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Subject Topic: Castro and Hemingway - Good Buddies? Post ReplyPost New Topic
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donmadge
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Posted: 19 March 2006 at 9:52pm | IP Logged Quote donmadge

Why does Castro revere the memory of Hemingway?  Evidence of this is abundant!  I put this question to a friend who was a member of National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.  The ensuing conversation is worthy of an article in itself.

The thing that atonished me was that she said they were friends.  I thought this to be impossible.   "Of course they knew each other they were friends.  Castro was a latino Hemingway; a charismic macho womanizer"!  Okay!!

I got to thinking about Hemingway and his days in Spain.  He was cavorting with the Internationale, "pretty much a bunch of pinkos", to quote some of your leading politicians.  So was Hemingway a fugitive from the likes of McCarthy et al?

This friendship would have to be in the years before and during the time when Fidel was fighting up in Oriente province. 

I have a sister-in-law that receives royal treatment whenever she goes to Cuba.  My research tells me her father was a friend of Hemingway and a non-friend of Batista.  He was likely a member of the Crook Factory.  Understanding, the relationship between these men is important to my research.



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hijo
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Posted: 20 March 2006 at 12:44am | IP Logged Quote hijo

Don: many of our (US) politicians changed stripes when it became advantageous. I realize what a shock that may be.

Even the U.S. government became a bit less fond of Batista prior to Castro and Che taking Havana in 1959. According to the National Archives, a great source of declassified historic documents (though recent attempts to re-classify and shield some such documents from the public have met with outcry), Castro came to Washington, D.C. in 1959, seeking support.

A noted anti-Communist (the finder of the "Alger Hiss tape") was Vice President Richard Milhous Nixon at the time. Castro met with Nixon. Nixon reported back to Eisenhower et al that Castro "can't be trusted."

There you have it. The origins of our desire to be rid of Castro.

There's more. Apparently when settling his estate, Mary Hemingway visited with Castro at the Finca Vigia. Castro at the time hadn't been to the place, though some of his troops had allegedly been scouting it out and killed one of Hemingway's dogs in the process. Upon visiting with Mary, and asking if he could see where Hemingway wrote, Castro bounded up to the tower writing room ahead of his security detail to take a look.

This incident, reported by Mary to the State Department (where she had friends) resulted in one plot to assassinate Castro in the tower. The plot never materialized, and I don't think Castro went back to the tower when Mary and the State Department considered it property of U.S. citizens. I don't know if Mary was ever paid for the Finca, or what exactly are the terms of the preservation of it.

Yes, Hemingway was an anti-fascist, and yes, Joseph McCarthy was essentially a fascist, using fear and innuendo to build not only his own career, but several others, including but not limited to Nixon's. Eisenhower didn't know what to do about McCarthy. But Edward R. Murrow, who likely not accidentally wound up the first director of the U.S. Information Agency, did. Murrow, like many - including Hemingway - had been involved in the labor struggles that preceeded World War II, which gave rise to growing numbers of disaffected mostly youth joining various movements that promised a more equitable approach.

My parents were Socialists, and took great pains to make that distinction from Bolsheviks, which scared the crap out of most people as much as the Citizens of the French Revolution did. They in fact were "Trotskyists," Leon Trotsky favoring a more Socialist (essentially, democratic) approach to governing over the totalitarian Communist ideals of the Bolsheviks (Lenin, Stalin, etc.).

And yes, most people associated with the International Brigades were considered "Reds," not even "pinko," though they considered themselves Republicans - as in supporting the right of Spain to be a representative democratic Republic patterned on our own (as in 1948 became India under Jarwaharlal Nehru).

But that doesn't mean they were Communists. In fact, most likely weren't. But the Bolsheviks, running Russia, had experience not only with revolution, but also with military tactics and strategy using ideology as a means of manipulation (now there's a stretch, right?). And they took over the operations and training of the Brigades (as well as having first offered to organize them). As suggested before, the movie "Land and Liberty" (in Spanish, "Tierra y Libertad,") is extremely well done and accurate, even though directed (or perhaps because?) by David Lynch. It shows that, as with all groups formed by idealists, infighting threatened to undermine the grand project.

