Are there drawbacks to revolution? A former member of Fidel Castro’s inner circle sees parallels between the Cuban Revolution and the current unrest in the US

Are there drawbacks to revolution? A former member of Fidel Castro’s inner circle sees parallels between the Cuban Revolution and the current unrest in the US
Source: Dr. Julio Antonio del Marmol

Dr. Julio Antonio del Marmol, a former freedom fighter for Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba, is the son of Leonardo del Marmol, one of Castro’s principal funders in the run up to his successful takeover of the government in 1959.

During the height of Cold War intrigue in the United States and amid concerns over Cuba spreading communist ideology in the Western Hemisphere, the US government eventually took advantage of del Marmol’s connections to top officials in the regime after he became disillusioned with Castro’s vision for the country.

He was reportedly a spy for the US government until the Castro regime realized that he was deceiving them in 1971, prompting his subsequent emigration to the US.

The Millennial Source spoke with del Marmol about his views of this summer’s unrest in the US, which in his opinion shows similarities to what he witnessed during Cuba’s revolution.

TMS: Can you provide a short biography of yourself for our readers? How involved were you in the Cuban Revolution? Do you have any take-aways from that experience?

At the age of twelve I was appointed by Fidel Castro to be the Commander-in-Chief for the Juvenile Commandos of the Rebel Army, a kind of youth army comparable to Hitler’s Youth Corps to train the under-18 population for future military service. As such, I was one of the commanders of the revolution (at a time when that was the top rank), the youngest of them, but in the same circle as Fidel and Raul Castro, Che Guevara, Huber Matos, Camilo Cienfuegos, and all the others. Before a few months had passed, I was shown how they were planning to change the revolution from a pro-democracy one to a communist one. It was at that point that I was recruited by an uncle of mine who worked for Western intelligence and became a spy for the West, taking secrets from Fidel’s very office until my cover was blown in 1971.

My primary takeaway is that the Cuban people, like the American people today, didn’t have a clue. When you change anything in life, you incur the risk of that change going in the favor of a few and against the majority in just the blink of an eye. All it takes is for a small group of bad-intentioned people to make that happen. It turns from a slight cold to extreme heat when the majority of good-intentioned people never even dreamed that their efforts would be turned against themselves. Then they are forced to live for the rest of their lives in a completely totalitarian regime in which all human rights are abolished and the only politically correct words are “yes, sir.” Even a suggestion made in good faith can land you in prison for 20 years or in front of a firing squad, accused of being an enemy of the masters of that change.

TMS: In what ways does the current unrest in the US compare to your experiences in the Cuban Revolution? Does it differ in any way? If so, how?

Starting in 1971 when I arrived in this country, I raised my worries about certain things I saw here which went drastically towards the extreme left. I sat down with one of the high-level intelligence operatives in the US government. When I expressed my concerns due to the infiltration we had in elementary and high schools as well as colleges and universities [in Cuba], he laughed. He didn’t want to offend me, but his mind couldn’t conceive that what I was telling him had the remotest possibility of ever happening in this country. Within a few months in Cuba [after the revolution], the Congress was annulled, the national treasury taken over by the government, and all the industries in the country, foreign and national, were nationalized under the excuse that all that wealth should be in the hands of the people. Imagine the rude awakening for the highly skilled university professors who not only gave their financial support, but some even fought against the dictatorship, to now hear from the mouths of the supposed liberators that they weren’t needed anymore.

The same went for the press: all TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers were abolished with the exception of one of each format, which were in the hands of the government. It’s painful to observe that it’s not that different at all [in Cuba]. In Cuba we have a dictatorship that is enforced by the military. The people have no voice in their government. Castro remained in power for so long because they were powerless to get rid of him. Here in the US, at least for now, the president is subject to the will of the people, still having to run and win an election, and while in office subject to being removed from office if the people express that it is their will due to their discontent with him.

Editor’s note: In 2019, the government of Cuba passed a new constitution which reaffirmed itself as a nation run under Marxist-Leninist principles. In 2018, Miguel Díaz-Canel, a longtime ally of the Communist Party, became the first leader of Cuba outside of the Castro family since 1959. However, Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, still plays a central role in state affairs in his position as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, reportedly the most important position in the Cuban government.

According to Human Rights Watch, the Cuban government continues to repress dissent and criticism and engage in arbitrary detention of citizens. There are elections in Cuba, which take place every five years, the last being in 2018. However, since voting takes place under a one-party system, critics say they shouldn’t be viewed as real democratic practice.

