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Fidel Castro condemns Tito’s group for latter’s military funding of the Batista Regime

The History of the USSR & the Peoples’ Democracies

Chapter 22, Section 5 (C22S5) 

 

Saed Teymuri

 

A collage of a person in military uniformDescription automatically generated

 

 

In 1968, Fidel Castro revealed the depth of the crimes of the Yugoslav regime against the people of Cuba. In a speech he gave in denouncing the Yugoslav regime, Fidel Castro read a part of a document that was captured by the post-Batista Cuban revolutionary government. Parts of the document which Castro presented are as follows:

“From the military attache to the Cuban Embassy in Mexico, Mexico, D.F., 13 December 1958; Gen. Francisco Tabernilla Dolz, (?MP), Military City, Marianoa.

“My dear friend, I enclose various photographs which have been given me by the Yugoslav ambassador in this country – a great friend of mine. On a certain occasion I talked to him when I had been told that private negotiations were taking place about the possibility of acquiring armaments. He tells me that in fact he can supply us with various types of armaments that we might need, such as 30.06 rifles and so forth, and he talked about a type of boat like those in the photographs that could be of great use to us.

“He explains that he has an ample quantity of these torpedo boats, which would be very economical, since they produce with very cheap labor and have the best naval shipyards today, after the English.

“These boats have a speed of over 40 kilometers an hour. They have two antiaircraft machineguns, an antiaircraft gun, and torpedo launchers. There is also a great abundance of these torpedoes, which are very cheap.

“Although I explained to him that at this time the negotiations for any kind of armaments were suspended because we had acquired enough in other places, he told me that at any rate he would give me a list with exact specifications, cost, date of delivery, and freight charge to our ports.

“As soon as he gives me these data, I shall send them to you immediately. (…).

“Col. Chief A. P. Chaumon, military attache.”

(Castro Speech on Czechoslovakia 1968. In: ‘The Cuban Approach in the face of the Czechoslovak Crisis’ [El planteamiento Cubano frente a la crisis checoslovaca], Punto Final, The Movement of the Revolutionary Left, Santiago, Chile, Documents, September 10, 1968, pp. 11-12. Also see ‘Comments on Czechoslovakia’, Fidel Castro, 1968. Publisher: Havana Domestic Television and Radio Services in Spanish, August 24, 1968. Translated: US Government, Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Transcription/Markup: US Government/Steve Palmer. Source: Castro Speech Database. Proofread Alvaro Miranda (April 2021).) (IMG)

Castro’s speech was published not only by the Cuban government press but also by the Punto Final (‘Full Stop’), the media organ of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (el Movimento de la Izquierda Revolucionaria), a Guevarist-inspired guerrilla organization that later formed the armed detachments supporting the Allende government in the 1970s and attempted to foment subversion against the Pinochet-influenced Chilean military. The speech was translated to English by the US government agency Federal Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) and subsequently copied and published by the Marxists Internet Archive (MIA), a Trotskyite-dominated online media outlet that publishes speeches and articles from all communists and – in the broadest sense – ‘leftists’. To ensure that the English translation is correct and not distorted by American imperialist propaganda, I checked the Spanish version and slightly altered the English translation provided by the FBIS/MIA so to increase the accuracy of the translation. The reader can check the screenshots of both the FBIS/MIA version and the original Spanish-language document in the Screenshots appendix section….

Since the United States government, under the pressure of the remnants of the pro-Soviet Roosevelt faction in the Democratic Party had officially sanctioned the Batista regime, the American imperialist secret service decided to covertly sponsor Batista – much like how Reagan had denounced the Nicaraguan contras but also covertly funded it nonetheless. Explaining the nature of the document discovered, Fidel Castro explained:

Imagine our surprise some months later when, one day, poking around in the archives, in the archives of the Batista government, we found the text of this document… (…). Those who have read the history of Moncada know that this Chaumon was precisely the officer who perpetrated tens of assassinations in the Moncada garrison after the attack. He was the most criminal of all the officers, who assassinated tens of prisoners, and he was later sent to Mexico and was a “great friend” of the Yugoslav ambassador, to whom, 18 days before the triumph of the revolution in December 1958, when thousands of Cubans had been here – we had been fighting for 2 years – this ambassador, in the name of Yugoslavia, and after consulting, was offering all kinds of arms – cheap, economical, launches, everything.

How great, I say, was our indignation and surprise when we found this document in the archives, signed by the person who signed it, especially when we needed arms to defend ourselves from the imperialists, and they had put all kinds of obstacles in our way and did not sell us a single weapon, and they were offering arms to Batista just as the war was ending.

