Noble Alexander (1934–2002) Faced Trumped up Charges

Noble Alexander spent twenty-three years in Cuban prisons. Map courtesy of the CIA Factbook.

Noble Alexander (1934–2002) was a Seventh Day Adventist religious leader in Cuba. In an interview with Ronald Geraty, he described Castro’s coming as a tragedy.

Castro arrested many Christians and political opponents whom he held for long years in his prisons. Alexander was one of them. Among the accusations against him was that he preached a sermon describing Satan’s rebellion in heaven as demanding equality with God. Authorities said it was an allusion to Castro and the communist claims of equality.

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In prison, Alexander was ordained by the president of the Seventh Day Adventists. He established churches and pastored fellow prisoners during his twenty-year sentence and through two additional years that he was held after his sentence expired. At various times, he was thrown into solitary, once for two years for refusing to turn over a hidden Bible to prison guards.

Anyone who refused re-education (communist indoctrination) faced especially severe treatment. He refused it and was often tortured. Once he was dunked in an icy lake until he passed out. Another time he was hit by a bullet when angry guards fired into his prayer group. With other prisoners he ate appaling food but, in spite of near starvation, refused pork. Like the rest, he endured rats, cockroaches, and lizards in his cell.

Eventually he was one of twenty-six political prisoners whose release Jesse Jackson helped negotiate. After coming to America, he wrote a biography, I Will Die Free. Here is a segment describing his kangaroo trial.

Excerpt from I Will Die Free

“According to our records you conspired to place a bomb in President Fidel Castro’s plane in 1963.”

“In 1963?” I asked. “I admit to being a spiritual and a physical being, but as of yet have never managed to be in two different places at the same time.”

The prosecutor scowled. “Explain yourself.”

“If you check your prison records, sir,” I said, “you will see I have been detained by the military since February of last year, 1962. And you say that this year, 1963, I plotted to put a bomb in Castro’s plane?”

In spite of the impossibility of the alleged attempt, the show trial went on. Alexander was even struck across the mouth when he responded to a racial slur. Afterward, his court appointed attorney, completely in league with the authorities, rose to speak in his behalf.

“Sir,” he addressed the judge, “Seeing that my client is obviously guilty of all charges made against him by the state, be merciful. He well deserves to sacrifice his life for what he did. Instead, as a member of this merciful court, I am going to request that he receive only twenty years of hard labor for his crimes against the state.”

The judge nodded in agreement. “So be it. Humberto Noble Alexander, you have been tried and convicted of conspiring to assasinate President Fidel Castro and of aiding and abetting the flight of counter-revolutionaries, and the most serious crime of all, distributing opium to the Cuban people…” [Opium was a reference to his religious teaching, the so-called “opiate of the masses.” The judge then sentenced Alexander to twenty years of severe punishment.]

[A] wellspring of joy rose up inside me. God had blessed me with a secret privilege far beyond any I could have imagined….I was not suffering unjustly for mistakes I was falsely accused of making, but for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.