Humberto Fontova says you don’t know squat about Cuba.
“[A]lmost everything most people (except Cuban exiles) think they know about Cuba isn’t just wrong — it’s almost the exact opposite of the truth,” Fontova, a refugee from Castro’s Cuba and the author of numerous books about the country, told The Daily Caller in an interview about his new book, “The Longest Romance: The Mainstream and Fidel Castro.”
“You really get tired of people citing ‘The Godfather II’ to make intellectual points about Cuba,” Fontova added, explaining why he decided to write his new tome. “If this sounds hyperbolic, here’s the man widely hailed as the top news source for Americans under 40 nowadays: ‘All I know about pre-Castro Cuba I learned from the Godfather II!'”
The quote comes from Daily Show host Jon Stewart.
While Fontova writes about influential Cuban agents in the United States and how the mainstream media continues to suck up to the Castro brothers in his new book, perhaps his most shockingly lurid anecdote is of writer Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Cuba at the time of the Cuban Revolution.
“Hemingway hailed Castro’s revolution as ‘very pure and beautiful,'” Fontova said. “He was also a guest of honor at many of Che Guevara’s firing squad massacres. Hemingway loved to watch Che’s firing squads murder hundreds of Cubans. Hemingway would watch the massacres from a picnic chair while sipping Daiquiris.”
Fontova’s source for this troubling detail of Hemingway’s life is a former employee of late Paris Review editor George Plimpton who says his traumatized boss once told him how Hemingway took him to one such fire squad social gathering.
Despite pushback, Fontova insists that Castro belongs on the same level as Hitler and Stalin in history’s catalogue of demonic dictators.
“Proportionately, he was right up there with the big boys,” Fontova said. “Cuba’s population in 1960 was only 6.5 million. Castro and Che simply couldn’t get their hands on as many victims as Hitler or Stalin.”
See below TheDC’s extended interview with Fontova about his new book, what he thinks of Obama’s policy toward Cuba and much more.
Why did you decide to write the book?
Because almost everything most people (except Cuban exiles) think they know about Cuba isn’t just wrong — it’s almost the exact opposite of the truth. You really get tired of people citing “The Godfather II” to make intellectual points about Cuba. If this sounds hyperbolic here’s the man widely hailed as the top news source for Americans under 40 nowadays: “All I know about pre-Castro Cuba I learned from the Godfather II!” (Jon Stewart, July 23, 2008)
Why has Castro come to be idealized by many quarters in America?
Baby-Boomer nostalgia accounts for much of it. He and Che and Raul were the first “hippies” (beatniks actually). These young, cool long-haired guys stuck it to “The Man.” (America with a bald old golfer as president, with June Cleaver and Ozzie and Harriet on TV, etc.) In April 1959 Fidel spoke at Harvard on the same bill as Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, and it seemed perfectly congruous. Both were cool long-haired, bearded beatniks. Abysmal ignorance of conditions in pre-Castro Cuba (which actually had a higher per-capita income than half of Europe, and relatively little gambling and prostitution) and abysmal ignorance of Castro’s horrific crimes also plays a huge role.
Who have been the biggest useful idiots in America propagandizing for Cuba in recent times?
Andrea Mitchell is still at it big time, Dan Rather, Michael Moore, Ted Turner are too. Here’s a few more:
“Fidel Castro could have been Cuba’s Elvis!” (Dan Rather.)
“Fidel Castro is one hell of a guy! You people would like him!” (Ted Turner)
“Fidel Castro is old-fashioned, courtly—even paternal, a thoroughly fascinating figure!” (Andrea Mitchell.)
“Castro has brought very high literacy and great health-care to his country. His personal magnetism is powerful, his presence is commanding.” (Barbara Walters.)
“Viva Fidel! Viva Che!” (Jesse Jackson)
Fidel Castro is “Very selfless and moral. One of the world’s wisest men.” (Oliver Stone.)
Fidel Castro is “A genius.” (Jack Nicholson.)
“Fidel, I love you. We both have beards. We both have power and want to use it for good purposes. ” (Francis Ford Coppola.)
