Then, they would disappear from public view, sent into internal exile, if they were lucky (hello, Vladivostok!), never to be heard from again.
Well, you will be happy to hear that these essentially Stalinist tactics are still in use in Cuba in 2009, as we have seen overnight in the continuing (and increasingly intriguing) case involving Carlos Lage and Felipe Perez Roque.
In separate but near identical letters published by the regime’s official propaganda sheet, Granma, the two one-time golden boys of the Castro regime admit to having made “mistakes” and announce their immediate resignation from all Communist Party and government posts.
According to the letters, the all-powerful Politburo of the Communist Party met sometime over the past few days, inviting Lage and Perez Roque to supposedly hear the charges labelled against them before sentencing them to oblivion.
And of course, both men have dutifully followed the script, rounding off their letters with loyalty pledges not just to the Communist Party but more importantly, to the Castro brothers.
In his note, Lage, once regarded as the third most powerful man in Havana, wrote: "I recognise the errors committed and I assume the responsibility. I consider that the analysis made in the past meeting with the political bureau was just and profound."
For his part, the obnoxious Perez Roque, a hard-line Castroist that was Minister for Foreign Affairs for about a decade, wrote: "I fully recognise that I committed errors ... I assume my full responsibility for them."
Yes, it’s a sickening display but one that doesn’t surprise most ordinary Cubans – it’s the way the Castro brothers have operated for more than five decades.
And the message is as clear today as it was in Moscow 40 years ago: No one is safe.