Miguel A. Faria Jr. is the author of "Medical Warrior" and "Vandals at the Gates of Medicine," and editor in chief of the Medical Sentinel, the journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. His most recent book is "Cuba in Revolution: Escape from a Lost Paradise." All of his books are available through www.haciendapub.com. A retired neurosurgeon, Dr. Faria lives in Macon, Ga.
Part II, which follows here, concludes the interview of Dr. Faria by Mr. Kantor. The questions by Mr. Kantor are in bold, the answers by Dr. Faria in plain text. This extensive interview is an exclusive for NewsMax.com readers.
Old white men are generally perceived as Castro's opponents, but you cite a number of individuals who refute this oversimplification.
Many of these valiant white men you speak of, Myles, have died. Today, the reality is otherwise. Fidel has a new generation of opponents, young people many of whom were born after the triumph of the Revolution. More than 80 percent of Cuban prisoners are citizens of color, black or mulattos.
Foremost among those jailed and tortured is the black Cuban physician Dr. Oscar Elías Biscet, a prisoner of conscience, a living martyr, who is languishing in the horrid Cuba Sí prison in Holguín province. His crime: protesting abortion and human rights violations in Cuba.
There is also the mulatto Vladimiro Roca, the son of Cuban Communist Party founder, the legendary Blas Roca. He was imprisoned near the city of Cienfuegos for writing a manifesto stating that the Cuban fatherland belongs to all of the people. He was released just before Jimmy Carter's visit to Cuba after serving all but 70 days of his prison sentence.
Another political prisoner of color is Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez," who has been jailed 18 years for allegedly spreading enemy propaganda and who has been near death on several occasions because of mistreatment and torture. The last I heard of him, his health had deteriorated as he languished in a dungeon in the central prison of Nieves Morejon, near my native Sancti Spiritus. And there are hundreds of others like them.
Prisoners also include many courageous women dissidents who have been subjected to unspeakable cruelty and tortured in such prisons as Manto Negro (Black Mantle) and Nuevo Amanacer (New Dawn).
Among the women who have suffered imprisonment are: the poetess Maria Elena Cruz Varela (now in exile), Maritza Lugo Fernández (who recently gained her freedom and is also now in exile). There is also the valiant Martha Beatriz Roque, who has been in and out of prison repeatedly because of opposition to the communist (fascist) regime.
Myles, consider that all of these Cuban blacks and women have been persecuted simply for their nonviolent but principled opposition to the regime.
You write, "Of the 52 highest-ranking officials in the Cuban government today, there are only four women, one black Cuban, and two mestizos." Given that people of color are over 60 percent of Cuba's population, you would think individuals like Al Sharpton, Randall Robinson and Jesse Jackson would have something to say about this.
For the likes of me, Myles, I don't understand it. U.S. black "leaders" are putting the interest of a (white) ruthless dictator ahead of the interest of their own people in America or Cuba.
Consider what I wrote in "Cuba in Revolution" as to why Fidel Castro chose the date for the Moncada Barracks attack, July 26, 1953, which would become the most sacred date in the Revolution:
"Fidel Castro chose July 26 because the patron saint of the city of Santiago de Cuba was the Apostle James the Elder, who in medieval Spanish tradition was resurrected as Santiago the Moorslayer, the avenging angel of the Spanish knights during the Reconquista, as well as the charging fury that led the indomitable conquistadores of Hernán Cortes when battling the Aztecs of Mexico. The saint was honored every July 25, which also coincided with the end of the sugar harvest, hence the day of the most joyous celebration in Santiago de Cuba. Fidel Castro, the new Moorslayer, would destroy Batista. Indeed, Fidel had told his Ortodoxo friend, José Pardo Llada, after Batista's bloodless March 10, 1952 coup d'état in which Batista had seized the government, 'We have got to kill that Negro.' "
Almost forgotten is the fact that Batista's army was heavily composed of Cuban blacks, whereas the leadership of the 26th of July movement was all white Spaniard stock, except for Juan Almeida.