What was Ernest Hemingway’s view of the Cuban Revolution? I know he lived in Cuba at the time, though I read he only met Castro once.
Hemingway hailed Castro’s revolution as “very pure and beautiful.” He was also a guest of honor at many of Che Guevara’s firing squad massacres. Hemingway loved to watch Che’s firing squads murder hundreds of Cubans. Hemingway would watch the massacres from a picnic chair while sipping Daiquiris. In the 1940’s Hemingway also operated briefly as a KGB agent. These sound like a “crackpot” accusations, I know. But they’re fully documented in my book — and by eye-witnesses.
You say Cuban agents of influence have infiltrated American thinks tanks and universities. What do you mean by this? Are you saying that they are being funded by Cuba to propagandize for the country?
Most aren’t being actually funded by Castro. As was historically the case with Communist agents, they’re mostly “true believers.” Alger Hiss, for instance, never asked for a penny from Stalin. They do it — not for the love of money — but for the love of ideology. But my book does uncover (with full-documentation) how the media’s top go-to-guy on Cuba, Phil Peters (he’s consulted and quoted relentlessly from the NY Times to WaPo, to CNN to NPR, etc.), gets under-the-table payments from one of the Castro regime’s top business partners, Canada’s Sherritt International.
What is your evidence that ABC’s 20/20 was blackmailed into killing a story that debunked Michael Moore’s movie about the Cuban health care system? And how did Cuba blackmail ABC?
I got it straight from the Cuban dissidents who risked their lives to sneak cameras into Cuba’s genuine hospitals (the ones actual Cubans are forced to use) after being told ABC would show the footage. I also got it from a former ABC producer who wished her name withheld from my book, but who I trust, because everything she said jived exactly with what the Cuban dissidents told me. Castro officials simply told ABC that renewing the visa for their Havana Bureau would “come under scrutiny” if they ran the entire show filmed by the dissident cameras. So they killed it. I’m the one who heard about the blackmail from the distraught Cuban dissidents. So I called Fox News, explained the deal, and got Hannity to run an entire show on it.
What do you think of President Obama’s Cuba policy?
It’s helping further enrich, entrench and embolden the Castro regime. In executive order after executive order, Pres. Obama abolished Pres. Bush’s travel and remittance restrictions to Castro’s terrorist-sponsoring fiefdom and opened the dollar pipeline to a point where the cash-flow from the U.S. to Cuba today is estimated at $4 billion. While a proud Soviet satrapy Cuba received $3-5 billion annually from the Soviets. Some “embargo.” You’d never know it from the media but within the past few weeks the Castro regime was caught red-handed shipping a huge tanker-load of illegal weapons (including missile equipment) to North Korea, a fleet of Russian warships visited Havana, Cuba’s vice president visited Iran to “expand ties,” Cuba’s vice foreign Minister visited Pyongyang to foment “closer cooperation,” and Amnesty International decried the wave of terror against Cuban dissidents, naming five of them as “prisoners of conscience.” In brief, the Stalinist regime is fat, happy and cocky.
Where do you rank Castro in history’s catalogue of despicable dictators? You say that he jailed prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin and murdered more Cubans than Hitler during Hitler’s first 6 years in power. But as monstrous as Castro is, you don’t really place him on the same level of Hitler and Stalin, do you?
Proportionately he was right up there with the big boys. Cuba’s population in 1960 was only 6.5 million. Castro and Che simply couldn’t get their hands on as many victims as Hitler or Stalin. Had Castro gotten his wish (starting a nuclear war) his numbers would probably surpass the big boys. Castro’s lust for nuclear war horrified even the “Butcher of Budapest” (Nikita Khrushchev). “Is he CRAZY?!” gasped Nikita to his son Sergei as Castro kept urging him to push the buttons on Oct. 28 1962. “But that is insane!…Remove them (our missiles) as soon as possible! Before it’s too late. Before something terrible happens!”
So much for JFK “Standing up to da Russians!” during the Missile Crisis. In fact what got the missiles out of Cuba was Khrushchev’s well-founded fear that Castro might get too close to the buttons.