amílcar Cabral, the great revolutionary leader in Guinea-Bissau, and leaders of the Mozambique FRELIMO.
    • …Mobutu, the corrupt dictator of Zaire, the former Belgian Congo. This Mobutu was one of the biggest thieves that’s ever lived – no one knows where the $40 billion he stole is now…
    • [Kampen för Angolas självständighet, mot USA-finansierade apartheidregimen i Sydafrika. Nytt för mig var att Sydafrika hade tillgång till kärnvapen (!); åtta atombomber enligt Castro; ‘…through that great supporter, that eternal supporter of the blockade, Israel’. Kuba skickade hela 36 000 soldater till Angola. På frågan om de räknade med Sovjets stöd svarar Castro:] Listen – in Angola, when we decided to launch Operation Carlota, at no time did we count on any sort of eventual Soviet ‘protection’. To tell you the truth, after its military victory, Cuba was in favour [sic; Am Eng.] of demanding that South Africa pay a heavy price for its adventure, including the independence of Namibia. But the Soviet government put heavy pressure on us, because they were worried about possible Yankee reactions. [Men Castro betonar att Sovjet spelade en viktig roll politiskt och logistiskt i att säkerställa segerns varaktighet.]
    • [Angola ber om militär hjälp mot den andra sydafrikanska offensiven, 1987. I själva verket en motoffensiv som svar på Angolas försök att slå ut UNITA:s baser nära sydafrikanska gränsen. I överenskommelse med presidenten dos Santos tar kubaner över befälet över samtliga trupper (!). Jag vet inte om det finns en motsvarighet i världshistorien till detta?] A defeat there would have endangered the whole Revolution, all those years that we’d been waging battles for our own existence… So there was a very great deal at stake, much more than some people could imagine. Second: decide wars without big, costly battles, just as we’d done in the Sierra Maestra… That time, 55,000 Cuban soldiers had been sent to Angola… culminated in the Peace Accords for Southwestern Africa, signed by South Africa, Angola and Cuba at the UN headquarters in December 1988, and that led to our withdrawal from Angola – the same as before, in three years, very methodical, organized, down to the last man, within the timetable we’d all agreed on.
  • Flyktingfrågan [Ett mått på hur vinklad hela debatten är: kubanska emigranter kallas alltidför flyktingar (refugees).]:
    • But when the October crisis came, [the US] cut off all flights, the possibility of travelling, and that’s when all the problems of separation of families began to occur, and the illegal departures, with the danger and the accidents [associated with that]…So we said, ‘There’s no reason for those people to run the risks; come get them,’ and we set up a little port, Camarioca, near Varadero. As many as 1,000 boats came down here, because the people in Florida trusted us completely when we said, ‘You can come, and they can leave.’ That time, through Camarioca, because of a migration agreement, some 300,000 Cubans left, freely and safely.
    • …we overcame a considerable exodus of specialists, technical personnel and skilled workers looking for salaries and material possibilities at least twenty times what a blockaded country could pay.
    • [Cuban Adjustment Act: oavsett hur kubaner tar sig till USA; så fort de sätter fot på amerikansk mark har de rätt till asyl. Jämför med hur mexikaner behandlas! För övrigt innebär det att amerikanska sjöpatruller har rätt att avvisa båtar till havs – lagen träder i kraft vid ‘dry feet’.]
    • [Embargot: lättades något då orkanen Michelle drabbade Kuba 2001 och amerikanska kongressen undantog mat och mediciner från blockaden. (Endast) [A]merikanska medborgare med kubanskt påbrå har rätt att besöka Kuba, en gång vart tredje år.]
    • [I april 2003 var det oroligt på riktigt. Kriget mot Irak hade nyss trappats upp (jag skriver inte påbörjats) och det pratades om att GWB-administrationen ville ta itu med Kuba-problemet under det då slagkraftiga anti-terror-baneret. Under den månaden inträffade tre kapningar (båt, passagerarflygplan och ?), som den kubanska regeringen svarade hårt mot, bl.a. genom att avrättade de tre båt-kaparna.]
  • Globala frågor:
    • There’s no capitalism today, there’s no competition.
    • Marx made just one slight attempt, in the Critique of the Gotha Programme, to try define what Socialism would be like, because he was a man of too much wisdom, too much intelligence, too great a sense of realism to think that one could write a utopia of what Socialism would be like.

