If I were to institute a "Most Improved Babalunian Satellite" Award, I should bestow it on Robert Molleda's 26th Parallel blog. Although I am not known for economizing on words, I shall put is very simply: It was lousy and now it's not. So detached was Robert from his subject (that is, from Cuba) that I presumed once that he wasn't Cuban. By "detached" I do not mean indifferent, but, rather, dispassionate and antiseptic. He's not anymore — indifferent, that is. How this metamorphosis was brought about is a mystery to me. There is nothing to explain it externally: no new contributors to shake and reconfigure the mix; no few features to add variety and expand the content; no announced or unannounced changes in its lay-out or editorial policy. Yet there has been a change, and since all else remains the same, it is obviously the author himself who has changed and for the better. This, believe it or not, is heartening to me. The cause d'etre of the Review of Cuban-American Blogs is the regeneration of Babalú and its satellites. Never did I wish them to disappear, or even to become clones of this blog (as if that were possible).
All that I ever wanted was for them to stop the regimen of arbitrary censorship and abuse of dissenting opinions which had come to characterize them individually and as a group and which contrasted starkly with their expressed wishes for a Free Cuba; to stop kow-towing at every opportunity to the prejudices of their Anglo neighbors and judges; to stop supporting anti-Hispanic bigots such as Newt Gingrich and Fred Thompson, who wish none of us well and who do not and never have exempted Cuban-Americans from their racist presumptions and calculations; to stop sacrificing innocent children to Castro because they do not want to be reminded of the lessons of 4/22 (more valuable to us as Cubans than the lessons of 9/11) — to wit, that American democracy is imperfect and the American people too ill-served by the mainstrean media to be anything but impervious to our suffering; to stop making excuses for the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy, the repeal of which most of them opposed because they think that there are already enough Cubans in Miami and fear what another Mariel might do to their battered reputation as the "good immigrants;" to stop fomenting hate campaigns against entire nations because their leaders are inimical to our cause and to stop courting with bathetic desperation celebrities who don't give a damn about us and never have; and, finally, to stop being shills for George Bush and the Republicans (without switching allegiance to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats).
A tall order indeed, since if you eliminate all of these various fixations and core beliefs, you are left with little else of substance besides the primal concept that Castro is not good for Cuba.
It was, therefore, both a surprising and welcome development when the 26th Parallel began to move away from the common Babalunian verities and stake for itself an independent position or two. Since it was one of the more calcified of Babalú's petrified progeny, it was nothing short of a miracle to see it suddenly come to live and struggle to find its bearings.
What first alerted me to this evolution at the 26th Parallel was Robert's masterful takedown of Rick of Stuck of the Palmetto, something which both Val and Henry had attempted unsuccessfully. Not that Rick is Henry's or even Val's superior, but their real and confessed hatred for him makes it hard for them to engage him in anything but a street brawl. For this, at least, I cannot really blame them. Still, it was Robert who demolished Rick's peculiar take on the Cuban health care system — that the miserable care available for free to the average Cuban is somehow offset or balanced by the excellent care provided for dollars to foreigners and the party elite. Someone who would think in those terms is really beyond human agency and ignoring him is the best rebuke. But if he must be answered, then Robert has provided a good answer (so far, unchallenged).
In another recent post, Robert demonstrates that he has gained a new perspective on the Elenita case, as, indeed, have most of his Babalunian colleagues, who, at one time, following Henry's lead, proclaimed that the custody case was just a trap set by The Miami Herald to ensnare us into "Elián, the Sequel" and that we should not fall for it even if a thousand Cuban children had to be sacrificed to the new Molloc. Well, the fact that it was Joe Cubas — a celebrity and one greatly respected by his fellow Cuban exiles — who was the standard bearer in this battle against Castro appears to have been the catalyst for the Babalunians to rethink their position. They might be persuaded to support a celebrity in his quest to save an innocent child; another Lázaro González, never. Well, even if snobbery filled the place of common humanity, in this instance, at least, they evolved in the right direction. I am too humble to claim any credit myself for changing their minds. You are free to think so, however.
In the six months since I founded the Review of Cuban-American Blogs, there have been improvements, great and small, towards the eradication of many of the self-defeating tendencies I have outlined. The only area where there has been no discernable change is in what Martí called "yankofilia," which betrays a latent but consistent neo-annexionism — after Castroism, the greatest threat to the future of our country. The day that Babalú or its satellites actually disavow this treason I shall close this blog because my work will be done.