Human Rights Is a Foreign Phrase to Cuban Government

March 21, 2011

Cuba is an example of an international subject with a Texas tie-in, and particularly the Houston/Galveston area, which includes ShadeyHill Ranch, where we have a sizeable Cuban population. In fact, the guy who makes my hand-rolled cigars is Cuban. And a former colleague came to the United States with his parents in the early 60s after watching the Bay of Pigs fiasco from his apartment window.

Well, last week the BBC reported on the death of Alberto Granado, the guy who tooled around Latin America on a motorcycle in the 1950s with Che Guevara. The diaries kept by this pair during their eight-month road trip, became the basis for the 2004 film The Motorcycle Diaries, another attempt by individuals of a certain political persuasion to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse. Or more appropriately, a spineless murderer of women and children into a folk hero.

The film portrays two ideological medical students discovering deep poverty and social injustice throughout Latin America. Worshippers in the cult of Che call this an eye-opening trip that led to Guevara’s revolutionary convictions, also known to his victims and anyone wishing to read the non-pulp fiction accounts of his life as self-aggrandizement attained through corruption, betrayal, torture, and murder.

After Castro’s gang overthrew the Batista regime, Guevara convinced his childhood buddy to join him in Cuba where Granado appears to have landed lifetime gig teaching biochemistry at Havana University.

The Cuban government says Granado died in Havana of natural causes, which is more than can be said for his buddy Che who died in 1967 begging for his life in Bolivia where he was stirring up another revolution and continuing his murdering ways.

So why bring this up? Here’s why: both well-meaning individuals and the ill-informed intelligentsia of the political left continue to hold the cowardly murderer Guevara as the symbol of idealism and revolution, a Latin American Robin Hood. Well, yes, he robbed, from both the rich and the poor, and he was a hood. Of course, there would be a lot of people alive today if Guevara had simply been a mafia hood, not that there is such a thing, of course.

The next story shows the sad state of human rights in Castro’s Cuba. And, once again we have to rely on the BBC to tell us what’s happening, in this case, to an American.

After two days, a Cuban court last week ended the trial of Alan Gross, described as an aid worker, charged with crimes against the state. Still no verdict that I can find, but if convicted, Gross, 61, could spend the next 20 years in a Cuban prison.

So, what did he do? Threaten to kill one of the Castro brothers, Fidel or Raul? Rob the Bank of Castro? Paint graffiti over one of those stupid Che Guevara posters?

No. In Cuba, setting up Internet connections so the people there can find out what’s really going on in their island nation and around the world is a crime against the state.

But of course it is. No two-bit dictator, ruler, or king wants to see the Tunisia Tsunami roll over his country and sweep him into exile, or worse.

Here’s what happened, according to the report. Gross went to Cuba under a program funded by the US Agency for International Development, aka USAID, to distribute Internet and satellite communication equipment to Jewish communities in Havana.

Yep. You heard me right. Our country funds a program that sets up Internet connections in Cuba, and other countries.

OK, all of you Castro lovers. Do I have your attention yet? It appears the commies running the country into the ground consider the free flow of information, in this case to Jews, a subversive activity that must be crushed whenever found.

Cuba wasn’t his first job. Mr. Gross reportedly worked on development projects in the Palestinian territories, Kenya, Gambia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. But it seems he had limited experience in Cuba, except for traveling there five times in nine months, which caught the attention of Castro’s goons.

His wife Judy says he has gout, ulcers, and has developed arthritis in prison, where she says he’s also lost 90 pounds since his imprisonment in December 2009. She’s been allowed to see him in prison once.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Cuba needs to let him go, or else it will hurt relations between the two countries. That, my friends, is a topic for another day.

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Copyright ©2011 John David Powell

John David Powell writes his Lone Star Award-winning columns from Shadey Hill Ranch in Texas. His email address is