MAY 24, 1961
CHICAGO—It is hoped that Premier Castro's offer of exchange of Freedom Fighters for agricultural tractors will result in the saving of human lives and that it will also give an opportunity to the American people to show the farmers of Cuba that they really care. This equipment would help to increase the well-being of the Cuban agricultural workers on the island, which at present certainly seems to be none too happy a place for any of its citizens.
Communist rule for those who have not grown up under it must be a difficult thing to become accustomed to, and I doubt if in the long run the Cuban people are going to find it compatible with their love of freedom.
It may be that our stupidity in not having helped the people to better material conditions and more freedom many years ago will for a time lead the Cubans to feel that they are getting more benefits under Communist control. But I have a feeling that even Fidel Castro will wake up someday to the realization that embracing a dictator is not the way to freedom.
On the first flight arranged by our State Department to evacuate Americans from Cuba was a number of American correspondents, among them R. Hart Phillips of The New York Times who had lived in Cuba for 30 years. He wrote an account of conditions there that must mean a state of fear and unhappiness exists among the people of Cuba.
To rise against a police state certainly must be very difficult, and it is possible that the conditions that exist in Havana are not so evident in the rural areas. As always happens in situations of this kind, it is the middle-class, property-owning people who will be made to suffer.
The Cubans are being constantly told by Castro that the United States Marines are going to invade the island, and, of course, this propaganda is designed to arouse their patriotism and their fear of outside interference.
But the day will come when even a police state may find it hard to hold down a people who have a traditional and geographic interest in communication with the U.S. and who certainly are going to suffer in their standard of living because of the breaking of this old friendship.
In time, the people will know the truth.
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It is too bad that the aid-to-education bill, for which the Administration has been fighting so hard, could not have been passed before the question of segregation was brought up. But, as events would have it, the segregation issue came up again and, although the Senate has upheld the Administration very well so far, prolonged debate has been stirrrd up by this issue.
If the Administration bill passes substantially as it is now proposed, it will be the result of a long fight carried on to induce the states to accept Federal aid for much-needed building and to raise the salaries of teachers. It will be a great satisfaction if we can break at last the fear of the states as regards Federal interference, for many of us have felt that there could be no major improvement in public education until Federal aid was accepted.