Till Ramonets heder vågar han ställa de tuffa frågorna. Till Castros stora heder bemöter han oftast dem rakt på, även om han ibland helt enkelt pratar omkull intervjuaren med en störtflod av historia. Några exempel (som intressant nog brukar utgöra kritiken mot Kubas ”diktatur”):

  • Avrättningarna efter revolutionen:

I think the error may have been in the manner, shall we say, that those trials were conducted, using public places and allowing proceedings to be attended by a great number of our countrymen who were justly outraged by the thousands of crimes that had been committed. That might be in conflict, and in fact was in conflict, with our own ideas of justice. And it was very much exploited by the United States… We were still very much influenced by the Nuremberg trials, which had taken place just some twelve years earlier, at the end of the Second World War.

  • Inga svarta på ledande regeringsposter idag – Castro ger inget bra svar utan tillskriver detta det faktum att färre andel svarta har varit universitetsbildade historiskt, för att sedan beskriva åtgärderna de vidtagit för ”positiv särbehandling” som det verkar heta idag.
  • Varela-projektet, och hanterandet av initiativtagaren Payá. Här trasslar Castro till det (inte konstigt att det händer i en bok på 700-sidor, men jag reagerar på att det är så onödigt). Han ger sig in i en klagan om hur mycket diverse amerikanska byråer lägger sig i Kubas interna angelägenheter – det vet vi redan, bara genom de många exempel han själv har gett tidigare. Han tappar tråden och börjar prata om intellektuellas roll och dissidenters roll och är därmed på riktigt hal is och sårbar för ”diktator”-kritik. Istället för att bara konstatera att Varela-initiativet blev hanterat korrekt, och förslaget förkastades av landets lagförfattande organ. Och peka ut att denne Payá var supporter till kuppförsöket i Venezuela 2002.
  • De fängslade 223 ”dissidenterna” (oklart hur detta definierats): Castro gör poängen att med tanke på alla som arresterats pga subversiva handlingar (t.ex. efter Grisbukten, då 15 000 var fängslade), bör de resa ett monument tillägnat Revolutionen om endast 223 kvarstår i fängelse. Majoriteten har enligt honom blivit släppta, och funnit ett nytt hem i USA. ”Dissidenterna” har sponsrats mer eller mindre öppet genom ‘Interests Office in Cuba’:s man James Cason – medarbetare till ökände Otto Reich (som var en viktig propagandamakare för contras i Nicaragua) som organiserat möten hemma hos dissidenterna . Ramonet driver denna fråga bra, han säger att många förvånas över de långa fängelsestraffen som står i kontrast mot Kubas påstådda beredvillighet att ta den ideologiska diskussionen. Då slingrar Castro sig och börjar prata om poeten Valladares, som också satt i fängelse och fick internationell uppmärksamhet när han påstods ha hamnat i rullstol pga misshandel i fängelset. En smygfilmning med dold kamera visade att han var betydligt rörligare än han påstod… För övrigt är han med i Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, en organisation som har GW Bush som hedersordförande. Även om detta inte är svar på Ramonets fråga indikerar det vad för slags folk de har haft emot sig, och vilka jättelika pr-apparater de förfogar över.

Blandade citat:

