Sunday, April 1, 2007

¡Viva Ziva! The Moral Conscience of Babalu Blog

Cuban Girl's Fate in Wrong Judge's Hands (Ziva, Babalú Blog, April 1, 2007)

"Being a person of a volatile nature, there are times when I lose my temper and yell at people. In fact, I'm embarrassed to say it happens more often than I care to admit while stuck in traffic. I'm capable of pounding on the horn, bi-lingual swearing and expressive hand gestures. But not ever have I morphed into a bigot and resorted to racial slurs, because that's just not who I am.

I don't understand how someone can slur a community and then say that's not who they are. It is my opinion that unless they were temporairly inhabited by aliens or suffer from multiple personality disorder that's exaclty who they are.

From Jeri Beth Cohen, the residing judge in the Cuban custody case:

''I do not think that they deport people back to Cuba,'' Cohen replied. ``That is our big problem. If we deport people back to Cuba, we could empty our jails. We would have it made and be happy, but we cannot.''
Judge Cohen apologized for her remarks, but imagine if a white judge made a statement suggesting that imprisoning all blacks would reduce crime. Do you think an apology would suffice for the African-American community to trust said judge to be fair and impartial in cases involving their community?

No doubt Judge Cohen will base her decision based on what she perceives to be in the best interests of the child, but I have to question whether or not her liberal background and personal prejudices will cloud her thinking. I have to question whether or not she will give proper weight to the political reality of oppression in Cuba and how that would affect this child’s life. Is she fully aware of the rationing, the lack of all human rights, and the arbitrary acts of violence the regime inflicts on Cuban citizens?

Granting this little girl’s father custody would really mean giving her to a dictator whose treatment of his citizens has placed him on the list at Genocide watch and international Human Rights groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

How can that be in her best interests?

This is not the first post that Ziva has written on this subject at Babalú blog. On March 24, Ziva wrote the first post dedicated to the 4-year old abused Cuban girl whose custody is being contested in Florida Family Court by the Castro regime through the proxy of the girl's father. To her credit, from the very first moment, Ziva expressed her conviction that this child should not be returned to Cuba. With her as with me it was a reflexitive reaction, requiring no long meditation or "inspiration" to arrive at that most obvious of conclusions. But, sadly, it was not obvious to all at Babalú, certainly to none of the other staffers. Val and Henry both refused to commit on this issue. Val ignored or evaded all my attempts to get him to define himself on the case. On The 26th Parallel Val expressed his wariness of becoming involved in this case which he denounced as a trap set by The Miami Herald to revive the Elián circus and make money ["I dont want to weigh on this recent case in one way or the other"]. I asked him why he was willing to waste so much emotional and political capital on the Estefans but couldn't afford to "waste" even one line on this girl. He offered to let me write a post about the girl instead of actually writing one himself because he was too "busy" sanding and painting his patio furniture. I replied that my own position on this case was already clear to all and that it was Val who needed to explain his. It was then that he finally did write one line in which he expressed his hope that the girl would not be returned to Cuba.

Henry Gomez would not budge, however. Although I never asked him his position, he nonetheless lashed out at me for asking Val, accusing me of acting just like Rick at Stuck on the Palmetto, who is always asking Cuban exiles to blog on particular matters that Rick thinks should be of interest to the Cuban community. I replied that I had never asked Val to write a post about the girl, just end his puzzling silence on the matter. Henry said that he had not yet made up his own mind on the case and was not "inspired" at present to write anything about it. Really, I don't see what inspiration has to do with saving a little's girl life. Did he also need to be "inspired" to support Biscet and Fariñas? Yet this little girl, Elián's spiritual sister, has suffered more in her four years on earth than have those heroic men. Her insane mother beat her in Cuba all her young life while her father did nothing except sign the document allowing the mother to leave the country with the child. Once in the U.S. her mother continued the beatings and even tried to give her baby away to a stranger. The State removed the child from the mother's home but returned her for a "trial period" which resulted in more beatings. Finally, the mother was stripped of custody and her fate is now being decided in Family Court in a custody battle that pits her Coral Gables foster parents against the Castro government. Ironically, the girl has an uncle in this country but he refused to apply for custody, fearful that what happened to Elián's uncle would happen to him.

It's really a no-brainer, even for Henry. But he would not budge. In fact, on Stuck on the Palmetto, Henry even left a post "accusing" me of being the only one who cared about this case ["And the only one stirring about this is Manuel A. Tellechea"]. It is the greatest compliment that I have ever received in my life. Of course, it isn't true: Ziva and Val, the latter after much evasion and much prodding from me, also declared their opposition to the little girl's repatriation; and a dozen other Babalú regulars were no less adamant in asserting that this girl must not be returned to Castro's tender mercies. It was only Henry who refused her his support.

