Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Chip Off the Old Block

Val Prieto has an interesting item this morning about Desi Arnaz, Jr., scion of Babalú's iconic inspiration. As reported by TV Guide Online, Desi Jr. declined an invitation from Castro to attend the Ernest Hemingway Fishing Tournament 5 years ago.

Although he was not raised in Miami or as a "Cuban," and even though it is unlikely that he even speaks Spanish, Desi Arnaz, Jr, is not as disconnected from our reality as are the Estefans, Val's other icons. Money doesn't blind him because he has more of it than even the Estefans and his Cuban compass is clearly fixed on Cuba, not Los Angeles, New York or Miami.

Kudos to him for honoring his father's memory by not dishonoring his father's country or name.


Desi Arnaz Secretly Funded Anti-Castro Groups
Sunday, May 9, 2004

Desi Arnaz of "I Love Lucy" fame and fortune helped finance the freedom of hundreds of Bay of Pigs fighters captured in 1961 by Cuban government forces, veterans say.

A belated thank you to the late entertainer has now happened, 18 years after he died.

This past Friday, according to a Miami Herald report, surviving vets of the Bay of Pigs invasion presented a posthumous award to daughter Lucie Arnaz for her father's "moral support and generosity."

That generosity was legend among Bay of Pigs veterans.

"He always supported the Cuban cause," said Felix Rodriguez Mendigutia, president of Bay of Pigs Veterans Association. "Anything against Fidel Castro, he supported."

In accepting the award, Lucie Arnaz said her father would have felt honored. She revealed that even she was unaware that her famous father had given money to the cause of the imprisoned invaders, but said it would be consistent with his character and his sympathies.

"Knowing my dad and my grandfather, I'm sure they were emotionally very involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion. I'm sure my father would be very proud to be acknowledged," Arnaz added.

Surrounded by admirers of her father at the Miami event, Arnaz said: "I feel like I have a lot of friends and family here. We're all probably related." Desi Arnaz was a native-born Cuban.

Nilo Messer, vice president of the association and one of the invaders who were imprisoned, said: "We would always get news from the common prisoners and the employees. Someone told me that Desi Arnaz was helping with the efforts to get us out. He was one of the people pushing for a commission to negotiate our release."

The veterans say Arnaz donated $50,000 – an amount worth about $300,000 today. Reportedly, Arnaz gave the money to a commission headed by Eleanor Roosevelt that arranged to send $53 million worth of food, medicine and farm equipment to Cuba in exchange for the prisoners' release.

Arnaz also provided seed money for several exile organizations, reported the Herald, and he is said to have provided the contact that led to liberated prisoners appearing on the Ed Sullivan show.

"He cooperated a lot," Rodriguez said. "And he never sought any publicity for helping us or anyone else. Now that he's gone, we want to honor his memory."

1 comment:

Agustin Farinas said...

I remeber his father appearence on the Johnny Carson show many years ago. He was smoking a Cuban cigar and he looked old and sick but whn Carson brought up the subject of Castro and Cuba, he went into a angry speech against the tyrant for a few minutes that was scathing and true to form. Although he lived most of his life in the US, he never forgot his roots and where he came from. That night he made feel very proud of being Cuban. I am glad to see his son is as intransigent about the tyrant as his father was. A good lesson for the Belafontes, Glovers,Fondas,Spielbergs, Santanas and other Hollywood's idiots we have to endure in the media.