Anyway, I digress, and I'm sure you know this history already.

Point is that Hemingway had met Castro, and been photographed with him, but that didn't make them friends. I think Hemingway probably hated Batista, and admired Castro's ability as a leader and guerrilla (which translated simply means "warrior").

I also have no doubt Castro to this day admires Hemingway for his cultural, social and literary sensitivity. Castro's parents were Galician - I don't know when they left, but if it was during Spain's Civil War, there's another connection. Many Civil War veterans fled to Cuba after Franco took over. That's why and how Hemingway was able to convince the U.S. Ambassador during WWII that he could set up and collect intelligence. He had many friends in many places. Like any good correspondent.

Lastly, at a time when Cuba had few friends, I think Castro enjoyed suggesting Hemingway was a friend of Cuba's.

But Hemingway became depressed, paranoid, etc not long after the taking of Havana. He moved in a hurry to Ketchum, knowing he likely would never be back to Cuba, a country whose people he sort of adopted, and had known for many years (including those he'd been with in Spain).

That's one reason why I, in dellerium, suspected Hemingway saw some kind of planning/rehearsal for the Bay of Pigs from his vantage point at the tower on Finca Vigia, and the tearing in half of his loyalties both personal and national may have wound up too much. The failed invasion by the U.S.-led group was in April 1961. Hemingway shot himself that July. You be the judge.

One thing of which there is no doubt: he hated Joseph McCarthy. As did any true American.

Best,
hijo

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donmadge
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Posted: 20 March 2006 at 9:11pm | IP Logged Quote donmadge

Hi Hijo,

Several of my remarks were tongue in cheek.  The subject of Fidel Castro is such a delicate one.  Speaking as a Canadian I know I can anger Americans by suggesting that they have a racial problem, I can send them into orbit if I suggest they have a class problem.  But if I want to put an American into into another galaxy all I have to say is Fidel ain't such a bad guy. 

Most Canadians regard him as a benevolent dictator who demands and gets total control.  However, to any of us who have spent any amount of time in Cuba we know him as one who loves his people dearly, except those who would have him deposed.  Why wouldn't he like Cubans they are indeed the finest, most hard working and honest people in all of Latin America.  However, they are frustrated by Castroite control and if the US would let go of its repressive foreign policy he would be gone in a heartbeat.

So hopefully you and I have set the stage for a dispassionate discussion on the subject and can freely use the F word or the C word. 

I suspect that you and I share identical views on Spain and the Internationale so this takes me to my main question: "What relationship if any existed between Castro and Hemingway"?

The timing of Hemingway's suicide with the failed Bay of Pigs Op could be interpreted in many ways from the vantage point of my research.  Hemingway did suicide I believe because he found himself in a helpless and hopeless state of mind and body.  On top of that he was coming out of a major depression and being forced to leave Cuba was just too much. 

Before I attempt to explain further I should relate to you the experiences of my friend Bonnie who has so kindly allowed me to tell some of the story of her life in Cuba as a member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra.  She is really my wife's friend, but counts me as a friend as well.  Her accomplishments in the field of music have made her a civic treasure in Calgary.  She is of such great character and pretty such a non-partisan person I can vouch for the credibility of her story.

I put the above question to her and her immediate answer was as I said in the opening post: "Of course they knew each other they were friends.  Castro was a Latino Hemingway; a charismatic macho womanizer"!  Actually she said it in reverse after much discussion.

She was telling me that in the early days every red blooded woman, and not just the pink blooded one's, fantasized about Fidel.  She said she thought her position in the orchestra would be a ticket to meet Fidel.  However, Fidel disliked classical music big time so she didn't get to meet him that way.  However, she met his current paramour socially and they became fast friends.  This is where she got the impression that the two men met somewhere on a common ground.  Such a common ground was achieved by Pierre Elliot Trudeau and lately by your President Carter.

If Hemingway was a friend of my father-in-law it was because the two men shared a common political view.  Hijo if Hemingway were alive I believe he would have liked you for the same reasons. 

In the meantime, let's hold on to our chair and wait for the views of other's.  Once again the question is why does Castro revere the life of Ernest Hemingway?