TMS: The Cuban Revolution was an insurgent movement that was successful in overthrowing Fulgencio Batista, a leader commonly referred to as a dictator. Fidel Castro, the leader of the revolution, ended up leading the country himself for decades after taking over the government.

In the US, however, despite a large movement against racial inequality and excessive force by police, armed rebellion is a far-fetched notion. In November, a presidential election is set to take place that could arguably soften some of the unrest, depending on how events play out. On the surface, the moment seems quite different from the one that led to the Cuban Revolution. Do you agree with this take or is there something else to consider?

There is a great deal to consider. In such movements, it’s like a river after a torrential rain. Currents can deceive or hide the forces that can turn any political movement into a totalitarian one. There really is no difference between what is going on here and in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, or anywhere else in the world where violence gets encouraged. Any movement that uses violence in an attempt to change a political system has an Achilles’ heel to be turned into either the extreme left or extreme right. We see this in history with the Bolsheviks in Russia and the Marxist system that arose there for decades and the Nazi Party in Germany. Unfortunately, people don’t learn history, and so tend to repeat it over and over, hoping that one day some brilliant scholar like Einstein will discover a magical formula for a better political system or that the popular one simply hasn’t been implemented by the “right people” yet.

As a case in point, let me bring up one technique the Castros and Che Guevara employed to generate public sympathy for the revolution. Understand me clearly first: Batista’s regime was a bad one. Very corrupt — my own father had some experiences with it. However, the rebels would steal police uniforms, dress as Batista’s police officers, and then openly beat people up, rape young girls, and perpetrate all manner of atrocities to give his regime a blacker name than it already had. Then, when the people would go protest, they would dress in civilian clothes and be the ones to start the violence with the actual police. I ask you: does this sound like a familiar tactic?

I always say that we don’t have to collapse the building in order to construct a questionable one. The new building could be better — or it could be worse. Why don’t we use an empty island in the middle of the ocean to experiment with? Don’t do so with the well-being, health, and freedom of those who already are living in happiness and harmony. All this does is bring to them destruction, violence, and misery.

Editor’s note: While looting, riots and in some cases instigation and violence towards police were clear aspects of the some protesters’ responses to the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, there were also examples of police engaging in violent acts during the protests. Furthermore, individuals associated with both far-left and far-right ideologies have also reportedly used the unrest as a way to advance their political agendas.

TMS: What would your advice be to Americans who want to see change? Is there a right way and a wrong way to go about it? Does the Cuban Revolution offer any insights to this, as far as aspects to emulate or aspects to avoid when seeking change?

My advice to the American people is to believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see. My first lesson as a spy by a great master spy was this: do your homework and don’t follow the voice of the first idiot who screams “hope and change.” You might have hope given to you from God, but the change the politician offers, I don’t need, thank you.

Change can be [a] utopian and a manipulative word that can be used in many ways as we saw with Obama’s “change.” At the end of his eight years in office, the hope in people was completely destroyed and the change that occurred during his administration was not for the better — it was for the worse. The economy was unbelievably stagnant, unemployment, especially for minorities, was at recession levels. While Trump was running for office, Obama even asked what magic wand the candidate had to bring jobs back, because in his expressed opinion the lost jobs were never coming back. The same word [“change”] was used in Cuba extensively to the point of exhaustion. After many miserable years with lack of food and basic necessities, in which people stood in line for hours to obtain a single loaf of bread or a single roll of toilet paper for the whole family, my people asked themselves what they had accomplished with this change. Was it for the worse, or for the better? I always say change can be misused in many ways. To me, what is going on in this country right now is no different from what happened in Cuba 60 years ago. I have to ask this young generation if they want to sit as I do in a different country 60 years from now and wonder why you asked for change, and what it has brought to you? Sometimes, we look at the little bad things that happen to us and overlook the greatest things that we currently have. No matter how bad those little things were, is it worth it to give away the greatest, good things we have accomplished so far?

Editor’s note: Toward the end of Obama’s term in office, a majority of Americans’ satisfaction with the way things were going in the United States was generally low. According to Gallup, at one point in June 2016 it reached just 17%. With that said, there were also times when that number hit the low-to-mid 30s during Obama’s term. A Gallup poll in February 2020 put that number at 45%, but the latest data, taken in late May to early June, reported that just 20% felt satisfied.

