(I see this mentioned here and there, but wonder if it has gained any currency in mainstream US media. Cuba and Russia have agreed to reopen a sensitive electronic eavesdropping base on the island, a response to the US poking its nose into every telephone conversation on earth. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.)
The TV series Mad Men is such a beautiful metaphor for American life. On the surface it is about advertising, the seediest of professions, the one where people try to mislead us with emotional symbols into making poor decisions. Second, it is about Don Draper, and I cannot imagine this is not intentional: He is running from himself. He grew up in a whore house.
There comes a time in our growing up process where we confront reality, if we grow up at all. I think Don Draper is going to do that in the final half-season, and hope that he becomes a complete human, full of faults and favors, but more aware of himself and his surroundings.
So too did I have a heavy feeling as I realized that I grew up in a whore house, and that people had been lying to me my whole life. The year was 1989, and it was such a little thing, a book I got from the library called The Fish is Red, by William Turner and Warren Hinckle, published in 1981, censored by CIA and taken off the market, and republished as “Deadly Secrets” in 1992. Much of the book is a result of the Church Committee hearings of the late 70’s, the only investigation of CIA activities ever done in our history. (People are scared to do that.) This part of the book (pp 143-44) is merely recounting diplomatic affairs and activities of Cuban exiles and US officials in 1962, pretty dry stuff, but for some reason, this passage hit me like a ton of bricks.
The Cuban consul in Buenos Aires, career diplomat Vitalio de la Torre, resigned unexpectedly after having held his post through the Prio and Batista regimes. He took eighty-two documents from the Cuban Embassy safe and turned them over to an emissary of the Cuban Revolutionary Council in Miami. The documents purported to detail a master plan devised in Havana for the overthrow of the Frondizi government by means of infiltration of business and politics and training of guerrillas.
The CRC held on to the documents, planning to use them to maximize propaganda advantage during Frondizi’s state visit to the United States. The week before the Argentine chief of state left, however, la Nación of Buenos Aires ran a long article accompanied by photocopies of the documents.
The article whipped up a storm of protest against Cuba, which claimed that the documents had been forged by Cuban exiles working in collusion with the CIA. That is exactly what happened. The forgery was the opening shot in a campaign aimed at “proving” that Castro was “exporting” the revolution by subverting OAS nations. The goal was to help [DeLesseps] Morrison [US Ambassador to OAS] get Cuba kicked out of the OAS.
The Cuban exile magazine Avance inadvertently told too much. It reported that de la Torre had gone into asylum rather than comply with instructions from Havana to meet with Che Guevara at an upcoming Punta del Este conference. De La Torre was said to have gone to the consulate the day he quit and taken the documents, which he gave to CRC’s Tony Varona, who just happened to be staying in a Buenos Aires hotel. The real tipoff was Avance’s boast that de la Torre had been collaborating with Cuban exile groups in Argentina for more than a year. If the consul had been a double agent for that long, is defection with damning documents on the eve of a crucial conference hardly seemed coincidental.
The argument quickly escalated into an international affaire d’honeur. The US State Department announced that it had exhaustively questioned de al Torre and was satisfied that the documents were genuine. Argentina, which had been trying to steer a neutral course since the Bay of Pigs, was skeptical. It wanted to examine the documents scientifically. The CRC sent photocopies but refused to make the originals available. Argentina insisted on the originals in order to make a conclusive examination. The CRC finally handed over what it said was a pertinent group of thirty-three documents.
Argentine documents experts were amazed at the crudity of the forgery. Only one of the thirty-three matched the photocopies previously sent, and that one had a forged signature and did not even relate to affairs of state. …
At the same time, Cuba produced its own evidence of forgery. On October 9, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Carlos Olivares, whose “signature” appeared on many of the documents, met with chiefs of a number of foreign diplomatic missions in Havana to point out that it was not he, but the head of the Foreign Ministry, who normally signed correspondence. And, Olivares said, when Foreign Minister Raul Roa or he signed a document, a special wax seal would be impressed on their signatures, In addition, he pointed out, the registration numbers were out of sequence, as the ministry’s general registration book demonstrated.
What happened here? I was born and raised in the US, and believed in my government. I also believed that Cuba and the Castro regime were horrible communists, murderers, thugs and liars, as I had been taught by my immersion in American propaganda. Yet here was a blatant example of four things: The CIA was lying, the US State Department was lying, the Cuban exile community was lying, and the Cubans were telling the truth.
It was just a small breach in the dam. Months would pass before I came to fully realize the fact that this was normal behavior for the U.S. Now, 25 years later, I operate on the assumption that on the world stage, the U.S. usually lies, cheats, deceives, infiltrates, double-crosses, murders, lies, and then lies some more. Starting with that assumption, I am usually not surprised or disappointed. Like Don Draper, I grew up in a whore house.