Humberto Fontova

Was it remotely conceivable that someone with Jeremiah's Wright's worldview and connections had somehow avoided a pilgrimage to the world capitol of Yankee-hatred, to worship and commiserate with its high priests?

Not a chance. Reverend Wright was part of Revered Jesse Jackson's 300 person entourage to Havana in 1984. “Viva Fidel!” bellowed Reverend Jackson while concluding his speech at the University of Havana. “Viva Che Guevara!..Long Live our cry of Freedom!”

“He (Jesse Jackson)is a great personality,” reciprocated a beaming Fidel Castro, “a brilliant man with a great talent, capable of communicating with people, very persuasive, reliable, honest. Jackson's main characteristic is honesty. He is sincere and there is not a single bit of demagoguery in his conversations.”(italics mine)

As mentioned, this was summer of 1984, so at the time the world's longest-suffering black political prisoner suffered his incarceration and tortures in stoic defiance. “Nigger!” taunted his jailers between tortures. “We pulled you down from the trees and cut off your tail!”

I do not refer to Nelson Mandela. No, this prisoner was being tortured a few miles away from the Revs. Jackson, Wright and their entourage of black American luminaries. The prisoner was a black Cuban named Eusebio Penalver and he was being tortured by Reverend Wright's gracious hosts. Mr Penalver's incarceration and tortures stretched to 29 years which makes him the longest-suffering black political prisoner in modern history, surpassing Nelson Mandela's record in time behind bars and probably doubling the horrors suffered by Mandela during this period.

Eusebio Penalver was bloodied in his fight with Castroism but unbowed for almost 30 years in its dungeons. He's what Castroites call a "plantado"--a defiant one, an unbreakable one. "Stalin tortured," wrote Arthur Koestler, "not to force you to reveal a fact, but to force you to collude in a fiction."

"The worst part of Communism," wrote Solzhenytzin, "is being forced to live a lie."

Eusebio Penalver refused to collude in this lie. He spit in the face of the liars. He scorned any "re-education" by his jailers. He knew it was THEY who desperately needed it. He refused to wear the uniform of a common criminal. He knew it was THEY who should don it. Charles Rangel, Jesse Jackson and Jeremiah Wright all toast his torturer. But through 30 years of those tortures Eusebio Penalver stood tall, proud and defiant.

"For months I was naked in a 6 x 4 foot cell," Eusebio recalls. "That's 4 feet high, so you couldn't stand. But I felt a great freedom inside myself. I refused to commit spiritual suicide."


Humberto Fontova

Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.