Thursday, April 12, 2007

We Who Genuflect

This is a special thread for admirers of Val Prieto or Henry Gómez to leave words of support, defense, encouragement or advice. It will be a permanent feature here. If there are other Cuban-American bloggers who merit your approval, feel free to commend them as well, and we shall investigate their claims to recognition here.

This is a public service to our vast and growing readership.


Alex said...

Ass kissing is not going to bring you any commenters either Manuelito.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


What makes you suppose that I want "commenters?" This post was meant to demonstrate a paucity of support for Val and Henry, not the opposite. I see that you felt no compulsion to defend anyone at Babalú, not even your friend and colleague Henry Gómez. Instead you posted a powerful condemnation of Communist China on your blog, which stands in sharp contrast to Henry's professed indifference to Communism in China. Indeed, Ziva also posted her own condemnation of Red China today. Obviously, no one stands with Henry on this one.

Jose Aguirre said...

There are many Cuban-American bloggers who I would like to encourage and thank for the effort they put into spreading the truth about the castros' totalitarian regime. I think their work does help our cause and I applaud them even if I don't always agree 100% with some of their views and or approaches to issues. Per your request, I would like to commend Val and Henry, La Nueva Cuba, La Contra Revolucion, The Real Cuba, Uncommon Sense,Killcastro, Ya no mas, Penultimos dias, Tomas Estrada Palma, El Cafe Cubano, Abajo Fidel, Nuevo Accion, Child of the Revolution, Paxety Pages, Blog for Cuba, Cuba Democracia y Vida and many others!

Manuel, you are such an excellent writer that I really hope that you start focusing your talent and energy on attacking the evil system in Cuba. That is where I know you can make the biggest contribution to the cause of a free Cuba.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

José Aguirre:

Everybody seems to know better than me where my talent and energies should be best employed. It always seems to be something other than what I am presently doing. When I resided on other people's blogs, enriching and elevating the commentary, I was resented by my hosts who thought that from my humble position, subject to their whims and caprices, I still managed to co-op their blogs, which was never my intention though the inevitable result nonetheless. My "squatting" on somebody else's blog, as it has been called, always resulted in a significant increase in visitors and "commenters" to whichever blog I happened to favor at the time. And, conversely, my departure, whether willing or forced upon me, was always followed by a decrease in visitors to the site, which afforded yet another reason to resent me.

Although I never wanted a blog of my own and would have been content to continue as the resident gadfly on other people's blogs, the unrelenting hostility which I faced there, as best demonstrated by Val's ill-considered (and now much regretted) ouster of me, led me to conclude that I could no longer continue on that course and should forge a new path for myself, which I have.

I started my own blog, which I had always been told I should do. If I had limited myself to the fare favored by my other colleagues, I would no doubt have been granted an honored place among them. But I chose not to do what they do. Instead of merely opining on the news, I decided to analyze the way the news was being presented and have found it immersed and even entangled in a sea of hubris and serve-serving pieties. These I am determined to expose and have been exposing. I believe I am doing an important service and one that is long overdue by critiquing the critics. The greatest service, of course, is to the critics themselves, who come here to a man to learn where they went wrong even if they don't have the least interest in changing or are incapable of changing their positions.

If it makes you feel better about me, let me tell you that I am happier now than at any other moment in my blogging experiences.

My advice to you and others who admire my writing is to enjoy what you obviously already enjoy.

Castro is my one and only enemy, and my efforts always are aimed at undermining him. Sometimes this can only be done by clearing the debris that others accumulate around issues concerning Cuba. This I have and will continue to do here and elsewhere.

Email said...


Carry-on as you have. Most of us need a little levity and some of us need to have their heads deflated. In the end, we will be a better force and a better community.

