When feminist icon Barbara Walters sat quivering alongside Fidel Castro in 1977 cooing: “Fidel Castro has brought very high literacy and great health-care to his country. His personal magnetism is powerful!”, dozens of Cuban suffragettes suffered in torture chambers within walking distance of the hyperventilating Ms. Barbara Walters.
“They started by beating us with twisted coils of electric cable,” recalls former political prisoner Ezperanza Pena from exile today. “I remember Teresita on the ground with all her lower ribs broken. Gladys had both her arms broken. Doris had her face cut up so badly from the beatings that when she tried to drink, water would pour out of her lacerated cheeks.”
“On Mother’s Day they allowed family visits,” recalls, Manuela Calvo from exile today.” But as our mothers and sons and daughters were watching, we were beaten with rubber hoses and high-pressure hoses were turned on us, knocking all of us the ground floor and rolling us around as the guards laughed and our loved-ones screamed helplessly.”
“When female guards couldn’t handle us male guards were called in for more brutal beatings. I saw teen-aged girls beaten savagely, their bones broken, their mouths bleeding,” recalls Polita Grau.
OK, I apologize for baiting feminist readers during this “Women’s History Month “with the term “suffragette.” In fact voting was merely one of the rights these heroic Cuban ladies sought. Castro’s Stalinist regime jailed political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin’s own, murdered more political prisoners its first three years in power than Hitler’s murdered in its first six, and abolished private property. And yes, Castro also outlawed voting. So you’ll please excuse these Cuban ladies if they regard the “struggles” of Betty Freidan and Gloria Steinem as a trifle overblown.
I also apologize for singling out Barbara Walters. “Fidel Castro is old-fashioned, courtly–even paternal, a thoroughly fascinating figure!” (NBC’s Andrea Mitchell)
Back in 1996 Fidel Castro was hosted by Mort Zuckerman at his Fifth Avenue pad. A throng of Beltway glitterati, including Mike Wallace, Peter Jennings, Tina Brown, Bernard Shaw, Barbara Walters and Diane Sawyer all jostled for a photo-op and stood in line for Castro’s autograph. But Diane Sawyer was so overcome in the mass-murderer’s presence that she lost control, rushing up, breaking into that toothy smile of hers, wrapping her arms around Castro and smooching the Stalinist torturer on his bearded cheek.
“You people are the cream of the crop!” beamed the Stalinist/terrorist to the smiling throng he’d come within a hair of nuking in 1962.
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.