Castro In His Own Words

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Peter Kornbluh, director of the Cuba Documentation Project at the National Security Archives is serializing chapters from the book in The Nation beginning this week, talks about the publication of Castro's autobiography.

Fidel Castro: My Life: A Spoken Autobiography, is available for purchase at


Peter Kornbluh

Comments [22]


Nick, I prefer the Hollywood version of "Frankenstein" to the book.

Raul Castro is already positioned for the sequel, "The Brother of Frankenstein".

One thing you overlook is that due to the prison like grip on Cuba, Cubans are forced to go to extraordinary means (rafts, stowaways) to LEAVE Cuba.

Others go to such lengths to ENTER the US.

Which is the prison?

Jan. 02 2008 12:13 PM
Tomas from Bergen County, New Jersey

I am a 58 year old first generation Cuban-American. I last visited Cuba as a 10 year old during August,1959. That was a time when you could drive to Key West, FL. and take a ferry to Havana!

There is a long complex history between Cuba and United States dating from the 1750's. To better understand the evolution of Cuba/US relations read Hugh Thomas' excellent book "Cuba - The Pursuit of Freedom." Another excellent source is Tad Szulc's book "Fidel, A Critical Portrait." And if you have the stamina then read Jon Lee Anderson's "Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life."

United States government missed an opportunity to create a more diplomatically nuanced and economically balanced relationship between the two governements. Instead Richard Nixon, bowing to corporate and other special interests negociated (demanded?)the same old same old, master and servant. Castro rejected this. Bold move.

The US response, the embargo. Shame on the US government. The embargo has done more harm to the Cuban people than Castro government policies.

The US government tried to bully the newly formed Cuban government. A wrongheaded strategy practiced to this day by the US government.

Jan. 02 2008 12:05 PM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Yes, definitely a lot of the people who "flee" Cuba are actually looking for better economic opportunities rather than running from political persecution.

However, what it is still evidence of is that Cuba isn't doing so well. We can blame it on the embargo, but when you consider that virtually every other country can do business with Cuba, the embargo is not really a legitimate argument. American money is not some sort of magical nectar of life that sustains so much more than money from other parts of the world. Much of Cuba's woes is due to its own bad policies. This also goes in some of the supposedly "capitalist" economies listed above that are really far more socialist than most other countries in the Western world.

Jan. 02 2008 11:57 AM
Nick Lento from NJ

Dear Karen,

You've been to Cuba 4 times and you actually think Castro is some how right to "keep control" as you put it.

I dare say, if someone in Cuba was as contrary to their official government position as you are to ours; they would be, to use your word, "controlled".

Castro has killed and tortured dissidents; there's no way to sugarcoat that ugly reality.

As much as I abhor the evils of US policy...fighting evil with more evil is wrong and ultimately counterproductive.

When Castro dies there will be a big mess.

If Cuba were run as a truly enlightened socialist democracy Castro would have retired years ago and the place would be run by the best of the best; not just Castro friends and family.

Castro and Bush actually have a lot in common!

Jan. 02 2008 11:53 AM
Leo from Queens

In Response to Edward:

You point out that Cubans are forced to flee the "worker's paradise" as if this is proof of the horrors of the Cuban regime. You fail to point out that there are a LOT MORE (in terms of percentage of population) who are forced to flee such "market-driven democracies" which receive preferential treatment and money from the US such as Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, etc. There are a lot more of these who put their lives at risk and thousands who die each year fleeing these democratic paradises

Jan. 02 2008 11:51 AM
Owen from Rochester


Kudos for doing a good show on Cuba and Castro. Far too often, discussions of Cuba devolve into apoplectic shouting matches with no one acknowledging the complexities of the situation. Most radio hosts could only accomplish a civil discussion of Cuba by excluding listeners. I was very impressed by the range of nuanced opinions expressed by the callers--so kudos to your screeners, too, I guess.

Jan. 02 2008 11:46 AM
Nick Lento from NJ

Yes Edward , Frankenstein and the monster ended up destroying each other. Read the book.

Bottom line; evil begets evil.

We're supposed to be the good guys. We have this wonderful Constitution that we crap on daily.

Did you listen to Brian's show with Naomi Wolfe?

Here's a talk you should watch...

Like I said, Castro is a bum...but we played a large role in degrading him. No one's hands are clean in this fiasco.

Jan. 02 2008 11:44 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

I think with his passing from Cuban politics (and eventual passing from this world) will lead to a gradual opening up of Cuba. It seems like Raul will make moves towards that, and when he passes power to someone else soon(since he's no young fellow himself) it will continue.

But we have to adapt our position, and we can't continue this hardline position that has done absolutely nothing to improve the situation. We've legitimized some of his claims, we've given him excuses to clamp down on civil rights with our assasination attempts, infiltration of his government, attempts at subversion, etc. It's time to leave the regime with no more excuses by extending the olive branch. We don't want to pass on this animosity to a whole new generation.

Jan. 02 2008 11:43 AM
Alberto Denis from Astoria, Queens

As a first generation Cuban-American, born here in '74, I too was raised in a home taught to vehemently deny Castro and his regime.

