According to the Wikipedia page, the Antiu were desert-dwellers with whom the early Pharaohs waged continuous war.
Is this the extent of our knowledge about them? For instance, do we know anything about why the ancient Egyptians were in strife with them, what their society was like, and so on?
Exactly who the Antiu were has long been a matter of academic debate.
Some have argued that the "Anu" or "Antiu" were the pre-dynastic people of Upper Egypt. Others suggest that they were a nomadic people from the Sinai Peninsula. If they were the former, they would eventually be absorbed into Egypt when the kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt were unified.
It seems likely that the Antiu were one of the traditional Egyptian enemies known collectively "Nine Bows". In the pre-dynastic period the Nine Bows does seem to have referred to "native" enemies rather than foreigners. However, from the perspective of the people living in the fertile Nile delta ("Lower Egypt"), the inhabitants of both Upper Egypt and the Sinai might be considered as "desert-dwelling native enemies".
As far as we know, the Antiu didn't leave any records of their own, so we have to rely on Egyptian sources, which generally just show Egyptian rulers smiting these "enemies of Egypt", (all in accordance with Maat).
As a result, we know almost nothing about their society, but Oldcat is very probably right when he suggests in the comments above that nomad groups like the Antiu were likely to have had a "trade or raid" relationship with a settled society like that of the Nile delta in pre-dynastic Egypt.
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13th Century African Coin Found in Australia
An uninhabited island off the coast of Arnhem Land may seem worlds apart from medieval Africa, but believe it or not, they’re more connected than you’d think.
In 1944, a RAAF serviceman found several coins on a deserted beach on one of the Wessel Islands, off the Northern Territory coast, but the exact location of the discovery remained a mystery.
Now, almost eight decades later, amateur historians believe they’ve found another coin — this time on Elcho Island, which is also in the Wessel Island group.
The 1944 coins were linked to the east African city of Kilwa, off modern-day Tanzania.
If confirmed to be the same Kilwa coin — thought to have been produced post-1400 — the new coin would be among the oldest foreign artefacts ever found in Australia. …
Maybe an anti-U.S. and anti-dollar faction is running the BIS now
Among the many analytical reports arguing that economic fundamentals are such that the gold price should rise sharply, the annual "In Gold We Trust" reports by Incrementum AG in Liechtenstein always have provided the most supporting documentation. The one published last week is no exception:
Meanwhile virtually alone GATA long has been stuck with the less happy work of explaining why the gold price has not been heeding the fundamentals, not rising sharply, and not reflecting the grotesquely inflationary and unstable monetary conditions.
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But the new "In Gold We Trust" report does include something by way of explanation. It is a long commentary by the third anonymous participant in the "Friend of Another" series of commentaries that began two decades ago at the old (and much missed) USAGold.com Forum.
The first two participants, "Another" and "Friend of Another," seemed intimately familiar with central banking's involvement with gold. There was much speculation that "Another" was indeed a European central banker himself or very close to European central bankers. The third participant in the series, "Friend of Friend of Another," seems to be a student of the first two and now is operating his own proprietary internet site of gold market analysis.
Ordinarily GATA avoids anonymous commentary as unreliable, but such commentary sometimes can provide valuable insights, and since Incrementum is taking responsibility for the new analysis from "FOFOA" and since this analysis is packed with historical detail, it can be heartily recommended to you. It's posted here:
The "Another" series long acknowledged that the gold price was heavily manipulated by central banks and particularly by their underwriting of "paper" gold, the creation of vast imaginary supplies of gold for purposes of price suppression -- but also that eventually gold would break out and become "Freegold" with a spectacularly higher price, eliminating any need for leverage to the price by those anticipating that price suppression could not go on forever.
Now, with seemingly imminent implementation of the "Basel 3" banking regulations recommended by the Bank for International Settlements and the desperate protest of the London Bullion Market Association and World Gold Council that "Basel 3" will destroy both "paper" gold and the LBMA itself, gold advocates are getting hopeful that Liberation Day will come this summer.
Maybe it will. Apart from simple exhaustion of the physical supply of metal available under price suppression -- the cause of the collapse of the previous mechanism of price suppression, London Gold Pool, in March 1968 -- it is possible to imagine price suppression being overthrown by the BIS. That is, while the BIS continues to act as a gold broker and intervenor for all its major members, including the United States, whose intervention has aimed to protect the U.S. dollar's status as the world reserve currency, the BIS also represents all other major central banks, and their interests may be quite opposed to indefinite and unquestioning support of the dollar and U.S. imperialism.