  • Che wouldn’t have come out of that war alive if some control hadn’t been put on his daring and his tendency towards foolhardiness.
  • [Om skäggen; los barbudos.] …in order for a spy to infiltrate us, he had to start preparing months ahead of time – he’d have had to have a six-months’ growth of beard, you see… Besides that, a beard has a practical advantage… if you don’t shave you gain about ten days [each year] that you can devote to work, to reading, to sport, to whatever you like.
  • [Om For Whom the Bell Tolls] …was useful to us – knowing how the Republican guerrilla fighters behind the Franco forces managed to get their hands on the army’s weapons. That book helped me conceive our own irregular war… And it talks about life in the rear; it tells us about the existence of a guerrilla force, and how that guerrilla force may act in a territory that’s supposedly controlled by the enemy. I’m referring to the very precise descriptions of war written by Hemingway in that novel.
  • Well, for instance, Operation Peter Pan, the kidnapping, practically, of 14,000 of this country’s children, after our adversaries invented the appalling lie that the Revolution was going to take children away from their parents, take away the parents’ custody. Under that pretext, or due to that unfounded and absurd fear, 14,000 of this country’s children were clandestinely sent to the United States, and several Catholic priests who were opposed to the Revolution took part in that kidnapping, as did Catholic priests in Miami.
  • [Om kaoset i början av maktperioden: kasinoarbetare demonstrerade på gatorna efter att man stängt deras arbetsplatser, en compañero som på eget (!) bevåg nationaliserar ett amerikanskt nickeltillverkande företag, m.m.] Without a word to God or the devil, because there was a good dose of anarchy in those days – don’t think it was easy… Our inexperience cost us dearly. There were [also] errors on our part that made it easy for the United States to freeze several million dollars belonging to the Cuban government that we hadn’t taken out of American banks.
  • In Nicaragua, an army was created to defend the country from outside aggression, aggression by the imperialist forces, but imperialism launched an internal war, and an internal war can’t be fought, as I say, with regular soldiers… The highest price of a dirty war may have been paid by the Sandinistas because they instituted compulsory military service, which is something we never did to fight our dirty war.
  • …out of the 6,000 doctors we had had before 1959, 3,000 of them had been lured away by the United States in the first few years. It took us at least twenty years to be able to admit even 6,000 students to study medicine and get to the number of 70,000 we have now, almost all with one or two specialities. From the one school of medicine that existed at the time, we’ve increased to twenty-one, almost all in the ten years prior to the special period [Sovjetunionens och därmed Kubas viktigaste handelspartners, totala kollaps]. [Kuba erbjöd USA hjälp i september 2005; Katrina.] Yes, we offered 1,610 doctors, and before a second hurricane came, even more. [Idag har man 30,000 läkare utomlands.]
  • …the Soviets didn’t give us one penny for the Revolution, or one rifle. In January 1959 I didn’t know a single Soviet, or the leaders.
  • The Vietnamese, after their victory against the United States in 1975, sent us a lot of American weapons they had recovered after the fall of Saigon. And we in turn sent them by ship around the southern tip of Africa and then sent some of them to the Salvadorans in the FMLN, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front.
  • [Om Ches försök att sprida revolutionen globalt.] At that moment, Che was right. At that moment, the struggle could have been spread, I honestly believe. [Insinuerandes, att den inte kan det idag.] From Africa, he went to Czechoslovakia, to Prague, in March 1966 – a complicated situation… since he was so proud, it never occurred to him, after he’d said goodbye, to come back to Cuba… I tried to persuade him to come back; I told him it was best for what he wanted to do…
  • [Om Ches sista operation, Bolivia.] This group, had it reached that area [ett område kontrollerat av gerillan], would still have been all right, but Che himself tells in his diary that he reached a little store, and he says, ‘We are preceded by Radio Bemba, everyone is waiting for us.’ But still he went on. Around noon he reached a village, and it was empty. An empty village is a sign that something’s wrong, the possible presence of troops, but he still continued his march, in broad daylight. [Om eldstriden.] …Che had some injured men and a few compañeros in condition to fight, and that was when they came into some very, very difficult terrain, El Yuro creek, where they fought and resisted until the point at which his rifle was hit by a bullet and jammed.
