The death of communist tyrant Fidel Castro has yielded much-deserved coverage of the monstrous nature of his tyrannical rule.
What has gone virtually unreported, however, is the direct and instrumental role Castro played in the torture and murder of American POWs in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. The story of Castro’s atrocities against American soldiers in this conflict is rarely ever told, least of all by our mainstream media.
During the Vietnam War, Castro sent a gang of his henchmen to run the “Cuban Program” at the Cu Loc POW camp in Hanoi, which became known as “the Zoo.” As Stuart Rochester and Frederick Kiley have documented in their book Honor Bound in a chapter entitled “The Zoo, 1967–1969: The Cuban Program and Other Atrocities,” one of the primary objectives of this “program” was to determine how much physical and psychological agony a human being could withstand.
Castro selected American POWs as his guinea pigs. A Cuban nicknamed “Fidel,” the main torturer at the Zoo, initiated his own personal reign of terror. He was described in documents based on POW debriefings as “a professional who was trained in psychology and prison control in Russia or Europe.”
Among Fidel’s torture techniques were beatings and whippings over every part of his victims’ bodies, without remission.
The man [Cobeil] could barely walk; he shuffled slowly, painfully. His clothes were torn to shreds. He was bleeding everywhere, terribly swollen, and a dirty, yellowish black and purple from head to toe. The man’s head was down; he made no attempt to look at anyone. . . . He stood unmoving, his head down. Fidel smashed a fist into the man’s face, driving him against the wall. Then he was brought to the center of the room and made to get down onto his knees. Screaming in rage, Fidel took a length of black rubber hose from a guard and lashed it as hard as he could into the man’s face. The prisoner did not react; he did not cry out or even blink an eye. His failure to react seemed to fuel Fidel’s rage and again he whipped the rubber hose across the man’s face. . . . Again and again and again, a dozen times, Fidel smashed the man’s face with the hose. Not once did the fearsome abuse elicit the slightest response from the prisoner. . . . His body was ripped and torn everywhere; hell cuffs appeared almost to have severed the wrists, strap marks still wound around the arms all the way to the shoulders, slivers of bamboo were embedded in the bloodied shins and there were what appeared to be tread marks from the hose across the chest, back, and legs.
He [Fidel] deprived Kasler of water, wired his thumbs together, and flogged him until his “buttocks, lower back, and legs hung in shreds.” During one barbaric stretch he turned Cedric [another torturer] loose for three days with a rubber whip. . . . the PW [POW] was in a semi-coma and bleeding profusely with a ruptured eardrum, fractured rib, his face swollen and teeth broken so that he could not open his mouth, and his leg re-injured from attackers repeatedly kicking it.
Castro’s reign of terror against American POWs in Vietnam was just another grotesque reflection of the communist dictator’s barbarism and sadism. After the end of the war, U.S. investigators launched a manhunt for the Cuban program torturers. In the midst of their hunt, investigators cataloged over 2,000 Cubans who were in North Vietnam during the late 1960s. Unfortunately, officials failed to positively identify the torturers at “the Zoo” at that time.
Today, some evidence suggests that some of the Cuban Program torturers may be living in the United States. The investigations and pursuits of these monsters continues – and it is never too late, we may hope, with Donald Trump entering office, to bring them to justice. But it will require intense effort on our part. It is the least we can do for Lt. Col. Earl Cobeil, and for all those who shared his torment and pain at the hands of Fidel and his communist monsters