El Caimán

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

El Caimán:

Most of them do need a little levity; sadly, however, most of them do not have your sense of humor. I use humor to soften the blow(s); but many of my fellow bloggers, as you observe, have gossemer egos which come apart even if brushed by a feather. They are incapable of humor and hence cannot share in it. Or their humor does not quite take them to the higher spheres of irony and satire.

What is most remarkable to me is that they don't even bother to defend their positions. Some, like Val and Marc, fire one volley, which misses, of course, and then they quit the field in disgust (at themselves). Still, they do not fail to visit these precincts.

Henry, who never defends his positions, is nonetheless my most frequent visitor.

I know, in any case, that they will profit from my advice in future. Val will never be as fawning and unctuous as he was with the Estefans; Henry will never again show his disdain for the suffering of the Chinese people in public: Marc will never attack gratuitously our allies again as if we didn't need all the allies we can get. If this is so then my efforts are completely justified. The gratitude will come later or it will never come. It makes no difference to me, and never did a man speak truer words.

When Val spent 1200 of his precious words to attack me ad hominem on Babalú (which post he deleted within 3 hours of inserting it, advised by Ziva and others of his folly and its possible consequences), I was actually more amused than insulted. What amused me most was that he was obviously parodying my style (and not very well) in his attack. So, yes, I do influence them, usually in unexpected ways, and, I hope, for the better.

If they wanted to neutralize me, they could turn all this into a giant joke, link me their sites, and play good sports. That is what I would do in their place. But, of course, this is precisely what they will never do. It is instructive that Val did not even link the very article that he was attacking in his disappearing post and thread. Such deference (let's call it that) is what most surprises me the most in them.

Jose Aguirre said...

As usual, you make many good points. I have never agreed with the hostility that has often been shown on various blogs when a commenter does not agree with the blogger. There are many issues that Cuban-Americans can honestly disagree about. I think it is best when we can do it through civil discourse. Threatening to throw commenters off the blogs and attacking each other with personal insults does not help us bring down our real enemy that enslaves Cuba.

Steve ("Klotz" As In "Blood") said...

You are absolutely correct about this, Jose Aguirre, and a further consequence is the bitter bickering and explosive insults become a source of amusement for non-Cubans, who cite this conduct to justify their stereotyping. Yes, it is possible to dismiss these outsiders as insignificant fools, but the wiser course, IMHO, is not to provide them with any ammunition at all.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


It can't be helped. The internal squabbles of one group or of one group against another will always provide amusement for members of other groups. Witness what great fun the nation is having at some deluded old white guy who thinks he's black and can address African-American women as young black men do. Or the black reverend, who did more than any other men in history to sully the reputation of black women, now elevated to the position of their champion.

If Cuban-Americans aren't laughing at this spectacle it is because we have problems of our own.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Threatening those who comment on blogs with expulsion because they don't toe the blogmaster's party line is an inexcusable lapse of etiquette towards guests whose presence you have courted and provided for. Such coercive tactics not only violate the rules of civil discourse, but point to a weakness in both the case and the individual who is making it.

How cravenly it is to cut the wires of communication because you are afraid of losing an argument or because you have already lost it!

Since I first brought up this tendency at Babalú, the expulsions and threats of expulsion have ceased and the "commenters," regardless of their positions, have demanded that their points of view be accorded the same respect which Val demands for his own. There could not have been a better development in the Cuban-American blogosphere and this humble blog is entirely responsible for it. Of course, I will continue to monitor this situation because Val's volatile personality makes it impossible to take anything for granted at Babalú.

GrammyLee said...

ENOUGH ALREADY! This Jewish grandmother owes
a huge debt to Val, Henry and their contributing writers. After a 2005 humanitarian trip to Camaguey and Havana, I returned to the US desperately seeking an answer to this personal question: "What has happened since I visited Havana in 1955?"

