Chris Crocker has nothing on most Che Guevara fans. His anguish in “Leave Britney Alone!” pales to what I’ve seen and heard from “hecklers”during many college lectures. The more painstakingly-documented the facts I discharge into the fog of ignorance that blankets many campuses, the more shrill and anguished comes the reactions, often from faculty!
Facts matters little to diehard, teen-beat type Castro/Che fans. Many “document” their rebuttals to my blasphemies with scenes from Godfather II, that famous documentary on pre-Castro Cuba. “Fidel, I love you,” gushed a young Francis Ford Coppola. “We both have beards. We both have power and want to use it for good purposes.” Not that such sentiments could have possibly flavored his masterpiece.
To depict Havana streets on New Year’s Eve 1958, Coppola cast more people than stampeded through a battle scene in Braveheart. For what it’s worth, Havana streets were deathly quiet that night. Not to be outdone, in his Havana, Sydney Pollack cast Cuban President, Fulgencio Batista, with light skin, blond hair and blue eyes. The late Cuban-exile novelist (and screenwriter for Andy Garcia’s The Lost City) Guillermo Cabrera Infante, later bumped into Pollack at a Hollywood party where the learned director flinched and went red-faced when a laughing Cabrera informed him that Batista was, in fact, a Black.
“But these are merely movies, Humberto,” Some might counter. Yes, fine. But Pollack boasted of his knowledge of Cuba, often visiting Castro’s fiefdom starting in 1977 and even meeting with Fidel Castro himself.
Well, prepare yourselves. I fear the imbecilities of both Coppola and Pollack (and perhaps even those of Soderbergh and Del Toro) will be seriously trumped in a forthcoming movie based on the bestselling Havana Nocturne; How the Mob Owned Cuba, and Lost it to the Revolution.
This “owning,” of Cuba, as we all know from Copolla and Pollack and every MSM and “scholarly’ mention of pre-Castro Cuba, issued from the Mob’s oligolopic ownership of Cuba’s gargantuan gambling “industry.”
“Havana Nocturne has the air of a thriller with the bonus of being true,” gushed Tom Miller in The Washington Post.
“A multifaceted true tale,” boast the publisher, Harper Collins.
“Thoroughly and impressively researched,” attests The Miami Herald.
True to form, most of author TJ English’s sources for his recently-optioned bestseller are officials of Cuba’s Stalinist regime, which English visited often. Indeed, English dedicates his book to one such Castroite official, Enrique Cirules, who he calls a “Cuban author.” Fine, I’ll call Julius Streicher “a German author.” and Ilya Ehrenburg “a Russian author.”
Now let’s have a look at English’s “research” and how his findings compare with those issued from all sources except the propaganda ministry of a Stalinist police-state. In 1955 Cuba contained a grand total of three Gambling Casinos, the biggest was at the Tropicana and featured ten gambling tables and 30 slot machines, the Hotel Nacional, featured seven roulette wheels and twenty-one slot machines.
By contrast, in 1955 the single Riviera Casino in Las Vegas featured twenty tables and 116 slot machines. This means that in 1955: one Las Vegas Casino had more gambling action than all of Cuba.
More interestingly, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Commission the typical tourist spends five days in their city and spends an average of $580 ($75 in 1957 dollars) on gambling, the main motive for 90 per cent of visitors.
Throughout the 1950’s Cuba averaged 180,000 tourists a year. For the sake of this “study” let’s forget Cuba’s beaches, fishing, dining, palm-studded countryside, old world architecture, sightseeing etc. etc. etc. Let’s say all those tourists—men, women, adolescents, children—did nothing but gamble, and at the Las Vegas’ rate.
Well, my calculator shows a total of $13 and a half million for Cuba’s gambling industry annually. But in 1957 Cuba’s Gross Domestic product was $2.7 billion, and Cuba’s foreign receipts $752 million . How could the beneficiaries of that tiny fraction of Cuba’s income OWN the entire ‘freakin country, and “infiltrate its levers of power from top to bottom,” as author TJ English (no-doubt goaded by his Castroite mentors) claims, and as producers Eric Eisner and Gil Adler will dramatize?
Another interesting statistic – in 1953, more Cubans vacationed in the U.S., than Americans vacationed in Cuba.
Also, there’s no mention by TJ English of how the Castroite nomenklatura, in cahoots with Colombia’s cocaine cowboys throughout the 70’s and 80’s, made multiple times that measly $13 million a year. “We lived like kings in Cuba,” revealed Medellin Cartel bosses Carlos Lehder and Alejandro Bernal during their trials. “Fidel made sure nobody bothered us.”
The cocaine cartel’s deal with Castro made Meyer Lansky’s with Batista look like a nickel and dime gratuity. Now THAT would make a rollicking and intriguing film! But we all know better.
From its Castroite mentors and “consultants, the optioned book dutifully transcribes (and Eisner and Adler surely plan to show in tear-wrenching detail) pre-Castro conditions. “U.S. business owned much of the prime land in Cuba,” writes English.
In fact, of Cuba’s 161 sugar mills 1958, only 40 were U.S. owned. And United Fruit – the outfit generally cast as the Snidely Whiplash/Darth Vader in this episode – owned only a third of these. And according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in 1958 U.S. investments in Cuba accounted for only 13 per cent of Cuba’s GNP.
“The financial largess that flooded Cuba could have been used to address the country’s social problems” continues author TJ English, who lists them while checking off the list his helpful Castroite hosts so helpfully provided:
“High infant mortality” – (In fact, Cuba’s infant mortality in 1958 was the 13th lowest – not in Latin America, not in the Hemisphere – but in the world.)
“Subhuman housing” – (In fact, Cuba’s per capita income in 1958 was higher than half of Europe’s. “One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class.” starts a UNESCO study of Cuba from 1957. “Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8-hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. According to the Geneva-based International Labor Organization, the average daily wage for an agricultural worker was also among the highest in the world, higher than in France, Belgium, Denmark, or West Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent.”
“Dispossession of small farmers,” continues Havana Nocturne. – (in fact, Cuba’s agricultural wages in 1958 were higher than half of Europe’s. And – far from huge latifundia hogging the Cuban countryside – the average Cuban farm in 1958 was smaller than the average in the U.S.)
“Illiteracy” – (In fact, in a mere 50 years since a war of independence that cost Cuba almost a fifth of her population, Cuba managed 80 per cent literacy and budgeted the most (23% of national expenses) for public education of any Latin American country. Better still, Cubans were not just literate but also educated, allowed to read George Orwell and Thomas Jefferson along with the arresting wisdom and sparkling prose of Che Guevara.
So just in case Eric Eisner and Gil Adler read Canada Free Press, I provide all of the above as a public service, so you wont go red-faced like Sydney Pollack.
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