Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Cuban-born Humberto Fontova, who left Cuba in 1961 at age seven, has written for several conservative magazines and is the author of Fidel: Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant. He has appeared on many radio and television shows and is active in the Cuban American community. He is the author of the new book Exposing the Real Che Guevara: And the Useful Idiots Who Idolize Him.
FP: Humberto Fontova, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Fontova: It's my pleasure. Let's face it: how many media outlets are there for the truth about the Cuban Revolution and the murderous Cuban regime? Frontpage is among the few and the proud. And I'm among the grateful for that.
FP: Well thank you. We try our best.
So what made you write this book?
Fontova: The 50 year blizzard of BS in the MSM and Academia about Castro/Che and their "ideals" and "accomplishment" etc. simply drove me to mount a counterattack, in whatever modest capacity I could manage. We're talking about a regime that jailed more political prisoners (as a percentage of population) than Stalin's and for twice as long; that murdered more people (in absolute numbers) during its first three years in power than Hitler's regime murdered in it's first six; that drove out 20 percent of the population from a nation formerly inundated with immigrants.
Then I'm supposed to sit by placidly while constantly hearing my parent's generation, (middle class folks much like the readers of this magazine) who fought that regime, who include the longest-suffering political prisoners in modern history, who lost everything they'd worked for, who sacrificed all to see their children grow up free--I'm supposed to acquiesce in slanders against them as "gangsters, filthy-rich scoundrels," among other choice descriptions by the international left--and Michael Moore in particular?
Well, I'm not about to put up with it.
Mainstream Media and academic depictions of Cuban-Americans constantly fascinate me: If one of us gets down to work and raises a family, he's an effete dispossessed millionaire. If he engages in politics, he's an underhanded rascal. If he takes up arms to free his homeland, he's a terrorist. We can't win.
Now we see the Today Show reporting from Havana. Amazing. North of the Florida straits and in front of Republicans no question for these "reporters" is too rude, irrelevant or offensive; no demeanor too haughty, combative or insolent.
But just let these "reporters" cross the Florida straits and find themselves feted by a Stalinist regime. Then Eddie Haskell's addressing of June Cleaver seems combative in comparison.
FP: I feel you my friend. I come from the Soviet Union and for a lifetime listened to leftists around me praising a regime that persecuted my family and massacred millions of my people.
So what accounts for Che Guevara’s international heraldry? What exactly did he accomplish
Fontova: He accomplished exactly nothing. As I document in the book, Ernesto Guevara failed spectacularly at everything he attempted in his life--except at the mass-murder of defenseless men and boys. But he had the great fortune of linking up with the 20th century's top publicist: Fidel Castro, who hatched and propagated (with the aid of his ever-faithful media and academic accomplices) the Che legend, of which nothing is true.
FP: Most say it was Che’s "idealism" that made him attractive. But just what were those ideals?
Fontova: That's the beauty of it. We don't have to speculate about Che's ideals. They're on full display 90 miles south of Florida--a Stalinist police state where the regime mandates what its subjects, read, say, earn, eat (both substance and amount), where they live, travel or work. Che's dream wasn't to convert Latin America into Sweden--he wanted to convert it into Stalin's Soviet Union. In fact he often signed his early correspondence, "Stalin II."
This KGB-trained and worshiping hangman named Che now serves as the idol of "do your own thing" radicals and the slogan that adorns Che posters under T-shirts is "Resist Oppression." The mind boggles. It really required a sense of humor to write this book--otherwise I'd have gone nuts.
FP: Tell us about Che's violence and sadism.
Fontova: In my book, Roberto Martin-Perez who served almost 30 years in Stalinist Cuba's dungeons says "Castro ordered mass murder, but for him it was a utilitarian slaughter, in order to consolidate his power. A classic psychopath, the butchery didn't seem to affect him one way or the order. But Che Guevara, as his chief executioner, relished the slaughter. You could see it in his face as he watched men yanked from their cells and tied to the execution stake."
Che also loved toying with the distraught and sobbing mothers who came into his La Cabana office to plead for their (innocent) son's lives. He loved to pick up the phone right in front of them and bark" "Execute the Fernandez (or whoever) boy tonight!" As Mr Martin-Perez concluded: "There was something seriously, seriously wrong with Che Guevara." Alas, Che's sadism found a useful outlet as Castro's chief hangman.
