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Multi-Grammy winner Wynton Marsalis, who serves as artistic director for jazz at the Lincoln Center, also serves as an official “United Nations Messenger of Peace.” On Martin Luther King Day 2006, Mr. Marsalis addressed Tulane University, quoting Dr. King’s words and hailing his deeds. “Dr. King’s actions made his dream our reality,” Marsalis beamed.
In 2004, The Lincoln Center, with Wynton Marsalis as top act, held a concert titled the “Celebration of Human Rights and Social Justice.”
Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra spent all of last week as grateful guests of a Stalinist/Apartheid regime that murdered more political prisoners in its first three years in power than Hitler’s murdered in its first six and that jailed political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin’s. Among these victims were the longest-suffering black political prisoners in modern history. Within walking distance of where Wynton Marsalis and his Lincoln Center jazz luminaries hob-knobbed with Castro officials at Havana’s Teatro Mella, black political prisoners were being tortured for the crime of publicly quoting the works of Martin Luther King and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Among these prisoners is Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, an Amnesty international prisoner of conscience who was awarded (obviously in absentia) The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2008.
Many Cuban blacks suffered longer incarceration in Castro’s dungeons and torture chambers than Nelson Mandela suffered in South Africa’s. In fact, they qualify as the longest-suffering political prisoners in modern history. Eusebio Penalver, Ignacio Cuesta Valle, Antonio Lopez Munoz, Ricardo Valdes Cancio and many other Cuban blacks suffered almost 30 years in Castro’s prisons. These men were bloodied in their fight against the Lincoln Center’s partners but remained unbowed for almost 30 years in its dungeons. Castro’s KGB-trained torturers called these black prisoners “plantados“– defiant ones, unbreakable ones.
“Stalin tortured,” wrote Arthur Koestler, “not to force you to reveal a fact, but to force you to collude in a fiction.”
“The worst part of Communism,” wrote Solzhenitsyn, “is being forced to live a lie.”
These Cuban blacks refused to collude in this lie. They spit in the face of Wynton Marsalis’ hosts. They scorned any “re-education” by the Lincoln Center’s Stalinist partners. They knew it was they who desperately needed it. They refused to wear the uniform of common criminals. They knew it was Marsalis’ hosts who should don them. Charles Rangel, Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover, Jeremiah Wright and the Congressional Black Caucus all toast the Stalinist torturer, and the Lincoln Center seems delighted with his partnership, but many of the blacks cursed by fate to live under Fidel Castro stood tall, proud and defiant against his regime’s tortures.
Shortly before the former Cuban political prisoner’s death in 2006, this writer had the honor of interviewing Eusebio Penalver. “For months I was naked in a 6 x 4 foot cell,” Eusebio recalled. “That’s 4 feet high, so you couldn’t stand. But I felt a great freedom inside myself. I refused to commit spiritual suicide.” Sr. Penalver served several months of this 30 year sentence naked in a “punishment cell” barely big enough to stand in, where he languished naked and in complete darkness.
“N**ger!” taunted his jailers between tortures. “We pulled you down from the trees and cut off your tail!” “Castro’s apologists, those who excuse or downplay his crimes,” said Mr. Penalver, “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.”
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