I must confess that I find it easier to explain what the new BUCL campaign is not than what it is. Whatever it is, it is not a campaign against Italy. The embarrassing failure of their short-lived campaign against Spain — short-lived because embarrassing — convinced them that making war on entire countries for the infractions of government officials or certain individuals or corporations may not be the best way of making friends or influencing people on behalf of our cause. The campaign against Spain, which did not even shy from recoursing to blood libels and bigotted appeals — and, indeed, consisted principally of blood libels and bigotted appeals — was big in pretensions but small in execution and results. A few paid ads in Google, three illiterate stickers pasted on a New York subway station, a few more within thirteen blocks of the Spanish consulate in Miami and none at all in Spain itself, was the extent of its "campaign" against Spain. Val & Henry's inability to communicate effectively in Spanish, which had them claiming that Spaniards were "blowing up" Cubans rather than "exploiting" them, was also a great handicap and will always be a great handicap in any campaign that requires them to express themselves in a language other than English. When Marti wrote about the importance of "paper trenches," he, of course, did not mean filling trenches with litter, but waging a war of ideas through the press (the only medium then available). Val & Henry were in no position to do so in Spanish. Unarmed and exposed fully, it is a miracle really that they were not aplatanados (Spanish colloquial expression meaning wiped out) by Spain's skilled polemicists. The reason, of course, is that their campaign never reached their ears or was deemed beneath their contempt.
If their first campaign had been against the "Dry Foot/Wet Foot" policy as I and others suggested, they would then have been able to utilize their communication skills in English, which would have served BUCL in good stead. Although it was not an officially declared "campaign," Henry's brilliant success last year in exposing the anti-Cubanism rampant at The Miami Herald via Herald Watch played an important role — perhaps the decisive role — in obtaining justice for the Miami Moonlighters and removing their persecutors from key positions at the paper. I have said it before many times and will say it again: this was the cleanest and most clear-cut victory that Cuban exiles have ever obtained in 48 years in this country. Let those who think that I am biased in any way against Henry (or Val) chew on that.
The smartest thing about BUCL's campaign against Spain was Val & Henry's quick retreat from their folly, which succeeded in nothing more than convincing many of their sponsors of their ineptness and the dangers inherent in associating with persons who act before they think and even when they do think never think things out. Well, in any case, let us be grateful at least that Val & Henry did not live in the 19th century for we should surely still be a colony of Spain.
Now on to the next campaign: the only thing that is actually clear about it (to me, at least) is that they have reduced the induction fee from $100 to $60. They are certainly on the right track in that respect; a few more prudent cuts and they may actually get where they should be. Better 100 people supporting you at $10 apiece than six supporting you at $100 or $60 apiece. Of course, then Henry would have to write 100 puff pieces and become my rival as the unofficial reviewer of Cuban-American blogs, but he would at least have a democratic rather than an elitist organization. And speaking of democracy, shouldn't BUCL elect its leaders rather than acclaim them by divine right? Even Marti stood for election as Delegate of the Cuban Revolutionary Party. You can't teach democracy unless you are willing to practice it yourself.
BUCL latest outing is called "The Campaign for the Invisible Ones." Of course, we know what they mean. Whether the guy in Podunk will figure it out is another matter. He is more likely to think of spirits, specters or Lon Chaney, Jr. than of Cuban political prisoners, whom Henry avers "the regime tries to make invisible." No, it is not the regime that makes them invisible: the unending persecutions, the undisguised public manner in which these are conducted, and the abuses practiced on the prisoners themselves which are publicized by their relatives and human rights advocates on the island, none of these should conduce to invisibility. The fact that they are in fact invisible is not owing to the regime but the mainstream media in this country which chooses to ignore what is plainly visible. But no matter. Whoever makes them invisible, it is clear that they are in fact invisible.
Now I find this a little harder to understand: the "BUCL Campaign for the Invisible Ones" is centered around "the South Florida stop of the highly-anticipated (by whom, Henry & Val?) world tour of The Police. What? Castro's police? No. The Police is a rock band (English, I think). The Police also accepted an invitation from the Castro regime to play for free in Havana in December. The Police loom very high in the cultural cosmology of Val & Henry and our friends at Killcastro, though they don't register at all on my radar. My question, of course, is: Why doesn't Henry call it "The Campaign Against The Police's Collaboration with the Castro regime." Perhaps because Henry actually likes The Police as opposed to Spaniards? That must be it. Their objective is to have The Police denounce the Castro regime as it once did apartheid in South Africa and Pinochet's government (my own radar just kicked in).
Now, it seems to us that this "Police initiative" is something that our friends at Killcastro initiated a while ago, although they did not dub their endeavors with a grandiloquent name or solicit donations to effect it. Still, since this is obviously something close to Henry's heart too, I think that he may be more committed and certainly more effective at persuading his idols that Castro is evil than at persuading the whole world that Spaniards are evil.
So, good luck Henry. You might even get to meet your idols.