Tonight Marie and I will watch the George C. Scott's movie of Islands in the Stream.  So as I said," Marie be prepared to meet your dad talking with an Aussie accent".  One of her Dad's best friends was an Aussie paper hanger who wallpapered the whole house for free.  She remembers the two of them singing Walzing Mathilda.

Best

 

Don

 



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Posted: 20 March 2006 at 9:41pm | IP Logged Quote donmadge

Hijo,

I just read your note for the third time. Did you say Galician?  Castro's parents spoke Galician?  The NWMP (North West Mounted Police) record of the 1908 attempted murder trial of my father-in-law records that he spoke Galician and that a Ukranian witness said he couldn't understand what he said because he was speaking Galician.  He also spoke Ukranian and for the longest time we thought this was a period term for Ukranian.  However, near Duck Lake there was an Oblate order of the priesthood that spoke Iberian Galician. 

Languages in order of fluency:

German, Russian, Polish, Ukranian, English, French, Spanish, Galician, Cree..Chipawan and Ojibway

His English, French and Spanish were on a par.  His wife who was Polish did not think him truly Polish and certainly not Ukranian, yet he was raised in a Ukranian-Russian home.

He told Marie that if you got the key you could learn any new language quickly.  When you have to learn your fourth language you get the key.  My friend Bonnie says the same about musical instruments.

Best

Don



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papa key
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Posted: 21 March 2006 at 5:30pm | IP Logged Quote papa key

did you knopw that eisenhower worked behind the scenes to take macarthy down? I learned this on wikipedia look up presidents and click on eisenhower.

 

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donmadge
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Posted: 21 March 2006 at 6:08pm | IP Logged Quote donmadge

Yes I knew about Eisenhower and others in the US Army.  McCarthy's big mistake was taking on the Army.  Were he to have left them alone he might have raged on for several more years.  I don't care what people might  say, but Hemingway was vulnerable to McCarthy and had to get out of Castro's Cuba for fear of guilt by association.  Earlier some of his friends had to get out because of the US Mafia.  This lobby group was no doubt a factor in determining US hatred towards Cuba.  The Mafia had its whole world expropriated.  Too bad the US didn't follow suit and expropriate their stinking corruption.

Hemingway stands tall in my opinion because he was one of those people that fought fascism from the left, but not too far to the left.  Castro could have taken an altogether course if he had been given US support instead of the cold shoulder.  Maybe his name might now be close to the top of a list of revolutionary Latin American democrats.  Oh what if!

Fidel turned to the Soviet Union to help his people and after being labelled a Communist he probably said to himself, "Okay so you  say Communist, I'll show you Communist"!



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Posted: 22 March 2006 at 4:59pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Don and Papa Key: The "What if" has bothered not only me for a very long time. Especially after I read in the CIA IG's report on the Bay of Pigs that Castro met with Nixon in '59, which could have made all the difference.

I believe Nixon was hoping to out-do McCarthy with anti-Communist zeal, and probably was more responsible for the Bay of Pigs plan than Eisenhower (under whose administration it was first devised). Eisenhower was threatened by McCarthy because he wouldn't take him on directly in his re-election campaign. I still think Nixon became his VP to appease some of the mouth-frothing HUAC members.

We all know how Nixon turned out. But why we continue with the "Castro can't be trusted" view he propogated after one meeting I'm not sure, other than politics - Florida politics in particular. Why does the embargo persist? Why after the "Fall of Communism" (many of us keep asking: and what kind of government runs China?) are we still so pissed at Castro we keep choking his tiny island? Why do we have a "Wet-foot, Dry-foot" policy for Cubans, but not Haitians?

A 47-year grudge, pure and simple. Nixon rejected Castro's pleas for support, since Batista had been helping the Mafia and other interests on the island. Who was Bebe Rebozzo? Who came to Nixon's aid to form the Plumbers? Where do we learn of E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy before Watergate?

Is Castro Communist? Even the AP isn't sure. They keep alternatively refering to Cuba as a Communist country, or a Socialist system. Again - it is far easier to pass on false information, or labels that may or may not have bearing on reality, than to actually delve into the fine points of a political system.

Sorry. I know none of this is your question. But it is leading me to this: thank you for suggesting Hemingway might like me for my politics. Much of my politics first came about because it was my parents' politics, which my father at least was convinced Hemingway shared.

