By April 1959, almost 800 Cubans had been “judged” (see above) and murdered by Castro and Che’s firing squads. Cuba’s prisons were packed to suffocation with ten times the number of political prisoners as during "the Tyrant" Batista's reign. Among Castro and Che Guevara’s prisoners were hundreds of women, a Stalinist horror utterly unknown in our hemisphere till introduced by the “leader” swooned over by Barbara Walters, Andrea Mitchell and Diane Sawyer.
Furthermore, the death penalty was being applied retroactively (none had existed under the unspeakable Batista regime.) Habeas Corpus had been abolished. Cuban defense lawyers attempting to defend the accused were being jailed themselves.
That’s when Fidel Castro receives a fawning invitation from Harvard Law School asking the honor of his addressing them. Seems that both the student body and faculty were smitten with the Cuban Revolution's shining judicial record. Castro accepted on the spot, making Harvard the last gig on his 1959 U.S. tour.
"Castro Visit Triumphant!" Headlined Harvard's Law School Forum for April 30, 1959. "The audience got what it wanted: the chance of seeing the Cuban hero (italics mine) in person!"
“VIVA FIDEL!” roared these fervent foes of capital punishment and double jeopardy. In fact, the adoring crowd was too enormous to fit or contain in any campus facility. "Even if we didn't see him at as close a range as might have been desired!" a fervent foe of retroactive laws was quoted in the Harvard Forum.
Interestingly, Fidel Castro had actually applied to Harvard Law School in 1948. This was brought to light by Harvard's Arts and Sciences Dean, McGeorge Bundy, (later to serve as JFK's Kissinger.) "Caught up in the exuberance of the event," continues the Harvard Law Forum, "Harvard Dean, McGeorge Bundy, declared that Harvard was ready to make amends for its mistake in 1948.'I've decided to admit him!' declared Dean Bundy."
“VIVA FIDEL!” The Dean’s quip again brought the house down and shook the very roof.
Alas, given the law of averages, an independent thinker was bound to pop up -- even among ten thousand Harvard students and faculty. Wonders will never cease. One such wiseacre brought up the questionable legal procedures preceding those hundreds of executions in Cuba.
"If the defendant has a right to appeal," answered Castro, "then so do the people! And don’t forget, Cuba's is the only people’s revolution in Latin America!”
Well, this assembly of America’s most nimble verbal gladiators went absolutely apes**t over the bearded "Prime Minister's" brilliant riposte. “VIVA FIDEL!—VIVA FIDEL!” they erupted again, roaring and whooping at the mass-murderer's incontestable rejoinder. This creme de la creme of America’s most cunning ratiocinators found the Stalinist’s logic not only perfectly airtight but positively dazzling in its ingenuity and completely sound in its principle of justice. A delirious pandemonium swept the hall as America's most ingenious and best-tutored law students (along with their tutors) went absolutely berserk with veneration and joy at this point-blank elucidation of Castroite justice.
Similar receptions had come at the National Press Club, Overseas Press Club, United Nations, and on Meet The Press.
Not ONE heckler from among America’s brightest and cheekiest college kids. Not ONE rebuttal from America’s biggest assemblies of its top journalists. Not ONE snigger or frown from the top cut of America’s adversarial press. Not ONE raised eyebrow or discreet snicker from the nations' most hard-boiled investigative reporters. The Cuban "Prime Minister," as they all called him, was on a serious roll on that tour. MC Hammer said it best a few years back: "U can't touch this (guy)!”
And remember: The Iranian Hostage Crisis was NOT solved on day 444 when President Reagan, in office for a mere few hours, pledged a financial rescue of Iran. Something else seemed to motivate the Iranian kidnappers. Alas, Obama has just pledged a rescue of Castro.
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.