Cuba, Castro and the United States

Fidel Castro's prestige at home and abroad continues to decline. In the comparatively near future the Cuban people may be confronted with real political choices and the United States may once again have to deal with the question of relations with Cuba.

As Ambassador to Cuba in 1959 and 1960, the first two years of the Castro régime, I witnessed the spectacle of Cuba's takeover by a personal dictatorship which eventually became Communist-oriented. I believe that the Cuban people have as great a capacity as any through trial and error to run their own affairs. The opportunities for the Cubans to demonstrate this capacity have in the past been curtailed by the special relationship of their government with that of the United States and by the wide fluctuations of the sugar market on which their economy depends.

The enlargement of these opportunities for responsible self-government should be a major sequel to the liberation of the island from the phenomenally gifted, erratic and unscrupulous autocrat who "freed his country from American imperialism" only to reduce it to a satellite of Moscow (now that the Peking alternative has disappeared).

II

From the outbreak of our war with Spain in 1898 to the suspension of our quota for Cuban sugar in 1960, the United States exercised a major influence on the economic and political development of Cuba. Judgment of that influence is broadly divided between traditional and revisionist schools of thought. The former holds that the United States consistently played a benevolent role, showering moral and material benefits on an often unappreciative, ungrateful and sometimes badly behaved small neighbor, and views our policy, especially in the earlier years of the relationship, as extraordinarily enlightened in comparison with that of the predatory powers of Europe in other areas. To the revisionists, on the other hand, Cuba has been, during much of her history and especially since 1898, the hapless victim of materialistic, imperialistic exploitation by the Colossus of the North. In the fashion of conventional wisdoms, each of these views over the years has incorporated a fair number of fallacies and myths.

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