Hal Draper's leaflet on Cuba, 1961

Submitted by AWL on 17 June, 2014 - 7:05

Leaflet written by Hal Draper on Cuba, April 1961, from the pamphlet published in May 1961 by him.

Public leaflet on the Cuban invasion, written by Hal Draper and published by the Socialist Party and the YPSL in the Bay Area, 25 April 1961

Five Questions On The Cuban Invasion

Now that the CIA-organised invasion of Cuba has come to an inglorious end, President Kennedy's speech of April 20 has publicly admitted that he is heading toward open military intervention in Cuba by the forces of the U. S. - in violation of all promises, pledges, international agreements and morality.

Any day now, the headlines may announce that U. S. troops are doing in Cuba what the troops of the Moscow despotism did in Hungary.

"Should that time ever come," said Kennedy, "we do not intend to be lectured on 'intervention' by those whose character was stamped for all time on the bloody streets of Budapest."

Very well; but you who denounced the Russian intervention in Hungary what will you say to Kennedy?


Did you denounce the Russian intervention because the wrong people were doing it, or because you defended Hungary's right to settle its own fate?

Did you argue then, when the world's conscience revolted at the Kremlin's brutal act that the Russians had a "right" to that deed if their "national security" demanded it? Did you argue, then, that the Russians had the "right" to impose a "better* government on another people, with tanks?

No, Kennedy need not pay attention to the hypocritical protests of the totalitarian who did there what he plans to do here. but you are you going to protest this crime contemplated by your own government, you who protested the crime committed by the other side in the cold war?


Do you think the issue in this projected intervention is for-or-against Castro?

We democratic socialists are not admirers or political supporters of either Castro or his regime.

But in 1935, when Italy invaded the slave-holding state of Ethiopia (naturally, in the name of civilisation and progress) was the issue for-or-against the regime of Haile Selassie? Was it for-or-against slave-holding? Didn't all democrats defend even this Ethiopia against foreign aggression?

And in 1948, when Russia broke with Tito and threatened daily to march into Yugoslavia and whip it into line: was the issue, then, for-or-against Tito, who was himself a totalitarian dictator? Did defence of Yugoslavia (even Tito's Yugoslavia) against foreign dictation mean approval of Tito's regime?

The issue in this U. S. intervention is not for-or-against Castro.

Whatever you think of Castro's regime, can your conscience remain silent when your own government moves in the position of a foreign aggressor imposing its own wishes by clubbing weaker people?


Do you think Washington is doing this because the government is so outraged by Castro's lack of democracy? Is it democracy Washington wants to defend in Cuba?

We democratic socialists are deeply concerned by the issue of democracy for the masses of Cuban people. We are not admirers or political supporters of Castro because he is helping to undo the Cuban people's revolution by his denial of democratic institutions, by his gutting of trade-union independence, by his rejection of elections, by his toleration of Communist Party domination in many fields. Our sympathies are with all those in Cuba who are seeking to save the Cuban revolution from Castro's course, within the framework of the Cuban revolution itself.

But support of U.S. intervention - either directly as Kennedy threatens, or indirectly as has just been attempted - is a body-blow to the Cuban revolution.

Was Washington upset about lack of democracy in Cuba when it was supporting and arming the Batista dictatorship?

If Washington is so outraged by lack of democracy under Castro, how does it maintain its calm at the spectacle of the bloody despotism of Trujillo in the Caribbean? Why has it never put its "democratic" CIA operatives and Nicaraguan training fields and secret funds at the disposal of the democratic refugees from Trujillo's terror?

If Washington's aims were to bestow democracy upon the Cubans, why did the CIA organisers of the counter-revolution funnel their aid to the reactionary right wing of the invasion forces, while throttling aid to other invasion groups suspected of favouring retention of some of the social and economic gains of the Cuban revolution?

In our times, every intervention to maintain imperialist domination of a smaller people has been carried through under the mask of democratic claims. So it was in Hungary, Suez, Guatemala, Algeria, Tibet, etc. Do you think you can accept these claims as genuine no matter what side of the iron curtain they come from?


Is Washington intervening to club Cuba because Castro has "betrayed the Cuban revolution" as Kennedy's White Paper claimed?

Is Kennedy threatening to move against Cuba because Castro has betrayed his revolutionary promises, and not because the Cuban revolution has sent the landowners packing, hit the profits of the American oil companies, expropriated the sugar planters who leeched the island's economy, and nationalised Cuban property of U. S. financial and commercial interests?

Please explain this to yourself before cheering for Kennedy's armed "defence of democracy" in Cuba:

Why was it that in this very White paper which presents the political platform and rationale for US intervention, conspicuously missing is any pledge that the U.S. will not use force to reimpose the sway of the dollar interests, will not use its power to overturn the real social and economic gains which have been won by the Cuba people so far?