Thanks to the Cuban-American bloggers, I have read every volume of exile literature and history. I've been able to use these resources to convince my friends that the typical US citizen's awareness of conditions on this glorious island have been proscribed by the MSM and our uncaring government. My discussions regarding Cuba with friends are generally received with shock and dismay. Everyone says, "I never read/heard anything about Pedro Pan, the deaths, murders, imprisonment, etc." Thanks to the Bloggers, I can
email pertinent information and enlighten others.

I've learned so much and am so thankful to Val and his cohorts. I now have all of the DVDs which capture the plight of the Cuban people. My library of Cuban books continues to grow. I value every word that I read on the blogs (and just blink at the occasional profanity) even if I don't agree with them.

As I type this, the BBC is announcing that castro is recovering and will soon resume his duties. We've got to FIGHT THIS ABSURD NEWS REPORTING.

I am indebted to Val for the many friendships I've been able to have via email with some of his contributors. These people are intelligent, aware, and excellent writers. I do not parse everything they say on blogs nor do I feel that is my role. I am writing to you, Mr. Tellechea, because I want to do everything I can to make others aware of what has happened in the 50 years since I first visited Cuba. I walked along the Prado and Malecon in tears and the feelings I experienced in private homes, synagogues, and clinics never leave me.

I was raised in the Catholic Church and have had enough genuflecting to last a lifetime. I doubt that Val and Henry would want to see their readers behaving obseqiously. They know how much I appreciate the time they take to reveal the truth.

I had hoped to attend this year's CubaNostalgia, but my husband's health is precarious at the moment. If he recovers enough, look for me at the Miami Airport!

I'll be the little woman wearing Marta's beautiful "La Habana" tee shirt. And Debra's gorgeous guayabera will be over it.

You are an astute and erudite writer. Please stop the nitpicking and help us non-Cubans to find a way to educate ourselves and persuade our government to DO THE RIGHT THING for those desperate souls who find their way to our shores.

Claudia4Libertad, a new blog, is written by a non-Cuban. She is my soul sister and doing a terrific job of telling the truth about all things Cuban.

Let's all do our best to emulate her.

For the past 44 years, I have been a Reform Jew.
I am trying to perform a Mitzvah (good deed) by writing to you and pointing out how much I value Val, Henry, Mark, Luis, Fausta, Ziva, and YOU.

Lee Laden

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Thank-you for your thoughtful and kind letter. It is good to know that there is at least one American who visited Cuba in the pre-Castro era (and there were tens of thousands) that feels the compulsion to speak the truth about what she saw and lived there. For nearly 50 years the mainstream media have lied about pre-1959 Cuba, and those like yourself, impartial witnesses to that time and place, have remained silent. If the thousands of Americans who could have borne witness to the truth had done as you, today your fellow Americans would not harbor the distorted picture of life in Cuba before the end of civilization there.

If Cubans take nothing else from our experience of exile in the United States, let us at least learn to respect the opinions of others and not silence them when they are telling us the hard truths that may perhaps some day save us.

This is a lesson that I hope to impart to Val, Henry and the others (although many of the others already know better).

Unity is always desirable especially among people who are honorably following the same ends. But unity can only be based on mutual respect. And for me, at least, the respect was wanting.

GrammyLee said...


I was a teenager in 1955 when my Father took me to Havana for a spring vacation from school. I was visiting a foreign country for the first time and felt only the thrill and excitement of an enchanted island. I loved every minute of my 10 day stay.

If I "remained silent", it was from total ignorance. I knew nothing about Batista, or the rumblings that were beginning among various factions. I know many people who gleefully announce that their late parents cruised to Havana on their honeymoons. These elders remained silent also. None of our parents or we, their children, ever realized what was actually happening in Cuba with the exception of the Missile Crisis.

I must tell you that I was so clueless when I returned from Cuba in December of '05 that I actually BELIEVED the embargo was the primary cause of hunger, peeling paint, broken infrastructure and lack of electricity. Yes, I read
some books before the trip, but they didn't "sink in." I had to experience the decay and degradation of the people to truly understand.