For example, the BIS lately may be following a course sought by an anti-U.S. and anti-United Kingdom bloc consisting of the European Union, China, and Russia, entities lately on the wrong side of U.S. and U.K. policy. Maybe this bloc is advancing the "Basel 3" regulations to knock the U.S. and the dollar down while reliquefying themselves with a higher value for their gold reserves, as the U.S. economists Paul Brodsky and Lee Quaintance speculated was underway even nine years ago:
Unlike the International Monetary Fund, which is entirely a U.S. creation and over which the U.S. exercises veto power, the BIS has much more freedom of action. The "Another" group long has construed the BIS to be pro-gold, despite its assisting U.S.-instigated interventions against gold.
We'll see, and maybe soon -- or maybe not. Read the "FOFOA" analysis from Incrementum and see what you think.
While the GATA gang persists in what many consider to be a quixotic crusade because we think that gold price suppression is the overarching injustice in the world and thus the world's most important issue -- the undemocratic control of the valuation of all capital, labor, goods, and services for the benefit of the few -- after 22 years we would enjoy not just victory over the evildoers but also the freedom to take up another line of similarly disparaged work -- maybe UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, or the search for Atlantis. Even a few weeks off might be nice.
CHRIS POWELL, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
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Wine carrying the label of the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, cases of which were awarded to three lucky donors in GATA's recent fundraising campaign, are now available for purchase by the case from Fay J Winery LLC in Texarkana, Texas. Each case has 12 bottles and the cost is $240, which includes shipping via Federal Express.
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America’s Anti-Christian Groups Exposed by Watchdog Organization
In 2007, and with that same nauseating arrogance that has come to define him, then presidential candidate Barack Obama duplicitously quipped, “I am absolutely convinced that culture wars are just so ’90s. Their days are growing dark.”
Dark, indeed. America’s soon-to-be cultural-Marxist-in-chief would then spend the greater part of a decade waging war against our nation’s Judeo-Christian culture and heritage at levels, and in ways, unseen in our storied history. Today, his anti-Christian crusade continues unabated. In fact, and with less than two years left to complete his baleful conspiracy, this neo-pagan extremist has begun to rapidly accelerate his unravelings.
Chief among his targets for destruction are conservative and Christian organizations and individuals who pose a threat to his envisaged “fundamental transformation” of our once-Judeo-Christian nation. The Obama vision? A godless, Euro-socialist dystopia crafted in his own secular-humanist self-image.
Still, even the president of the United States, alone, cannot destroy an entire nation from within. His sinister (yes, sinister) objective of a Christ-less society (Jesus is the real target here) is shared by many who, like Obama, labor under the darkest of spiritual deceptions.
To accomplish the larger “progressive” dream of unmaking America, this man, this cagey figure of whom we still know very little, finds himself flanked by powerful comrades in arms – by hundreds of equally extremist and very well-funded anti-Christian groups.
That’s why I was so encouraged this week to see one of America’s largest and most effective mainstream Christian organizations fighting back. The Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA) has developed and released a tremendous resource for the fair-minded American public. It’s an interactive “Anti-Christian bigotry map,” which identifies “more than 200 groups and organizations that openly display bigotry toward the Christian faith.”
The AFA has also announced that it will be monitoring these anti-Christian segregationists’ activities, reporting on those activities to the general public and further warning the tens of millions of Christian Americans of specifics relative to their radical campaign of religious cleansing.
“The website www.afa.net/bigotrymap includes an interactive map that identifies groups whose actions are deeply intolerant of the Christian religion,” notes AFA. “Their actions, for example, have endorsed efforts to silence Christians and to remove all public displays of Christian heritage and faith in America.”
Among the over 200 anti-Christian organizations exposed by the Christian watchdog group are some of the most strident atheist, humanist and “LGBT” extremist outfits in America. The ironically named Human Rights Campaign (HRC), for example, is listed among them. The HRC’s co-founder is accused homosexual pedophile Terry Bean. He was arrested a few months ago for allegedly raping a 15-year-old boy.
Another of the more high-profile groups listed is the hard-left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). The SPLC’s propagandist activities have been linked by the FBI to anti-Christian domestic terrorism (something I long ago predicted would happen).
Also on the list are the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and many more.
“A common practice of these groups is threatening our nation’s schools, cities and states,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon.
“By threat of lawsuit, they demand that prayer be removed from schools and city council meetings, that Ten Commandments monuments be stricken from courthouses, and that memorial crosses be purged from cemeteries and parks,” he added.
“Families and businesses that express a Christian worldview on social issues often face vicious retaliation from anti-Christian zealots, and it’s time to call them out for their intolerance,” urged Wildmon. “Because of anti-Christian bigotry private business owners have been sued and forced to close their businesses.”
AFA is warning Christian Americans to be vigilant in that some associated with the 200-plus anti-Christian groups have actually “committed violent crimes against Christians and faith-based groups,” and that “physical and profane verbal assaults against Christians” have been, and continue to be, regularly used as “angry methods of intimidation.”
In 2012, for instance, SPLC supporter and homosexual activist Floyd Lee Corkins entered the Washington, D.C., headquarters of another of America’s largest mainstream Christians organizations, the Family Research Council (FRC), armed with a gun and a backpack full of ammunition. He also had 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches he intended to smear in the faces of FRC employees after he slaughtered them all (FRC had recently defended the food chain’s COO, Dan Cathy, for pro-natural marriage statements).
Thankfully, Corkins’ designs on mass murder were thwarted by FRC facilities manager and security specialist Leo Johnson. As Corkins shouted disapproval for FRC’s “politics,” he shot Johnson who, despite a severely wounded arm, managed to tackle Corkins and disarm him. (Of course, this is all impossible as it’s illegal in Washington, D.C., to carry a concealed weapon.)
Of Johnson’s actions, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said, “The security guard here is a hero, as far as I’m concerned.”
Court documents and FBI evidence later revealed, as many had suspected, that the SPLC was, while indirectly so, at least to some degree complicit in this particular act of anti-Christian terrorism. Corkins had used, and confessed to having been incited by, the SPLC’s anti-Christian propaganda.
Thankfully, the SPLC, the HRC and hundreds more of these anti-Christian organizations are now being called out and held accountable. Understandably, they’ve begun scrambling for damage control. They’re on the defensive.
Walter Reed doctors: Trump in ɾxceptionally good spirits,' fever-free and on remdesivir
Remdesivir is generally used for patients who need supplemental oxygen, although Conley said Trump did not need help breathing Saturday morning. When pressed during the briefing about whether the president had ever received supplemental oxygen, Conley persistently said the president had not received oxygen on Thursday or while at Walter Reed on Friday and Saturday.
It was unclear whether the president needed oxygen at another time.
We are maximizing all aspects of his care, attacking this virus with a multi-pronged approach.
Conley told reporters Saturday that Trump is doing "very well" but the coming days will be critical to the president's recovery.
"With the known course of the illness, day seven to 10, we get really concerned about the inflammatory phase, phase two," Conley said. "Given that we provided some of these advanced therapies so early in the course, a little bit earlier than most of the patients we know and follow, it’s hard to tell where he is on that course."
Health Trump experiencing mild Covid symptoms: Why the first week matters
ANTI-IMPERIALISTS. This term is used generally to connote those who resisted or disapproved of American colonialist impulses at various moments and especially those who opposed U.S. colonial expansion after the Spanish-American War. Although a number of anti-imperialists had first opposed the acquisition of island territories during the administration of Ulysses Grant, and others survived to proclaim the faith in the 1920s, anti-imperialism as a movement is limited to the years 1898–1900.
Many anti-imperialists rejected organizational activity, but a majority claimed membership in one of the branches of the Anti-Imperialist League, which was founded in Boston in November 1898. By 1900 the league claimed to have 30,000 members and more than half a million contributors. Its primary goal was the education of public opinion. The league published hundreds of pamphlets denouncing the acquisition of an island empire and the abandonment of America's unique "mission" to hold before the nations of the world the model of a free and self-governing society. Its members included reformers, educators, labor leaders, and Democratic politicians. George S. Boutwell, Erving Winslow, Edwin Burritt Smith, David Starr Jordan, and Carl Schurz were prominent leaders of the league, and its chief financial contributor was Andrew Carnegie. Other important anti-imperialists included William Jennings Bryan and ex-presidents Benjamin Harrison and Grover Cleveland.
Although diverse in motives and party affiliation, the anti-imperialists shared common fears and beliefs. They were convinced that imperialism threatened the ideals and institutions of their own country, and many believed that it was unjust to dictate the political goals and institutions of foreign peoples. Although many anti-imperialists shared the racial bias of their imperialist opponents and some urged the expansion of foreign markets as a solution to domestic surplus, for most, racial "difference" did not require racial subordination, nor did trade expansion demand Gunboat Diplomacy. The anti-imperialists typically insisted that it was as wrong for a republic to have colonies as it was for a representative government to have subject peoples. Tyranny abroad, they believed, could only undermine democracy at home. They offered arguments against the constitutionality, economic wisdom, and strategic safety of a policy of insular imperialism. Colonial expansion not only denied the practice of the past, it would waste American resources, undermine the Monroe Doctrine, and embroil the United States in the rivalries of the European powers. Although hampered by having to preach a doctrine of abnegation to a nation of optimists and weakened by a failure to agree on a single policy alternative for the disposition of the Philippine Islands, the anti-imperialists were participants in one of the most intelligently reasoned debates in American history.
