Humberto Fontova

Much of what’s called “McCarthyism” started with the debate over “Who Lost China.” A similar debate regarding Cuba-- and involving an amazingly similar cast of protagonists and antagonists—erupted when Fidel Castro came out of the closet in late 1960 as a Communist.

Given that Fidel Castro (twice and wantonly) brought the world to the brink of nuclear war and Cuba remains an official “State-Sponsor-of Terror,” you’d think this Cuba debate merits some attention.

That Castro’s predecessor Fulgencio Batista was a “U.S.-backed dictator” and Castro was “bullied” by the U.S. (especially the CIA) into his Soviet-alliance remains a cherished item of liberal (and even mainstream) political folklore. Poor Castro, goes the fairy tale, constantly beaten by the Yankee Big Stick and with nary a carrot in sight. We left him no choice.

Where to begin?

At the beginning, of course. In the late 50's, two Republican ambassadors to Cuba, Arthur Gardner and Earl T. Smith, lost their jobs for butting heads against their liberal State Department chiefs. These ambassadors’ crimes? Insisting that the official U.S. policy of helping Fidel Castro shoot his way to power in Cuba was stupid.

On August 27, 1960 during Senate subcommittee hearings titled, “Communist Threat to the United States Through the Caribbean,” these two former ambassadors to Cuba testified to the nature of the head-butting:

Senator DODD: “You have been quoted, Mr. Gardner, as referring to, "Castro worship" in the State Department in 1957. are quoted as saying you fought all the time with the State Department over whether Castro merited the support or friendship of the United StatesMr. Gardner, do you have any idea why the United States allowed Castro to get arms from the United States, and would not allow Batista to have arms to preserve his have been quoted as saying that Washington, "pulled the rug out" from under Batista?"

Mr Gardner: "I feel it very strongly, that the State Department was influenced, first, by those stories by (the New York Times') Herbert Matthews, and soon (support for Castro) became kind of a fetish with them."

Senator Dodd: “(in preparation for his post) your successor as Ambassador to Cuba, Earl Smith was actually (sent by his State Dept. superiors) to be briefed by New York Times' Herbert Matthews?”

Mr. GARDNER. "Yes, that is right."

Humberto Fontova

Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit