chapter 11 - The Conspiracies Begin
With the new government came new challenges, and new headaches. If the only problem was keeping the order, taking over the social responsibilities of the previous administration and instituting the radical changes that the people had fought and won the war for, the changeover would have occured without a hitch. But when you add in the conspiracy charges, all bets are off.
The radical changes that the new administration was tasked with, giving the land back to the original owners (going only as far back as Batista's regime is concerned), bringing the previous regime's institutionalized criminals to justice, reinstating fired workers (from the several strikes), reducing rent for the poor (and subsidizing those landlords with limited income outside of the rents),and closing down the bourgeois casinos and their associated businesses, was the easy part. The subsequent street protests by the casino workers, the poorer landlords, and others were to be expected. Since Fidel was not head of state at that time, he could only act as commander in chief and head of the security provisions for the city of Havana and the country. President Urrutia was busy closing down almost any capitalistic piece of business found anywhere in the country.
But the needs of the country went way beyond the agricultural reform required by most rural areas. There were 10,000 new classrooms to be built. The huge sugarcane plantations needed to be reformed without upsetting the great cash flow they represented. The medical needs of the country became critical as half of the 30,000 doctors left the country soon after the end of the war. The national bank was almost penniless and the economy of the country needed to be brought under control for the good of all.
Fortunately, El Che had decided to stay in Cuba. His proposition to go to Argentina to begin a revolution there was put on hold and he was given ever increasing levels of authority as his great intelligence proved to be of immense service. El Che was not only a doctor, but a good tactician. He was not only a good tactician, but a great diplomat. He was not only a great diplomat, but a sage economist. Thus, it was only natural that he was finally appointed to head the national bank. The ORI, the Dirección Nacional de las Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas, of which El Che was a member, chose him to run the Banco Nacional which Batista had seen to emptying all of its vaults before leaving the country.
But the conspiracies also brought their fair share of misfortune. Sabotage by people working against the government took its fair share of equipment and delays. Many newspapers openly sponsored aggression against Fidel and his government. Pirates would attack fishing vessels, dynamite boats, and diplomats were killed. At one point even white phosphorous was used in attacks. On march 4, 1960, the French ship La Coubre was blown up. More than one hundred people lost their life. Factories and department stores were boobytrapped with explosives and hundreds were killed. The swine flu virus and other agricultural diseases were sprayed on Cuban crops causing thousands of sick farmers and millions of dollars in damages. Some small children also lost their life. In 1976, CIA operative Luis Posada Cariles blew up Cuban flight CU-455 killing 73 people in the first ever midair attack of a plane. He was caught, tried in Venezuela and sentenced to prison, but later escaped and is now walking as a free man in the United States, a known and convicted terrorist who killed 73 people, including the entire Cuban Olympic Fencing Team returning from their gold-medal performance in Panama at the recent Panamerican Games. A known and convicted terrorist is allowed to be free in America as long as he kills only Cubans.
From the very beginning the capitalists and the American government have been saying, "How long can this revolution last? Four or five months, one year tops? This revolution will not last. They don't even know how to run a country." Everyone expected the US government to step in and return the country to its Banana Republic status and maybe even bring back Batista, their loyal puppet. But the years past, the US didn't take it over, and Cuba has proven that it can survive even with a 40-year-old immoral economic embargo and the ill will of the American government. The power of true revolution of the people, by the people and for the people will always win.