Gott 7 – Inside the Soviet camp


So now we have stretched into the 1980s. Ronald Reagan has been mentioned, your buddy HK in his role as Secretary of State, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford and a host of African names as well as Salvadore Allende (pictured) in Chile.

So the million dollar question here is why does Gott claim Castro adhered to the Soviet line. Why does he not strike a more independent line like Tito? But then Castro does send troops to Angola and to Eritrea. Is that not independent? Yes he does stand with the USSR in Prague Spring, yes he does stand with them again in his invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, but he does some things his own way.

The 10 million ton harvest is a huge embarrassment. One might liken it to China’s Great Leap Forward but without the famine. Castro needs a new plan and a new team and stands by the aging Soviet leader Brezhnev which the Cubans remember fondly as in those years their economy is growing at a comparatively good place.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez shows up here. Do you still read 100 years of Solitude? Why was he here?


Gott 6 The revolution in power 61-68!


What is striking to me on re-reading this chapter is Castro’s attempts to export the revolution.  Argentina, Venezuela, Columbia, Guatemala, Peru, Congo, Algeria and even the USA where Che called for”many Vietnams”.

These efforts are described as largely unsuccessful.   Failure to communicate in Africa, failure to be supported by any other communist group in Latin America, and failure to understand, according to Stokley Charmichael, the nature of the struggle in the USA along with pressure from Russia lead all of these efforts to be seriously curtailed by the late 1960s.

Please don’t worry about all of the African names.  Suffice it to know that Castro turned his attention to Latin America and then to Africa and back to Latin America while all along supporting what revolutionary activities might be taking in the United States.  Concurrent with this is the mass exodus of Cubans to the United States, via dangerous small boats, “freedom flights” and later large very fast speedboats.  Clinton was mentioned here.  We are getting you kids into the 90s!  Woo hoo!  Recent history.

Of course all of this was only possible because the revolution survived the Bay of Pigs and humanity survived the Cuban Missile Crisis.  The BoP given good treatment here but the CMC seems a little short.  Maybe our author thought that has been given such full treatment in other areas it wasn’t necessary to go over again in great detail.  Of significant importance is the return to a mono-economy.  Che and others had wanted a diversified healthy economy but Russia pressured Castro to remain focused on sugar.  This move will be part of the pain in the 90s when the USSR collapses 30 years later but of course no one could see that coming.

Have fun. See you tomorrow.  Happy Friday!

Gott – Castro’s Revolution takes shape

castro invented.jpg

What if I told you you’ve met the man who identified Che Guevera’s body?  Well if you’ve started the chapter you have.  So who is this Richard Gott?  A few words from wikipedia;

Richard Willoughby Gott (born 28 October 1938, Aston Tirrold, England) is a British journalist and historian. A former Latin America correspondent and features editor for the British newspaper The Guardian, he is known for his radical politics and a connection to Che Guevara. He resigned from The Guardian in 1994 after claims that he had been a Soviet ‘agent of influence’, a tag Gott denied.[1]

And more;

In November 1963, working as a freelance journalist for The Guardian in Cuba, Gott was invited to a celebration of the revolution party at the Soviet Unionembassy in Havana. During the evening, a group of invited journalists who were chatting in the garden were joined by Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara for a few hours, who answered their questions.

In Bolivia in 1967, Gott identified Guevara’s dead body after the failure of Guevara’s Bolivian campaign. He was the only one in the country who had met Guevara.

So what’s going on? Since the revolution of 1898, the Spanish American war, Cuba was nominally independent but very much under the wing of the United States.  My grandfather was deployed there as a marine during WWI.

Batista “ruled Cuba with an iron fist for 25 years” according to another source.  He stages a coup (he had been in power before this) , upsets Castro’s political career and Fidel resorts to armed insurrection.

Things you should look up or know.

The barracks at Moncado

The July 26th movement

Jose Marti

the Granma

Herbert Matthews

Fangio (kidding, but it is interesting)


the hotel in NYC

Find all of those references in the reading and you should be set for the quiz!

What I find most interesting here is Gott’s perspective on the relationship between Fidel and communism.  Hope you enjoy it!

Oh, and then there’s this.  Nixon’s car getting attacked in Venezuela.

BTW – for the walkout tomorrow I plan on staying in class and taking the 30 minutes to discuss what you/we can do about gun violence in the upcoming events on March 24th and April 20th. .  Feel free to stay or walk.  Your choice.  No judgement.

JFK – Ambrose Chapter 10


Not the “New Frontier” they intended.  Those circles on the map are the estimated boundaries the missiles in Cuba could have hit.  Central Indiana, where my family lived at the time is right on the outer limits.  Washington DC, St Louis, Dallas, all well within range. Had JFK taken the advice of going in on an airstrike we might not be here today.  Unknown until 1992 Castro had already weaponized some of the nukes that had gotten in before the blockade and had given orders to use them if attacked!  That of course doesn’t mean a few nukes would be lobbed at the US it would have likely meant a full scale retaliatory strike against the USSR who would have replied in kind.  Though millions would have died, some would survive though the earth would have fallen into what they called a “nuclear winter” for 100s of years.  All over a matter of human prestige.  Nuts.

JFK was no dove.  He was no peacenik.  On This latest read he sounded positively Trumpian!  Freedom is under attack!  If the US fails freedom fails!  “I think its time America started moving Again!”  (instead of MAGA it was TASMA).  The legacy of his administration is greatly muddled in the public mind I think, by his tragic assassination.  It was JFK and “Mac” the knife, who ushered in “the greatest arms race in history” according to Ambrose.