Communist? No. No more than George Orwell was Communist. Mussolini, now there was a Communist who became a Fascist. No, my politics, and from what I've read, Hemingway's, had more to do with human interaction. I hate, and have always hated, and always wanted to put in place, bullies - whether they be individuals, gangs, groups or nations. People who intimidate others to get their way, who threaten, who coerce, who blackmail, who abuse others' good intentions.

I don't know if it's learned, from life experience, or genetic. But I can tell you, when I see someone being bullied I have a difficult time not taking the bully out - I can hardly sit through watching tough-talking Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity, so sanctimonious from their pulpits and I can just imagine the look on their faces when confronted by a real, true, life-endangering threat.

Hemingway apparently wrote a scathing letter to McCarthy after several of his friends and associates were being mentioned on the infamous lists the Senator bandied about (when finally looked at, it turned out to be a blank piece of paper - really).

Plus his raising funds for ambulances, his narration of and help in The Spanish Earth, his statements between the wars, and his war-time associates and activities (who do you think comprised much of the FIFIs? Spanish Civil War refugees), his Hollywood friends, all put him squarely on the opposite side of the table from McCarthy.

J.Edgar Hoover called him a drunk and wanted him watched. McCarthy, the House Un-American Activities Committee, and McCarthy's helpful attorney/attack dog Roy Cohn could never have gotten the dosiers on individuals they did without J. Edgar's help.

Again - you know this history. Suffice to say I don't have that hard a time seeing Hemingway and Castro being friends, I just don't know of any event or evidence other than a photograph that might lead one to that conclusion. They were similarly admired, yes, as they both portrayed no-holds-barred machismo - which isn't technically bravado or posing, but is essentially a masculine virility (macho being the Spanish word for male animals, and embra being the word for female animals).

Were someone, like your friend, to assure me they were friends, rather than just a mutual admiration society, I'd have no reason to doubt or question it. I just have never seen or heard any clear evidence suggesting it - and if it exists, likely Hemingway prefered to not have it bandied about before or after April 1961.

Part of what made the Bahia de Cochinos raid so bad was Castro and his militias (led by brother and potential successor Raul) seemed to have had advance warning of its likely occurrance, and the location of the disastrous amphibious landing. Any number of people could have tipped Castro off, for any number of reasons including money. But it has always bothered me that Hemingway lived within view of Havana and knew the coast so well he could run it in a boat in the dark.

What if he saw something, or knew something, or suspected something? What if he had friends on both sides of the water and tried to prevent it from coming about? What if, already depressed at having to leave Cuba, truly being in trouble with the IRS (according to Reynolds he was taxed at like 80%), and actually being watched for any potential "un-American activity" by the FBI, not to mention his endocrine system being bashed up, his liver and head bashed up, and his wondering half the time how or why he wound up with Mary, he knew some things, or thought he did, and he could do nothing to stop the thing set in motion for fear of his own personal existence?

Were it me, and I he, and my work and time feeling pretty much done, my kids old enough to survive without me, the world having basically decided it was done with me, and either someone left me the keys to my gun cabinet in an easy-to-get-to place, or whispered in my ear I had one thing left I could do, I cannot now sit here and tell you I'd do otherwise.

Especially after the massacre at Bahia de Cochinos, which is what it wound up being. And not incidentally why I and some others think JFK wound up dead in Dallas.

As for Galicia: yes, I have heard more than once that Castro's parents were Galician. And it is a dialect. In fact, Galicians are called "Gallegos," and the dialect is called "Gallego," meaning essentially Gaelic.

Now. The Basque language, Euskera (Ey-Yoo-Skare-a), could be mistakenly pronounced Yooskera. Ukranian? I don't know anything about it.

But Wrobes or whomever suggested there are keys to learning multiple languages is absolutely correct. The first key is getting past the idea it isn't possible. I had a professor who swore he'd teach us all the Devanagari script for Hindi in two weeks. And did.

I studied French. I am fluent in Spanish. Because of the Spanish, I can understand Italian, and have learned a bit of it. The same is true for French. Those are Latin-based languages.

