Why Castro and Che Guevara Split

 

 

 

Revolutionary Friends

Al Jazeera (2017)

Film Review

This is a documentary about Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the 1959 Cuban Revolution. In addition to exploring the revolution’s early history, the filmmakers trace how Cuba came to rely on the Soviet Union for its economic survival – and how the Soviets forced Castro to exile Che from Cuba for political reasons.

After traveling extensively through South America, Che Guevara, deeply affected by the extreme poverty and exploitation he saw, was totally committed to “permanent revolution.”* In contrast Soviet leaders were committed to socialism in one country and “peaceful coexistence with the US.” They opposed Che’s guerilla activities in Africa and Latin America owing to the potential threat they posed to US-Soviet relations.

The most interesting part of the film reveals that the CIA initially supported Castro’s guerillas  with arms, funding and US volunteers because they viewed him as “easy to control.” It contains priceless footage of Castro denouncing communism (in English) to an American audience and calling for Cuban “representative democracy.”

In February 1959, the US initially recognizes Castro as Cuba’s new prime minister. A few months later, he appoints Che (an avowed Marxist) to head the Cuban national bank. The US responds by blocking all credit to Cuban banks. Castro retaliates by nationalizing Cuba’s American businesses. The US government, in turn, blocks all Cuban sugar imports.

Given that 90% of the Cuban economy is based on trade with the US, the country is on the verge of collapse. Castro is left with no choice but to ally himself with the USSR to trade Cuban sugar for oil and financial aid.

Under Soviet direction, Castro ends Che’s governmental role in 1963 and sends him on a series of foreign missions.After several speeches critical of Soviet leaders (for failing to support third world guerilla movements), Che angers them further by cultivating relations with China, just as the USSR and China are becoming estranged.

After an unsuccessful campaign with guerilla fighters in the Congo, Castro sends Che to Bolivia, where he and ten fighters who accompany him are stranded without weapons, food, medicine or support from the Bolivian Communist Party. On October 9, 1976, Che is wounded in a firefight with Bolivian security services. He is subsequently captured and executed.


*As envisioned by Leon Trotsky, this refers to a country’s continuing revolutionary progress being dependent on a continuing process of revolution in other countries.

This film can’t be embedded for copyright reasons. It can be viewed free until April 7 at the Al Jazeera website: Che Guevara Fidel Castro Revolutionary Friends

Lee Harvey Oswald: US Intelligence Operative

From Dallas to Raleigh: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Fingerprints of Intelligence

Allen City TV (2015)

Film Review

This presentation, featuring assassination researchers Grover Proctor and Jim Marrs, focuses on a fascinating chain of evidence shedding new light on “lone assassin” Lee Harvey Oswald’s role as a US intelligence operative. The new evidence revolves around the mysterious Raleigh North Caroline “cutout” named John Hurd, who Oswald attempted to call from the Dallas jail. Hurd first came to the attention of assassination researchers during the extensive 1978 investigation by the House Committee on Assassinations.

Proctor, who interviewed Hurd prior to his death, has assembled strong circumstantial evidence that Hurd was linked to the Naval Intelligence Unit in Nagshead North Carolina that trained recruits in the fifties and sixties to “defect” to the Soviet Union as double agents. Following his enlistment in the Marines at 17, Oswald underwent training at Nagshead and was initially deployed to Japan, where he had top secret clearance to monitor U2 spy plane flights over the Soviet Union. In 1959, he would “defect” to the Soviet Union in an attempt to fool the Russians into offering him a sensitive intelligence role. After the Russians failed to take the bait, the US repatriated him in 1961.

The second hour of the documentary, in which Jim Marrs comments on Proctor’s work, is the most illuminating. Marrs briefly sums up other compelling evidence linking Oswald to Naval Intelligence and the CIA, including his CIA 201 (employment) file and the Minox spy camera he had on his person at the time of his arrest. Marrs also refers to important evidence regarding Oswald’s intelligence activities in New Orleans – uncovered by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison ** and corroborated by Oswald’s former mistress Judyth Baker in  Lee and Me


*A “cutout” is an intermediary a undercover operative can safely contact in emergency situations without exposing the identity of their control (ie the official operative directing their intelligence activities).

**Jim Garrison was the only prosecutor to indict and try (in 1967) a prominent assassination co-conspirator named Clay Shaw. Shaw was ultimately acquitted owing to the CIA’s refusal to release records documenting his extensive history in intelligence (which would be released to the House Committee on Assassinations in 1978).

Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the US – Parts 1-3

Untold History of the United States – Parts 1-3

Directed by Oliver Stone (2012)

Last week, I sat down and binge watched Oliver Stone’s 10 part Showtime series Untold History of the United States. I was pleasantly surprised. Stone is strongly influenced by late historian Chalmers Johnson (see The Impermanence of Empire) and mentions him at several points in the series.

Untold History concerns the hidden history of the “American Century” that we’re never taught in school. Unlike Howard Zinn’s People’ History of the United States, it devotes little air time to the popular resistance movements that shaped the period 1932-2012. Instead it focuses mainly on the presidents who governed during this period.

Parts 1-3, which focus on World War II, unpack the lie that Truman dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan to spare hundreds of thousands of GIs who would have died invading the Japanese mainland.

Stone begins with a broad outline of the German military build-up that began in the early 1930s. I think this segment would have been clearer if Stone had discussed the Wall Street fascists who deliberately armed Hitler in the hope he would invade and destroy the Soviet Union. He delays this discussion until part 9, when he introduces Prescott Bush, the pro-Nazi granddaddy of George W Bush.

The first three parts of this series provide a fairly comprehensive history of the Spanish Civil War and of so-called British “appeasement” of Hitler in the early 1930s. I was extremely surprised to learn that Neville Chamberlain wasn’t motivated by cowardice, as we were taught in school, when he agreed to Hitler’s 1938 occupation of Czechoslovakia. He was merely carrying out the wishes of the US-Anglo elite – they were happy to cede Eastern Europe to Germany if it facilitated the destruction of the Soviet Union.

I was also totally unaware that the Soviets were responsible for destroying the bulk of Hitler’s vast military arsenal while the Allies piddled around in peripheral conflicts in North Africa and Italy (at the cost of 27 million lives in contrast to the 500,000 each lost by Britain and the US).

The real reason for Churchill and Roosevelt stalling for two years (Hitler invaded the USSR in 1941) before opening a second front (in Normandy) was their continuing belief that Hitler would defeat the Soviets. Once the Red Army pushed Nazi forces out of the USSR and began retaking Eastern Europe, the allies were forced to act to limit Soviet expansion.

It was actually this two year delay that caused nearly all of Eastern Europe to end up under Communist control – not ruthless Soviet expansionism as we are taught in school.

Stone agrees with historians who attribute the US nuclear attack on Japan to anti-communist hawks in the Truman administration who sought to use it to intimidate the Soviet Union. He maintains that Henry Wallace (Roosevelt’s vice-president until 19944) would never have given in to War Department hawks.

Wallace, according to Stone, was a true liberal populist in the Roosevelt mold. He was universally hated by Wall Street elites. He lost the 1944 vice presidential nomination to Truman (despite controlling over 65% of the delegates) after Democratic Party bosses rigged the 1944 Democratic Convention.

Part 1 – World War II

Part 2 – Roosevelt, Truman & Wallace

Part 3 – The Bomb

The Truth Behind Crapitalism*

The Truth Behind Capitalism

Truth Behind Politics UK (2015)

Film Review

The Truth Behind Capitalism examines the current demonization of “socialism” in the mainstream media and the corporate interests who drive it. It begins by exploring growing interest in Marxism stemming from the obvious failure of capitalism to cope with the 2008 economic collapse. It also attempts to correct the popular misconception that Karl Marx was responsible for the totalitarian dictatorship that developed in the former Soviet Union. About half the film is devoted to three century battle against central banks and the privilege governments grant them to create debt-based money out of thin air. It incorporates lengthy segments from Inside Job, an excellent 2010 documentary narrated by Matt Damon.

The filmmakers, who describe Marx as a sociologist, philosopher and student of capitalism, maintain his central concern was capitalism’s use of exploitation and oppression to keep poor people poor. Oversimplifying considerably, they summarize his ideal society as one run by workers themselves through a combination of worker cooperatives and state owned enterprises.

The film ends with examples from all over the world – including the 2008 Iceland revolution, the Occupy movement and the rise of Syriza in Greece – of working people organizing to strip private banks of the control they exert over our lives.


*Crapitalism (def): an economic system that treats ordinary people like crap. See A Mini-Dictionary of Neoliberalism