During the Cold War period, the Soviet Union supported the dictatorship of Fidel Castro's Cuba, another Communist regime. The guerilla movement led by Castro and supported by the Argentine guerilla leader Ernesto "Che" Guevara seized power in 1959. Castro protected his regime with political and military support from the Soviet Union, and even when the USSR collapsed, Castro was able to survive.
The Communist movement in Cuba, and in Latin America in general, had an aspect of romanticism. Che Guevara's guerilla movement in particular was portrayed as the "story of a hero." Many young people mounted posters of Che struggling for Communism and sang Latin American Communist songs. Apparently the Cuban revolution was a "freedom struggle" to save people from cruelty and torture under the Cuban dictator Batista.
That was hardly the truth, however. If we look behind the romantic legends of Che and Fidel, we see the dark face of Cuban dictatorship. The Black Book of Communism describes Communist Cuba's labor camps and prisons:
Working conditions were extremely harsh, and prisoners worked almost naked, wearing little more than undergarments. As a punishment, "troublemakers" were forced to cut grass with their teeth or to sit in latrine trenches for hours at a time.The violence of the prison regime affected both political prisoners and common criminals. Violence began with the interrogations conducted by the Departamento Técnico de Investigaciones (DTI). The DTI used solitary confinement and played on the phobias of the detainees: one woman who was afraid of insects was locked in a cell infested with cockroaches. The DTI also used physical violence. Prisoners were forced to climb a staircase wearing shoes filled with lead and were then thrown back down the stairs. Psychological torture was also used, often observed by a medical team. The guards used sodium pentathol and other drugs to keep prisoners awake. In the Mazzora hospital, electric shock treatment was routinely used as a punishment without any form of medical observation. The guards also used attack dogs and mock executions; disciplinary cells had neither water nor electricity; and some detainees were kept in total isolation…...Visits by relatives provide another opportunity to humiliate prisoners. In La Cabaña prisoners were made to appear naked before their family, and imprisoned husbands were forced to watch intimate body searches carried out on their wives.Female inmates in Cuban prisons are especially vulnerable to acts of sadism by guards. More than 1,100 women have been sentenced as political prisoners since 1959. In 1963 they were housed in the Guanajay prison. Numerous eyewitness statements attest to beatings and other humiliations. For instance, before showering, detainees were forced to undress in full view of the guards, who then beat them.46
In 1979, the Red Army occupied Afghanistan, putting into effect a brutal policy of genocide that took no account of women and children. Above, a so-called victory march by the Red Army in Moscow in 1984.
After the 1959 revolution, about ten thousand were executed. More than 30 thousand were imprisoned under the conditions described above. And, just as wherever else a Communist regime was established, it brought pain, torture and fear. Meanwhile, the Cuban people gradually grew impoverished, despite the massive aid from the Soviets.