"I want to see my mommy"

Sometimes it's easy to forget what a wretched place Castro's Cuba is. Armando Valladaras reminds us.

Published May 6, 2000 4:00PM (EDT)

After days of humor at the expense of just about everyone in and outside of Miami and Washington, here's a story that should give pause to anyone who thinks Elian Gonzalez should go back to Cuba.

It's hard not to read Armando Valladaras' Wall Street Journal account of a 12-year-old boy named Robertico without feeling at least a little heartbroken. "I was in solitary confinement in Fidel Castro's tropical gulag ... when I heard a child's voice whimpering," writes the former Cuban who went on to become U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission. "Get me out of here! Get me out of here! I want to see my mommy," he heard young Robertico say.

The boy, Valladares recalls in his tragic essay, was imprisoned after a policeman caught him playing with a police officer's gun, left in his open car. Castro's goon squad placed poor Robertico in a gulag for common criminals, where he was subjected to rape and venereal disease by "soulless prisoners."

"Many other Americans seem to believe that even if savage things once happened under Fidel Castro, the situation has now changed" he writes. "Yet the same dictatorship, which sanctioned the abuse of Robertico and has tortured thousands of political prisoners, is still wielding absolute power over the Cuban people." This tale comes not from Peggy Noonan or crazy Miami Mayor Joe Carollo. It comes from someone who lived and suffered in Castro's Cuba, and it almost makes you wish Janet Reno would drop a copy of the article on the steps of Wye Plantation, which is not a diplomatic zone.

By Daryl Lindsey

Daryl Lindsey is associate editor of Salon News and an Arthur Burns fellow. He currently lives in Berlin and writes for Salon and Die Welt.

MORE FROM Daryl Lindsey

Related Topics ------------------------------------------