An Open Letter to Fidel Castro

Greetings Comrade Fidel,

In recent days there have been a number of media outlets reporting a statement from the US State Department claiming that the Cuban government and the United States government are opening discussions concerning the potential removal of Cuba from the US State Department’s list of “terrorist” nations. Included in these news articles is the suggestion that one of the issues being discussed is the return to the United States of various US revolutionaries and radicals currently in exile in Cuba. As you are well aware, many of these individuals are in Cuba as a result of their determined militant resistance to the racist imperialism that defines the modus operandi of the US government and its military and law enforcement apparatus.

I believe I am expressing the sentiments of many US residents (and many more world citizens) when I write that I hope this statement from the US State Department is nothing more than wishful thinking on their part. There can be no amount of money, trade, or recognition that could possibly explain a betrayal by the Cuban government of its accepted understanding with exiles like Assata Shakur that would send them back to the hellholes of United States prisons. The level of compromise such an action would project can only be equated with surrender to Washington’s neoliberal capitalist monolith of war and death.

It is quite true that we live in dismal times. Those governments attempting to create some kind of social justice for the majority of their peoples find themselves constantly on the defensive. Meanwhile, supposed democratic socialists and social democrats get elected on promises suggested by the labels they campaign under only to surrender to the aforementioned neoliberal capitalist hegemon at the first opportunity. As we have seen most obviously in Ukraine, Venezuela and Brazil, well-funded and greedy defenders of the capitalist order collude and conspire with their corporate masters in world capitalist headquarters to destroy these governments and replace them with regimes loyal to capital. In what clearly ranks as a new height of audacity, these groups and individuals manipulate the media and pretend to the world that they lead popular movements and are the true representatives of their nation’s people, despite the fact of their continued inability to get elected in fair and free elections.

For many of us old and new to the struggle for a socially just world–a world that by definition opposes imperialism, most forms of capitalism and all egregious forms of capitalist accumulation, war, sexism and racism–Cuba stands as an example of a possible present and a desired future. The educational system, health care system, and the numerous other elements and programs that contribute to the overall well-being of the Cuban people serve as examples for enlightened people everywhere. The domination of our current world by the worst of the capitalist class has as its goal the destruction of such examples.

I do not have to warn you about the dangers of negotiating with Washington, DC. The only consistent truth in the history of US diplomacy, from the treaties made with various Native American peoples to the statements made in 1990 regarding the eastward expansion of NATO and beyond, is that very little of what Washington agrees to can be trusted. Reparations were promised to Vietnam after the end of US hostilities with that nation; they have never been paid. The broken treaties between Washington and Native American nations are bloodied with the corpses of Native Americans who trusted the words on the treaties only to be killed because they did so. Union General William Tecumseh Sherman made numerous promises of forty-acre land grants to the freed former slaves in the US South during and after the US Civil War. Virtually none of these promises were kept.

I could continue with examples of Washington’s deceitful dealings with numerous Latin American nations, but I believe the point is made. Cuba knows this history much better than me. I am but an observer of the US’s perfidy. Cuba is its victim and one of its most enduring opponents. Living in the belly of the beast creates a scenario that provides many means of denial. Too many former US radicals have succumbed to those means. Meanwhile, several of those who were willing to give their lives in the struggle noted above do not have the opportunity to succumb. They live out their lives in prison or exile, serving as examples of what commitment truly means. Others live in prisons of society’s making, fighting the demons of poverty, substance abuse, and the neverending hopelessness of a culture where everything has a price but nothing has any value separate from that price.

The history of Cuba ever since those long ago days in 1953 at the Moncada Barracks serves as an inspiration to the millions around the world who still believe that fighting the beast of US imperialism and capitalist injustice is a worthy fight. So do those North American revolutionaries you and your people have so graciously granted exile to. Their freedom should not be up for negotiation.

In solidarity,

Ron Jacobs

Ron Jacobs is the author of a series of crime novels called The Seventies Series.  All the Sinners, Saints, is the third novel in the series. He is also the author of  The Way the Wind Blew: a History of the Weather Underground . Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden.    He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. His book Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies will be published by Counterpunch. He can be reached at:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: