Alas, Cuban feminists view the Cuban Revolution somewhat differently from Hollywood, Georgetown and Manhattan feminists. 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 feminists suffered in torture chambers within walking distance of the hyperventilating Ms Barbara Walters.
“They started by beating us with twisted coils of wire 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 prisoner Polita Grau.
The gallant regime co-founded by Che Guevara jailed 35,150 Cuban women for political crimes, a totalitarian horror utterly unknown—not only in Cuba—but in the Western Hemisphere until the regime so “magnetic” to Barbara Walters, Andrea Mitchell, Diane Sawyer, Jane Fonda, etc. Some of these Cuban ladies suffered twice as long in Castro’s Gulag as Alexander Solzhenitsyn suffered in Stalin’s.
Their prison conditions were described by former political prisoner Maritza Lugo. “The punishment cells measure 3 feet wide by 6 feet long. The toilet consists of an 8 inch hole in the ground through which cockroaches and rats enter, especially in cool temperatures the rat come inside to seek the warmth of our bodies and we were often bitten. The suicide rate among women prisoners was very high.”
Upon the death of Raul Castro’s wife Vilma Espin in 2006 the Washington Post gushed that: “she was a champion of women’s rights and greatly improved the status of women in Cuba, a society known for its history of machismo.” Actually, in 1958 Cuba had more female college graduates as a percentage of population than the U.S.
This Castroite “improvement of status” and “good life “for Cuban women also somehow tripled Cuban women’s pre-revolution suicide rate, making Cuban women the most suicidal on earth. This according to a 1998 study by scholar Maida Donate-Armada that uses some of the Cuban regime’s own figures.
On Christmas Eve of 1961 a Cuban woman named Juana Diaz spat in the face of the executioners who were binding and gagging her. Castro and Che’s Russian-trained secret police had found her guilty of feeding and hiding “bandits” (Cuban rednecks who took up arms to fight the Stalinist theft of their land to build Soviet –style Kolkhozes.) When the blast from Castroite firing squad demolished her face and torso Juana was six months pregnant.
Thousands upon thousands of Cuban women have drowned, died of thirst or have been eaten alive by sharks attempting to flee the Washington Post’s dutifully transcribed “improvement of status.” This from a nation formerly richer than half the nations of Europe and deluged by immigrants from same.
In 1962, a Cuban Catholic nun named Aida Rosa Perez was overheard in a private conversation saying things about Fidel Castro and Che Guevara similar (but milder) than those Jane Fonda and Joy Behar trumpet about Republicans. Sister Rosa Perez was sentenced to 12 years at hard labor. Two years into her, while toiling in the sun inside Castro's Gulag and surrounded by leering guards, Sister Rosa collapsed from a heart attack.
The Cuban Archive project headed Mrs Maria Werlau has fully documented the firing squad executions of 11 Cuban women in the early days of the regime. Another 219 women died from various brutalities and tortures while in prison. The Taliban has nothing on the regime co-founded by Che Guevara. So I trust you’ll excuse these Cuban ladies if they regard the “struggles” of Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda as a trifle overblown. And for many of them, though it’s utterly ignored by the MSM, the feminist struggle continues.
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.