|Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter in Cuba in 2002|
“His administration was the only one that took some steps to lessen the criminal blockade imposed on our people.” ...“The Revolution always appreciated his valiant gesture. In the year 2002, it received him warmly. Now, I reiterated to him its respect and esteem.”Castro also claimed that it was the “extreme fascist right in the United States” that led to President Carter’s Cuba policy failing at the time. However, a book written by his chief body guard, Juan Reinaldo Sánchez Crespo, gives a better insight as to how Castro viewed President Carter and how he applied this knowledge at the time.
|Book written by Castro's chief body guard|
For me, Sánchez’s most appalling indictment of Fidel concerns the chaotic exodus of more than 125,000 Cubans in 1980 from the port of Mariel. Most who fled were members of Cuban exile families living in the United States. They were allowed to board boats brought by relatives and to make the crossing to South Florida.This episode was a contributing factor, along with a terrible economy, the hostage crisis in Iran that led the American public in 1980 to elect Ronald Reagan president who reversed Carter's policies on Cuba. What should worry citizens of the United States is that Obama's new Cuba policy is a sequel to Carter's 1970s Cuba policy.
But many of the boats were forcibly loaded by Cuban authorities with criminals and mentally ill people plucked from institutions on the island. Few of us who have studied Fidel Castro have doubted that it was he who ordered those dangerous Cubans to be exported to the United States. He has persuaded few with his denials of any role in the incident.
Yet Sánchez adds an appalling new twist to the saga. We learn that prison wards and mental institutions were not hurriedly emptied, as was previously believed. Sánchez reveals that Castro insisted on scouring lists of prisoners so that he could decide who would stay and who would be sent to the United States. He ordered interior minister Jose Abrahantes to bring him prisoner records.
Sánchez was seated in an anteroom just outside of Fidel’s office when the minister arrived. The bodyguard listened as Fidel discussed individual convicts with Abrahantes.
“I was present when they brought him the lists of prisoners,” Sánchez writes, “with the name, the reason for the sentence, and the date of release. Fidel read them, and with the stroke of a pen designated which ones could go and which ones would stay. ‘Yes’ was for murderers and dangerous criminals; ‘no’ was for those who had attacked the revolution.” Dissidents remained incarcerated.
A number of the criminal and psychopathic marielitos put on the boats to Florida went on to commit heinous crimes — including mass murder, rape, and arson.