Friday, April 11, 2008

The Death and Rebirth of "Cuban-American Pundits"

Imagine occupying somebody else's house as a tenant and deciding one day, out of the blue, that you didn't like the house or that it didn't suit your needs, and that, consequently, you were going to seal all the windows and doors with concrete blocks and put up a sign on the lawn that reads: "Condemned." This is exactly what Henry Gómez did to Cuban American Pundits. He shut down the blog without consulting its owner and founder, John Roche.

Imagine now Roche's surprise, and Henry's, too, when John unshuttered his house, removed the "Condemned" sign and changed the locks, effectively reclaiming what was his and shutting out the presumptuous former tenant. This is in fact what John did by changing the blog's password.

John's reclaiming of his property sent Henry into a panic. I cannot improve on his own description of his distress:

"[O]ne day I received an email notification that a comment was awaiting moderation [at CAP]. I clicked on the link to approve it but something was wrong, I couldn’t sign in. When I looked into the problem I noticed that I was no longer an administrator. Someone had changed my privileges. It was late at night and I was worried. Had my account been hacked? I sent an email to John Roche, the original Cuban-American Pundit, asking him if he altered the settings. I hardly slept that night. The next morning I was relieved to find an email from John, with whom I had not communicated with in months, telling me that, in fact, he had made the change. I was surprised to learn that despite the fact that he hadn’t posted anything for a long time that he had been lurking and knew about my decision to close Cuban-American Pundits."

Wow. This guy is beyond shameless. Henry actually portrays John as a thief-in-the-night who was "lurking" around his own property and had the effrontery to reclaim something which had always belonged to him as "the original Cuban-American Pundit," and which Henry, not John, had shut down of his initiative without even bothering to consult the blog's owner.

It seems that the good fathers at Belen2 were a little remiss in teaching Henry about the "private" in private property. They made that same little mistake some 50 years earlier with Fidel.

John Roche and Henry have come to an understanding. Cuban-American Pundits will not be shut down, after all. John, Henry and Sr. Cohiba will continue as editors of the resurrected blog, and they will be joined by -- George Moneo! Yes, George, too, is being resurrected, or, rather, rehabilitated a la Communist fashion. CAP is his Elba, or Siberia. He is going to have to work his way back to Babalú's "magnificent cadre of writers," that is, if he can purge those diversionist tendencies which got him kicked off in the first place. Of course, he cannot be trusted to write about politics anymore. So CAP has been turned into a culture blog expressly for him. We would attend to his first contribution in that line but, as I am sure nobody read it but myself and I know already what's wrong with it, what would be the use of preparing an antidote when the poison has not been tasted?

Last year, I reviewed Cuban-American Pundits, whose history is one of the most complicated and controversial in Cuban-American blog history. Even I couldn't sort it out to my entire satisfaction. I considered trying again last week when Henry closed the blog after its last active contributor, Sr Cohiba, moved on to Babalú with the expressed mission of saving it from all the ill-will Henry had fostered for this Republican blog in Republican circles with his visceral hate for John McCain and infatuation with Barack Obama's relative youth, looks, oratory and personality. In his valedictory post at CAP, which was perfect agitprop, Henry even failed to mention that Killcastro and Charlie Bravo were also original CAP members. (Don't look for their posts; they were long ago expunged). One can delete or alter documents and photographs. One cannot, however, airbrush history. Although the picture was altered when it was used on the reverse of the Cuban $1.00 note, Huber Matos is still on that tank with Fidel. There are still people alive who saw him on it and the original photograph still survives.

The most remarkable feature of CAP's "third incarnation" is also highly Stalinist in conception. It is CAP's new "Comments Policy." It is remarkable, first, because CAP has no comments to speak of. In fact, this prolix policy contains more words than were posted over the last year at Cuban-American Pundits. It would be more correct to describe it as an apologia for Babalú's unwritten comments policy. It states that no criticism of the editors or their friends will be published there and that the editors will always have the last word in every argument, as if comment "moderation" did not already stack the odds in favor of the house. [We are proud to have been the first to define so-called "moderation" as preemptive censorship long ago].