Growing up with education has permitted me to open my own opinions away from a black and white perspective that recognizes many of the benefits that he's brought to his nation in addition to accepting the more questionable actions taken as well.

If you continue to do the same thing for 50 years (that means all parties in this conflict) then you'll continue to the get the same results. If any party desires change then a change in policy is required to create even the possibility of new results whatever they may be.

Do we want things to change?

Jan. 02 2008 11:40 AM
Karen from brooklyn

Having been to Cuba 4 times and met with officials, clinics, neighborhoods and know people who live there who are community leaders and artists, I would say that in my view as an outsider, life in Cuba, while not easy, is more balanced here than in the U.S. The fact that most Cubans live in the same economic level, can own their own homes (or have the ability to own property), are highly educated and have access to information, seems more "free" to me than what we get here in the U.S. Definitely, we have more "stuff" and access to money and buying, but really, is that what we need more of? Cuba does not have a lot of resources, mostly because of the embargo and it's complex rules.

If you look at a copy of Granma, you will see that they cover international events such as the fires in California to publishing Chavez's entire speech in October.

I can totally understand why Castro would need to keep control. In the same way, it happens in the U.S. What he has created is really an interesting and successful (yet not perfect) case of how one can create a society without the U.S and outside of the traditional sense of political "isms."

Jan. 02 2008 11:39 AM
Raconteuse from Brooklyn Heights

It would be interesting to quantify just how much is the American-led embargo is to blame for these shortages suffered by the Cuban people...

I have met Americans studying medicine on the island who have been harassed by American immigration when they return to visit. One told me her books were confiscated by an officer and never returned.

Jan. 02 2008 11:37 AM

Continuing the Frankenstein metaphor, once Dr. Frankenstein realized his creation was a monster, the good Dr. worked to destroy the monster.

Jan. 02 2008 11:34 AM
Eric from B'klyn

Embargo, embargo, embargo

Jan. 02 2008 11:33 AM
Nick Lento from NJ

"""Google Results 1 - 10 of about 13,700 for Castro ticker tape parade. """

There are many references to this parade on Google. Check it out.

America created Castro the dictator; he just wanted social justice in contrast to Batista. If America had simply cooperated with Castro in allowing Cuba to become a socialist state...there would never have been the kind of hatred and hostility and nuclear stand off that ensued.

Hell, we tried to KILL the man numerous times! Is he supposed to love us and be nice?

Castro is a dictator and a monster, yes.....but American policies shaped his pathology. He's our Frankenstein.

Jan. 02 2008 11:29 AM
Johnny from QUeens

The Cuban Government has tried to have elections in Cuba, this little known fact is something the US Govt has tried to suppress and after the murders of JFK.

Jan. 02 2008 11:28 AM

If the Castro dictatorship family business is so wonderful, why are people driven to flee "The Workers Paradise" as people fled East Berlin?

Cuba is a family business. Raul Castro keeps the business in the family.

Jan. 02 2008 11:28 AM
P. Johnson from Manhattan

Brian, you always bend over backwards to be fair and balanced in your commentary but you, like most American journalists, throw your objectivity out the window when it comes to Fidel Castro.

I thought that your interjection of "Surprise! Surprise!" when describing the author of Castro's "autobiography" as "sympathetic," was gratuitous. Naturally, any interviewer who is trusted enough to collaborate on an autobiography is going to be sympathetic.

Jan. 02 2008 11:27 AM
Paulo from Paterson, New Jersey

Well, I'm staunchly anti-communist, and I'm certainly no fan of Castro, but I can't really claim to have any special animosity towards him. He and his regime are the product of the crucible in which it was formed. It was salvageable. If we made friends with him quickly, we could've opened up Cuba before it even closed. It's a lot easier to influence a friend than to influence an enemy. And ironically, if we had done so, he almost certainly wouldn't be there anymore.

Jan. 02 2008 11:21 AM
Jean Bond from Upper Manhattan

History will record that Fidel Castro was one of the most brilliant and accomplished leaders of a nation in all of human history.

Jan. 02 2008 11:19 AM
Leo from Queens


Castro is not a polarizing figure - Obviously he has been a dictator because of the threat from the US and the Cuban mafia in Miami. But he is only a polarizing figure to those racist mob bosses who lost their opportunity to make money in Cuba in the Late 50's and early 60's.
Have you or ANYONE ever done a comparison of Cuba against any Central American or Caribbean nation and determined the difference in quality of life of Cubans Vs. most other Latin Americans despite the fact that they have had no access to foreign markets and loans from International institutions or billions of dollars from the American Taxpayer (I.e., El Salvador Vs. Cuba).
Castro has not been a bloody or repressive dictator like the res of dictators in LA or the rest of the World. Most Latin Americans - who do have accurate information about Cuba - mostly admire him.

Jan. 02 2008 11:17 AM

The only term-limit in Cuba is mortality.

Jan. 02 2008 11:16 AM
Sean Pisano from Brooklyn

It is really strange that I have no idea what life in Cuba is really like. In some versions Cuba is a utopia and would be in a better place if the US would remove the blocks it has on the country. In other versions the people of Cuba are slave to the Castro Empire...

Jan. 02 2008 11:14 AM

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