April 18, 2009
In an ironic twist of history, the V Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago will come to a successful or irrelevant closure on Sunday, April 19th, the same day, forty eight years ago when the United States suffered its most resounding political, moral and military defeat in the swamps of the Bay of Pigs.
Prior to this trans formative milestone, the United States political/military thinking was formulated around a self-proclaimed invincibility, which emerged from the three months military skirmish in Santiago de Cuba, euphemistically known around the world as the Spanish-American War in 1898.
This tragic event, effectively deprived the Cuban people of the fruits of their long and hard fought struggle for independence and sovereignty, which began with the uprising of Chief Hatuey and Guarina in the 1490‘s. Thousands of Cuba’s best sons and daughters were deported, imprisoned, wounded, maimed or killed on behalf of this goal.
Tens of slave uprisings across the island attempting to free themselves from their inhumane captivity, were put down with unspeakable brutality. The infamous Ladder Conspiracy earned its name from two parallel logs with other horizontally spaced logs upon which slaves accused of plotting to escape or recaptured run-away slaves were tied to and beaten into a pulp or killed with blows from another log, reminiscent to a primitive baseball bat.
On October 10th 1868, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes a wealthy sugar baron, who later became the father of the Cuban nation, freed his slaves and encouraged them to join the war of independence, which they did in droves, contributing the bulk of the casualties during the next 10 years vicious war, which ended in an armistice. This tragic outcome was salvaged by another son of Africa, General Antonio Maceo who opposed this decision with his heroic Protest of Baragua and his commitment to continue the struggle to its last consequence.
The final war of independence was re-started in 1895 under the leadership of Jose Marti, the greatest Cuban political leader in its history. By 1898 victory was within reach of the Cuban Army, when alleging protection of life and property, the USS Maine entered the port of Havana where it later exploded under questionable circumstances, laying the groundwork for the United States to unleash the Spanish-American war, which defeated in three months, an exhausted Spanish occupying forces.
This simple, unsolicited, unilateral decision by the United States, de railed 400 years of struggle for Cuba’s independence, when they denied the Cuban Army the right to be present at the Spanish Army surrendering ceremony or at the subsequent peace talks in Paris. The dismantling of a fully integrated Army of Independence, replacing it with an all white police force and with a Rural Guard where blacks could not rise above the rank of lieutenant, opened deep and bitter wounds between the US and Cuba.
By emasculating Cuba sovereignty with the Platt Amendment, forceful occupation of prime lands for naval bases, engulfing thousands of acres of fertile agriculture lands for pennies, taking over every important industry, utilities, commerce, banking, perpetuating illiteracy, segregation, corruption, political violence etc., they sowed the seeds of discord that have survived to this day.
These and other social ills were compounded with the brutal assault on the “democratically” elected, corrupt presidency of Carlos Prio Socarras in 1952, which lead the Generation of the Century headed by Fidel Castro, to accuse General Batista before the Supreme Court for overthrowing the government and later leading a failed insurrection, imprisonment, emigration, return with an 82 man strong invading forces in 1956, which defeated Batista’s powerful, US backed military machine on January 1, 1959.
Attempting to correct years of abuse, corruption, a worldwide image of Cuba being a playground for the rich, famous and the mafia, the new government clamped down hard and confiscated most ill gotten wealth of these individuals, irritating the US government, unleashing a tit for tat and the breaking-off of diplomatic relations.
The infamous Bay of Pigs, is nothing more than a traumatic abortion of an ill-conceived, well funded, abundantly equipped, vertically CIA managed 2000 man-strong mercenary force, charged with overthrowing the newly formed, poorly equipped Cuban army.
Having failed to take into account these irrefutable historical facts, have left a legacy of distrust, billions of dollars in misguided projects and unnecessary destruction, wounded and dead.
And today, as a highly educated, visionary, courageous president of the United States is working tirelessly to reverse decades of absurd, confrontational, hate spewing, retrograde policies that have created millions of enemies around the world, many continue to undermine every idea, policy or bridge building effort the White House may develop.
Let us join hands and stave off those backward forces that revel in wars, death and destruction. Let’s express in a clear, strong, unison voice, enough is enough!
If for millions of people around the world, April 19, 1961 is remembered as the Day of Infamy, it is incumbent upon us to transform this day in the year 2009, into the Day of Rediscovering America, Goodness, Brotherhood, Love and Hope.