We will devote its own post to CAP's Stalinist "Comments Policy," where Henry openly acknowledges and defends every abuse practiced by Babalú on its commenters.


Three proud Babalunian caciques (Henry, Ziva & Sr Cohiba) have congratulated George Leonidas Moneo on his debut at Cuban-American Pundits. Not so the Grand Semí Val Prieto. Not just because he is an enemy to "culture." But because he's an enemy to George Moneo.


Anonymous said...

greetings from Thailand. Is Tellechea a basque name?

Ms Calabaza said...


I would be embarrassed to admit that story. Henry had the audacity to close a blog he didn't own. Amazing!

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Yes. In Basque it is spelt "Telletxea."

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

ms. calabaza:

Nothing is amazing to me anymore about Val & Henry. What does amaze me is that otherwise honorable men (and women) remain in their service despite knowing full well what they are about.

Ms Calabaza said...

I don't mean to change the subject but CNN just had Breaking News that Raul Castro stated today the he will be arranging for people to own their own houses as opposed to renting from the state. Incredible.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

ms. calabaza:

More meaningless "Consumer Freedoms."

Own what? Ruins, which the Communist state has no title to and therefore cannot legally bestow on anyone.

Next Raúl will decree that Cubans can own their own planes. Wait, he did that already.

Toasters, however, are on hold till 2010.

Cubans, if they starve for 3 or 4 months, might actually be able to afford one of those. And then they might even demand bread.

Vana said...

Henry shuts down a blog that does not belong to him, I guess I should be amazed but am not, indeed he learned well at the feet of the Jesuits, they taught him no civility, no manners, yes Manuel you are right, given the chance Henry would become a dictator, hell he already is blog dictator.

john longfellow aka lou dobbs said...

mat said: It is CAP's new "Comments Policy." It is remarkable, first, because CAP has no comments to speak of. In fact, this prolix policy contains more words than were posted over the last year at Cuban-American Pundits

LOL,LOL,LOL so true

john longfellow aka lou dobbs said...

I refuse to to visit CAP, as i dont want to give that sorry-ass even one hit on his site!!

I instead will rely on you MAT to illuminate Henry's worst offenses.

Anonymous said...


you won't miss a thing. The music appreciation course paper up now will put you to sleep. Looks like something that was turned in for a grade.
Pass the fries, please.

huh? said...

Henry has friends?

Cari said...


I am part Basque. My name is Iturbe.

Now I know why you're so independent.


Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I don't have statistics on it, but two friends from Belen2 signed an anti-Joe García petition which he endorsed on Babalú. I suppose one could extrapolate from that.

Anonymous said...

Did you know Henry attended Belen?
is kind of like hearing:
Did you know Kerry was in Vietnam?

What's the deal with Belen?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Belén2 is a Jesuit high school like any other in Miami.

The original Belén was an incubator for Cuba's elite in pre-Castro Cuba and the reason that there is no more pre-Castro Cuba.

Its most famous graduate was the monster himself.

How any school that produced Fidel Castro could have survived his destruction of the Cuban nation in any guise -- even its present anemic one -- is one of the great conundrums of Cuban social history.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

P.S.: Pobrecito Henry thinks he attented Fidel's Belén. It's actually his proudest boast.

Alex Hernandez said...


Manuel A.Tellechea said...


The Basque are the only ethnic group on earth that can refer to themselves as a distinct "race" since they have the world's highest incidence of analogous blood types and the Basque language is unconnected to any other spoken by man (imagine a lot of "Xs" and practically no vowels). Basques are also fiercely nationalistic without ever having been a nation.

Sadly, the upholders of the ideal of Basque independence -- as is also the case in Northern Ireland and Puerto Rico -- are invariably leftists in the thrall of Fidel Castro, who has not merely obliterated Cuba's freedom and independence but co-opted, corrupted and subordinated groups like ETA and the IRA.

If independence for the Basques means becoming another Cuba, it is better that they remain a part of Spain.

Cari said...


I wholeheartedly agree with you.

I've been to the Basque Country and they're amazing people.

It would be a tragedy if it were to turn into anything even resembling what Cuba has become.