FP: What did Castro think of Che?
Fontova: Castro initially found Che useful, let's put it that way. It's hard to say if Fidel Castro could ever think highly of anyone except himself. I conducted interviews with people who saw them together and all say that Fidel loved to berate Guevara savagely, and in front of the other Communist leaders, similar to how Che toyed with those poor, distraught mothers. It must have been a power ploy, by Fidel. But it's clear that by 1964 or so, Che's usefulness to Castro had run it's course. There's evidence he was under house arrest briefly in 1965.
FP: So all these distortions and outright lies regarding Che Guevara's altruism and heroism have lasted almost half a century. What does this say about modern day academics and pundits? About modern culture in general?
Fontova: It says we should be very careful about what we read by these organs. Look how long it took for the truth of the Soviet Union to finally sink in. I loved Robert Conquest's quip after the Iron Curtain fell and the truth started emerging and abundantly confirming everything he had written in his books, The Great Terror, etc.: "I told you so, you bleeping idiots!"
Sadly, Che's cachet as the worldwide symbol of Anti-Americanism let's him get away-- not just with murder--but with Mass-murder. That Anti-American cachet (the gallant David's against the American Goliath) seems to excuse all the horrors of the Cuban revolution for much of the worldwide intelligentsia. When, in fact, as I document in this book, the Castro/Che rebels were aided by the U.S. State department and CIA and after Oct 1962 the Castro/Che regime enjoyed U.S. protection as pledged by JFK to Khrushchev.
FP: You claim that Fidel Castro himself--via the Bolivian Communist party--helped seal Che's doom by feeding information to the CIA regarding Che's whereabouts in Bolivia. This is quite a revelation. The evidence? Have any of Che "scholars" broached this issue?
Fontova: Some have danced around it a bit. But none have tackled it head on. I got the evidence for Che's betrayal by Castro from a primary source --actually from the primary source: the Cuban-American CIA operative who was in overall charge of the hunting down Che in Bolivia. he was the one getting the info from the Bolivian Communists who were getting it from Castro.
FP: The real guerrilla war in Cuba, you write, was fought not by Fidel and Che--but against Fidel and Che and mostly by humble rural rebels. That strikes one as similar to the Contra war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Doesn't this fly in the face of leftist legends regarding Latin America?
Fontova: You're absolutely right. It wouldn't be so bad if what we heard and read regarding the Cuban Revolution was merely wrong. Instead the academic/MSM version is the exact opposite of the truth--it completely upends the truth. A savage anti-communist insurgency by humble rural folk was waged for six years 90 miles from our borders. But it might have occurred on another planet for all we read about it in "scholarly" tracts.
An anti-communist insurgency just doesn't fit their mental template of insurgencies--especially as it was fought against Che Guevara. I interviewed among the very core of these rebels who survived the communist massacres that finally crushed the rebellion. Their bravery awed me. Yet these people have been completely ignored by historians, scholars, reporters, etc. I try to rectify that injustice with this book.
FP: And thanks you for trying to rectify this injustice. You are doing a great service to history, freedom, truth and to the heroes that fought for Cuban freedom – and to all those who died and suffered because of its non-existence.
Let me ask you for an analysis of the psychological mindset that is involved here in terms of the Left.
Let me set the foundation here:
I know many leftists Mr. Fontova. I have even recommended this book on Che to those of my acquaintances who live their lives dedicated to this mass murderer. They won’t read it of course. But to several of them I made the comment that there is no point for them to read it, because even if the truth was proven to them regarding what a monster this sadist and executioner was, they could never accept or admit it. That’s because they couldn’t lose all of their friends and their entire social communities. They would also have to re-examine and change their entire identities, which are interwoven with seeing Che as a hero. Leftism is, after all, a social life, and it is a depersonalization of personal neuroses – and usually very pathological and malignant neuroses at that.
I have bluntly asked some of these people: “how many friends would you have left if you realized that Che was a fascist and began saying such a thing?”
I have received a eerie silence in response to this question every time.
Let me just say here, Mr. Fontova, that, throughout my life, I argued with gizzilions of leftists about communism, trying (naively) to convince them of many things. During my doctoral years in the field of Cold War History, I spent much time debating my colleagues about who was responsible for the Cold War.
