“Once there was a republic. It had its constitution, its laws, its freedoms, a president, a congress and courts of law. Everyone could assemble, associate, speak and write with complete freedom… One morning the citizens woke up dismayed; under the cover of darkness, while the people slept, the ghost of the past had conspired and had seized the citizenry by its hands, its feet, and its neck. That grip, those claws were familiar: those jaws, those death-dealing scythes, those boots. No, it was no nightmare; it was a sad and terrible reality: A man named Fulgencio Batista had just perpetrated the appalling crime that no one had expected.”Fidel Castro
The descendants of officials from the former Fulgencio Batista regime in Cuba are now seeking “compensation” for assets that were nationalised or seized as the proceeds of crime after the victorious Cuban revolution of Fidel Castro.
Batista, who was widely recognised for his murderous corruption and viewed mostly as a gangster, is said to have fled Cuba with 25 suitcases full of American dollars to add to the $43 million that was deposited into a slush fund in New York. In all, Batista took at least $300 million of corrupt money off the island, with some suggesting that he got away with as much as $700 million in fine art and cash. All money that was stolen from the Cuban state and Cuban people.
Now, despite the wealth that Batista and his cronies were allowed to get away with, descendants of former regime officials want another piece of the Cuban pie under the U.S. Helms-Burton Act Title III.
Title III of the controversial act, considered an imperialist attempt to subvert the will of the Cuban people, “creates a private cause of action and authorizes U.S. nationals with claims to confiscated property in Cuba to file suit in U.S. courts against persons that may be “trafficking” in that property.”
One of those claims comes from the son of former Presidential secretary José López Vilaboy who claims that his father had interests or owned the likes of the Rancho Boyeros airport, Cubana Airlines, the Colina Hotel, and other buildings.
Vilaboy, his wife and 15 others were charged after the revolution with 27 charges of illicit enrichment. The Cuban Ministry of Recovery of Misappropriated Assets confiscated his properties in exactly the same way that Britain and America confiscate the proceeds of those involved in organised crime.
In another case, Javier Garcia Bengochea, a Doctor in the United States proclaims he is the “owner” of the port of Santiago de Cuba, while in Britain a Michael Behn believes himself to be the owner of Havana’s docks.
These are three of many cases where the Ministry for the Recovery of Misappropriated Assets seized the proceeds of crime and corruption by members of the murderous Batista regime.
“At the beginning of 1959 United States companies owned about 40 per cent of the Cuban sugar lands—almost all the cattle ranches—90 per cent of the mines and mineral concessions—80 per cent of the utilities—practically all the oil industry—and supplied two-thirds of Cuba’s imports.”John F. Kennedy
The U.S. used its influence to ensure that profits of private American companies in Cuba were maximised, ensuring that their puppets in the Batista regime were placed into influential positions in order to dominate the economy of the island. The U.S. propped up the Batista regime with armaments while ordinary citizens were impoverished. Cuba was an endless bank for the U.S. and its representatives.
“Brothels flourished. A major industry grew up around them; government officials received bribes, policemen collected protection money. Prostitutes could be seen standing in doorways, strolling the streets, or leaning from windows. One report estimated that 11,500 of them worked their trade in Havana. Beyond the outskirts of the capital, beyond the slot machines, was one of the poorest, and most beautiful countries in the Western world.”David Detzer, American journalist
“Daily life had developed into a relentless degradation, with the complicity of political leaders and public officials who operated at the behest of American interests.”Louis Perez, Historian
The Batista regime was responsible for the murder of 20,000 Cubans in all over seven years of tyranny, turning the once idyllic island into a police state backed by U.S. money, weapons and imperialism prior to the Castro-led revolution that sent the former regime into exile.
“Experience acquired in the heroic battle against Batista’s tyranny showed that the enemy, no matter what his strength, could not defeat the Cuban people.”Fidel Castro