Even though they were important as a moral and educational force, the anti-imperialists must be classified among the political failures of American history. Their labors, along with the heavy cost of the Philippine Insurrection, may have helped to check the territorial ambitions of the more zealous imperialists, but none of the anti-imperialists' immediate goals were secured. The new island territories were officially annexed President William McKinley easily won reelection in 1900 despite the opposition of the Anti-Imperialist League, and the Philippine Insurrection was mercilessly crushed.
Fidel Castro, defiant anti-U.S. strongman who imposed his will on Cuba for decades, dead at 90
Strangely, for a Cuban, he didn’t like to dance.
But he did like to dominate, and that was what he did.
For five decades, Fidel Castro Ruz bestrode his small Caribbean homeland like a bearded colossus, casting a shadow across global politics that reached further and endured longer than that of almost any other world figure of his generation.
It was an unforgettable and perhaps unprecedented performance by a solo actor in a leading role in a drama that he wrote, to a remarkable degree, on his own.
He had, and has, his worshippers — and they are legion.
Those who idolized Fidel Castro will forever persist in calling him a saviour, a man who overthrew a corrupt dictator, brought social justice and better conditions to his country’s impoverished masses, championed education and health care for all, charted a daring course on the noble side of history, and stood his ground against the most powerful nation in the world — outwitting, outlasting, and in most cases outliving, a succession of 10 U.S. presidents.
He was on his 11th, Barack Obama, when he died Friday in Havana at the age of 90. His health had been failing for years before his death.
Castro also had, and has, his enemies — and they, too, are legion.
Nothing will persuade those who reviled him that Castro was anything other than a vainglorious scoundrel, a man who relished power above all, who ruthlessly suppressed dissent, who exiled, jailed, or executed his opponents, who enriched himself at his country’s expense, who beguiled a nation — and no small part of the world — for no one’s benefit but his own.
Now Fidel Castro Ruz is history.
In July 2006, the onset of illness obliged Castro to hand over power — temporarily, it was said — to his somewhat younger brother, Raul. In February 2008, that transfer became permanent, and an ailing Fidel remained largely hidden from public view, occupying himself by composing frequent if rambling pensພs that were duly published in Granma, official organ of the Cuban Communist Party.
Many expected that Raul — the longtime defence minister and considered a far more pragmatic type than his moody, mercurial sibling — would quickly set about the ticklish job of somehow deconstructing the wobbly, jerry-rigged socio-economic system that Fidel had fashioned together over the course of nearly five decades, without bringing the entire centrally planned structure crashing down on his head.
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So far, the jury is out on Raul the reformer, for he has proceeded slowly and cautiously at best. However, he did collaborate with his U.S. counterpart to restore diplomatic relations with Washington, ruptured since the early 1960s — a stunning achievement. But progress on other fronts has been halting. Even in retirement and shorn of the presidency, it seemed that Fidel was still able to impose his will, not only upon his brother, but also upon the land he had ruled for so long.
It seems unlikely he will manage the same trick from beyond the grave, and substantive change may finally come to this Caribbean outpost of communism, now that Fidel Castro Ruz is gone.
By any measure, his life was a long, tumultuous, and extraordinary affair, if not as long, or quite as extraordinary, as he himself must have wished.
In the end, the life of Fidel Castro Ruz lasted longer than the average life span of his fellow Cubans — which, at 79.1 years, is among the longest in Latin America and only a little shorter than the comparable figure for the United States of America.
But it turned out in the end that the tall, blustering Comandante with the famous beard was mortal, after all.
He was a large man in a small country, and in a rational world he likely would not have achieved quite the stature or notoriety that he did.
But this world is not overly rational and so, for or a time during the Cold War between the United States and what was then the Soviet Union, Castro’s influence extended far beyond the sandy, palm-fringed shores of his domain. For three of his nearly five decades in power, he helped to shape history on a global scale, he patrolled the fault lines of a riven planet, he trod the boards of an epic stage.
As for Cubans, they could love the man or hate him — or love and hate him both, as many seemed compelled to do. But they could not escape him.
What happens next will be determined by others and will become clear only over the coming weeks, months, and even years. For Cuba, the future awaits.
But now a man is dead, and for a short time at least Cubans will be looking back, as well as ahead.
Officially, Castro’s life commenced on Aug. 13, 1926. The man who would become the self-proclaimed champion of Cuba’s downtrodden was himself the offspring of privilege, born in the eastern part of Cuba, in a town called Biran, part of what was then called Oriente province and is now called Holguin.