  • I sent him [Régis Debray] to gather information and maps of the territory, that territory. Che hadn’t gone yet.
  • [På frågan ‘Was Che a bit too rigid?’] The thing about Che was his super-honesty, his super-integrity. He was super-honest, super-upright, and the word ‘diplomacy’, I won’t try to mislead you, the word ‘shrewdness’, probably disgusted him.
  • [Om att Sovjet inte utvecklade datorsystem, trots sin industriella och forskningsmässiga kapacitet.] There’s no justification for that; it’s a lack of vision. It’s shocking, sobering, while the Yankees, on the other hand, developed computers as fast as they could. In some things the Soviets were mediocre. Not in research, however; the problem lay in the application of their research. They had more research… they’d gone into space first, and you don’t go into space without computers.
  • [Om personkult.] Here, from the very first days of the Revolution, a law was passed that forbade giving streets, or public buildings, or bridges or whatever, or statues, living leaders’ names. Here, there are no official portraits hanging in public offices; we’ve always been very much against the cult of personality.
  • [Arnaldo Ochoa, general och en av huvudmännen bakom försvaret av Angola, avrättades 1989 efter samröre med Latinamerikanska knarksmugglare, däribland Pablo Escobar, i förhandling om att tillåta smugglarna att beträda kubanskt vatten i utbyte mot pengar. Han var alltså inte ute efter personlig vinning eller politisk makt, men dömdes ändå för landsförräderi. Om dödsstraffet.] Here we have the death penalty, but we don’t have extra-judicial executions. Just to point out appearances and the differences, and where the truth might lie and where there might be demagoguery or hypocrisy.
  • …NAFTA and other free-trade agreements between the sharks and the sardines…
  • In my opinion, Carter was as honest as one could be while holding the position of president of the United States. We must remember, too, that he inherited the legacy of the Vietnam War, which had eaten up almost all the [country’s] money, $500 billion dollars – gold reserves had dropped from $30 billion dollars in troy ounces to $10 billion, when gold was at $35 a troy ounce. That had led Nixon to suspend the gold standard for US currency in 1971, thereby unilaterally violating the Bretton Woods accords and beginning the policy of free issuance of dollars without gold to back it up.
  • [‘Varela initiative’, där dryga 11 000 underskrifter för lagändringar, som syftade till att öka privat äganderätt, amnesti för politiska flyktingar, m.m., insamlades och lämnades in till kubanska ”rådgivande församlingen” (onödigt att säga, men ivrigt påhejade av Miami och deras sändebud). Som väntat, röstades förslaget ned. I samma veva, och som svar på ett tal av Bush den mindre i Miami – där han uppmanade Kuba att överge revolutionens socialistiska natur, som är inskriven i konstitutionen – anordnade regeringen en ”motdemonstration” där man fick 8 miljoner kubaner att underteckna att revolutionens socialistiska natur är oåterkallelig. Castro jämför de bägge manifestationerna och börjar i sammanhanget prata om valet 2000.] Those who went from here to Miami, in 1959 to 1961, had been world champions in electoral fraud back here in the time of Batista; they introduced things [into the US] that they hadn’t even had in the United States, such as getting the dead to vote… And that’s the way Bush won the election.
  • [Om Señor Aznar (Spaniens fd premiärminister, som Castro kallat för ”en liten führer” i samma veva som han kallade Italiens pm för ‘Burlesconi’).] …he thought he could exploit the horrendous terrorist attack in Madrid on March 2004, at the Atocha station. But that idea backfired on him, and his party lost the elections. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero won, and he pulled the Spanish troops out of Iraq – we were glad about that.
  • Mussolini entered the war after the Germans defeated the French; [after they’d] successfully invaded France and expelled the English, Mussolini declared war, but Mussolini thought he could count on the Roman legions. He’d forgotten that in the end, the Roman legions were made up of barbarians, and that the Rome of olden days, of the age of Julius Caesar, no longer existed. The Italians were a peaceable people, with another culture, another mindset; they no longer had those militaristic traditions that the Romans always had – [whereas] the Germans had maintained them – so Italy entered the war and you know what happened: defeat after defeat. In Ethiopia they were crushed, in Libya they were crushed, in El-Alamein they were crushed – the Italians turned out to be a hindrance to the Germans in the war, and they had to send Rommel to North Africa. Rommel became famous, he didn’t have a reputation for being repressive; he was, apparently, a gentlemanly sort of general. But anyway, there’s Hitler at the peak of his power, and in October 1940 he met Franco in Hendaya [sic; Hendaye – Frankrikes sydligaste del] and he couldn’t persuade him [to enter the war]. Franco was shrewd… Later, the Americans, following their tradition of ‘profound convictions’ that had led them to join the war, became allies with Franco, who from 1953 on was protected by the United States.
