The Republican Candidate (Part 1)

These reflections are self-explanatory.

On the now well-known Super Tuesday, a day of the week when many U.S. states selected the candidate of their choice from among a pool of aspirants to the presidency of the United States, one of the possible candidates to substitute George W. Bush was John McCain. Because of his pre-designed image as a hero and his alliance with strong contenders like the former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, other hopefuls had already gladly given their support. The heavy propaganda of weighty social, economic and political factors in his country and his style of conduct had made him the candidate with the best possibilities. Only the Republican extreme right, represented by Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, dissatisfied with certain insignificant concessions made by McCain, were still putting up resistance to him on February 5. Afterward, Romney also abandoned his candidacy, ceding to McCain’s. Huckabee is still a candidate.

The struggle for a candidate is, in contrast, very close in the Democratic Party. Although, as usual, an active part of the U.S. population with the right to vote tends to be a minority, all types of opinions and speculations are being heard about the consequences for the country and the world of this election contest, if humanity escapes Bush’s military adventures.

It is not my place to talk about the history of a candidate for the presidency of the United States. I never have. Maybe I never would have. Why this time?

McCain claimed that some of his comrades were tortured by Cuban agents in Vietnam. His apologists and publicity experts are emphasizing that McCain himself suffered such torture at the hands of the Cubans.

I hope that the citizens of the United States understand that I see myself obliged to give a detailed analysis of this Republican candidate and respond to him. I will do so based on ethical considerations.

McCain’s file shows that he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam from October 26, 1967.

As he himself tells it, he was 31 years old at the time and carrying out the mission of attack No. 23. His plane, an A4 Skyhawk, was intercepted over Hanoi by an anti-air missile. Due to the impact, he lost control and catapulted, falling over Lake Truc Bach, in the middle of the city, with fractures in both arms and a knee. A patriotic multitude, seeing an aggressor fall, received him with hostility. McCain himself expressed his relief at that moment on seeing an Army squad arrive.

The bombing of Vietnam, begun in 1965, was something that moved international opinion, made very much aware of the superpower’s air attacks on a small Third World Country, which had been converted into a French colony thousands of miles away from distant Europe. The people of Vietnam fought against the Japanese occupiers during World War II and once it was over, France took control again. Ho Chi Minh, the modest leader beloved by all, and Nguyen Giap, his military chief, were internationally admired figures. The famous French Legion was defeated. In order to try to prevent it, the aggressor powers were on the verge of using a nuclear weapon in Diên Biên Phu.

The noble “anamitas,” as José Martí affectionately called them, with their ancient culture and values, were to be presented to U.S. public opinion as a barbaric people that did not deserve to exist. When it comes to suspense and commercial publicity, nobody can beat the U.S. experts. That specialty was used boundlessly to extol prisoner-of-war cases, especially McCain’s.

Following that current, McCain later claimed that the fact that his father was an admiral and commander-in-chief of the U.S. forces in the Pacific led the Vietnamese resistance forces to offer him early release if he admitted to having committed war crimes, which he refused to do, alleging that according to military code, prisoners are freed in the order in which they were captured, and that this meant five years in prison, beatings and torture in an area of the prison identified by the U.S. soldiers as the “Hanoi Hilton.”

The final withdrawal from Vietnam was disastrous. An army of half a million men, trained and armed to the teeth, could not resist the determination of the Vietnamese patriots. Saigon, the colonial capital, now called Ho Chi Minh city, was abandoned in shame by the occupiers and their accomplices, some of them dangling from helicopters. The United States lost more than 50,000 valuable sons and daughters, without counting the mutilated. They had spent $50 billion on that war without taxes, always disagreeable in and of themselves. Nixon unilaterally renounced the Bretton Woods agreements and created the foundations of the current financial crisis. The only thing they achieved was a candidate for the Republican Party, 41 years later.

McCain, one of the many U.S. pilots shot down and wounded in his country’s declared and undeclared wars, was decorated with the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals.

A made-for-TV film based on his memoirs as a prisoner of war was broadcast on Memorial Day 2005, and he became famous for his videos and speeches on the subject.

The worst affirmation that he made with respect to our country was that Cuban interrogators had systematically tortured U.S. prisoners.