His father was Angel Castro y Argiz, an immigrant from Galicia in Spain, who made his fortune in Cuba by building railway tracks for the sugar industry. Castro’s mother was a household servant named Lina Ruz Gonzalez. Eventually, his parents would wed.
The third of seven children, Castro was a wilful, impulsive creature from the start.
His passions included baseball, and the story is often told that Castro was briefly under contract to a major-league team in the United States — a team usually identified as the Chicago White Sox. It’s said he was once called up for a tryout. But that tale is a myth. It did not happen.
Instead, in 1945, Castro began his studies at the law school of the University of Havana, while immersing himself in student politics. At one point, he joined an attempt to overthrow another country’s dictator — Rafael Trujillo, the infamous tyrant who then ruled the Dominican Republic. That misadventure was a complete failure.
In 1948, Castro joined the Partido Ortodoxo, a Cuban opposition political party that railed against corruption in government. Under leader, Eduardo y” Chibas, the party lost national elections in 1948, and three years later Chibas committed suicide.
By then, Castro had married, graduated from law school, and started practicing as a lawyer at a small Havana firm. Although brief, the marriage would prove to be a particularly significant page in Castro’s biography. His bride was Mirta Diaz-Balart, and the union lasted only a few years, producing one son — who would later head Cuba’s atomic-energy commission — but its repercussions resounded for decades.
The Diaz-Balart clan would later find themselves among the thousands of Cubans who fled to Miami following Castro’s takeover, and there his one-time in-laws would became central players in the fiercely anti-Castro exile community.
In 1952, however, Fidel Castro was a long way from power, even if his ambitions were clear. That year, he decided to run for parliament as a member — and aspiring leader — of the Ortodoxo party.
But a Cuban military officer by the name of Gen. Fulgencio Batista launched a coup that ousted president Carlos Prio. Batista promptly cancelled the scheduled vote, and Castro drew what was, at the time, a reasonable conclusion. The path to power in Cuba lay not through the ballot box but through the barrel of a gun.
On July 26, 1953, Castro and his younger brother, Raul, led roughly 100 men in a daring but hopelessly botched assault on the Moncada army barracks in Santiago de Cuba, the country’s second city, on the Far Eastern reach of the island.
It was not the only time the Castro brothers would preside over a military fiasco. But Fidel had a knack for turning even his worst disasters into eventual triumphs. And he learned from his mistakes.
In the case of the Moncada barracks attack, the operation was a shambles from the start. In close combat with Batista’s soldiers, fully 80 of the 100 men under Castro’s command were either killed outright or else captured and then killed. Fidel and Raul were taken prisoner and put on trial.
Both brothers were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms — 13 years for Raul, 15 for his older brother.
Two years later, Batista made perhaps the greatest blunder of his political career. He proclaimed a general amnesty for political prisoners, and he let Fidel Castro go.
Along with his brother, Castro fled into exile in Mexico City and promptly began plotting his return.
Enter a young asthmatic medical doctor from Argentina, the enigmatic revolutionary dervish known as Ernesto 𠇌he” Guevara, whose bearded, beret-crowned likeness would eventually become an international icon of perfervid idealism.
Seventeen months after arriving in the Mexican capital, Castro had amassed a miniature expeditionary force of 81 men, including his brother, Guevara and another prominent leader of the revolution, Camilo Cienfuegos. They called themselves el Movimiento 26 de Julio — the 26th of July Movement — after the ill-fated assault on the Moncada barracks.
In December 1956, the small force put to sea aboard an overloaded pleasure yacht, the Granma, and set a course for eastern Cuba.
It seems scarcely believable even now that this quixotic enterprise could have yielded anything but catastrophe for Castro and his companeros. By rights, they should have drowned at sea, and one man nearly did. Somehow, however, they reached the Cuban coast, and it was then that their trials truly began.
A collaborator named Celia Sanchez was waiting for the invaders at a preestablished beachfront rendezvous, with vehicles, food, and firearms, but in the confusion the Granma landed at the wrong place, another beach called Playa de los Coloradas. The shore here was mostly mangrove swamp, and this made it impossible to unload most of the weapons.
Castro’s party recruited a local man to guide them into the mountains of the Sierra Maestra, but they chose poorly and, on Dec. 5, the erstwhile guide betrayed them to Batista’s National Guard.
In the ensuing encounter, all but a few of Castro’s men — the number 12 is frequently cited — were killed.
Fidel, Raul, Cienfuegos, and a wounded Guevara were among the survivors who straggled up into the mountains of Oriente province, there to begin what might well rank as the most courageous, foolhardy, and unlikely revolutionary struggle ever waged.
“We will win this war,” said Castro. “We are just beginning to fight.”
