Che Guevara wrote these lines in his famous “Motorcycle Diaries.” But you will search Robert Redford’s famous movie based on the book in utter vain for their mention. Redford, this muscular champion of “artistic freedom,” by the way, meekly acquiesced in screening The Motorcycle Diaries for Che's widow (who heads Cuba's Che Guevara Studies Center) and Fidel Castro for their approval before release.
"N**ger!" taunted my jailers between tortures,” reported the world’s longest suffering black political prisoner about his suffering. "We pulled you down from the trees and cut off your tail!" laughed my torturers. For months I was naked in a 6 x 4 foot cell. That's four feet high, so you couldn't stand. But I felt a great freedom inside myself. I refused to commit spiritual suicide.”
That wasn’t Nelson Mandela. No, the prisoner was a black Cuban named Eusebio Peñalver, whose incarceration and torture at the hands of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s Stalinist regime stretched to 29 years, surpassing Nelson Mandela's record in time behind bars and probably quintupling the horrors suffered by Mandela during this period.
Sr Peñalver served several months of this almost thirty-year sentence in a "punishment cell" barely big enough to stand in, where he languished naked and in complete darkness. "Castro's apologists,” he said in an interview with this writer, “those who excuse or downplay his crimes -- these people be they ignorant, stupid, mendacious whatever--they are accomplices in the bloody tyrant's crimes, accomplices in the most brutal and murderous regime in the hemisphere."
More perspective: according to Anti-Apartheid activists a grand total of 3,000 political prisoners passed through South Africa’s Robben Island prison in roughly 30 years under the Apartheid regime. Usually about a thousand were held. These were out of a South African population of 40 million.
According to the Human Rights group, Freedom House, a grand total of 500,000 political prisoners have passed through Castro’s various prisons and forced labor camps. At one time in 1961, some 300,000 Cubans were jailed for political offenses. This is out of a Cuban population in 1960 of 6.4 million.
A calculator will easily reveal the grotesque disparity between the repression practiced by Jay-Z’s tourism clients and Apartheid repression. Fox & Friends, by the way, recently invited a Townhall columnist to discuss these ironies and grotesqueries.
As Jay-Z and Beyonce filmed their tourism commercial for the Castro regime last week some Cuban rappers were languishing in KGB-designed dungeons and suffering hunger-strikes not far from the cameras. Angel Arzuaga and Marcos Lima were among them. These Cuba rappers’ crimes (according to the criminal code of Jay-Z’s hosts and commercial beneficiaries) consisted of playing and even listening to rap-music.
But this Cuban version of rap, you see, failed to properly express the mass genuflections to Jay-Z’s hosts which is a requirement of Cuban music as recorded under the Castro-Stalinist regime. These Cuban rappers failed to issue the obligatory hosannas and hallelujahs to the racist and Stalinist beneficiaries of Jay-Z’s tourism infomercial.
The “edgy” and “irreverent” Jay-Z, by the way, in a spanking new rap song, disses the critics of his Castroite infomercial as “idiots.”
But why pick on Jay-Z? Should we expect more sense from a ghetto-raised rapper than from the ultra-educated daughter of worldwide conservative icon Margaret Thatcher? Meet the Iron Lady’s daughter Carol during her own Cuba- visit (i.e. enrichment of the Stalinist regime) three years ago:
"I hoped to get a snap taken…standing by a wrought-iron image of the revolutionary HERO Che Guevara.... Che is your constant companion on any trip to Cuba. His image is everywhere-more so than Fidel himself. Such was his presence that our tour was dubbed "On Yer Bike With Che."
But why pick on the Iron Lady’s daughter? Here’s libertarian icon Murray Rothbard, whose relationship with Ron Paul’s was such that he even wrote the preface to one of Paul’s books. Ron Paul regards Rothbard as one of America’s “greatest men” and “greatest heroes of freedom.” Rand Paul, by the way, considers it an honor to have met Murray Rothbard and a “privilege” to have once driven him to the airport.
In 1967 Murray Rothbard seemed highly bereaved and aggrieved to hear of Che Guevara’s whacking. Here’ the libertarian icon’s encomium to the Stalinist who outlawed private property under penalty of torture-chamber and firing-squad:
“Che is dead, and we all mourn him. Long live Che! Why? How is it that so many libertarians mourn this man?...What made Che such an heroic figure for our time is that he, more than any man of our epoch or even of our century, was the living embodiment of the principle of Revolution… we all knew that his enemy was our enemy–that great Colossus that oppresses and threatens all the peoples of the world, U. S. imperialism… The most fitting memorial to Che was the intensely moving speech about his death delivered by his old comrade-in-arms, Fidel Castro.”
But why pick on Murray Rothbard?
Time magazine, for instance, honors Che Guevara among "The 100 Most Important People of the Century." Not satisfied with such a measly accolade they list the Stalinist who outlawed freedom of speech and sent Cuba’s best journalists to prison or exile in its "Heroes and Icons" section, alongside Anne Frank, Andrei Sakharov, Rosa Parks and Mother Theresa. From here the ironies only get richer.
The most popular version of the Che T-shirt and poster, for instance, sports the slogan "Fight Oppression" under his famous face. This is the face of a man who co-founded a regime that jailed more of its subjects than did Hitler's or Stalin's and declared that "individualism must disappear!" In 1959, with the help of Soviet GRU agents, the man celebrated on that T-shirt helped found, train and indoctrinate Cuba’s secret police. "Always interrogate your prisoners at night," Che ordered his goons. "A man's resistance is always lower at night."
Today the world's largest Che mural (the one Carol Thatcher smilingly posed before) adorns Cuba's Ministry of the Interior, the headquarters for Cuba's KGB- and STASI-trained secret police. Nothing could be more fitting.
When it comes to the factual Che Guevara, amigos, what we have here is SERIOUS failure to communicate, even among “conservatives.” But a corrective to all this “ignorance” does exist.
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.