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The United States and Castro's Cuba

Messages received confirm that there are different perceptions of Castro in the US and in Latin America. John Wonder writes:

"To make a really intelligent reply to this situation would require a book or two. But, I strongly suspect that there is something in the Hispanic character which responds to Marxism, or something like it. One might call it, in computerese, a 'default position' to which they revert when faced by any problem. I would attribute it to the Spanish colonial system, which was the first modern, tightly controlled bureaucracy and also to the docility of the Indian masses who were accustomed to the tyranny of the priests and warriors. Spain suffered from this in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but it was attenuated by the strong tradition of local fueros and traditions. Not so, unfortunately in Latin America. Again, Castro reverted to the default position; although he may have never espoused communism, such espousal came very naturally to him. This is quite aside from the fact that he was a bloody butcher, a la Stalin. However, we have never shrunk from dealing with such types if it is advantageous. Why the exception in Castro's case? I am afraid that for some he has become symbolic. How stupid can you get? What on earth does symbolism mean? It is for the stupid masses."

My comment: Let's not exaggerate, John. You cannot compare Castro and Stalin. John is a great admirer (as I am) of Ortega y Gasset, author of The Rebellion of the Masses. I must admit that i am pessimistic about democracy in the Andean countries of Latin America. I have often criticized the behavior of Colombian society in the face of the present crisis. The bloody bombing of a crowded entertainment area in Medellin may have been aimed simply at a crowd, but the site may have been chosen because of anger at people having a brainless good time. In Ecuador Velasco Ibarra once said "Give me a balcony, and I will rule the country." Both Peruvian presidential candidates, Alejandro Toledo and Alan García, follow that model. Both are intelligent men capable of rational discourse, but they travel around Peru haranguing crowds with demagoguery of the worst kind.

Ronald Hilton - 5/20/01