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In keeping with this fine tradition, after beating and arresting Wilman Villar, his Castroite jailers demanded he wear the uniform of a common criminal (a traditional Stalinist practice as elaborated by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his “Gulag Archipelago.”)
But Villar refused (a traditional response by many Cuban political prisoners as elaborated by Armando Valladares in his prison memoirs “Against all Hope.”) “I refused to commit spiritual suicide,” explained Valladares’ prison-mate Eusebio Penalver, a black Cuban who suffered longer in Castro’s prisons and torture chambers than Nelson Mandela suffered in Apartheid South Africa’s Robben Island. Granted, you’d never know this from the media, or Hollywood — much less the Congressional Black Caucus.
“For months I was naked in a 6 x 4 foot cell,” recalled Penalver. “That’s 4 feet high, so you couldn’t stand. But they never succeeded in branding me as common criminal, so I felt a great freedom inside myself. I refused to commit spiritual suicide.”
“They would leave him naked and handcuffed,” reports Wilman Villar’s widow in a recent samizdat from Cuba. “They beat him. They wrapped his body in chains so he could not take them off [and] they told me that they were not going to give him any medical attention, that if he died, his would be just another death.”
Villar died a week later of “multiple organ failure due to general sepsis,” as explained by the Stalinist regime, and dutifully disseminated by all mainstream media outlets graciously granted Havana press bureaus.
“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.”
At the risk of torture and death, Wilman Villar and his fellow Cuban prisoner-heroes refused to collude in this lie. So they enraged the torturers commanded by Jimmy Carter’s “old friend.” and Jesse Jackson’s good buddy. Through it all, they refused to wear the uniform of common criminals, standing tall, proud and defiant.
Many of the longest suffering political prisoners in modern history live as exiles in the U.S. today. Men (and women, many of them black) who suffered in Castro and Che’s gulag two and three times as long a Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Natan Sharansky suffered in Stalin’s live within a short cab ride of most mainstream media studios, including CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS.
As I recall, Nelson Mandela sure didn’t lack for U.S. media coverage. You’d think victims of Castroite torture might make ideal fodder for interviews on 60 Minutes, History Channel, A&E, Nightline, chat shows, etc.
Alas, these heroes were victims of the Left’s premier pin-up boys.
“Castro’s apologists,” said Eusebio Penalver shortly before his death during an interview with this writer, “those who excuse, downplay or hide his crimes–these people, be they ignorant, stupid, mendacious, whatever–they are accomplices in the bloody tyrant’s crimes, accomplices in the most repressive and murderous regime in the hemisphere.”
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