Castro's Heart of Darkness

Communist governments arrest and imprison citizens who express opinions at variance with official orthodoxies. There is hardly an educated American or European who doesn't know that much. They are also aware that these citizens suffer torture and abuse for many years in those prisons. But it takes more than knowledge to appreciate what goes on in the prisons of the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Albania, and our nearest example of Animal Farm, Cuba; It requires conscience, sympathy, and perhaps even imagination.

Fidel, that romantic figure of the Sierra Maestra who gives interviews to Barbara Walters and Dan Rather, has managed over the years to be the "good" Communist fighting the evil imperialist to the North. The Cuban economy may be a shambles, his mercenaries are in Africa and Central America, and hundreds of thousands of his countrymen choose to risk their lives rather than stay in the country, but somehow Fidel rises above it all.

Fidel may not be able to rise above his most powerful critic, Armando Valladares, who exposes Fidel as an evil man responsible for the unimaginable suffering of thousands of innocent people. In a stark and simple narrative, Valladares recounts 22 years spent in Cuban prisons. Tortured by beatings, starvation, sleeplessness, prolonged exposures to heat and cold, and biological experiments, he and others were kept in cages and prevented from sleeping by guards who...

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