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Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Fidel on McCain on Cuban "torturers"

[Updated; see below]

The media has covered John McCain's accusation that there were Cubans torturing prisoners in Vietnam, and Fidel Castro's denunciation of those accusations. But for the most part, they have highlighted only a brief portion of Fidel's denial: "His accusation against internationalist Cuban revolutionaries --using the nickname Fidel to identify one of them who was capable of "torturing a prisoner to death"-- is totally lacking in any ethics. Allow me to remind you, Mr. McCain: The commandments of your religion forbid you from lying."

With your permission, here's a bit more from the full article that helps establish the credibility of Fidel's denial, which in the U.S. press version is just that - a denial and little more:

The attack on the Bay of Pigs followed the exact instructions of the President of the United States and the invaders were escorted by U.S. naval units, including an aircraft carrier. The first air assault with U.S. B-26 planes flying out of secret bases was a pre-emptive attack using Cuban markings on the planes so that world opinion would see this as a revolt by our national air force.

You accuse Cuban revolutionaries of being torturers. I seriously urge you to find a single one of the more than a thousand prisoners captured during the Bay of Pigs fighting who had been tortured. I was there, not in some protected position at a distant general command post. I personally captured a number of prisoners with the help of some assistants; I walked in front of armed squads who were still lying under cover of the forest’s vegetation, paralyzed by the presence of the Chief of the Revolution. I’m sorry that I have to mention this because it might appear to be boasting, and that is something I honestly detest.

The prisoners were citizens born in Cuba organized by a powerful foreign power to fight against their own people.

You have admitted that you are in favor of the death penalty for very serious crimes. What would have you done if faced by such acts? How many would you have sentenced for that treason? In Cuba, we tried several of the invaders who, under Batista's orders, had previously committed horrendous crimes against Cuban revolutionaries.

I visited the mass of Bay of Pigs prisoners, --that is how you call the Girón Beach invasion-- on more than one occasion, and I talked with them. I like to find out man’s motives. They showed surprise and expressed their acknowledgement of the personal respect with which they were treated.

You should know that while we were negotiating their liberation in exchange for compensation by food and medicines for children, the U.S. government was organizing plans to assassinate me. There is a record of this in what was written by people taking part in the negotiation process.

I shall not go into detail about the long list of hundreds of assassination attempts on me. None of this is made up. It has been stated in official documents circulated by the U.S. government.

What ethics underlie such deeds, vehemently defended by you as a matter of principles?
Update: The Vietnamese who was the manager of the prison in which McCain was held denies his claim. Even more interesting, though, is the information in this article about the "solid evidence" on which the claim rests:
Between 1967 and 1968 several Caucasians with Spanish accents ran an interrogation programme there which involved severe beatings and torture.

The Americans nicknamed the leader of the group "Fidel." The longest-held US pilot, Everett Alvarez Jr, wrote in his memoirs that he surmised "Fidel" was Cuban because of his accent and his familiarity with Central America and the southeast United States.
Well, I'm convinced, how about you? A Caucasian with a Spanish accent familiar with Central America and the southeast United States. What more evidence do you need?

Actually, with that description, and a fondness for torture, I can name an even more likely suspect - Luis Posada Carriles, a man with a well-documented history as a torturer while working for the Venezuelan secret police (that's the Venezuelan government that was supported by the U.S., naturally), now under the active protection of the U.S. government.

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