As we are not going to hold the worst opinion, we are not going to have the worst concept of the role that this party played, when even the imperialists would not sell arms to Batista, when not even the Yankees would sell them arms, these gentlemen were offering good and cheap arms.

(Castro Speech on Czechoslovakia 1968. In: ‘The Cuban Approach in the face of the Czechoslovak Crisis’ [El planteamiento Cubano frente a la crisis checoslovaca], Punto Final, The Movement of the Revolutionary Left, Santiago, Chile, Documents, September 10, 1968, p. 12. Also see ‘Comments on Czechoslovakia’, Fidel Castro, 1968. Publisher: Havana Domestic Television and Radio Services in Spanish, August 24, 1968. Translated: US Government, Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Transcription/Markup: US Government/Steve Palmer. Source: Castro Speech Database. Proofread Alvaro Miranda (April 2021).) (IMG)

Indeed, the fact that the Yugoslav regime supplied weapons to the Batista junta is also confirmed by the British intelligence agent Richard Gott, who served in the MI6 front ‘Royal Institute of International Relations’, which was the predecessor of the Chatham House. Gott wrote:

the Yugoslavs … continued to supply Batista with weapons until the last moment. (Cuba: A New History, Yale University Press, Richard Gott, p. 164) (IMG)

In spite of the fact that the Yugoslav regime and the Anglo-American intelligence services continued to covertly sponsor the Batista junta, the Cuban revolutionaries succeeded in ousting the Batista junta in 1959. (…). At the same time, the Yugoslav intelligence missed no chance to conspire against the new revolutionary government of Cuba. The same Yugoslav embassy that had served as a base through which Yugoslavia would negotiate the arms sales to Batista, emerged as a base through which Tito’s gang stabbed Cuba in the back. After the revolution, initially the Cubans were not well aware of the criminal character of the Yugoslav regime. Hence, the Cuban revolutionaries decided to purchase arms from the Yugoslav regime – and the arms were never coming. Fidel Castro remarked:

I was saying that some will ask why have we been so tenacious in our attitude toward the Yugoslav League of Communists. We want to point out a fact, a very important fact from the beginning of the revolution regarding our relations with Yugoslavia. It was in the year 1959, when our country had already made the first laws, when not only had we begun in our country the agrarian reform that brought us into confrontation with imperialism, but also, in the United States, the first plot against us was already being hatched.

At that time we did not have relations as yet with the USSR or with other countries of the socialist camp. And we had to buy our arms in some capitalist countries. We made our first purchases of arms in Belgium and Italy. Because of pressure by the imperialists, and first not by pressure but by CIA conspiracy, there was an explosion on one of the ships coming from Belgium with arms, which resulted in around 80 victims. Later, the Belgian Government, under pressure from the U.S. Government, stopped selling arms.

Meanwhile, the United States was preparing its mercenaries against us and on the other hand was carrying out its policy of blockading our purchase of arms. The Italian Government at that time was under such pressures. We recall that we were trying to buy 16 mortars – 16 mortars from Italy, and they had already sold us four and [some parts] of the other 12. However, under the pressure of the Yankee imperialists, they stopped the sale of the 12 pieces. That left us practically with four pieces and [parts] of the others, but without the cannon.

In this situation, we turned to the government of Yugoslavia to try to buy some arms, including the 12 cannon and some 120 mortars and some other pieces. And here we have a report by the comrade in charge of that mission, Maj. Jose M. Fernandez Alvarez.

And here is it in synthesis; I am going to read this information. It says:

“In 1959, as the Batista tyranny was defeated, after the defeat of the tyranny, military equipment had to be acquired. This equipment was needed urgently and immediately to defend the revolution, whose laws and measures in process of being promulgated would surely cause hate among its logical enemies, who would try to destroy it.

“On a tip that was given us, we got in touch with the ambassador of the Yugoslav republic at the end of 1959 and at the beginning of 1960, in a very superficial manner. Later, we went to visit him in the Yugoslav Embassy on 42nd Street and (Tercera) Miramar, accompanies by Maj Raul Castro.

“On this visit, the minister of the armed forces informed the ambassador of Cuba’s interest in buying arms and equipment, especially light infantry arms, rifles, machineguns, rocket launchers, mortars, and ammunition.

“The ambassador was generally evasive, and when the minister said something about payments, he said that the matter of arms was a different matter in regard to payments and that many details [were involved]. The minister indicated to the ambassador that I should stay in contact with him to learn about prices and the arms available, and to carry forward negotiations in this regard.