The Elián case is the Vietnam of Henry's generation of Cuban-Americans; the betrayal that revealed to them what this country really thinks about us and shook their most-cherished illusions about American democracy. For earlier generations of Cuban exiles, the Bay of Pigs and Mariel were their great awakening. Still, if you ask the surviving veterans of the Bay of Pigs if they would do it over again, they would all to a man answer yes. If you ask a man who rented a boat to rescue his mother or child in Cuba if he would do it again, he will also answer yes. However, if you ask those who opposed Elián's return to Cuba if they would do it again, many like Henry will answer no. What matters to them is the good opinion of the MSM (which we will never have) and of their Anglo neighbors and judges. They are ashamed of those "hysterical" (but peaceful) Cubans, with their flags and homemade posters, who tried to form a cordon sanitaire around Lázaro's home to protect Elián and were assaulted by police on the morning of the federal kidnapping at gunpoint. The are ashamed of the old ladies dressed in black under the scorching sun saying their rosaries in front of Elián's house. They are ashamed of who we are. ¡Malvados! This is the reason that Henry and the rest crinch at the thought of this little girl. She is their worst nightmare. A poor, innocent abused child. May God forgive them! I never will. Because I will never understand how something that brings tears to my eyes (even as I write this) should elicit indifference, smugness and even hostility from them.

In Ziva's latest post about the girl quoted above, she reports that The Miami Herald and Daily Business Review have finally reported something which I originally disclosed on Babalú a week ago. I gave them the scoop but they did nothing with it. This is what I posted there on March 25 and again on March 28:

The judge hearing this case Jeri B. Cohen has never attempted to conceal her disdain for Cuban-Americans. Back in 2002, she stated in her courtroom that "If we deport people back to Cuba, we could empty our jails." The Cuban American Bar Association (CABA) took her to task for her remarks and threatened to file a complaint with the State Judicial Qualifications Commission. Judge Cohen requested a meeting with CABA and subsequently sent them a letter apologizing for her remarks. She met again with the Board of Directors of CABA who accepted her apology.

I was surprised that CABA even complained given any bar association's aversion to challenging judges that its members might some day appear before. I was not surprised, however, by how quickly CABA accepted her apologies and swept the whole thing under the carpet.

Now it is time to analyze more carefully Judge Cohen's remarks and apology. It seems to me that she should have recused herself in this case or any case involving Cuban-Americans. But then again, since Judge Cohen believes that Cuban-Americans are responsible for all crime in this country and deporting them would empty our jails, she must also believe that she would be out of a job if she were barred from hearing their cases. She should be out of a job and certainly would be if she had directed her remarks at African-Americans.

Posted by: Manuel A. Tellechea at March 25, 2007 10:01 AM

On the tread where I originally posted this information, the others were quick to realize its importance to this case. But not Val or Henry. Val was more interested in covering Emilio's ass and Henry in frying Santana's. Thank God for Ziva, the moral conscience of Babalu blog.


ziva said...

My friend and editor, Val Prieto is the moral conscience of Babalu, not I. His "conscience" is well represented by the 4 years of his writing on behalf of the Cuban American community and that's just the tip of the iceberg. You don't know Val, or what he does and does not do on behalf of his community. Last week you whined and complained because others did not give this story the attention YOU wanted it to get. So you start your own blog and what do you write about? Where's your fact filled story on behalf of this little girl? Where are your pleas for her freedom? Apparently you thought it more important to be a critic. Save your compliments for someone else. I sir, neither appreciate nor welcome praise from those whose priority is in trashing their own.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I've just received an e-mail from you in which you asked me if I am going to publish your comment. The question alone betrays the fact that you don't know me, though I have other e-mails attesting to your supposed admiration for me. Well, I guess that I am only admired when I am following the babalú party line as set forth by Val; any deviation therefrom earns me your disdain. As for myself, my opinion is not variable. And as long as you continue to be babalú's moral conscience, I won't give a damn what you say about me personally.

I have written a great deal about that little girl, more by far than you, and have been the source for what you've written (as anyone can see from this post).

Where is the "fact-filled story" about the little girl? It is everywhere on the blogosphere. Where are my pleas for her freedom? They are everywhere too, in sharp contrast to Val and Henry's evasions.

This blog is called Review of Cuban-American Blogs and it fulfills its stated mission. It is a review. I am sure that you know what that means. Still, let me explain it to you: I dissect whatever you and others on the Cuban-American blogosphere say about Cuba. Nevertheless, in the process of doing so, I also tell the story that goes untold elsewhere, as I did in my review of your post.

