Frank Calzón

* 1944

  • “Everything went brilliantly for several weeks [after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959], we were all listening to Fidel Castro until two, or three in the morning, but then unforeseen things began to happen. The revolutionary government began to shoot the Batistans first, and after a while, former enemies of Batista, rebels who had fought alongside Fidel, who were at odds with the government.”

  • “Food rationing that began as an emergency measure three generations ago, continues. Centralized economy in a military style does not work. It did not work in East Germany, while in West Germany there was prosperity. Between the Cubans in Cuba there is great misery, and between the Cubans elsewhere, many of them are successful. The Government of Havana brought to an end the sugar industry, which was the engine of the progress and development of Cuba for almost three hundred years. There are just a few sugar factories left, Cuba used to produce around five, six or sometimes more millions of tons of sugar annually. In the last year, I think, they produced less than 2 million tons. At some point, Cuba had to buy sugar abroad. It is the same issue that has happened in Venezuela with oil, it is the same thing that happened in Ukraine, which was a place where many cereals and a lot of food was produced, and all that was destroyed under Stalin. There isn’t a country in the world where they tried to impose the Communist economy and which didn’t then suffer from lack of food, from abuse, where there was no black market, where people didn’t go to jail for having food they should not have. In Cuba, Cubans have everything rationed, including fish. On an island that is surrounded by sea, where there is all kinds of fish, eating a lobster is punishable as a crime. That means, in Cuba what is needed, more than the so-called reforms that pro-Castro activists talk about, is that the government should tell Cubans: ‘What do you want? Do it!’ If a farmer wants to cultivate, then let him cultivate. If a Cuban who produces oranges wants to produce orange juice, to can it and export it, he should be able to do it. Only when the Cuban people get this kind of economic freedom, the misery lived by millions and millions of Cubans on the island will end.”

  • “With Mr Kissinger, I did not agree with some of the things he said. Obviously, he [Henry Kissinger, at the beginning of the 70s, was the Secretary of State in the government of US President Richard Nixon] was looking for a way to negotiate, to get an agreement in some way with Havana. I explained to him that if he wanted to know how credible the government of Havana with the United States was going to be, he should start by seeing the promises that Fidel had made to the Cuban people and what had happened then. Mr Kissinger’s management did not really work. What did happen, under his management, was that the United States decided to go to the OAS and tell the Organization of American States that the countries that until that moment were obliged not to have diplomatic relations with Havana, could do it from that moment onwards. The only American government that had been left with any relations with Havana until then had been the government of Mexico.”

  • “Communism was not as seductive for Cubans as it was for other intellectuals, etc., because a couple of years later, in 1961 or 1962, the Cubans already knew that it did not work. On the other hand, the Cuban Revolution was not made to establish Communism. That means, the seduction, if there was any, did not occur under the Batista dictatorship. Under the Batista dictatorship, Fidel told the Cubans and the whole world that he was not a Communist, that he did not want Communism, that he wanted freedom in Cuba. After coming to the power, after he controlled the armed forces and the police, was when he allied publicly with the Communist Party and the Soviet Union. There is a seductive lure by Communism especially among many people who have not suffered by it. It is very difficult to find Cubans today, inside or outside the island, who would accept Communist theories. Everyone knows that they do not work.”

  • “When the Berlin Wall fell, I realized that the Czechoslovak Communist government was the one that represented and gave diplomatic coverage to the government of Havana here in Washington, because there were no embassies. So, the Czechoslovak Communist government represented the Castro government here. When the Berlin Wall fell and when that famous group of Czech artists made that concert in a stadium to say goodbye to the Soviet troops who were to return to the Soviet Union, so when that was happening, it occurred to me that we had to tell him how thankful we were, how happy we were. President [Václav] Havel was already at the [Prague] Castle, but I also wanted to explain to him what was happening in Cuba and remind him that the Raúl [sic] Castro government had supported the Russian invasion of the Czech Republic [in 1968] in the United Nations and elsewhere. I mentioned something to the State Department and they got very upset and told me that I should not meddle in things like that, which were official diplomacy, but in Freedom House they told me that diplomacy was too important for them to leave it just in the hands of the diplomats. Then a group of personalities, including the ambassador Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, [United States ambassador to the United Nations and member of the National Security Council under President Ronald Reagan], a great friend of mine, and Dr Brzeziński [Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzeziński, Polish-American political scientist] and others, they wrote to Havel. Then in those days, I managed to go to Prague without knowing anyone. But through Freedom House, I got an interview with President Havel, the first time I saw him. Then I saw him several other times. When I got to see him, he said: ‘I know why you come to see me. It’s because of the special relationship between Cuba and Czechoslovakia.’ And before I even opened my mouth, he said: ‘But that does not exist anymore. Because the Czech government is no longer going to represent the Castro Communist dictatorship, and we are well aware of the role Fidel Castro played in supporting the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.’”

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    Miami, Florida, USA, 20.04.2018

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The seductive lure of Communism mainly affects those who never suffered by it

Frank Calzon
Frank Calzon
photo: Post Bellum

Frank Calzón was born in 1944 in Cuba. After the victory of Fidel Castro’s Revolution, his parents decided to send him to the United States, where they had some relatives. Frank spent time in New York, where he worked in bars and restaurants. When his family came to Miami, he started studying again. He graduated from some of the most important American universities, such as Georgetown in Washington DC. During his studies of Political Sciences he was an active member of several student organizations that dedicated themselves to denouncing the crimes of the Castro regime and supported political prisoners on the island. The pressure of these organizations contributed to the release of several prisoners, among them, the poets Heberto Padilla and Armando Valladares. After university, Frank began to work at the Organization of the American States, soon to exert the position of the vice-president of Freedom House, an organization founded by the wife of President F. D. Roosevelt. There he dedicated himself to supporting opposition movements in countries with totalitarian governments around the world. He also visited Czechoslovakia, where he had the opportunity to meet President Václav Havel, and began to cooperate with the Czech humanitarian organization People in Need in support programs for Cuban dissidents. He denounced the crimes of totalitarian regimes in United Nations institutions. He is the director of the Center for a Free Cuba, which systematically helps the Cuban internal opposition.