  • The Scandinavians, the so-called Left, the Social-Democratic Party is not the party of Olaf Palme any more – he was an excellent man, a good friend, with a sincere concern for the problems of the Third World, which is not the case today, far from it. They’ve all started moving towards the right, almost as far as Señor Blair… He had been talking about child labour and I said to him, ‘Listen, I saw that you were talking about child labour throughout the world, but I understand that in England there are 2 million children who are working.’ I said it very calmly. I think he thought it was a piece of insolence from a nobody, a nit, a Third World know-nothing, but I was speaking the truth. [På ett annat ställe.] …another leader I knew well and also consider to have been a responsible, honest, capable statesman was Swedish prime minister Olof Palme. I had deep admiration and respect for him, and his death, his assassination under strange circumstances, was a terrible loss.
  • According to some scholars, Karl Marx liked Balzac’s realistic style. He admired Balzac immensely, as he also admired – one should emphasize – Cervantes and Quixote. Apparently Marx intended to write a critical study on La Comédie humaine after he finished his works on economics and politics. [Castro själv nämner Don Quixote och Les Misérables som de skönlitterära verk som påverkat honom mest. Samtliga tre tillagda på listan för 2013.] I’m almost nostalgic for those years in prison, because that’s the time in my life when I had the most time to read. I read constantly, fifteen hours a day. [Suck…]
  • I was very conscious of the difference between Allende’s circumstances on 11 September 1973 and Chévez’ situation on 12 April 2022. Allende didn’t have [the support of] a single soldier. Chávez hade most of the soldiers and officers in the army [behind him], especially the younger ones.
  • Perón made some mistakes: he offended the Argentine oligarchy, humiliated it – he nationalized its theatre and other symbols of the wealthy class – but the oligarchy’s political and economic power remained intact, and at the right moment it brought Perón down, with the complicity and aid of the United States.
  • Only four countries voted against the [UN] resolution condemning the blockade: the United States, of course; Israel, its unconditional ally; and two of the tiny island states in the Pacific…
  • If we’d won on that 26 July 1953, we wouldn’t be here today. The alignment of forces in the world in 1953 was such that we wouldn’t have been able to withstand them. Stalin had just died – he died in March of 1953 – and the troika that succeeded him would never have given Cuba the support that Khrushchev did, let’s say, seven years later, when the Soviet Union didn’t, perhaps, equal the United States but did at least have great economic and military power.
  • In Afghanistan, in 1979, Amin, who was the prime minister, led a secret group that was conspiring against the president, Muhammad Taraki, as a matter of fact while Taraki was in Havana, and within a few days, in July of that year, a palace coup took place that ended with Taraki’s death – he was secretly assassinated [the death attributed to ‘unknown causes’] and Amin took office as president. That assassination, which Brezhnev disapproved of, was what led to the Soviet intervention in December 1979. [Som bekant fick ”oppositionen” i Afghanistan ekonomiskt och militärt bistånd från USA ett halvår innan Sovjet gick in; detta för att provocera igång en invasion.]
  • [Historien om SS-officeren Otto Skorzeny är talande för hyckleriet innan, under och efter Nürnberg-rättegångarna. Denne man ansvarade för fritagningen av den arresterade Mussolini 1943. Under förvaring i samband med rättegångarna flydde han (något han själv tackar USA för, som ska ha understött honom med falska uniformer), var därefter på en World Tour till världens kvarvarande fascistiska länder, inklusive de latinamerikanska, för att 1952 – i sin frånvaro! – av den västtyska regeringen förklaras som denazifierad, vilket innebar att han kunde återvända till Tyskland och bland annat nyttja sjukvården där när han dog av cancer.]