You say that "my priority is thrashing my own." Well, we know that that is certainly not Babalú's priority, at least if by "our own" you mean a duo of semi-billionaires who offends our community and is showered with unctuous praise by Val Prieto, who should really be the one with the nickname "Pitbull" since no one is fiercer than him in defense of some other Cuban's power and wealth.

Let me remind you that last week Val booted me from Babalú for criticizing his idols. In fact, it was rather funny. What was it the fool said? "Te ganaste la lotería. Bye-Bye." [You won the lottery. Bye-bye]. He then recanted within 20 minutes. Since freedom of expression is denied me at Babalú (and denied to anybody who dares not to follow Val's directives limiting speech), I chose to extract myself from Val's exercise in megalomania and to launch my own blog which is dedicated to combatting just such abuses on the Cuban-American blogosphere.

I really don't understand why you thought that I would fail to publish your feeble answer. Even if it was better than it is, I would still have published it. This is what honest men do.

And, of course, you do appreciate and welcome my praise and attention, but can't say it. I understand. Remember, in my e-mail to you, I did mention your "constraints." As I feared, they are apparently very tight indeed.

Keep up the good work, nevertheless. There is a grace too for working under such constraints, even if they are voluntary on your part.

ziva said...

I have praised your writing in the past, well deserved. But you are right, I do not know you and I'm sure not praising you today. My post on Judge Cohen is based on the story I linked, not your comments at Babalu. As for aside about my working under "contraints" there are none. That charge makes quite clear that you also do not know me. I am done with this.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

"My friend and editor, Val Prieto is the moral conscience of Babalu, not I." — ziva

Never in my life did I ever hear anyone deny she was a moral conscience and defer conscience and morality to another person.

When I called you the "moral conscience" of babalú, I meant it and still do, your objections notwithstanding.

I am not like Val and Henry who cut you off after one word, indeed, mid-syllable, on the Babalú Radio Hour.

Have as much of your say as you want here, or none if you wish.

ziva said...

Cut me off? No, that is your own biased interpretation of excited friends all talking at once. You greatly disappoint me; why oh why do we have to fight among ourselves about trivialities when so much, indeed the life’s blood of Cuba is at stake? It is quite disingenuous of you to excuse your focus on criticism by citing the title of your blog. Should I assume then that since you've set up shop as a critic that we should not expect any substantive writing on Cuba from you? What a shame.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I did not place myself in this position, as you know. I had always resisted the urge to set up my own blog. It was suggested to me more times than I can remember, often by blog owners who felt I had, in effect, taken over their blogs and wanted me to set up my tent elsewhere. My eviction from babalu, for absolutely no reason, was the catalyst that at last brought me to my create my own blog, fulfilling everybody's wishes but my own.

Even if Val didn't want me on his blog (unlike his readers), Val should have remembered LBJ's famous advice about the tent.

I do not wish to seem tendentious, and since the fires seem to have been put out through your prevision, I hope next week to have the opportunity to meander to other Cuban-American blogs and review them barring another paean to the Estefans. If you are his friend convince Val that it will not gain him anything and may lose him much in the way of credibility.

He clearly cannot see that and I doubt very much whether he ever will without your help. This is another reason that I think you are the moral conscience of babalú; or, if you prefer, Val's greatest asset. I hope he knows that and uses your intuition to his advantage. Then he would not have these "blind spots."

victor said...

Mr.Tellechea,Even though we dont sit on the same side of the fence,I welcome your for ziva,you crazed valium induced cheerleader for Mankamp,cmon lets get it on..You cant censor on this one ziva la viva..secret reina to the rey...Hey Val and henry...look at me guys,writting with out fear about how Val wanted to have sex with my daughter and her sister in a 3 way action setting...Remmember Val,how you said that to me.I have not forgotten that Mr Chicken Hawk. I WONDER IF ZIVA LAUGHED at your letter to me about my underage daughter and my wife..About the videos of them doing a watermelon trick in Vegas.About how you wanted me to bring them to Nostalgia and you would provide the Johns (juans). You Mr Prieto are a pig sir,and no I will not forget...Question him on this Ziv..thats if you have any children of course...Only a parent can understand what he said..Mr Tellechea,Im sorry If I used your blog for this..We got to keep pigs like those two in check...I will fight another day

Anonymous said...

Victor, you are cockroach excrement. Excremento de la cucaracha, and it is my wish that you, and those like you, will swing as Mussolini, and be fed to the sharks, if even they can stomach you.