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True to New York Times-form, during this “battle,” the paper didn’t have a reporter within 300 miles of Santa Clara. Instead, it relied on trusty Cuban Castroite “correspondents.”
True to Che Guevara-form, the genuine bloodbath in Santa Clara came a week after the “battle,” when his opponents (real and imagined) were utterly defenseless. That’s when Che sent his goons to drag men and boys from their homes and set his firing squads to work in triple shifts. Nothing from the New York Times’ trusty correspondents on this, however. True to Communist practice, only when “Peace is Given a Chance,” when their enemies are utterly defenseless, does the bloodbath commence in earnest.
Given the new Castroite publication’s title, “Diary of a Combatant,” here are some points of interest:
“In all essentials Castro’s [and Che’s] battle for Cuba was a public relations campaign fought in New York and Washington,” wrote British historian Hugh Thomas. (Add to that, fought and won.)
After the glorious victory over Batista, some of the Castroite guerillas explained their harrowing battlefield exploits to Paul Bethel who served as U.S. press attaché in Cuba’s U.S. Embassy in 1959. “We had a helluva time, Paul!” laughed one guerrilla named William Morgan. “We used a short-wave radio to broadcast the so-called battle. We yelled fake battle commands into the mic while a few of the muchachos shot BARs and pistols into the air for the sound effects. We really whooped it up!”
Another U.S. citizen described to Bethel how he managed to duck the hail of bombs and bullets:
Che Guevara’s column shuffled right into the U.S. agricultural experimental station in Camaguey where I worked. Guevara asked manager Joe McGuire to have a man take a package to Batista’s military commander in the city. The package contained $100,000 with a note. Guevara’s men moved through the province almost within sight of uninterested Batista troops.
According to Paul Bethel, the U.S. embassy had been highly skeptical about all the battlefield bloodshed and heroics reported in the New York Times and investigated them. They ran down every reliable lead and eyewitness account of what the New York Times called a “bloody civil war with thousands dead in single battles.” They found that in the Cuban countryside, in those two years of “ferocious” battles, the total casualties on both sides actually ran to 182. New Orleans has an annual murder rate double that.
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