It would have been so easy for the Kennedy government to have allayed all fears of its intentions, all "misunderstandings" of its aims, all "accusation" of imperialism! If a pledge was too much to ask, why didn't the White Paper just include a statement to this effect?

To be even more reasonable about it : the statement need not even have been honestly meant. It would have been cheap enough to throw in some words.

But there is nothing of the sort. Does anyone now really doubt that a victory for the U.S.-sponsored counter-revolution would have meant social and economic restoration of the old rule of the financial and agrarian interests?


Is Washington forced to intervene against Cuba because it cannot permit the establishment of a "Russian military base" there? Is that the issue?

James Reston, head of the Washington bureau of the N.Y. Times, stated flatly in an April 5 dispatch:

"This Administration is not acting on the assumption that the Soviet Union attempt wants to establish a missile or military base in Cuba. Any such attempt would undoubtedly be met directly with military intervention by the US. What is afoot is an effort to set up a Communist political base, backed with enough force to exploit the weakness of other governments throughout the Caribbean and Central America and create a serious political diversion for the US in the Western Hemisphere". (Emphasis added.)

What is a "political base"? We know what a military base is, in this cold war. Reston explained on April 23: "Turkey, for example, has been getting from the US far more power than Castro ever dreamed of getting from the Russians. This US power, including even rockets with nuclear warheads, has been situated in Turkey for a long time, but the Russians, while annoyed by this fact, have not felt obliged to use their power to invade Turkey".

We know full well that Moscow would like to do to Turkey what Kennedy is planning to do to Cuba. But you, who get indignant about Moscow's crimes, what have you to say about the new doctrine which seems to proclaim that Communist "political bases" (whatever those are) must be wiped out by U.S> military invasions whenever the U.S. can get away with it?


As this is written, the press reports that President Kennedy has gotten advance approval for intervention plans from Nixon, Eisenhower, Barry Goldwater and other leading devotees of democracy in both major parties. But will America's liberals go along with this disastrous course?

So far that picture has been bad. The whole political cover-up for the CIA-organised invasion was scripted for the White Paper by Arthur M Schlesinger Jr. While Rusk and Bowles were reported against the adventure, Adolf A Berle was for it, according to the N.Y. Times account. And in the UN, Adlai Stevenson made the required perjured speeches about the pristine innocence of the Kennedy government, reports of which appeared side by side with the detailed press accounts of how --

"As has been an open secret in Florida and Central America for months ,the CIA planned,co-ordinated, and directed the operations that ended in the defeat on a beachhead in southern Cuba Wednesday". (N.Y. Times, April 22)

Neither American liberals nor the American people will be moved to action by any whitewash of the Castro regime. Indeed, the interventionists would like to keep the issue in terms of a simple choice between an approval of U.S. intervention on the one hand or an uncritical apologia for Castro on the other.

We have pointed here to a third approach - the only approach, we think, consistent with democracy and political morality.

It is also, we are convinced, the only approach which can successfully counter not only the war camp on this side of the Iron Curtain but also the advance of the Communist war camp in this world. Even a "successful" Kennedy attack on Cuba would be a smashing political and moral victory for the Kremlin among all the peoples of the world,

We need a government in this country which can follow a democratic foreign policy, instead of the policy of an imperialist bully.

"I am determined" so went Kennedy's last words in his April 20 speech - "upon our system's survival and success, regardless of the cost and regardless of the peril".

Ominous words! But most of the peoples of the world do not want to choose between the capitalist system which Kennedy has in mind, and the system of bureaucratic-collectivist totalitarianism which is the rival candidate for world domination put forward by the Kremlin.

Instead of pushing peoples into the arms of the Communists - as Castro has been pushed towards the waiting arms of the Communists by Washington's reactionary pressure - a democratic foreign policy could consolidate the irrepressible world revolution that is going on along democratic and progressive lines, instead of presenting it with the evil alternatives of capitulation to imperial Capital or Imperial Communism.

The responsibility for getting a democratic foreign policy is yours. Now is the time to raise your voice.

You owe it to decency and honesty to speak up in order to stop a U.S.-organised "Hungary" in the Caribbean.

In Russia and Hungary .in 1956, enemies of the Russian invasion risked concentration camp, torture, and death if they spoke up. You have it easy: you don't have to be a dedicated hero to do as much here and now...

Protest against the planned intervention in Cuba! Write or telegraph Kennedy and your representatives in Congress!

Get in touch with us and help us carry on this campaign. Your aid is vital.

By Hal Draper, April 25, 1961

Published by: Bay Area Young People's Socialist League 2431 Dwight Way, Berkeley; Local East Bay Socialist Party - SDF, 1978 California street, Berkeley.

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