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Neil W Macauley Jr, US-born Cuba rebel who repudiated Castro

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Neil W Macauley Jr, US-born Cuba rebel who repudiated Castro

Mensaje por Tropical el Lun Nov 05, 2007 9:59 pm

U.S.-born Cuba rebel repudiated Castro
Posted on Fri, Nov. 02, 2007l


Neill W. Macaulay Jr., the University of Florida emeritus professor of Latin American history who joined Fidel Castro's revolution as a youthful idealist, then turned on Castro after he grew disillusioned, died Oct. 28 at his Micanopy home.
The South Carolina native, 72 -- son of a librarian and a dentist -- wrote five books, including the best-selling Sandino Affair, a 1968 study of Nicaraguan resistance to the United States' occupation in the 1920s and '30s.
As a 23-year-old Citadel graduate and Korean War-era veteran hungry for excitement, Macaulay had met some rebels in New York, then connected with the underground in Havana.
His book A Rebel in Cuba, published in 1970, reprinted by Wacahoota Press in 1999, recounts Macaulay's 1958 sojourn with the rebels in western Pinar del Rio Province.
Macaulay wasn't a newcomer to Cuba in 1958.
''He was fascinated with Latin America,'' his son said. ``On breaks [he and friends] would go there to raise hell and see the sights, on the train.''
A 1970 Miami Herald review said the author ``makes it clear he believes the Cuban revolution is more a personal than an ideological one . . . It was from the rural peasantry, believes Macaulay, that the revolution drew its greatest strength.''
Macaulay wrote: 'Cuban governments had never been much concerned about the peasants' right to live . . . The peasants thus had little compassion for their enemies and no use whatsoever for legal niceties. . . . The peasants belonged to Fidel without qualm or qualification; they were the sword of the revolution.''
Attached to a guerrilla squad, he quickly rose to lieutenant, training fighters to execute those deemed enemies of the people.
In 1999, he told The Herald that he had, on occasion, pulled the trigger himself.
''I did what I had to do,'' he said. ``Those guys deserved everything they got. They hurt the people.''
He described his targets as Batista henchmen notorious for their crimes.
''He thought of himself as a minor player in major history,'' said son Robert, a Miami lawyer.
``There's a famous picture of him and Rafael del Pino, the general who defected in 1967 -- Cuba's highest-ranking defector. . . . I've seen home movies of Che Guevara with my father.''
But he soon grew disenchanted and left Cuba, becoming an ardent anti-communist.
``In the late 1970s, when things were going darkly in this country, he said that the Soviet Union can't last. He was always an optimist about the demise of communism, and he was right.''
In his 1990 book, Proa a la Libertad, del Pino's wrote that Macaulay returned to the U.S. ``and Fidel Castro, in his paranoid hatred, took it upon himself to erase from history the noble and unselfish gesture of this valiant combatant.''
Macaulay tried returning in the 1970s, his son said, but was barred. In 1991, after the Soviet Union collapsed and Cuba grew desperate for tourism and cash, ''he got on a charter from Montreal.'' Since then, Macaulay sailed his boat from Tampa several times, returning to Cuba as an authorized academic.
He rekindled friendships with former comrades-in-arms and did research for himself and for documentary filmmakers, including Glenn Gebhard, the Loyola Marymount University professor whose feature-length documentary, Cuba: A Lifetime of Passion, premiered February.
He videotaped Macaulay for eight hours last month for a new film: Patria o Muerte.
''He went for altruistic reasons,'' Gebhard said. ``He felt that Batista was a bad dictator.''
He said that Macaulay ``was one of the only Americans who fought in 26th of July [Movement's] army.''
``I said to him that there are very few people who can say they led such an interesting life. He was not a socialist or a communist, and he left after he realized he couldn't make a living...He was a man of action and really smart.''
After the revolution, Macaulay, his wife and their older son, born in Cuba, on to run a tomato farm bestowed on him by the Castro government as a reward. That didn't last long. ''He realized that capitalism was not in the program for Cuba,'' said Robert. ``They got the hell out of town; things were getting pretty nasty.''
But he had trouble returning to the U.S.
''Once Castro took over, the movement became the government's army, and he was still a lieutenant, so de facto he became a member of a foreign army for a couple of months,'' Robert said.
South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, a family friend, intervened.
Years later, Robert Macaulay saw letters from his father to Justin Gleichauf, CIA station chief in Miami, containing ''suggestions about certain people who might help'' undermine Castro.
''He had regular contact with the guy,'' sharing information about Nicaragua he picked up doing research.
He volunteered for the Bay of Pigs operation, his son said, but was declined.
Once he had returned to the United States, Macaulay went on to earn a doctorate from the University of Texas and began teaching at UF, becoming an expert in guerrilla warfare.
''He wasn't,'' his son said. ``But he knew people...He was a pretty hot commodity: the rare college professor to cooperate with CIA and he was proud to do it that way.''
He retired from teaching in 1986.
''He was regularly a guest at the Army War College and West Point,'' his son said. ``He had studied the war in Nicaragua and being in Cuba taught him a lot about that area of warfare.''
On Sunday, Alachua County sheriff's deputies found Macaulay's body in his yard. They believe he took his own life, though a medical examiner's report is pending.
In addition to son Robert, Neill Macaulay is survived by his wife, Nancy, sons Charlie of Seattle and Jim of Shreveport, sister Eliza Carney of Fort Collins, Colo., and brother Alexander of West Union, S.C.
Services were held.


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