Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 6, 2006, Herald Journal

Speak the truth about Castro

By ROZ KOHLS

When I was a little kid growing up in Miami, Fla. I met lots of Cubans who had escaped from Fidel Castro’s totalitarian clutches. They had horrible experiences in Cuba and weren’t shy about telling about them.

A boy in my eighth grade class told how Castro had 14-year-olds menacingly holding machine guns while posted on street corners, making sure no one did or said anything the regime didn’t like. He and his family escaped with only one suitcase of clothes each.

They were lucky, because they had property, a nice home, cars, land, and money in the bank, to leave behind for Castro and his henchmen. Poor people, who didn’t have property to leave behind, were not allowed to leave.

A woman told me how when the government-owned sugar cane needed harvesting, every Cuban, no matter what his occupation, age or condition, was forced to go into the fields and help harvest. She said her sister was eight and a half months pregnant, and was forced to cut cane too.

The cane fields were full of snakes and big rats. Communist Cuba’s agriculture was too backward to have machines cut the cane, so it had to be cut by hand. Her sister was in agony, having to bend low and cut cane with a machete, she said.

It has always surprised me how the left has glamorized the Castro revolution for the past 40 years, because Castro claims Cuba has universal health care and increased literacy among the poor. It is still a vicious police state that jails librarians, poets and anyone who complains, as if dissenters are the same as violent criminals.

On Jan. 4, 15 Cubans, including a 2-year-old boy and a 13-year-old boy, landed on an abandoned bridge piling in the Florida Keys. They had left Matanzas Province in Cuba late on the night of Jan. 2 aboard a small homemade boat. The refugees were rescued by the Coast Guard on what they thought was dry land at the base of the bridge just south of Marathon Key.

“The Cubans thought they were safe Wednesday when they reached the Old Seven Mile Bridge. But the historic bridge, which runs side by side with a newer bridge, is missing several chunks, and the Cubans had the misfortune of reaching pilings from a section that no longer touches land,” according to a Jan. 9 account by Associated Press.

Because they were unable to walk to land, they must be sent back to Cuba where they will be punished for trying to escape. They have begged not to be returned to Castro’s grasp.

Some US officials, who probably believe Cuba is not only a revolutionary paradise, but in some ways, better than the United States, are insisting the 15 Cubans never made it to land.

Other officials are saying according to US and international law, the federal government’s jurisdiction extends 100 miles out.

I hope those Cubans who told me about life under Castro will speak up loud and long about it now.


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