The challenge of the Kennedy family

Death of Edward, younger brother of JFK and Robert

Gabriel Molina

UP until his last breath, Edward Kennedy bore the challenge of his family: to clean up the dirty politics of the United States.

In a “Reflection” last April, Fidel acknowledged that family, in particular the assassinated President John F. Kennedy (JFK), as being representative of “a new generation of Americans confronting the old and dirty politics of men in the mold of Nixon and had defeated him with a feast of political talent.”


Attention is currently focused on Edward’s last significant battle, that of bringing Medicare (medical insurance) to the close to 50 million U.S. citizens who cannot enjoy it. However, the decisive participation of the Kennedy family, finally headed by him, in Barack Obama’s electoral victory should not be overlooked. Without that win it would have been impossible to even think about discussing Medicare. Without that moral, political and financial support, the dirty saga of the Bush and Nixon clans would be continuing.

That mature analysis of a clan that organized against Cuba a frustrated invasion, a potential nuclear attack and various assassination attempts was not an easy task for the Cuban leader. In his analysis, the contention prevailed of JFK’s self-control, in spite of the powerful combined pressure brought to bear by the CIA and the Pentagon.

What likewise prevailed was a recognition of the rectification that John and Robert Kennedy demonstrated after the denouement of the nuclear threat. That will was so strong that it contributed to a large extent to inspiring the conspiracy to assassinate the president, as acknowledged by the report of the Congressional Committee that investigated the November 22, 1963 assassination. Nobody has been able to deny that the conspirators took substantial steps to do away with the Cuban Revolution by fabricating complicities with Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged lone gunman.

Respect prevailed for the objectives of that family, who strove to change the dirty national and international policies symbolized, more than anyone else in the last 70 years, by the three Bush generations. Robert Kennedy’s struggle to take forward his brother’s ideas, also in relation to Cuba, similarly led to a less-known conspiracy to assassinate him in June 1968 when, having won the Democratic nomination, his popularity threatened to take him to the U.S. presidency.

The sincerity of those analyses is demonstrated by the respect that the surviving brothers and their descendants have shown to Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution since that time. John John Kennedy, the son of the assassinated president, was one of the members of the family who came to Havana to make his acquaintance. The suspect plane accident that resulted in the death of the 39-year-old, noted as the man charged with keeping alive the Kennedy tradition, occurred a few weeks before the wide-ranging interview [with Fidel] for his magazine, planned for December 1999  since the first meeting. He recounted the pleasant impressions he received from Fidel in a long article in Paris Match.

All authors agree that Edward, the youngest of the Kennedy brothers, also bore the family mystique. I was able to confirm that personally in the basement of the Capitol building in Washington, when a huge crowd caught sight of him. Everyone ran to speak to him or at least to see him at close range.

On hearing of his death, Obama stated that for five decades (1962-2009) virtually every legislative action to promote the civil rights, health and economic well-being of the American people bore his name and was the fruit of his efforts.

On August 27, The New York Times recalled how Ted Kennedy appeared last August during the electoral campaign, already suffering from an incurable brain tumor. Edward electrified delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Denver, by declaring strongly: “I have come here tonight to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States.”

The moral, political and financial contribution of the Kennedy’s was even decisive for winning the nomination over Hillary Clinton. From that moment the electoral panorama changed.

“An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States senator of our time,” the daily added.

But the U.S. mass media has not refrained from linking him to love affairs similar to those of his brothers. The New York Times also recounts how the White House aspirations that all observers predicted for him in replacement of his assassinated brothers were frustrated in 1969 by the tragic incident that led to the death of 28-year-old Mary Jo Kopechne, who was a campaign worker for his brother Robert. She drowned when he was driving her home after a party, after his car went off a bridge into the water of Chappaquiddick (a little island in the vicinity of the elegant Martha’s Vineyard resort in Massachusetts. Edward Kennedy survived, but delayed reporting the accident for 10 hours, which made him vulnerable to the contingencies of a presidential campaign.

Since last year the Kennedy’s have pointed to Obama as the man who could sustain John’s dreams of change. Events in recent years have given rise to not unfounded fears of history repeating itself. That is a difficult but undeniable possibility, which has already reflected certain symptoms and similarities. The offensive announced by the CIA in its anti-terrorism campaigns, in Guantánamo or Colombia, illustrate some of those symptoms. We are not in 1963 or in 1968, when John and Robert were assassinated. But… the U.S. press itself is calling attention to that, as Fidel noted the other day.

Translated by Granma International

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