  • [Fotnot.] In 1791, on the island of Hispaniola (in the western, French section called at the time St-Domingue), there were some 100,000 Frenchmen, who among them owned 7,800 sugar-cane plantations and more than 500,000 slaves. On 14 August these slaves, citing the ideals of the French Revolution [otroligt spännande, många kolonier gör detta], began an uprising under the leadership of Toussaint L’Ouverture, the ‘black Spartacus’. The war lasted thirteen years. Napoleon (who was married to Josephine, the daughter of Créole parents from the French island of Martinique) sent an expedition of 43,000 veteran soldiers to put down the rebellion. On 18 November 1803, in the battle of Vertières, the rebels dealt a final defeat to the French. The war took a terrible toll: 150,000 slaves and 70,000 French soldiers dead. On 1 January 1804, in the city of Gonaïves, the French side of the island of Hispaniola was declared free, and the new nation took the old Indian name Haiti.
  • [Fotnot.] Abd el-Krim… leader of the Rif tribes of Morocco… In 1921 he and his guerrilla forces defeated the Spanish colonial forces, and over the next three years he strengthened his position and in 1924 drove the Spanish back to Tétouan. He was eventually defeated by a Franco-Spanish force and deported… The guerilla tactics he employed in fighting the Spanish inspired Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong and Che Guevara…
  • [Fotnot.] In 1974 a rebellion of army officers backed by students, intellectuals and the people brought an end to the reign of Emperor Haile Selassie and with it, the Ethiopian empire. In 1977 Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam assumed power at a time when the country had been invaded by Somalia, which occupied the region of Ogaden, over which it claimed sovereignty. The Soviet Union provided aid to Ethiopia, and Cuba sent an expeditionary force. In 1978 the Cuban and Ethiopian forces, fighting together, won an important victory over the SOmali army, which was forced to withdraw from Ogaden.
  • [Fotnot.] Alpha 66, a paramilitary organization founded in 1961, with a base in Miami containing training camps, carries out commando attacks and is responsible for assassination attempts and other actions in Cuba. Omega 7 is a Miami-based terrorist organization founded in 1974 and made up essentially of veterans of the Playa Girón invasion. It specializes in car bombs and shootings of Cuban government representatives in New York, New Yersey and Florida. [Historien berör också ‘Cuban five’ – de fem säkerhetsagenter som infiltrerade USA 1998 för att kartlägga dessa och liknande grupper. När de delgav FBI en rapport som visade att en Miami-grupp varit inblandad i bombningen av Hotel Copacabana i Havana, där en italiensk turist miste livet, blev agenterna istället arresterade för att Kuba inte hade rapporterat till myndigheterna om deras existens. Efter märkliga rättsliga kullerbyttor (där de först frikändes av en högre instans) sitter fyra av dem i fängelse, en släpptes 2011. FN, Amnesty, en hel rad organisationer och framstående intellektuella propagerar för frisläppandet av dem.]
  • [Fotnot.] In 1921, at the end of the civil war, Russia was in ruins and its population dying of starvation. At that point, Lenin decided to abandon the Communism of the war years and launch the NEP (New Economic Policy [Novaya Ekonomicheskaya Politika]), a partial return to capitalism – a mixed economy – and give priority to agriculture. The results were positive. [När Stalin abrupt övergav programmet 1928 till förmån för en forcerad industrialisering, kollapsade jordbruket, enligt en annan fotnot.]
  • [Fotnot.] On 8 January 1959 Fidel Castro gave his first public speech in Havana… In the middle of his speech, several white doves started fluttering around him. One perched on his shoulder and sat there for several minutes, in a scene that enthralled the people in the audience and the hundreds of thousands who were watching the spectacle on TV. [Se första 30 sek här för video.]

Och avslutningsvis, därför att det inte finns något bättre sätt att sluta än dessa ord från den då 81-årige Fidel Castro:

FC: …But quality of life lies in knowledge, in culture. Values are what constitute true quality of life, the supreme quality of life, even above food, shelter and clothing.

IR: You’re still an incorrigible dreamer.

FC: There’s no such things as dreamers, and you can take that from a dreamer who’s had the privilege of seeing realities that he was never even capable of dreaming.

*****

gung ho = amerikansk slang; extremt entusiastisk [baseras på ett felöversatt kinesiskt uttryck; innebörden har gått från ”arbeta tillsammans” till ”entrepenörsanda”]

disinterested = ojävig; blanda inte ihop med ‘uninterested’

prudence = foresight

autochthonous = indigenous, native

Annonser

~ av bookplanet på september 10, 2012.

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