But I do admire their fierce individuality and that is also part of what I admire about you.


John said...

Greetings. With the introductions, "nom de plumes," and the errors of this post aside, I have a question for you. Did you publish a book where you translated some works of Jose Martí?

The reason that I ask is because it has just occurred to me that I have seen the entirety of your name before. A few years ago a friend of mine wanted to read Jose Martí's poetry, but was unable due to his inability to read Spanish. I found a parallel translation for him, and the name of the translator, if I am not mistaken, is yours. This would make some sense given the style of your writing, and your knowledge of Jose Martí.

Esteban Colvert said...


I lived in Guernica for 2 months in 1984. I was professional jai-alai player. I also had (before I debuted at Dania Jai-Alai) a degree in political science, let's just say we had many spirited conversations in the locker room. My grandfather went to see me one night and really got into it with one of the basque pelotaris who he proceeded to spit at an tell him "vas a comer yerba"!. He was lucky this guy was so mellow because he could have "sembrado" mi abuelo con un cocotazo.

John Thomas Roche said...

Greetings again Mr. Tellechea,

Here is the link to the book in question:

I was right, it is your name. With a little more research I discovered that it is in fact you and you have some online translations at

As for the book that I eventually passed on to my friend, I purchased it while I was in Miami visiting my favorite book store "Ediciones Universal." Now, please allow me to explain what prompted me to buy this book:

For starters, I hate most translations, and if I am forced to read a translated material then I will own several translations of the written material along with an untranslated copy and a translation dictionary. The clearest example I can think of is when I've read Dante. Italian is not a language I'm familiar with, and thus I was prompted to buy various translations –including an original text to plow through. Perhaps this leaves me with a bit of irony since I am one to say: "traduttori traditori."

Mr. Tellechea, there are times when I find an excellent translation that is faithful to the text's meaning and written beauty. There are translations that grasp the meaning of the words and the nuances chained to them. Though never perfect, these translations are at times sublime. A recent copy of St. Therese of Liseux's, "Story of a Soul" comes to mind, as does your translation of "Versos Sencillos." I say this as one who has a love fore Cuban and Martí and as one who has a BA in English. Unfortunately, I have long since passed the book on to one who needed it. Perhaps I will purchase it again in the future –once after I save my money and finally buy Martí's "Obras Completas."

Mr. Tellechea, this discovery is bitter sweet for me. On the one hand, I always knew you had more to offer when I first read your blog, and your book is proof of this. On the other hand, you translate Martí so beautifully and yet you succumb to such brutish blog bashing.

I will paste a sample here for your readers to witness how good a translator you are, and as I read this I now realize that perhaps you too carry a bit of irony with you.

I have a white rose to tend
In July as in January;
I give it to the true friend
Who offers his frank hand to me.
And for the cruel one whose blows
Break the heart by which I live,
Thistle nor thorn do I give:
For him, too, I have a white rose.

José Marti (Translated by Manuel A. Tellechea)

I understand that this is a long post that is off topic. However, since my name is mentioned in this post, then I figured it would be fitting for me to at least say something.

With regards,

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I thank-you for your generous remarks regarding my translation of José Martí's Versos sencillos/Simple Verses. I am very pleased also that you did not discover any inaccuracy worth mentioning in my relation of the events that transpired subsequent to Henry's closure of Cuban American Pundits. To be accurate is the greatest tribute that one can pay to one's adversaries and I am glad that I have done justice to Henry.

For that reason as well as the humor which I always employ as a cushion in my dealings with Henry and all the Babalunians I must reject your characterization of what I do as "brutish blog bashing."

If I do "bash" them it is with their own words. If they ceased to provide me with the instrument, I could do no "bashing."

As for being "brutish" that is the very opposite of my approach with them. I could quote here Babalú's frequent calls for blood to run in the streets of Cuba or their oft-expressed desire to render our countrymen in a pressure cooker.

As G.K. Chesterton before me, I expose their inhumanity in the hope that they shall be repelled by it and embrace again their long-forsaken humanity.

John Thomas Roche said...


