Remembering Felipe Pazos, Economist Who Split With Castro

Paul Lewis. The New York Times. March 9, 2001

November 1957-Felipe Pazos with Fidel Castro and his gang of murderous thugs at Sierra Maestra. Pazos was the most prominent Cuban economist. He supported Fidel Castro in 1959. Once he clearly saw that the Castro brothers would betray the democratic principles they professed he resign as the president of the National Cuban Bank. Pazos was enraged by the resignation of Huber Matos, and the takeover of the Communist Party. He was quickly condemned by Fidel’s brother, bloodthirsty Raul, who proposed to have him shot. Pazos was somehow aloud to leave the country. After leaving the island he worked for the Alliance for Progress in Latin America. After his retirement in 1975 Pazos lived in Venezuela where he died in 2001. He never thought that Communism would take over. Soon after Hugo Chavez took power in 1998 he started to see the signs of a Communist dictatorship taking over the country, this time using democratic institutions to usurp power. The following note from the NYT was published when he passed in 2001. In 1985 he appeared in the American documentary series Frontline.

Felipe Pazos, a Cuban economist who initially supported Fidel Castro because he said he believed that he would restore democracy but broke with him in 1959, died on Feb. 26 in exile at Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela. He was 88.

In February 1957, Dr. Pazos and his son Xavier arranged for a correspondent from The New York Times, Herbert L. Matthews, to interview and photograph Mr. Castro and his guerrillas at their hideaway in the southern Sierra Maestra.

The interviews belied the contentions by the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista that Mr. Castro had been killed and propelled him and his revolutionaries into the international limelight.

In July 1957, Dr. Pazos met Mr. Castro in the mountains. With Raúl Chibas, another Batista opponent, they issued a manifesto intended to reassure the middle classes about the revolutionaries’ intentions.

The revolutionaries committed themselves to “the fine ideal of a Cuba free, democratic and just,” pledging to restore the democratic Constitution of 1940 that had been abrogated after the Batista coup in 1952.

They promised a free press and free elections in all unions. Uncultivated land was to be redistributed among landless peasants.

Immediately after the manifesto, Dr. Pazos and his family were forced to flee the country.

When Mr. Castro seized power two years later, Dr. Pazos was reappointed president of the Banco Nacional de Cuba, Cuba’s central bank, which he had headed in the early 50’s, resigning after Batista took over.

But the two quickly fell out, with Dr. Pazos increasingly disillusioned by Mr. Castro’s confrontational attitude toward the United States, his failure to make good on his pledge to restore democracy and the growing power of Communists.

Accompanying Mr. Castro on a visit to the United States in April 1959, Dr. Pazos was annoyed at being forbidden to discuss economic aid for Cuba.

In October, he was further disillusioned by the arrest and imprisonment for treason of Maj. Hubert Matos, the former military governor of Camagüey and a leading anti-Communist in the army.

Later that month, when the former air force commander, Díaz Lanz, flew a B-25 bomber from Florida over Havana to drop anti- Castro leaflets, Mr. Castro denounced the United States for complicity in the raid.

On Oct. 23, 1959, Dr. Pazos told President Osvaldo Dorticós that he wanted to resign, saying Mr. Castro had overreacted to the raid and that if Major Matos had been arrested for opposing Communism, he should be, too.

“He realized then that the revolution would be taken over by the Communists and the 1940 Constitution would never be restored as Castro had promised,” said Ernesto Betancourt, another former Castro supporter who also fell out with Mr. Castro and went into exile.

Mr. Castro’s brother Raúl proposed executing Dr. Pazos and Major Matos immediately.

But Dr. Pazos was eventually allowed to leave the country, and his Central Bank position was taken by Che Guevara.

Dr. Pazos was born in 1912 in Havana. He earned a doctorate from the University of Havana in 1938, joined the Cuban foreign service and in 1944 attended the Bretton Woods conference that created the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

He was on the I.M.F. staff from 1946 until 1949, when he returned to Havana to work on the creation of the central bank there, working as president from 1950 until 1952.

After leaving Cuba, he worked on the Alliance for Progress and then for the Inter-American Development Bank, until his retirement in 1975, when he moved to Venezuela.

His best known publications were “Economic Development of Latin America” (1961) and “Chronic Inflation in Latin America” (1972).

His wife, the former Fara Vea, died in 1982. His son Xavier, who played the boy in the film of “The Old Man and the Sea,” is an engineer in Venezuela. Another son and a daughter also survive.

Source: New York Times/Cubanet


~ by Rafael Martel on June 22, 2012.

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