Before long, Castro’s army had swelled to 800 irregulars, mostly recruited from the local peasantry. Attacking by surprise in small, guerrilla-style units, the insurgents began to score impressive victories against Batista’s larger but less nimble forces, mainly composed of poorly motivated conscripts.
Steadily, the tide of war turned in Castro’s favour, as the dictator’s National Guard shrank through desertions and as support for Batista collapsed, both within Cuba and abroad. In mid-1958, Washington suspended arms shipments to the Cuban government and, in December, an army led by Guevara routed the dictator’s forces at Santa Clara in central Cuba.
On Dec. 31, 1958, Batista admitted defeat. Accompanied by a gaggle of cronies, he boarded an airplane that flew him to exile in the Dominican Republic. From there, he made his way to Francisco Franco’s Spain.
On Jan. 8, 1959, Fidel Castro marched into Havana, triumphant.
Some say the new Cuban leader was a Communist all along, while others insist he was first and foremost a nationalist and that events steered him toward Marxism. Either way, he was a Marxist when he died.
Declaring himself prime minister, Castro quickly became the dominant figure in the new provisional government in Havana. He pushed through dozens of reforms, expropriated land and buildings in the countryside and the towns. He unleashed a campaign of deadly reprisals against Batista sympathizers, many of whom were executed by firing squad after bogus trials. It is still debated how many died this way. Hundreds, certainly. Castro’s opponents say thousands. Moderates abandoned the new regime in droves, and Castro consolidated his hold on power.
Before long, the new government sought closer relations with the Soviet Union, which began supplying Cuba with oil. U.S.-owned refineries on the island refused to accept the ideologically tainted petroleum, and so Castro nationalized the plants.
Later, he took over other U.S. assets, including those owned by the United Fruit Company.
The U.S. government soon severed diplomatic ties with the new government and later imposed an economic embargo, measures that were to lock Washington’s policy toward Cuba into the robotic and inflexible hostility that prevailed for decades.
During most of those years, Castro expertly manipulated U.S. antipathy to his advantage, maintaining ordinary Cubans in a state of almost constant high-alert, while laying the blame for everything bad about his revolution at Washington’s door — poor sugar harvests, outbreaks of dengue fever, plagues of swine flu, gross restrictions on personal freedoms, the incarceration of political dissidents, the lack of decent consumer goods, a near ban on access to the Internet for ordinary people.
Everything that fell short or went awry in Cuba could be blamed upon the U.S. embargo — invariably misidentified as a bloqueo or blockade by Cuban government officials — and by the need to protect the revolution from its imperialist enemies lurking just across the Straits of Florida.
If Washington had truly sought better relations with Castro, it is not at all clear he would have gone along. Having the U.S. government as a reactionary whipping boy was just too valuable politically. Washington’s abiding phobia of Castro had an effect that was precisely opposite to its intent. It helped to keep him in power for decades.
Besides, the Yankees did try to invade.
That was in April 1961 — the infamous Bay of Pigs invasion. Recruited and trained by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, some 1,400 Cuban exiles clambered ashore at Playa Giron in western Cuba. The idea was that this initial attack would immediately spark a popular insurrection against Castro’s government.
It didn’t pan out that way.
Castro personally commanded the defence forces dispatched to repulse the invaders, many of whom were killed. About 1,000 were captured. Cuban propeller-driven combat planes sank two of the U.S. supply ships anchored offshore.
As a result of this made-in-Washington misadventure, Castro solidified his image as a courageous national leader. Later that year, he declared that Cuba would become a socialist country. In 1962, still fearful of another U.S.-backed invasion, Castro sought protection from the Soviet Union, which volunteered to deploy nuclear missiles on the island.
And so the stage was set for that most harrowing episode of the Cold War, the showdown between John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev that propelled the planet to the brink of nuclear conflagration and came to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In the end, Moscow backed down. In exchange for U.S. agreement to remove its own nuclear arms from Turkey and a promise by Washington not to invade Cuba, Khrushchev consented to recall the Soviet missiles that were even then sea-bound for the Caribbean.
The world had been saved, but Castro was furious. After all, Moscow had failed to consult him before cutting its humanity-preserving deal with Washington.
Barred from making war on Castro, America decided to assassinate the man instead. It is not entirely clear even now whether Kennedy knew the full story of CIA skulduggery during his presidency, but it seemed no scheme was too outlandish to consider if it offered a chance to propel Fidel Castro into an early grave.
At one time or another, the U.S. spy agency considered treating Castro’s broadcast studio in Havana with mind-altering chemicals. They thought of putting poison or explosives in his cigars. They explored the possibility of polishing his boots with chemicals that would make his beard fall out.
How many of these ideas were actually put into practice, it is difficult to say. But Castro once estimated that he had survived more than 600 CIA attempts on his life.
Eventually, the CIA called off its anti-Castro dogs, and there probably were no further Washington-inspired attempts on the Cuban leader’s life after 1970 or so.
Meanwhile, Castro’s efforts to build and diversify his country’s economy were largely unsuccessful.
First, he promoted industrialization, while shifting away from sugar and other agricultural products that were the backbone of the country’s economy. That didn’t work.
In the late 1960s, he decided that sugar was the answer after all, and he hectored his compatriots to produce record harvests that seemed always to fall short.
In 1967, Che Guevara decided he had had enough of being a government minister and set off for Bolivia in the hope of spreading socialist revolution in South America. But Bolivia in the late 1960s was not Cuba in the late 1950s.
In the end, Guevara was tracked down and killed by Bolivian troops, who were likely acting with covert U.S. assistance. Eventually, Che’s corpse was flown back to Cuba, and it is now buried in Santa Clara, the site of the greatest military victory of the revolution.
With Soviet backing, Cuba became increasingly active in Africa, supporting movements in Mozambique and, especially, in Angola, where Cuban troops were an important factor in that country’s war with South Africa, from 1975 until 1989.
At the same time, Cuba was backing armed revolution in the Americas, providing diverse assistance to the Sandinista government in Nicaragua while acting as a sort of godfather to insurgent forces in Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
At home, Castro suffered some embarrassments, such as the famous Mariel boatlift in the spring of 1980, in which more than 120,000 Cubans scrambled onto U.S.-piloted pleasure craft that bore them away to Florida.
In other ways, the Cold War was good for Cuba. Year in, year out, the Soviet Union — by some estimates — transferred the equivalent of $3-billion (U.S.) to its only Caribbean satellite state.
For many Cubans, life was stifling politically, but economically it was good.
Illiteracy was all but vanquished. Life expectancy increased substantially. Schooling was universally available and free. Medical care of a high standard was provided, in theory, to all. There was enough food to go around.
And so, in 1991, when the Soviet Union finally collapsed, what many saw as a boon to humanity was, for Cuba, perhaps the worst news possible.
Never before, in the nearly 500 years since the Spanish conquest, had this long, narrow island been anything other than someone else’s colony. First, it belonged to Madrid. Later, after the Spanish-American War in 1898, Cuba was a U.S. protectorate in all but name. Finally, following the Castro revolution, the island became Moscow’s client state.
Now it looked as if Cuba was going to have to go it alone — and somehow it did.
Granted, ordinary Cubans paid a staggering price. Between 1989 and 1994, the economy shrank by roughly 40 per cent, and many thousands chose to escape, fleeing the island aboard rafts, dinghies, and overloaded boats that did not always make it to Florida. A shocking quantity of people, seeking their idea of freedom, instead simply drowned. Their numbers will never be known.
On the ideological front, Castro made some concessions — as he tended to do, in extremis — allowing Cubans to hold foreign currency legally, promoting foreign investment, encouraging tourism. Gradually, the economy began to recover. More recently, Cuba has received a huge helping hand from oil-rich Venezuela, but that largesse seems imperiled now.
In the last years of his life, Castro was less isolated politically than at any time since the last days of the Cold War. Progressive or left-leaning rulers took power in a clutch of Latin American countries, the so-called “Pink Tide,” a wave that seems to be fading now. Even so, other leaders in the region are far less hostile to Havana than their predecessors generally were.
In fact, Cuba now enjoys full diplomatic relations with every country in the Americas, including the U.S.
In the last years of his life, Castro was less isolated politically than at any time since the last days of the Cold War. Progressive or left-leaning rulers now govern a clutch of Latin American countries, with Chavez of Venezuela foremost among them. Bolivian President Evo Morales is another close ally. And other leaders in the region are much less hostile to Havana than their predecessors generally were.
In fact, by 2009, Cuba enjoyed full diplomatic relations with every country in the Americas, with just one huge exception.
For nearly five decades, until 2006, Fidel Castro was the beating heart and clamouring soul of the Cuban revolution, and it seemed unimaginable the system he created would survive without the man with the beard at its helm.
Whether or how long it can now survive with Fidel in his grave — that is a different question.
For decades, Fidel managed to hold his life’s work together through the force of his singular will, suppressing dissent, resolving disputes, micromanaging entire ministries, and resorting to brutal measures only when he deemed it necessary, which was far too often for some, not often enough for others.
Somehow, through it all, he managed to retain the respect and affection of many and perhaps most Cubans, even as they opposed most of what he said or did. This kind of political alchemy is a talent reserved for a very few mortals. It produced the magical and paradoxical glue that has long helped to keep the governing apparatus intact. And it may all come unstuck very quickly now that Castro is dead.