Fast-forward to U.S. politics today: As you remember from my chapter "In Bed With Fidel," not only is he supported by such leaders as Al Sharpton, Randall Robinson and Jesse Jackson, but during Castro's 1995 visit to the United Nations during its 50th anniversary celebration, "he was honored at Harlem's Abyssinian Baptist Church. There, he was proudly surrounded by U.S. Representatives Nydia M. Velázquez, D-N.Y., Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., José Serrano, D-N.Y. all members of the extreme left-wing House Progressive Caucus. They are among the 58 U.S. Representatives who belong to this group closely aligned to the Democratic Socialists of America, the U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International, the proud heirs of the first International in which Karl Marx participated over a century ago."
In Harlem, Fidel was cheered and applauded by the roaring crowd yelling, "Fidel, Fidel, Viva Cuba, Viva Cuba!" He was warmly bear-hugged by Rep. Charles Rangel and told by the presiding church minister that he was one of the greatest leaders of the world, and that they joined him in opposing the U.S. "blockade." Then the presiding black clergyman consecrated Fidel: "God bless you," although Fidel is an atheist and Cuba officially is an atheist state where the faithful are persecuted.
Fidel Castro would again be similarly honored during his repeat visit to the United States on Sept. 6-9, 2000.
A standard claim by Castro's apologists is that he has benefited Cubans through free health care and education. You tackle these matters as well.
It is certainly true that in Cuba everyone (i.e., except those branded as counterrevolutionaries) has, at least on paper, access to physicians and health care, although in practice it is a most rudimentary form of medical care. Universal health care (socialized medicine) is not difficult to accomplish in the island because Cuba has an oversupply of physicians (and professors) of all types just another oversight of the central planners.
Yet many of these over-educated citizens prefer to work in the tourism industry, which provides access to dollars, sometimes $200 or $1,000 per month, rather than the 200 or 300 pesos that physicians and academicians make in their respective professions.
Consider, Myles, that today in Cuba, one U.S. dollar is worth approximately 21 Cuban pesos. A good Cuban salary brings in 210 pesos $10.00! per month.
Be that as it may, because of the oversupply of doctors, physicians are sent abroad to export Cuban medicine and socialism. Collectivism and (false) egalitarianism in medicine do not begin to equate to quality (or even meaningful) medical care.
The hard reality is that what Cuban physicians can do for their sick patients remains quite limited and that was the case even before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the massive, overt Soviet economic aid. This aid amounted to $3 billion to $4 billion per year. Even during the mythic "golden years" of Cuban socialism in the mid-1960s and 1970s, as deceivingly proclaimed by Cuban apologists and gullible journalists, lack of medications, supplies, medical appliances and proper medical care were the rule rather than the exception.
The reality is that then and Now, there are chronic shortages of the most basic commodities: food, medicines, clothing and housing. The privations have only worsened over the years.
Much of what doctors are prescribing for their patients in Cuba today, if available at all, is being sent from Miami to those poor souls fortunate enough to have relatives living in the U.S.
As far as education, call it "free education and indoctrination." For decades now, Cuban children have been indoctrinated to serve the collective will of the communist State and to follow orders, lacking individuality and independent thought. That is not what we want for children anywhere, certainly not in America.
Before the Revolution, Cuba had a well-developed, superb education system. In education and literacy Cuba ranked at the top of Latin American countries. It ranked first in the percentage of national income spent on education. In 1958, Cuba had the third-highest literacy rate in Latin America at an estimated 80 percent to 90 percent, on a par with the U.S. Most school textbooks for Latin America were written, edited and published in Cuba.
Today, Cuba claims a 95 percent literacy rate, still the same as the U.S. But in the U.S., literacy is pursued as an end of itself, while in Cuba, literacy is a means to another end. It is not directed toward facilitation in the acquisition of knowledge in the free, scholastic atmosphere of the liberal arts and education, but rather geared for the mass indoctrination of the people.
