“Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long Live Christ the King) were the last words of many of the martyrs. Catholic youth groups were among the first to mount resistance to Castro and Che Guevara’s Stalinization of Cuba. Tragically for them, in the early 60’s the Castro regime’s KGB mentors were still flush from massacring thousands of Catholic (among many other) freedom-fighters during the Polish, Ukrainian and recent Hungarian rebellions against Soviet rule. Denied U.S. help (from 90 miles away) while the Soviets (6,000 miles away) lavished their Caribbean satraps with massive firepower and 40,000 “advisors”, Cuba’s anti-Communist rebels fared no better than did those in Eastern Europe.
In the process of extinguishing the freedom-fight, Castro and Che Guevara’s regime jailed more political prisoners as a percentage of population than Stalin's and executed more people (out of a population of 6.4 million) in its first three years in power than Hitler's executed (out of a population of 65 million) in its first six. These figures come from the human rights group Freedom House and from the Black Book of Communism, authored by French scholars and translated into English by Harvard University Press, not exactly headquarters for “the vast-right wing conspiracy, “ much less of “right-wing Cuban exile crackpots!”
“The defiant yells (“Viva Cristo Rey!”—“Viva Cuba Libre!”) from the bound and staked martyrs would make the walls of La Cabana prison tremble," wrote eyewitness to the slaughter, Armando Valladares, who suffered 22 torture-filled years in Castro’s prisons and was later appointed by Ronald Reagan as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. Modern history records few U.S. diplomatic tweaks as slick, or U.S. ambassadors as effective.
Given their defiance even during their last seconds alive, by mid 1961 the mere binding and blindfolding of Castro and Che's murder victims wasn't enough. The Left’s premier poster-boys began ordering that the freedom-fighter be also gagged. The shaken firing-squads demanded it. The yells were badly unnerving the trigger-pullers, you see.
So now, as Castro’s henchmen yanked the martyrs and heroes from the cells, bent their arms back, and bound their hands, two more Communist guards came into play. One grabbed the struggling victim's hair and jerked his head back, trying to steady him. The other taped his mouth shut.
Rigoberto Hernandez was 17 when Che Guevara’s henchmen dragged him from his cell, jerked his head back to gag him, and started dragging him to the stake. Little "Rigo" pleaded his innocence to the very bloody end. But his pleas were garbled and difficult to understand. His struggles while being gagged and bound to the stake were also awkward. The boy had been a janitor in a Havana high school and was mentally retarded. His single mother had pleaded his case with hysterical sobs. She had begged, beseeched and finally proven to his "prosecutors" that it was a case of mistaken identity. Her only son, a boy in such a condition, couldn't possibly have been "a CIA agent planting bombs."
"FUEGO!" The firing squad volley shattered Rigo's little bent body as he moaned and struggled awkwardly against his bounds, blindfold and gag. Remember the gallant Che Guevara's instructions to his revolutionary courts: “judicial evidence is an archaic bourgeois detail.” And remember Harvard Law School's invitation and rollicking ovation to Fidel Castro during the very midst of this appalling bloodbath. “We greeted each other as old friends,” gushed Jimmy Carter upon visiting Fidel Castro last year.
But back to Castro’s sincerity:
“And let me be very clear—VERY clear!” stressed Fidel Castro during his delirious reception by the cream of America’s media at the National Press Club on April 17, 1959. “We are not communists! And communists will never have influence in my country!”
Just a few things to keep in mind, Vatican officials, in the event of hearing Fidel Castro’s “confession,” and accepting his “contrition.”
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.