"As G.K. Chesterton before me, I expose their inhumanity in the hope that they shall be repelled by it and embrace again their long-forsaken humanity."

It is not to say that you are incapable of this, however, but please re-read this very post on CAP. It is one thing to expose the humanity or inhumanity of another person, and it is quite the other to gossip and draw erroneous conclusions on people.

Here is one example: "George, too, is being resurrected, or, rather, rehabilitated a la Communist fashion. CAP is his Elba, or Siberia. He is going to have to work his way back to Babalú's "magnificent cadre of writers," that is, if he can purge those diversionist tendencies which got him kicked off in the first place. Of course, he cannot be trusted to write about politics anymore. So CAP has been turned into a culture blog expressly for him."

What exposition of anything is here other than this is your opinion, and an erroneous one at that. This is gossip Manuel. Where's the proof? Where's the exposition of inhumanity? Did you not also erroneously conclude in one post that I was Ziva? What humanity or inhumanity is being exposed here? There are souls suffering dying in Cuba's oppressive system, anything that does not DIRECTLY connect to this is petty in comparison.

How is this for a quote:
"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." –Eleanor Roosevelt.

I will not pretend to say that I am great. I am not. Nor will I tell you what to do with your blog. But I will ask you: why settle for small and average when you can strive to be great?

Focusing so greatly on an individual is not an idea nor an event, it is a person. Bashing (unfounded negative opinions that gossip) anyone is not exposing anything other than your own angst. Yes it is cushioned with humor and eloquence, but it is still angst. Any topic or forum you've created on individuals leads to the opinion of a personality trait and nothing more. Flesh and blood lives and dies for individuals alone do not change the world there sharping of ideas do.

I'm not saying be friends with anyone, nor do I endorse a gyration of ideas that spin away from reality. Nevertheless, can't you see that there are posts in this blog that read as if Cuba and Cuban-American Blogs are pedestals to stand on and gossip about a couple of guys. And why? Because they've made small time news or treated you indecently? In the grand scheme of things is this really important? No one remembers the 19th century popular musician that inspired Chopin to write the" Fantasie Impromptu" (of which he later hated writing because it was too reminiscent of this other musician's style). Both men died, and yet Chopin is remembered not for being a sensation but for his idea of using Polish styles to be incorporated into his music. Do you know the name of the other musician? Probably not, why, because ideas live longer than people.

We will all be forgotten a century from now. Yet, maybe our ideas can plant the seeds for future growth. What we all need is the pruning and watering to cultivate great ideas. Is it not better to disagree with the ideas and the concepts presented in any blog, rather than to attempt to extrapolate motive and villianize a given individual.

What? They villianize themselves?

If this is true then the mere exposition of their ideas ALONE, and not your opinions on their personhood, will condemn them. What we all need is the cultivation of a white rose for all, and not the cultivation of thistles and thorns for a select few.

Review the blogs Manuel, all of them, extrapolate the ideas and lets clarify our vision. However, fidgeting with the hidden lives and motives of people will only leave us with pointless gossip.

Last I checked, the title of this website is "Review of Cuban American Blogs," not "Tabloid of Cuban-American Bloggers."

With regards,

BTW: Silence is not always acquiescence. There are numerous errors wrought within your post, but I do believe you are smart enough to find them. Perhaps I leave this as food for thought:

"Not so the Grand Semí Val Prieto. Not just because he is an enemy to "culture." But because he's an enemy to George Moneo."

Is this statement predominately about people, events, or ideas? Can this statement be proven as fact or is this statement your opinion and ultimately gossip? What provable exposition of inhumanity is there so that they shall be repelled by it and embrace again their long-forsaken humanity? Care to expound?

Henry Louis Gomez said...


John is correct, you enjoy engaging in baseless speculation and gossip. An example is how you characterize my "closure" of Cuban-American Pundits. The truth is much more boring than your fantasized version.

I had been posting there very infrequently and Mike Pancier was the only one using it. Over lunch one day, I invited Mike to join Babalu. With both of us posting at Babalu and with John not having posted in months it was apparent that the blog was effectively dormant. The departure of Mike and myself was not a closure but without active contributors it wasn't exactly alive either.