“It was extraordinarily difficult to carry out this task since the lists were delayed. Evasive answers were constantly given us. It was said that there were no arms available and that they had to be manufactured, that the prices had not arrived; and when the prices were finally in our possession, they dealt especially with small caliber arms at extraordinarily high prices, even on the international market.

“Prior to this and afterward, when we tried to get arms in Yugoslavia, some comrades went to Yugoslavia and also tried to arrange for the purchase of arms with the same results, with the presentation of other obstacles.

“We can say that in no operation could we make progress, despite our negotiations and great interest, since the Yugoslav representation here in Cuba did not make it feasible.

“As a conclusion to the foregoing, we can say that Yugoslavia’s attitude was markedly opportunistic, since it wanted to be paid in dollars and at black market prices for the few lines that it offered.

“They said that the total amount of the operation did not justify the difficulties that they would have with the United States over selling us arms. And they were reluctant to give us the lists and prices. They proposed that discussions be carried out through a private Yugoslav commercial company as a screen, in order that the operation should not appear under that country’s name, and in general little cooperation was shown. But it appeared that Yugoslavia did not want to make the sale to us, and on the other hand it appeared opportunist or at least intended to dissuade us from the conditions stipulated.”

(Castro Speech on Czechoslovakia 1968. In: ‘The Cuban Approach in the face of the Czechoslovak Crisis’ [El planteamiento Cubano frente a la crisis checoslovaca], Punto Final, The Movement of the Revolutionary Left, Santiago, Chile, Documents, September 10, 1968, pp. 10-11. Comments on Czechoslovakia, Fidel Castro, 1968. Publisher: Havana Domestic Television and Radio Services in Spanish, August 24, 1968. Translated: US Government, Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Transcription/Markup: US Government/Steve Palmer. Source: Castro Speech Database. Proofread Alvaro Miranda (April 2021).) (IMG)

Therefore, in the face of conspiracies of American intelligence against the revolutionary government of Cuba, the latter was also stabbed in the back by the Yugoslavs who did everything they could to waste the time of the Cuban people. (…). At the same time, Cuba continued to maintain bonds with the enemies of the Yugoslav regime. When the Eurasian Titoists headed by the gang of Nikita Khrushchev imposed the fiercest pressures on different countries in order to make them break their relations with People’s Democratic, Cuba was one of the few countries that refused to bow to such intensive pressure. Fidel Castro said in 1967:

Our country never broke relations with Albania, when a large number of countries from the socialist camp broke relations with this country.

(FIDEL CASTRO SPEECH AT LASO CLOSING SESSION, Speech by Prime Minister Fidel Castro at closing ceremony of First LASO Conference, held in Havana's Chaplin Theater — Live, Havana Domestic Radio and Television Services in Spanish, Havana Domestic Radio, August 11, 1967. In: Castro Speech Database, Latin American Network Information Center (LANIC), University of Texas) (IMG)

In the meantime, the Yugoslav embassy continued its hostility to revolutionary Cuba. The MI6 operative Richard West recalled:

In Communist Cuba I happened to meet a diplomat from the Yugoslav Embassy. Apparently Fidel Castro’s bodyguards had recently shot up the embassy car and wounded one of their personnel, so he was not feeling well disposed to Cuba, but even this could not explain the flow of invective to which he subjected the country, making no effort to keep his voice down. He said that Fidel was just a tin-pot Latin American fascist, similar to Juan Peron, the Argentine dictator. He said that the Cubans lived in terror and hoped only to reach the United States. He added that when the revolutionary leader Che Guevara disappeared to try and start a revolt in Bolivia, Fidel Castro had an affair with Guevara’s wife. All this was told to me by the diplomat of a country supposed to be on the best of terms with Communist Cuba. (Tito: and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia, Richard West, p. 271) (IMG)

 

Click here for Screenshots of Source Documents 

 

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Image Credits

Fidel Castro, photographed in 1964. Castro, more than any other political leader in recent memory, had the stature of a living myth in his own country.Photograph by Jung / ullstein bild via Getty https://media.newyorker.com/photos/59097c378b51cf59fc423de9/master/w_2560%2Cc_limit/Anderson-FidelCastro.jpg

From the Digital Library of Slovenia under the reference number MJVNDGTF This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required.  https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/13/Josip_Broz_Tito_uniform_portrait.jpg/800px-Josip_Broz_Tito_uniform_portrait.jpg