Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blog Review: The "26th Parallel"

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.


Vana said...

Thank you Manuel for reviewing 26th parallel for us, I will have to spend sometime there and check it out for myself, and no you may never close this blog, I'm sure there are a lot of blogs out there that need your reviews

Vana said...

Oh and thank you for removing those pesky letters from blogger, so much easier to comment now

Mamey said...

They may be interested, like all of us, in Cuba's freedom (the demise of the dictatorship would be the first step), but I doubt they understand that said freedom must include complete sovereingty. They delight in thrashing one party while licking the other. The Republican and Democratic parties are U.S. American parties, not Cuban political parties. I could forgive their penchant for vulgarity and simplemindedness (e.g., attacking Spain instead of its government reminds me of certain Chicano simpletons), but not, as you point out, their neo-annexionist tendencies. They need to hit the books and learn our history.

Fantomas said...

The day that Babalú or its satellites actually disavow this treason I shall close this blog because my work will be done.


Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Of all the Babalunians, you are undoubtedly the most avowed neo-annexationist. Living in Puerto Rico tends to do that to Cubans.

Fantomas said...

tranquilo you will not get me in this mess..No comment from Fanto

I will keep you guessing manny man

Mambi_Watch said...

And all this time I though the closure of this blog was dependent on the number of comments you got.

On July 15 you said:

"Babalú has received a total of 44 comments for its last 20 posts. Nine of the 20 posts received 0-1 comments... If such a fate had befallen the Review, I would close this blog."

I see now that the aim of this blog has taken a new direction: "the eradication of many of the self-defeating tendencies" of those you criticize.

I wonder if they are seriously going to listen to you.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I don't know if they listen to me "seriously," but I do know that they listen. They do nothing but listen to me. The Babalunians never seem to log off this blog in the hope that I will have something to say about them. Lately, I don't have much to say because they seem to have adopted a policy of not provoking me. I used to devote every other post to their antics; now I do an occasional review as a kind of bone thrown at them so that they won't lose the taste.

Apparently, the Babalunians are not as interesting to others as they are to us. Readership of this blog is doubling every week that I don't mention them.

Still, I feel duty-bound to continue my benevolent work of reforming them since that was the reason I started this blog in the first place.

I must remember to visit your blog, as I have not done so in a month or more. I can't even imagine what you've been up to, though I am sure it has something to do with Cuban-Americans shifting in one unexpected direction or the other.

Anonymous said...

well.. it's like I thought!

Anonymous said...

в итоге: неподражаемо... а82ч

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