Given McCain’s crazy words, I became interested in this matter. I wanted to know where such a strange legend came from. I asked for a search of the history of this accusation. I was told of a book that had been very much promoted, based on which the film was made, written by McCain and his administrative advisor in the Senate, Mark Salter, who continues to work and write with him. I asked for it to be translated verbatim. As other occasions, that was done quickly by qualified personnel. The title of the book: Faith of My Fathers, 349 pages, published in 1999.

His accusation against the Cuban revolutionary internationalists, utilizing the nickname of “Fidel” to identify one of them as capable of “torturing a prisoner to death,” is completely unethical.

Allow me to remind you, Mr. McCain: The commandments of the religion that you practice forbid lying. The years of prison and the injuries that you received as a consequence of your attacks on Hanoi do not excuse you from your moral duty to the truth.

There are facts that we should inform you of. In Cuba, there was a rebellion against a despot imposed on the Cuban people by the government of the United States on March 10, 1952, when you were approaching your 16th birthday, and the Republican government of a eminent military man, Dwight D. Eisenhower — certainly the first to talk of an military-industrial complex — acknowledged and immediately supported that government. I was a bit older than you, and would turn 26 in August, the month in which you, too, were born. Eisenhower had not yet completed his presidential term, begun in the 1950s, a number of years after the fame he acquired in the Allied landing in northern France, with the support of 10,000 aircraft and the most powerful naval forces known up to that point.

That was a war, formally declared by the powers that were confronting Hitler, initiated by surprise by the Nazis, who attacked without warning or a prior declaration of war. A new style of provoking mass killings was imposed on humanity.

In 1945, two atomic bombs of some 20 kilotons each were utilized against the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I once visited the first of those cities.

During the 1950s, the U.S. government was constructing nuclear weapons to the extent that one of them, the MR17, weighed 19.05 tons and measured 7.49 meters, and could be transported in bombers and trigger an explosion of 20 megatons, equivalent to 1,000 bombs of the kind that it dropped on those two cities on August 6, 1945. That is a piece of information that would drive Einstein insane, given that in the midst of his contradictions, he expressed remorse on a number of occasions for the weapon that, without intending, he helped to construct with his scientific theories and discoveries.

When the Revolution in Cuba triumphed on January 1, 1959, almost 15 years after the explosion of the first nuclear weapons, and a Agrarian Reform Act was proclaimed on the basis of national sovereignty, consecrated by the blood of millions of combatants who died in that war, the response of the United States was a program of illegal acts and terrorist attacks on the Cuban people, undersigned by the president of the United States himself, Dwight. D. Eisenhower.

The attack via the Bay of Pigs came about following the precise instructions of the president of the United States and the invaders were escorted by naval units, including an aircraft carrier. The first assault with U.S. government B-26 bombers that flew out of underground bases came in a surprise form, with the use of Cuban insignia to present it to world opinion as an uprising by our national Air Force.

You are accusing Cuban revolutionaries of being torturers. I seriously urge you to present just one of the 1,000-plus prisoners captured in the combats of Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) combat who was tortured. I was there, unprotected in a distant general command post. With some aides, I personally captured a large number of prisoners; I passed in front of armed squadrons still hidden in the forest vegetation, who were brought to a halt by the presence there of the Commander of the Revolution. I regret having to mention this, which could seem to be self-praise, which I sincerely detest.

The prisoners were citizens born in Cuba and organized by a powerful foreign power to fight against their own people.

You profess yourself to be in favor of capital punishment for very serious crimes. What attitude would you have assumed in response to such acts? How many would you have punished for that treason? A number of the invaders, who had previously committed horrendous crimes under Batista’s orders against Cuban revolutionaries, were tried in Cuba.

I visited the mass of prisoners from the Bay of Pigs, which is what you call the Girón invasion, more than once, and talked with them. I like to know people’s motives. They were very surprised and acknowledged the personal respect with which they were treated.

You should be aware that, while their release was being negotiated via compensation in food for children and medicines, the U.S. government was organizing assassination plots against my person. That is confirmed in the writings of people who participated in the negotiations.

I shall not refer in detail to the long list of hundreds of assassination attempts against my person. These are not inventions. It is what is stated in official documents released by the U.S. government.

What kind of ethics underlie those acts vehemently defended by you as a matter of principle?

I will try to go more profoundly into those issues.

Fidel Castro Ruz
February 10, 2008