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Where Is Mandela's Apology? By: Myles Kantor
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, July 22, 2003


It’s disgusting to see people apologize for doing nothing wrong, especially to wrongdoers.

On July 14, Miami-Dade County mayor Alex Penelas spoke at the NAACP’s national convention in Miami Beach and apologized for protests of Nelson Mandela during his June 1990 visit to Miami.  Why did these protests occur?

Maybe it had something to do with the former South African president’s affection for mass murderers.

Sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1964 for armed resistance to the apartheid regime, Mandela was released in February 1990.  In May he visited Libyan tyrant Muammar Qadhafi and received the “International Qadhafi Prize for Human Rights,” an award with the moral logic of an “Heinrich Himmler Prize for Religious Tolerance.”  Mandela’s remarks included:

We consider ourselves to be comrades in arms to the Palestinian Arabs in their struggle for the liberation of Palestine. There is not a single citizen in South Africa who is not ready to stand by his Palestinian brothers in their legitimate fight against the Zionist racists.…

Mandela returned to Libya in 1997 and called Qadhafi “my dear brother leader,” decorating him with South Africa’s highest honor, the Order of Good Hope.  He called Yasser Arafat his “comrade in arms” in 1990 and in 1999 laid a wreath at the Ayatollah Khomeini’s tomb, saying, “[W]e are indebted to the Islamic Revolution.”  When Iran’s theocrats charged 13 Iranian Jews with spying for “the Zionist regime” in 2000, Mandela called the sham proceedings “fair and just.”

More painfully in the context of Miami, Mandela is an ardent admirer of Fidel Castro.  In October 1995, Mandela held a “solidarity conference” between Cuba and South Africa in Durban where he said:

I went to Cuba in July 1991, and I drove through the streets with Fidel Castro. There were a great deal of cheers. And I also waved back believing that these cheers were for me.  Fidel was very humble; he smiled but he never said a word.  But when I reached the square where I had to make some remarks to the crowd, then I realized that these cheers were not meant for me, they were meant for Fidel Castro. Because everybody forgot about me, and was really aroused by Fidel Castro.  Then I realized that here was a man of the masses.

Indeed, so much a man of the masses that Castro has denied Cubans elections and freedom of thought for 44 years.  “Long live Comrade Fidel Castro,” Mandela said during that 1991 visit, claiming that Communist Cuba had achieved the “systematic eradication of racism.” 

I’d like to hear him say that to Eusebio Peñalver, a black Cuban who opposed Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship and then suffered 28 years of imprisonment for his opposition to Castro’s totalitarianism.  Peñalver has recalled how his jailors told him, “Nigger, we brought you down from the trees and cut your tail!”  (Former political prisoner Jorge Valls notes in his memoir Twenty Years and Forty Days how black peers “always got more than their share of the beatings and bayonets.”)

I’d like to hear him say that to black Cuban human rights activists in exile like Marcos Lázaro Torres, Vicky Ruiz Labrit, and Ramón Colás.

I’d like to hear him say that to black Cuban prisoners of conscience like Dr. Oscar Biscet and Jorge Olivera, sentenced to 25 years and 18 years in April. 

I’d like to hear him say that to the families of Lorenzo Enrique Copello, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla, and Jorge Luis Martínez.  On April 11, the Castro regime executed these three young black Cubans after summary proceedings for hijacking a ferry to flee Cuba.

Writing of Mandela’s tyrannical sympathies and claim in January that President Bush seeks “to plunge the world into a holocaust,” Christopher Hitchens observes: “this latest garbage is a very timely caution against our common tendency to make supermen and stars and heroes out of fellow humans…being on the right side of history once is no guarantee that the subsequent fall will not be from a very great height.”  (Cuban American National Foundation executive director Joe Garcia recently said, “I think history will judge Nelson Mandela as a great man.”  Maybe in South Africa, but what will the suffering blacks of Cuba or murdered Israeli civilians say?)

Cuban Miami owes no apology to Mandela, but Mandela owes an apology to them and to the Cuban people.  And not just Mandela but also the NAACP, which has yet to issue a single press release calling for the liberation of heroes like Dr. Biscet. 


Myles Kantor is a columnist for FrontPageMagazine.com and editor-at-large for Pureplay Press, which publishes books about Cuban history and culture. His e-mail address is myles.kantor@gmail.com.


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