Pondering the beginning of another year without freedom for Cuba, I once again felt compelled to re-read press reports from the early days of the castro regime. Todays read was Time Magazines’ January 26, 1959 account of events taking place in Cuba. No matter how many times I read about the bloodletting orgy that took place during the early days of the “revolution” I am left weeping and filled with visceral anguish and anger. Anger not just at fidel, raul, and their volunteer firing squads; but also at the world body for turning their back on the atrocities committed by the longest reigning tyrants of the past century.
A few excerpts:
The executioner’s rifle cracked across Cuba last week, and around the world voices hopefully cheering for a new democracy fell still. The men who had just won a popular revolution for old ideals — for democracy, justice and honest government — themselves picked up the arrogant tools of dictatorship. As its public urged them on, the Cuban rebel army shot more than 200 men, summarily convicted in drumhead courts, as torturers and mass murderers for the fallen Batista dictatorship. The constitution, a humanitarian document forbidding capital punishment, was overridden.
The only man who could have silenced the firing squads was Fidel Castro Ruz, the 32-year-old lawyer, fighter and visionary who led the rebellion. And Castro was in no mood for mercy. “They are criminals,” he said. “Everybody knows that. We give them a fair trial. Mothers come in and say, ‘This man killed my son.'” To demonstrate, Castro offered to stage the courts-martial in Havana’s Central Park — an unlikely spot for cool justice but perfect for a modern-day Madame Defarge.
In the trials rebels acted as prosecutor, defender and judge. Verdicts, quickly reached, were as quickly carried out. In Santiago the show was under the personal command of Fidel’s brother Raul, 28, a slit-eyed man who had already executed 30 “informers” during two years of guerrilla war. Raul’s firing squads worked in relays, and they worked hour after hour. Said Raul: “There’s always a priest on hand to hear the last confession.”
The world looked on, tried to understand the provocation, boggled at the bloodshed. Uruguay’s U.N. delegate, Argentina’s Cuban ambassador, liberal U.S. Senator Wayne Morse, all protested. Puerto Rico’s Governor Luis Munoz Marin was “perturbed.” Castro’s answer: “We have given orders to shoot every last one of those murderers, and if we have to oppose world opinion to carry out justice, we are ready to do it.” He added a few irresponsible crowd pleasers: “If the Americans do not like what is happening, they can send in the Marines; then there will be 200,000 gringos dead. We will make trenches in the streets.” Although the U.S. had done nothing more than recognize his regime swiftly, he denounced “cannon diplomacy” and called for a rally of 500,000 this week in Havana.
As he walked with his entourage through the lobby of the Havana Hilton last week, Castro stopped to talk with two old women, who blubbered a request that their murdered sons be avenged. “It is because of people like you,” said Castro, hugging the pair, “that I am determined to show no mercy.” All over Cuba, the justly aggrieved, the crackpot patriots and anyone who just wanted to square a minor account filled their black notebooks with the names of new candidates for rebel justice. Fidel Castro estimated that fewer than 450 would be shot; Raul Castro bragged that “a thousand may die.”
In a Mass Grave. The biggest bloodletting took place one morning at Santiago’s Campo de Tiro firing range, in sight of the San Juan Hill, where Teddy Roosevelt charged. A bulldozer ripped out a trench 40 ft. long, 10 ft. wide and 10 ft. deep. At nearby Boniato prison, six priests heard last confessions. Before dawn buses rolled out to the range and the condemned men dismounted, their hands tied, their faces drawn. Some pleaded that they had been rebel sympathizers all along; some wept; most stood silent. One broke for the woods, was caught and dragged back. Half got blindfolds.
A priest led two of the prisoners through the glare of truck headlights to the edge of the trench and then stepped back. Six rebel executioners fired, and the bodies jackknifed into the grave. Two more prisoners stepped forward, then two more and two more—and the grave slowly filled….
This was less than a month into castro’s forty-eight years of terror. The fact that fidel and raul have reached old age with international MSM support is a criminal injustice and an act of violence against every Cuban. There is nothing; nothing that can rectify this cruel history.