Cuba stands as the greatest crisis of empire in the history of the United States, an American journalist told the Law School Forum last night.
Adressing his remarks to Dr. Manuel Urrutia, the former president of Cuba, William Worthy said that, "Unless the U.S. makes up its mind to live and let live it will soon face the same kind of crisis that France faced in the streets of Paris and the streets of Algiers."
Worthy, who visited Cuba in 1961 in defiance of the State Department travel ban, urged the audience to "see for yourselves" by going to Cuba. "Don't believe me and don't believe the Cuban exiles, but join the students who are planning a trip this summer."
Urrutia, who served in 1959 as Cuba's first revolutionary president before he broke with Fidel Castro, had begun with an attack on the Communist government of Cuba. "History has shown that Castro betrayed us all. The interests of Cuba now lie subservient to the ideals of international Communism."
"Anti-Castreites Must Unite"
"The only hope for a free Cuba." Urrutia continued, "is the unification of all anti-Castro exiles under one banner. We must have a united view of the future."
Worthy drew mixed reactions from the audience by challenging the ex-president's credentials. "It's time this country learned that exiles are the least objective and the least reliable analysis of the situation in their country. They wouldn't he in the United States if they didn't hate the people who are presently in power."
A former Nieman Fellow, Worthy has been an outspoken opponent of the U.S. poicy toward Cuba for some time. His trip to the island in 1961 brought about his indictment for "reentry into the United States without a valid passport." (The State Department has refused to validate Worthy's passport since 1957, when he visited Communist China in defiance of similar travel restriction.)
Three weeks ago a United States Court of Appeals in New Orleans reversed the decision of a lower court that had found the journalist guilty of illegal entry into the United States. In so doing, the Court established a precedent against travel restriction that will hold for other violations of the ban.
"Castro is fond of saying that there will be a revolution in the United States before there is a counter revolution in Cuba," Worthy went on. "Well, I've just come from the Beckwith trial in Mississippi and I can tell you things are going to change down there and no one's going to wait for the turn of the century, either."
Urrutia was upset by the journalist's inference that Cuba enjoyed more liberty than Mississippi. "If things are so good in Cuba why are there 300,000 Cubans living in this country? And I haven't exactly seen Americans Seeking to Castro's island paradise.