[Marxism] Ronald Hilton, 95, Scholar of Latin America, Dies

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Feb 24 04:01:18 MST 2007

Ronald Hilton, 95, Scholar of Latin America, Dies

Published: February 24, 2007

Ronald Hilton, an influential scholar on Latin America who played a
role in uncovering secret preparations for Cuban exiles' invasion at
the Bay of Pigs, died Tuesday at his home on the Stanford University
campus, in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 95.

The death was announced on the Web site of the World Association of
International Studies, which Professor Hilton founded in 1965, and
was confirmed by his daughter, Mary Huyck of Greenwich, Conn.

It was in November 1960 that The Nation published an article about
United States efforts in Central America to prepare for what would
become the Bay of Pigs invasion the following spring. The magazine
attributed crucial information to Professor Hilton, then the director
of the Institute of Hispanic American Studies at Stanford, who had
just returned from a research trip to Guatemala. Professor Hilton
told an editor at the magazine that it was an open secret in
Guatemala that the Central Intelligence Agency had set up a base
there for training Cuban exiles to overthrow Fidel Castro.

Years later, Clifton Daniel, managing editor of The New York Times,
said in a speech that the report by Professor Hilton and The Nation
had spurred the newspaper to undertake its own investigation of the
training base. The Times then published several articles about the
impending attack, which would end in disastrous failure. Part of one
of those articles, which appeared in the paper a week before the
invasion began, was withheld on national security grounds at the
request of the Kennedy administration, a decision that editors later
said they regretted.

In an academic career that began in the 1930s and was spent mostly at
Stanford, Professor Hilton mixed a dispassionate study of politics
with a zest for tackling the most politically charged issues of his
day. He was particularly drawn to research on Cuba and the Castro
revolution, which, he warned, was far more likely to bring seismic
political shifts than had initially been believed.

Fiercely independent and intellectually tireless, he was involved in
many projects from his home base on the Stanford campus. In the 1940s
he broadcast news into Latin America over a local radio station. In
1944 he founded the Institute of Hispanic American Studies and
published the institute's independent Hispanic American Report, a
monthly journal of reports and essays about the region.

When The Times declined in 1962-63 to publish controversial accounts
about Cuba by one of its correspondents, Herbert L. Matthews, who was
thought to have grown too close to the Cuban revolution, Professor
Hilton agreed to publish them in The Hispanic American Report.

The Report suspended publication in 1964 after Professor Hilton,
known for his outspokenness, resigned as director of
Hispanic-American studies in a dispute with Stanford over issues of
academic freedom. He then founded the World Association of
International Studies, which he oversaw for the rest of his life, and
began publishing The World Affairs Report, one of the first journals
available on the World Wide Web. He became a visiting fellow of the
conservative Hoover Institution, at Stanford, in 1987.

Professor Hilton also edited several books, including the seven-part
"Who's Who in Latin America" and "The Life of Joachim Nabuco," about
Brazil's first ambassador to the United States, which he also
translated from the original Portuguese.

Ronald Hilton was born in Torquay, England, in 1911. He received his
B.A. and M.A. from Oxford University and lived in Spain during the
Spanish Civil War, whose outcome left him with lasting concerns about
the effects of totalitarianism.

In 1939, he married a fellow student, Mary Bowie, while both were
enrolled in graduate studies at the University of California,
Berkeley. He became a United States citizen in 1946.

Professor Hilton is survived by his wife and daughter.

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