When it comes to being politically incorrect, Humberto Fontova is downright proud of his incorrigibility. A supremely confident Cuban-Cajun, known for diving off oil rigs in the Gulf to spearfish in murky waters past 200 feet (the subject of his previous book “The Helldivers’ Rodeo”), Fontova has just launched another literary salvo into the orderly PC tent, one that is sure to send some media bigwigs scrambling to cover their reputation.
In his new book “Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant,” Fontova describes what he calls a staged interview Dan Rather held with Juan Miguel, father of Elian Gonzalez, the youthful lone survivor of a capsized Cuban boat which sank on its way to the U.S. The custody battle over Elian captured the world’s attention during the spring of 2000, and culminated in a dramatic, pre-dawn raid by machine-gun-toting federal agents to snatch the 6-year-old from his Miami relatives during Easter weekend and send him back to Castro’s tyranny.
Fontova says Dan Rather’s 60 Minutes interview with the father was directed by former Clinton lawyer and friend, Gregory Craig. As reported by Human Events, citing a Cuban-American translator from the U.S. Treasury Department who said: “The questions for Juan Miguel were actually fed to Dan Rather by Gregory Craig. After a taping session, Craig would call Dan over, give him some more instructions and exchange papers with him. Then Dan would come back on the set and ask those.”
We have asked Gregory Craig to respond to these allegations. But he has not yet responded to a telephone call or email.
This latest revelation just adds to the scandal surrounding the Elian case, much of which remains unresolved-especially the enigmatic statements in the “smoking gun” memo from the time. That INS memo, authored by attorney Rebeca Sanchez-Roig, indicated that the U.S. government had reason to suspect Elian’s father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, was being coerced, monitored and coached by Cuban government operatives in his statements.
Fontova also tells a heart-wrenching story of Cuba’s execution of American businessman Howard Anderson. Anderson owned a chain of service stations and a Jeep dealership and was loved by his Cuban neighbors. He was arrested and tortured by Cuban authorities’ intent on getting him to reveal the names of Cuban freedom fighters. Anderson faced trial on April 17, 1961. A Swiss diplomat who witnessed the trial said “The prosecutor was a madman, leaping on tables, shrieking, pointing. He called them rotten fruit and declared that the only thing they were good for was to fertilize the land with their carcasses.” Anderson, like other political prisoners, had the blood drained from his body before he was shot by a firing squad. His body was dumped in a mass grave.
Anderson’s daughter Bonnie went on to become a CNN reporter. In 1978 she was sent to Havana, and at a reception had a ghoulish exchange with Fidel Castro himself. A smiling Castro asked her if she remembered him, and asked how her mother was. Bonnie Anderson was disgusted not only with Castro, but with Ted Turner, who “cozied up to the dictator,” Fontova notes. The author recalls that in 1997 CNN “pledged itself to respectful reporting of the Castro regime” and a week later got the first Havana bureau ever granted to a U.S. network.
Bonnie Anderson no longer works for CNN.
By the time Fontova finishes doing the media rounds to talk about his new book’s fascinating exploration of the murky depths of Castro-fawning, he’ll have his share of famous figures skewered, twisting and begging for release.
Editor’s Note: Mr. Gregory Craig responded to our emailed question with the following statement: “Fontova’s description is inaccurate. The translator in question was totally incompetent. He was mistranslating the Q&A between the two parties to the interview.”