Really?  The nuclear weapons race between the USSR and the USA?  It wasn’t the Republicans?  It wasn’t Nixon or Reagan, or affable old Ike?  Nope.  Not according to Ambrose.  The arms race, which produced the ability to destroy our world many times over, though maybe exacerbated by Nixon and Reagan, started with Kennedy.

I don’t know if you noticed but there is TOK all over this chapter.  “The CIA had been wrong in predicting an uprising against Castro, but the prediction was exactly what Kennedy wanted to hear.”


Do you see a rabbit or a duck?  Which one do you want to see?  If you have a certain paradigm, a certain way of seeing the world, you may only see ducks.  There are a variety of interpretations of what might have been going on in Cuba in 59-61 but JFK believed there was a liberal alternative to Castro in Cuba and so he saw it.  Remember, seeing isn’t believing… believing is seeing.

And then there’s the missiles in Cuba.  Doesn’t change balance of power at all yet it appeared to to the public and thus “such appearances contribute to reality.” Wow.  “The world came close to TOTAL destruction over a matter of PRESTIGE.” (emphasis added) ATA.  Is that crazy or what?  Events took place that almost led to the deaths of millions of people and it was over over looks.  Over appearances.  Sometimes I really worry about us.

Sleep well.

Apartheid 4

apartheid cartoon.jpg

So we depart here from our studies of Apartheid.   Though some horrific events are outlined in this chapter, the resettlement policy, there appears to be an increasing voice of criticism.  Above is a cartoon, I don’t know exactly from what year, from one of the artists the author names who was “tolerated” by the authorities.  Student voices, plays, books and films are all noted as an important voice of helping the outside world, and the inside world, feel the odiousness of apartheid.  One film in particular “The Last Grave at Dimbaza” seemed strikingly successful so I looked it up on You tube.  Here is screen shot for the last moment of the film where they show the graves dug for the children expected to die.

last grave.PNG

It’s tough stuff I know.  Sorry.  But if we don’t confront the horrible things people have perpetuated on one another in the past we will be lacking a potentially valuable context for events to come.  We know, because we are in 2018, that Apartheid does end.  The story of the end is the rest of this book, which you and I won’t be finishing together but you can find it at your local library or any good bookstore if you’re really curious.

For terms for this chapter if it were up to me besides the resettlement policy I would probably choose “high apartheid” (used twice but never really defined) Radio Bantu, and the Bantustans.  But it’s not up to me.  It’s up to you.  Which terms will you choose?

Remember these are due on Thursday and your test (a documents test) will be Thursday.  Next up the Cuban revolution with another visit from our friend Danny Widener.

Apartheid 3


Hey check out our man Saul.  In 2016 he was elected as the Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History.  Cool.  What does this tell us?  This, along with all of those publications, tells us he is quite the scholar of South Africa, race and Apartheid.  His oldest publication, his first book, based on his dissertation would like put his birth right around 1960 which means he lived through the 70s and 80s of Apartheid and set out to study it and understand it.  Quite an authority.

In this chapter for terms of course we have Sharpeville, if you didn’t have it last time and the these guys; the South African Communist party, Luthuli and Verwoerd.  That the V guy survived the shot in the face and then from his hospital bed is like “Hell no we aren’t changing one bit” is quite an image.  Here is another image I found of him;

Verwoerd cartoon

After looking up Saul’s resume now I understand why he pokes a bit of fun at “standard historiography” because he has pried into the details.  The move to violent insurrection isn’t so simple and neither was the rise of Apartheid in the first place.

One moment that stands out for me is at Langa.  Such a wild uprising pass laws are rescinded by the govt.  They must have been able to taste victory when the 30,000 silent protesters marched on to the police station but then that one dude made a deal, they dispersed and he got arrested.  Opportunity lost.

Please make sure each group has sent me presentation on South Africa.  We will finish sharing and then to prepare for test turn back to the US Civil Rights movement.


Apartheid 2


Hey gang.  Here is an image from Danny’s presentation that he kind of flew by.  Take a look at those numbers and you can see evidence of the staggering inequality in South Africa, albeit from 1978, but I doubt it was much better earlier.

For us for here for now keep an eye on the ANC, Mandela, Albert Luthuli (you’ll see this today in our activity that he is the only other individual named in the IBO guide) and all of the various Acts that were passed (the “blah blah blah”).

I was struck by certain parallels with the American civil rights movement and the author pointed them out.  I was also struck by some stark differences.  18 protesters were gunned down by police during a one day work stoppage.  Can you imagine if 18 protesters had been gunned down during the Montgomery bus boycott?

Also all those acts that are passed are creating a completely segregated nation.  Segregated communities, segregated education etc etc. In the USA we are desegregating at least in federal law and local state law is protesting and in turn the minority population being segregated is protesting back but at least with the legal support of the federal government. In South Africa they are segregating at a federal level and the protests are coming from the majority population that the segregation is being aimed at.

The US largely ignores South Africa’s internal issues until Sharpeville.  That should be a term because it is mentioned here but it is the subject of the next chapter.

In our earlier book Dr Dudziak claimed South Africans (Afrikaners) looked at the US civil rights movement and determined their situation was different.  How do you think THEY would have explained the difference?