Now I should note that John offered me the blog in 2006. For personal reasons he did not have the time and desire to administer it and even suggested that I change the name to the "Tren Blindado" blog.

I accepted ownership of the blog at that time but I told him that I did not want to change the name. Instead I added the line "The official blog of"

Given this, your idea that I don't have the right to abandon my own blog is laughable.

As I mentioned, John stopped blogging altogether. I had no idea that he was still lurking and that he had an interest in coming back to the blog. He was always a member of the blog whether he chose to contribute or not.

My relief was in finding that it was in fact John who had changed me from author to admin. I thought my account had been hacked.

In any case, we were both in agreement that we wanted to blog to continue but that we'd have to make it different for it to have a purpose.

It's your prerogative to dislike what we do there. But it's not your right to make up fictions about relationships that you have no knowledge about.

Don't kid yourself, you're not half as clairvoyant as you think you are.

John Thomas Roche said...

Hi Manuel,

I understand you've been busy with a "guest of honor." However, I was wondering if you would be so kind as to answer my questions in my previous comment.

With regards,

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


If I am only "half" as clairvoyant as I think (or you think), then I am clairvoyant enough.

If I knew I could submit a list of questions to you re CAP, I would have done so. Barring that, however, I had to rely on deductive reasoning more than clairvoyance and I do think I hit all the markers. Certainly, I should not be afraid to compare my accuracy to anybody else's.

I like John's influence on you. Don't lose touch with him.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

john roche:

Yes, I have been quite busy entertaining our unannounced "Guest of Honor." I've welcomed him with much pomp and circumstance and even accorded him a 21-gun salute when by rights he is only entitled to a 19-.

So great is my attachment to the truth and my desire that justice be done to everybody (including and especially those with whom I disagree) that I have turned Henry's comments into posts so that everybody may see them.

Can you imagine what would happen if I tried to comment at Babalú or CAP? Of course, the experiment will never be tried since the results are already well-known.

And yet, John, you seem to think that I am the one who behaves in an uncivil manner. Unintentional humor on your part, perhaps?

Not gossip, John, but thoughtful analyses is what you will find here about various phenomena at Babalú such as the unexplained disappearance of George Moneo. Ever wondered about that, John, or have you been introduced to Babalú's orphic mysteries?

I noted that you condemned Val's outing of Killcastro, which was covered here in 20 consecutive posts. You certainly did not learn about it at Babalú.

Honesty and transparency, scarcely seen at Babalú, is what RCAB is all about.

John Thomas Roche said...


Honesty and transparency, scarcely seen at Babalú, is what RCAB is all about.

Again, I have no problems with your ideological goals. However, it is in your method that I find the greatest difficulty. Why pursue these things in the shadow of Babalu? Why not create your own light separate from anyone else? Yes, I am informed about the circumstances regarding George Moneo. And my conclusions are: it's nothing that can't be reconciled, it's far more boring than the mythos you've created around it, and more importantly it's nobody's business! The surprising thing is that if it were my place to say what happened, it would actually debunk a bit of your allegations towards Babalu. Yet in the end what does it matter Manuel?

I noticed you mentioned truth and justice, but truth and justice will always be lacking if there is the absence of peace and love. There can be no peace without justice, no justice without truth, and no truth without love. And it is in love, of self, of neighbor, of country, and of God that we search for the truth. Truth is not found in the trivial assumptions of people or in the weak festering of gossip. It is found in the realization that we are all human and imperfect and that somehow we are made in an image of a perfection that we can strive for in solidarity: an image of perfection we can strive for standing alone together.

Only in unearthing the truth within ourselves can we then see clearly the hampering of truth in the other. Thus, when we stretch beyond ourself in lifting up another human being to be what they truly can be then we are found in the presence justice. But justice is only as good as the peace it brings.

Gage your justice and truth Manuel. If your exposition of "truth" is not founded on love, then perhaps what you have may be entertaining and juicy, but it is certainly not truth. If your "justice" brings quarrels and name callings and digresses from peace, then perhaps you may have something witty and eloquent, but it is certainly not justice.

