TANIA Diaz Castro's pathetic recantation in Havana the other day lays bare once more the ruthlessness with which Fidel Castro deals with those who dare challenge him.
Like a page out of Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler's searing novel about Stalinist oppression, a single individual -- in this case, a previously tireless advocate of human rights -- has been broken, forced by an omnipotent state to humiliate herself and denounce her comrades publicly. It happened immediately following Ms. Diaz's release from Villa Marista, headquarters of Cuba's feared state-security police. She had been confined there for the past seven months, charged with illicit assembly.
This tragic development bodes ill for the future of Cuba's small, beleaguered human-rights movement. Speaking as if from a script, Ms. Diaz referred to her fellow dissidents as "foot soldiers" of U.S. interests. She accused the movement's heroic leader, Gustavo Arcos Bergnes, of being "selfish, arrogant, and egocentric." She said that her time in prison had helped her see the error of her ways. She's now convinced, she said, that earlier she had acted out of "resentment and bitterness."
Ms. Diaz clearly has been subjected to unendurable pressures and sophisticated brain-washing techniques. Her husband, Ernesto Diaz Rodriguez, in jail for more than 20 years, is one of Cuba's two remaining plantados. One has to assume that Ms. Diaz feared for his or her two daughters' safety. She should not be judged disloyal by those living in freedom and comfort.
Regrettably, though, some in the exile community already have rushed to judge Ms. Diaz, accusing her of selling out her principles. Not only do such attitudes play right into Mr. Castro's hands, they're also unfair. Ms. Diaz is no sell-out; she is Mr. Castro's martyred victim.
Anyone who may be thinking of someday returning to a free Cuba, and even
of playing a public role in that future society, should bear that in mind.
There are 10 million other victims, like Ms. Diaz, feigning allegiance to the
revolution these days. They are the Cuban people, and they deserve
understanding -- not self-righteous condemnation.
© 1996 The Miami Herald.