The fact is that in Cuba's much-touted free, socialist education system, classrooms are used for brainwashing both adults and children. By law, all persons, including teachers, are required to be literate as well as to contribute to the "formation of the communist personality of the youth."
In other words, education in Cuba is geared toward indoctrination of the youth for the preservation of the communist (fascist) State and not for the betterment and material advancement of the people. It's a cruel, sinister joke on the population.
You write in the conclusion, "With his [Castro's] demise, I think the whole totalitarian structure will collapse of its own communist, intransigent, and barbaric weight." In 1991, Cuba established the Nazi-like Rapid Response Brigades to prevent Eastern Europe's transformations from occurring in Cuba. Similarly, do you not think the Castro oligarchy has made preparations to maintain power after Castro's death?
Incidentally, those rapid response brigades were called the Blas Roca Brigades after the communist leader I mentioned previously whose son is so inimically languishing today in a Cuban jail.
Yes, the regime is trying to become more efficient (i.e., with the hard cash coming in from tourism and otherwise) and is becoming increasingly more fascist (i.e., working in conjunction with ruthless, foreign private profiteers exploiting Cuban workers) in order to maintain power after Castro's death.
Fidel's brother, Raúl, is relying on the hard-line, military establishment to stay in power because he does not possess Fidel's charisma or intellect.
Raúl Castro's heinous, well-deserved reputation has been heavily stained since the earliest days of the Revolution with the blood of thousands of political prisoners, fusilados (shot) under his direct orders. He has never been well-liked by the Cuban people. However, he is defense minister and the head of the Ministry of the Interior that controls State security and counterintelligence. No doubt upon the death of Fidel, Raúl and his close-knit military will begin a crackdown on the Cuban population to retain political and economic control in the island prison.
I am convinced, though, that Raúl and his military will not have the political power or intelligence to succeed Fidel Castro and continue his legacy of communism and totalitarianism. In fact, the rumor is that many of these characters, members of el pincho privileged class with access to dollars, are busy stashing money away for the day after Fidel dies, rather than continuing the dark, communist nightmare.
Unfortunately, not all of them feel that way. Many of them are esbirros (political police), drug traffickers like Ramiro Valdés, Osmoni Cienfuegos, Manuel "Red Beard" Piñeiro, Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, Fernando Flores ("Blood Puddle"), war criminals who will fight to avoid prosecution in a free Cuba. Nevertheless, fight as they might, tyranny and injustice will not last forever. Freedom will come!
"I want the world, particularly my fellow American citizens, to know more about Cuba, about her culture, her history," you write in the preface. After Elian Gonzalez's re-enslavement, there is the sentiment among some Cuban exiles that Americans are deaf to tyranny in Cuba, so why bother making efforts to change their minds?
After the fall of the dictator Fidel Castro, the next generation of Cubans will have to decide whether Cuba will remain a socialist country or whether the Pearl of the Antilles will become a constitutional republic like the U.S. where all citizens have equality of opportunity and are equal in front of the law. In the latter, Cubans will also be truly free and imbued with inalienable Natural rights, rights that cannot be taken away by government or by a capricious future tyrant.
It is a nice thought and a dream of mine. Why should I give up insisting on freedom when the prophets of the Old Testament never ceased preaching to the wayward Israelites?
Wouldn't it be wonderful if a new, reborn Cuba were to teach these United States that they could still return to those great principles upon which America was founded, but from which this nation has gradually strayed, particularly during the 20th century?
Wouldn't it be wonderful if a new and reborn Cuba could guide the United States back to the original founding principles of this nation? America should do so not because these principles are old, but because they are true.
Cuba would then be a great lesson for America. We should never lose hope!
[Read Part I of interview.]
Myles B. Kantor is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com, a popular internet website edited by David Horowitz. Mr. Kantor is also Director of the Center for Free Emigration, a human rights organization dedicated to the abolition of State enslavement. His e-mail address is kantor@FreeEmigration.com.