I studied Hindi/Urdu, which is based in Sanskrit. Urdu uses an Arabic script that appears to be a derrivation of the Sanskrit, with the top line removed.

Most European languages are "Indo-European," meaning they've got both Sanskrit and Latin bases. The classic we teach with is the word for Orange. In Hindi, it is pronounced "na-ran-gee," as in "a-narange." In Spanish, it's "naran-ha," as in "a-naranja." In English, it's an orange. "A-norange." "A-narange"....

What do we still say when someone gets married? They're "tying the knot." Though that is actually a part of the Hindu marriage ceremony...

Chinese and Japanese are similar languages, using similar characters. But in Japanese, the word "Arigato" is really "Obrigado" - Portuguese for thank you.

I studied the Cyrillic alphabet when I took Russian in high school, and could converse with a Polish friend who was a fellow dish washer in a Chinese restaurant. I can also sound out Czech and any other Cyrillic based language (including Greek), though I have no idea what the words mean.

If you learn an alphabet, and pronounciation, and grammatical structure (to conjugate or not conjugate, always the question), it is indeed possible.

Chippewa, Ojibway, Lac du Flambeu - they're all ultimately Sioux (Lakota) language. I overheard the son of a family friend, an artist, once refer to me as "Wasichu" - a white man. He was Lakota from North Dakota. He didn't know I knew what it meant.

In my job, a guy hangs around, people talk, you hear things. That's how you learn.

Were Ernest and Fidel friends? I don't know and can't say. Castro's still around, though, and Ernest is long gone. And does it matter now? Except perhaps for your research ... which I don't think I have any more ideas to help you with for now.

Except this one: J. Edgar and friends kept files on Hemingway in Cuba. That means likely they had files on "known associates" as well (a common law-enforcement technique I first saw used in the ROPE program (for repeat offenders)).

Maybe it's time to file a U.S. Freedom of Information Act Request for any FBI files in which Wrobes or any aliases or others are mentioned? Especially during the 1930s-50s? And don't forget to try the National Archives. It truly is a treasure trove.

Best, as always,
hijo
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Daughter
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Posted: 22 March 2006 at 6:18pm | IP Logged Quote Daughter

fascinating!!

Gail

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hijo
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Posted: 22 March 2006 at 11:10pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Correction: "varone" is more often used in Spanish to indicate a male animal, while "embra" is for a female. But "macho" as in "un macho" has essentially the same connotation. There's a Spanish saying: "soy hecho y derecho, con pelo por mi pecho" - I'm formed and correct, with hair on my chest (the very definition of macho).

"And they sang and they danced as they walked upon the billibong ..."

The world's all-time best marching song, slow or fast, filled with melancholy and longing. Sung by some of the world's best, from Gallipoli to Burma to Saigon and now...

Always worth a toast to the kukabura. My father was a fan, and told me tales of "the coast watchers."

Best, and good luck - she'll be right, mate,
hijo
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donmadge
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Posted: 23 March 2006 at 12:26am | IP Logged Quote donmadge

Hijo,

I once visited the Finca, but at a time before my current interest.  I went there because my wife wanted to visit the place.  She heard it mentioned as a child and had come to believe that it was a place that her father enjoyed.  Although a bit run down it was clearly a place of care and attention.  There seemed to be an air of reverence on the part of those who looked after the place.  It was not allowed to deteriorate with a vengeance as we saw at the site of the former US Embassy.

Cuba is a country that needs every peso it can muster just to avoid dilapidation and decrepitatiion.  So why devote so much  as a tribute to an American author?  My friend's position is that Hemingway did something extraordinary to merit this place of honour in Cuban history. 

The other night we watched Islands in the Stream and I was not surprised to see my wife identify Eddie as a man not unlike her father.  She was quite taken aback by the term Rummy, which she said her mother applied to her father.  Then she noted the alcoholism, the skill in handling a power boat, the desire to have a son, and the attachment to powerful weapons.  He loved to drink and fight and he earned a medal for training Polish volunteers in Fairburn Sykes fighting tactics.

As usual your notes are each points of interest and worthy of more than just passing interest.  Your observations on Nixon, his ascendancy and the role he played in the demonization of Castro are quite compelling.

Don



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