Our group of 15 synagogue members traveled on a Department of the Treasury permit. The leaders were making their 10th trip and never once did they tell us anything except "don't discuss the political situation." Methinks if they had given us graphic accounts of what life was really like for the average Cuban, several people would have cancelled. We delivered prescription meds, medical supplies, and the most basic nutritional and vitamin supplements. We were specifically told not to take clothing, school supplies, shoes,
and toys.

One of the first websites I came upon (in early 2006) was Debbie's Carribean which caters to Canadian tourists going to all-inclusive Cuban resorts. How astonishing to read their glowing reports of fantastic vacations. Comparing beaches, native markets, disco joints and favorite beer. It was sickening. However, they also discussed the items they would be taking to their Cuban "frens" who worked at the resorts. Only two or three of these correspondents actually visited places away from the resorts or Vieja Habana. For the most part, these were tourists looking only for the perfect white sand, coral reefs, alcohol and cigars.
Most distressing to me was a photograph of che in one of the poster's personal ID sections. At the time, I had no awareness of Canada's trade with Cuba nor its huge involvement in tourism.

It is true, of course, that there are several humanitarian organizations in Canada which collect and deliver clothing, bikes and wheelchairs to hospitals and churches on the Island. Despite these noble efforts, I guarantee you that very few of the Canadian tourists realize that their dollars go into the regime's coffers.

What I am trying to say is that the truth about conditions in Cuba has not reached the vast majority of foreign visitors (Canadian, English, German, etc.) and they don't know they are propping up a totalitarian system. Americans are equally unaware and that is precisely why you felt compelled to speak about the silence.

This leads me to my current question: Who reads the Cuban-American blogs? It appears to me that the comments sections are 95% Cuban-American respondents. How can the bloggers reach out into the wider community? Will you ever be able to tap into the non-Spanish speaking readers? This is crucial because the MSM has contributed very little in enlightening the American public.

I wholeheartedly agree that mutual respect between bloggers is paramount. I am saddened that there is a breach in your relationship with Val and Henry. I did not read the posts that caused so much consternation. As you say, perhaps this unfortunate circumstance will clear the air and enable all viewpoints to be expressed freely. I hope so.

You must continue writing ABOUT CUBA and her history in your insightful and exquisite words.
A little wit and whimsy wouldn't hurt, either.

Lee Laden

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


You visited Cuba as little more than a child and yet you had the courage to believe in that child as an adult.

I wish that others in your position had also had the courage and intellectual honesty to trust their early impressions of Cuba and draw the inevitable conclusions based on those impressions.

I am thinking, in particular, of Harry Belafonte, the godfather of other morally-challenged and ideologically-blinded entertainers who have visited the island in recent years. Belafonte is more culpable, of course, because, unlike those who followed in his footsteps, he visited Cuba on dozens of occasions before 1959 and was honored and feted by a free people. In exchange for that hospitality and for Cuba's music which is the real basis of his career, Belafonte still admires and defends the man responsible for the eclipse of that once vibrant and progressive society which he knew intimately and now no longer exists.

In light of his reprehensible conduct, your own commitment to the truth and willingness to disavow any prejudices that do not conform to it, is deserving of praise and gratitude.

You have been privileged in a way to have seen Cuba at both its zenith and its nadir and can attest to the fact that we were not always as we are now, that something terrible and unimaginable has befallen our country the likes of which is paralleled only by the devastation of war. Yet there has been no war in Cuba in 46 years.

Vic said...


First I want to express that I feel a bit of guilt for what happened that day that I pissed up Val with my comment and you got banned instead. I understand you reaction since we both have a bit of temperamental vasc blood. Now let go the reason why I decide to comment here today, Lee comments.


When I read what you said in your comment about the leaders of the group asking you not to discuss the political situation a conversation that I had a few month ago with the owner of the company that I work for came immediately to my mind.

