Nelson P. ValdesFebruary 04, 2008
Patrick Symmes asserts that:

1. Santiago de Cuba had the richest gathering of the richest part of Cuba (p. 5). Not quite. Many fortunes were made in Oriente [Eastern Cuba], but the wealthy, as a rule, resided in Havana. One exception: the Bacardi family. [See: Rafael Duharte and Radames de los Reyes, La burguesia santiaguera, 1940-1959, Editorial Oriente: Santiago de Cuba, 1983]

2. Cuba never had an upper class in the European sense (p. 21). If the author is implying that in Cuba the wealthy did not make claims to rank and nobility, then he is mistaken. [See: Carlos del Toro, la alta burguesia cubana, 1920-1958, La Habana, 2003 and Guillermo Jimenez, Las empresas de Cuba, La Habana, 2004]

3. What Cuba had was a few super rich people, often of new fortune and dubious background, and a relatively large middle class. (p. 21) No evidence is provided. Yet if one were to look at the city of Santiago de Cuba and its neighborhoods in the 1940s then a clear picture of that particular micro-class system would be obvious: Vista Alegre (the very wealthy), Sueño, Terrazas and Santa Bárbara (white collar workers and professions) and Veguita de Galo, Las Flores and Los Olmos (working class and unemployed). Population wise Vista Alegre was miniscule while the working class areas were home to over 70% of the population. [Coralina Vaz Suarez, SANTIAGO DE CUBA: LA CIUDAD Y SU ARQUITECTURA EN LAS TRES PRIMERAS DÉCADAS DEL SIGLO XX,Revista Santiago,No. 2, 2002.] Havana, in 1941, the Communist Party of Cuba was a legal organization, feeble but full of bureaucratic Marxists and academic revolutionaries (p. 19) In fact the Partido Socialista Popular {PSP) at the time was the most successful Communist organization in the hemisphere. Irwin F. Gellman, an authority on the 1940s in Cuba has noted, "For the first time in their history, the Communists were part of a victorious coalition. They had elected ten congressmen, more than one hundred members of town councils, and the mayor of the nations second largest city, Santiago de Cuba. Batista also permitted them to control the ministry of labor..." [Roosevelt and batista: Good Neighbor Diplomacy in Cuba, 1933-1945, University of New Mexico Press, 1973, p.186].

The Communist party also controlled the Cuban organized labor movement (the Confederacion de Trabajadores Cubanos), it owned a major newspaper (Hoy) and ran one of the most popular radio station in the country (where Celia Cruz became famous). And the PSP delegates played a significant role in the writing of the 1940 constitution. The fact that the Communists controlled Santiago at the time Fidel graduated from Dolores is lost on Symmes.

5. Fidel Castro has "pale gray-blue eyes" and that Raul is "dark-skinned" (46). Anyone who looks at any picture of either of the two Castros will conclude otherwise.

6. On page 69, that "Plain Indians" were the ones called "rough riders." Not quite. Sixty out of 1250 Rough Riders were "Indians" (to take care of the horses).

7. In 1903 the U.S. "forced the new Cuban government to sign the Platt Amendment." That is two years off. On May 28, 1901 the Cuban congress was forced to accept the amendment.

8. "The policy of [U.S.] intervention was on display in the 113-day war of 1898, and when U.S. forces returned in 1917." (p.69) Symmes misses some military actiion: The U.S. military invaded on 1898, 1906, 1912 and 1917.

9. President Gerardo Machado was ousted in August of 1933. Not quite, it was Sept 4, 1933.

10. The government of Ramon Grau San Martin in 1933 lasted seventeen days (p70). Actually it went on from Sep 4, 1933 to Jan 6, 1934.

11. Batista "placed the first Cuban price quotas on the sugar crop, forcing the Americans to pay a stable rate." (p73). In fact, the sugar quota system was set up by FDR and then the cubanos were brought into the project by extending the Jones Costigan Act.

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Laurence Daley
10 years 8 months ago

Re: Valdes, Nelson P. 2008 (accessed 10-26-10) Examining 'The Boys from Dolores.’ America The National Catholic Weekly, February 4, 2008

While everybody has a right to their opinion. The readers should be aware 
that Nelson Valdes, is considered to be quite left of center, to the point that many consider him an adroit apologist for Castro. '

Here I will try to address a single error, of the many, in this article

Valdes states "9. President Gerardo Machado “was ousted in August of 1933.” Not quite, it was Sept 4, 1933."  This is absolutely not so, Batista had very little to do with the overthrow of Machado.  Machado was overthrown by a general consensus of the Cuban people and negotiated by the left of center U.S. Ambassador in Cuba Sumner Welles. Prominent in the resistance to Machado was the secret organization ABC, the political strength of the old Mambi headed by Menocal and Mendieta, and guerrillas such as Juan Blas Hernandez, the Collazo and included such as Cornelio Rojas later executed by Guevara because he had raided a communist center.  The Amy officers finally ousted Machado.

The Cuban communists under the orders of stalinist agent "Fabio" Grobart not only co-opted  the powerful well armed Gibara espedition of 1931 and effectively destroyed much of the Mambi resistance to Machado, but in 1933 joined forces with Machado to try to break the general strike that eventually toppled the dictator (see Grobart's apologia "El Error de Agosto").

When Batista made his coup on September 4th, 1933 when Machado had been out of Cuba for some time.  Then Batista destroyed the ABC, killed Juan Blas Hernandez and his men at the Atares castle, and the army officers at the vicious and murderous attack on El Hotel Nacional.  

One notes that Batista was unusually gentle with the communists, there seems to have little or no killings as he took over the Soviets such as Mabay.  And then formed and alliance of convenience with them,



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