In May 2016, President Obama criticized then-candidate Donald Trump for what in his view was a lack of real policy proposals to bring back manufacturing jobs across the US. He argued that instead of detailing legitimate proposals, Trump was unspecific on how that should be done besides “negotiating better deals.” Trump argued he would press US companies to keep manufacturing in the US.

According to a report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2018, there have been 7.5 million manufacturing jobs lost in the American economy since 1980. There has been manufacturing growth under President Trump, albeit unevenly distributed across the country, but reports indicate that the manufacturing entered another slump in 2019.

As for the economy under President Obama, after coming into office amid the “Great Recession” of 2008, job growth and employment picked up and in 2014 and 2015 average monthly job gains were over 200,000 per month, a rate that hasn’t yet been matched in Trump’s term.

While the unemployment rate was 4.7% when Obama left office, reaching lows seen during President Bush’s term before the recession of 2008, it continually fell during Trump’s term, reaching a low of 3.5% in February 2020. With that said, amid the coronavirus crisis, the unemployment rate reached 14.7% in April, numbers not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

TMS: In your view, does the US government need to alter its policies to better meet its highest ideals of freedom and opportunity? If so, what needs to be done? If not, why?

I believe strongly in my heart that there is always room to improve things. Even when you write a simple poem, after you read it several times you will revise it to something that sounds better than what initially came out of your heart. Everything and anything can be improved. When it comes from bureaucrats in the government, yes, we need improvement in many things. But it must be done in common agreement with the people, through the voice of the majority, not because of a few who think that something has to be done and we’re supposed to rush and bow to that minority over the will of the majority who are happy with things the way they are. Why do we capitulate to those minorities that scream obscenities, burn buildings, and tear down statues like Mao Tse Tung in China and Stalin in Russia did? I see that happening here and the government becomes an accomplice to violence and mob rule. They then become another tool to the first step into the deterioration of the complete destruction of true democracy.

Editor’s note: Although some US politicians, especially on the progressive left, have arguably justified violence in the name of fighting for justice, others have criticized riots, mob anger and the burning of buildings.

TMS: Similarly, what about for US citizens? Does their outlook, in general, need to be altered in any way toward making improvements to the country and society? If so, what should they consider? If not, why?

We have to consider this nation, the United States of America, to be a privileged nation. And not by the current use of the word “privilege” — every citizen of this country has citizenship as a privilege and should feel right about that. Every citizen should be proud of the flag of this country, her laws, and her accomplishments for the past 244 years. I believe that every decade and century come with different ideas. We evolve to be either more violent or peaceful. We evolve to be more loving or withdraw from society. We evolve to love freedom and peace or adore war and destruction. Every citizen of this country should have the pride to live in a political system that is the closest to perfection in the entire world. We live in a society where a man can come from nothing, and through hard work, and respect for society and its rules grow to achieve the greatest things. And when things go wrong, he still has the ability to peacefully protest. A country like this that provided such opportunities never existed before.

I don’t think anyone should alter anything [about the US system]. Improvements, always. But why repaint the house that already looks beautiful and the paint still looks new, just because the egos of certain political people that want to say they like a different color without even consulting the majority? I think we should leave the building alone, the way it was established and has stood for 244 years. If it’s an improvement, the majority, not the minority, considers how it has to be made, then under the majority views we then implement those changes. We have to take into consideration one thing: even if you give a thousand people a great meal, at least ten of those people will come and protest at that dinner gathering that they either didn’t have enough potatoes on the plate, or the meat was too salty, or they forgot to serve the proper drink. This doesn’t even take into consideration that the meal is for free, since they didn’t sweat or bleed for it. Still, that ten people will not be pleased with the entire dining experience. We won’t change the meal next time because ten people came out dissatisfied out of one thousand. We should say to those ten people not to come back next year and to go eat someplace else instead of making the 990 others unhappy because of the ten people. US citizens have it spelled out for them.

In this case, the Founding Fathers set this out for us. We can seek improvements at the voting booth (which is where the majority express their views) and major changes are laid out in the United States Constitution through the amendment process. Follow the laws of this country, vote in elections, and — when necessary — amend the Constitution. Unless you’re willing to compromise your safety, your happiness and freedom that you worked all your life for and are willing to live in a country like Cuba, Venezuela, or North Korea. Then you can be proud to contribute to creating a new, shiny, and perfect USA: The United Socialists of America. I say to that, good luck, my friends, and enjoy your “socialist paradise.”

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