He also had being in Cuba in humanitarian trip to help the cuban’s Jewish community, probably with the same leaders of your trip. Then the day that the Cuba’s tyrant got sick he comet to me to comment the news and said: You know I was there last year, and let me tell you, over there, people love him. I looked at him and reply; Sir, know, a few months before the invasion of Iraq there was an election and Saddam had 99% of the votes. Unbelievable enough he replies: Oh yes but Saddam killed a lot o people. Thanks God the conversation ended there when other coworkers entered the room where we were, else that day, I would have being looking for a new job. Sure Castro never killed a fly.

Know him for over 14 years I am sure that if he had know the true that conversation never would had happened. We don’t see each other very frequently so I haven’t have the time to speak to him about this again to make him understand that in Cuba people don’t show their feelings unless they really know you. No one wants to end up in jail. After your trip you were smart enough to look for the true and find it. But as you mentioned, people need to be educated in the issue. But the problem is that most of us talk about it with those that are already on our side and do very litter to reach to the other side of the fence for new allies. And many times, when we have the opportunity to educate some one that had being blindfolded by the Cuban propaganda or too indifferent to care, we end up screaming and calling them names.

The fight of the cuban people must be about gaining new friend, as in your case Lee, and not making enemies. We have enough of them as it is.

PS. Manuel, I know that my writing skills in English are those of a fifth grade bad student. My education was in Cuba where I finished college back in 1978, and during all this years here hasn’t get any better. But those are the terrible tools I have, and I intent to use them with the help of Bill Gate.

killcastro said...

Actually Mr. T there hasn't been a war in Cuba in a LOT longer than that. This "revolution”, this "Sierra Maestra" BARBUDOS shit is laughable, but unfortunately the USA press saw to it that they would make KaSStro look like Moses leading the Israelites outta Egypt.
What happened in Cuba was nothing but a COUP. A long drawn out COUP to get the darker president OUT and have a handsome, white, SPANIARD’S son at the helm.
The upper class, the same upper class that did not allow Batista at the Havana Yatch Club perpetrated this atrocity from the comfort of their check books. Let us look at the facts:

In what REAL war the total death count on both sides of the conflict come to less than 200 combatants? Was this REALLY a WAR? This doesn’t qualify as a scrimmage!

A LOT more civilians were killed by THE BEAST's terrorist bombs and his raids on innocent towns or poor Guajiros who may have DARE give a Batista soldier a glass of water.

KaSStro STOLE a diamond and somehow turned it back into a chunk of coal while blaming the WORLD for this evil alchemy.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Yes, I know, there was never a more pacific revolution than Castro's when it came to actually fighting on the battlefield and none fiercer when preying on a defenseless civilian population.

When I wrote that Cubans had not known war in 46 years, I was alluding to the Bay of Pigs. Of course, the American betrayal limited the length and scope of that war, but I feel that, in justice to the freedom fighters, we must recognize their epic effort, which has greater claims to being called a "war" than Fidel Castro's hide and never seek game of 1956-1958.

Our Puerto Rican brethren celebrate "El Grito de Lares," which lasted less than 24 hours and involved even fewer men. The men of the Brigade 2506 held out for 3 days, inflicted more casualties on a vastly superior force than they sustained and only surrendered when they ran out of ammunition.

Of course, the Bay of Pigs invasion inflicted no damage on any Cuban city or town (other than the predations of the fidelistas in the days leading to the attack, during the attack and subsequently).

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


You did nothing to get me banned from Babalú and should not feel that you must apologize for it. You simply made a cogent observation which I commended: Not all Communists are fidelistas and not all fidelistas are Communists. How anyone in his right mind could possibly challenge that observation is beyond me. But, then again, Val Prieto does a great many things that are beyond me.

Welcome, Vic, I know from your past comments on Babalú that we will certainly disagree on occasion, but I can assure you that I will never treat you with the contempt and disrespect that Val often exhibits towards you and others who dare to challenge him on his blog.