Change of some kind is riding on the salty Caribbean air.
It may come fast, or it may come slowly, but it seems destined to come.
Just now, however, a remarkable man is dead.
He had his worshippers. He had his enemies. But, for decades, he also had his way, as very few men or women on this bobbling planet ever have or ever could.
You can deny Fidel Castro much, especially now that he is dead, but you must allow him this — the sheer immensity of his will.
Beneath sound bites, a sting of anti-U.S. feeling
1 of 5 ** FILE ** Hugo Chavez. President of Venezuela, addresses the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly at UN headquarters, in this Sept. 20, 2006 file photo. Unlike in years past, Bush's address to the General Assembly did not make waves. It was Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who attracted the rock star treatment and Chavez, who drew applause when he called Bush "the devil. (AP Photo/Ed Betz, File) FOR USE AS DESIDRED WITH SOTRY SLUGGED UNDERHWHELMEDAT THE UN ED BETZ Show More Show Less
2 of 5 President Bush speaks during a joint press availability with Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf in the East Room of the White House in Washington Friday, Sept. 22, 2006. Bush said Friday he was "taken aback" by a purported U.S. threat to bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age if it did not cooperate in the fight against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds) RON EDMONDS Show More Show Less
4 of 5 ** FILE ** Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, in this Sept. 19, 2006 file photo. Unlike in years past, Bush's address to the General Assembly did not make waves. It was Ahmadinejad, who attracted the rock star treatment and Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, who drew applause when he called Bush "the devil." (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) FOR USE AS DESIDRED WITH SOTRY SLUGGED UNDERHWHELMEDAT THE UN MARY ALTAFFER Show More Show Less
It was not the intensity of anti-American vitriol in the speeches by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the U.N. General Assembly that U.S. foreign policy experts noted.
It was the loud ovations that greeted their speeches.
"Is the applause a sign of a disagreement over our policy on Iraq in particular, or does it run deeper?" asked Victoria Holt, an expert on U.N. peacekeeping at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington. "Has the United States lost the support of countries in the world that have traditionally held us in a high esteem?"
Both Ahmadinejad, who lambasted the Bush administration for aspiring to "rule the world," and Chavez, who called President Bush "the devil," are known for inflammatory anti-American sound bites, and U.S. officials brushed aside their comments as such. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Chavez's remarks were "not becoming of a head of state." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who is usually at odds with the White House, called Chavez "an everyday thug."
But the reception of the tirades of both leaders also reflects rising unhappiness with the United States, not only among longtime antagonists such as Iran, but also among erstwhile allies, experts say. Leaders of dozens of nations, in less-publicized speeches, complained vehemently to the General Assembly last week about the Iraq war, Washington's perceived unilateralism, dominance in world trade and its "war on drugs" in Latin America.
"Frustration with the United States is widespread," said Holt.
That frustration came through in a poll of more than 16,500 people in 15 countries this year by the Pew Research Center, which showed a steady decline in public approval of the United States, virtually across the world. Support for the United States had declined to 39 percent in France, 23 percent in Spain, 12 percent in Turkey and 15 percent in Jordan. Even in Britain, where 83 percent of the population backed the United States in 2000, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have eroded support to 56 percent this year, the poll showed.
"The United States had so much support after 9/11," said Wayne White, a former senior analyst on the Middle East for the State Department. "Because of overly aggressive actions, very dubious invasion of Iraq, the whole issue of secret prisons, (the treatment of detainees at) Guantanamo, we've drained that well pretty much dry."
The growing exasperation comes at a time when Washington needs all the international support it can muster for its uphill campaign in Iraq, the war against terrorism, efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East, and the potential crisis over Iran's and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.
But embarrassing revelations, such as the torture of detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison by U.S. personnel, have sapped "the moral rectitude in which we were once held," said Allen Keiswetter, the deputy Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs under President Clinton. That has created major obstacles for the Bush administration's plan to build a firewall around Islamic terrorism in the Middle East by promoting democracy, said Keiswetter.
"Muslim countries, which are an essential front line on the war on terrorism . view the United States in very low regard as a result of our policies," said Joseph Nye, a Harvard University historian who wrote about U.S. foreign policy in his recent book, "Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics."
America's declining image has also created a vacuum, of which leaders like Ahmadinejad, seen by many in the West as an ambitious and dangerous demagogue, are taking advantage, say policy analysts.
"When (Muslim countries) look at how we've approached the spread of democracy, it has them alienated rather than attracted," said Nye.
With the United States no longer providing a political model they want to embrace, people in these countries are more likely to examine other options -- often turning to alternatives antithetical to the West, said Jamal Dajani, the Bay Area producer and director of Middle East programming at Link TV.