My colleagues found my views very amusing. I was ridiculed. They reserved special mockery, and howling fits of laughter, for my respect for Reagan’s reference to the Soviet system as an “Evil Empire.” Till this day I remain confused as to what is so funny about it.
In any case, when the Soviet archives were opened after the fall of the Soviet regime in 1991, I devoured all of the revelations in declassified KGB documents. They all confirmed and substantiated what conservatives had been arguing for decades – that the Soviets were totalitarian and malicious expansionist aggressors that started and prolonged the Cold War.
When I approached my colleagues with this new evidence, ranging from everything from the issues of the Korean war, Berlin, Soviet espionage, American communists’ links with the Soviet regime, etc., I showed how I had been correct on every issue that we had argued about for years.
And yet, instead of hearing a mea culpa, a stated regret or admission of some kind of lesson learned, all that I received were smug disinterested facial expressions and callous and apathetic shrugs of the shoulders. These colleagues brushed me off and even told me that all of this was “old” and “ancient” and suggested that I stopped chasing “old ghosts” and “engaging in necrophilia.”
And these were historians.
I have a feeling that the leftist milieu will greet your revelation and evidence in the same way.
Give us your psychological profile of this pathological mindset.
Fontova: Well, I'm no psychologist or psychiatrist but the term "battered-wife syndrome" certainly comes to mind when contemplating Western Commie-lovers and apologists. As you probably know, these are women who refuse to see what's in front of their face, even when it's a fist three inches from bashing them in the eyes and approaching at warp speed--the same fist that bashed them 100 times before. For some reason these women keep returning to the man attached to that fist. After having their dreams pummelled by Lenin then Stalin, then Castro, then Che then Pol Pot, etc., etc (so many broken eggs, such consistently putrid omelets) these "battered--leftists" keep returning to some communist paramour in the same manner. "In denial" is a psychobabble term I generally loath. But it strikes me as ideal to describe Castro and Che fans and apologists.
During the 30's (the "Red Decade") Stalin was whooped up by everyone from Hemingway to Lilian Hellman to Dashiell Hammett to Auden to Malroux. The Spanish Civil War had much to do with it, then his cachet as victor over Hitler cranked up Stalin's heroic cachet even higher. But Khruschev's "Secret Speech" before the Soviet Congress in 1956, finally shook some foreign Stalin fans. Then, of course, Khrushchev's own invasion of Hungary had even more Western Communist lovers leaving the ranks--however slowly and grudgingly.
Nothing even remotely of this sort has taken place regarding the romantic cachet that still surrounds the Cuban Revolution and hence Fidel and Che. Many of those finally disillusioned with the Soviet Union in 1957 (Jean Paul Sartre comes to mind as a shinning example) then put all their hopes on Cuba's Communist regime--which jailed political prisoners at a rate slightly higher than Stalin's! Cuba's secret police where inspired, trained and counselled by the KGB and STASI! Almost 50 years of proof that the Castro/Che regime is Stalinism rehashed in the tropics simply will not shake the faithful.
And it's that "anti-American" cachet attached to Che that accounts for the thundering block-headedness of so many otherwise rational people. The legend of that handful of long-haired, bearded beatniks who overthrew a "brutal U.S.-backed dictatorship that repressed and impoversished Cuba," (When in fact Cuba had a higher standard of living in 1958 than half of Europe, a larger middle class than Switzerland, a more highly unionized work force than the U.S., more doctors and dentists per capita than Great Britain, more cars and televisions per capita than Canada or Germany, was inundated with immigrants.... I could go on--but will instead refer readers to my book for these statistics and the corresponding documentation.)
If those conditions represent "Yankee-exploitation" then other Latin-American nations should have been half as lucky as Cuba. And if a Stalinist police-state that mandates a monthly salary of $12 dollars a month and food rations lower than Cuban slaves ate in 1848 for its subjects, and where donkey-powered rickshaws have become a luxury item, and where the hottest items on the black market are styrofoam (to build a raft) and ping pong paddles (to paddle away with)--if conversion into such a place constitutes "liberation"....well. As I said, I wrote this book to try and dispel the mountains of outrageous humbug on Cuba we get from Academia, Hollywood and the MSM.
FP: Humberto Fontova, thank you for joining us. And thank you for being such a brave, tenacious and wise soldier for the truth and for liberty.
Fontova: Thank you Jamie.