As for my comment about Val outing KC. Yes I was appalled, any one's moniker should be respected. As for CAP's so called "Stalinist" comments policy, well that was my idea. I have the right and freedom to monitor comments, a right and freedom that is common and expressed on many blogs including your friends at KillCastro.

Babalu's Orphic mysteries? Well, Manuel, I'm sorry to say it's nothing like the legends of the Masons or the Knights templar. Back when I first started CAP I actually met Val, George, Henry, and Robert in person (this was before Ziva hit the scene). We all had our separate blogs, and discussed ideas and topics relevant to politics. Upon my return to blogging I've been given some updates. There are no great mysteries or telenovela drama. They are everyday people living everyday lives with a great love for Cuba. No they are not perfect. Neither am I. Neither are you.

If Dan Brown proved anything with his "Davinci Code," it's people are more willing to believe the sensational and controversial because there is a refusal to accept that life is more ordinary than we'd like to live it. Secrets, conspiracy, and gossip taste better than truth, honesty and humdrum of day to day life.

I give a quote you made about Babalu and ask how you are exposing the inhumanity in order to lift up his humanity, and I get I get no reply. Do what you like with this blog, it's your right and freedom to do so. You want to be honest and transparent, then yes do it, but please be sound in your methodogy!

I just see the potential for more. Since day one I've always seen in you the potential for more. Manuel, in everything that I do there is one thing there is one thing that I am known for: I am a scary judge of talent. And if my recent discovery of your translation of Jose Marti isn't proof that I knew you have more to give, then think about the original three members I invited to join CAP. Aside from Val, they're the next well known Cuban-American bloggers out there. You have a lot more to offer than just talking about people.

I'll keep dropping by to read, as I'll be writing for CAP, and reading KC, and reading Babalu.

"Yo soy mi mundo, mi corazon es mi amigo, y dios es mi esperanza." –Felix Varela.


Manuel A.Tellechea said...

John Roche:

Did you really write CAP's comment policy? Do you really take the French Revolution as an inspiration? Of course, your authorship is immaterial since everybody who is an editor at CAP, including Henry and George, by that very fact subscribes to it and is responsible for it no less than you.

Well, CAP's "Comment Policy," which bears little relation to CAP itself since the opportunities for its application are at present rather circumscribed there, does serve, however, as an apologia for Babalú.

I had intended to address it as such at length before Henry's unexpected visit(s) and shall do so as soon as the general agitation that it provoked subsides.

As I have told you before, John, there are hundreds of articles here that don't address the crisis at Babalú.

Perhaps I'll compile a list for you and post it.

That way you can plumb the depths (or heights) of my potential without being distracted by my perorations against Babalú, where, incidentally, my skills as a polemist are just as credibly displayed. (I am sure that you would appreciate my articles against abortion, for example).

Finally, as to inhumanity: don't you see it amply displayed in CAP's "Comments Policy" or in Babalú's practical application of its principles?

Surely by combatting censorship and obscurantism I am defending not only humanity but actual humans.

John Thomas Roche said...


Though the comments policy was my idea, I did not write the comment in general. I would interested in your cririque. As for using your blog to attempt an example of democracy, I find that a noble pursuit but not a necessary indication of democracy itself. People are free to come and go from one blog to another, just as people are free to change tv channels, just as people are free to go door to door and knock. However, just because one knocks does not mean the home owner is obligated to let the person in lest the home owner be called undemocratic and Stalinistic? Do you let every person who knocks on your door in? And if you do, do you let them make opinions on your home? Is you door always unlocked?

If I didn't like everything that you write, then I wouldn't be here. You are an excellent write/translator and poet, and I believe you can do more. In the end, it's up to you. Do as you wish for you have the freedom to do so online.


Manuel A.Tellechea said...

John Roche:

No, I don't let everybody who knocks at my door come in. But if I put a sign over my door that says "Comment Here," I will not shut the door in the face of those who want to comment.

John Thomas Roche said...

Very good point. And this why Henry and I concurred on a public comments policy at CAP. Perhaps they may sound stalinistic to you, but there are no secrets. You come to CAP and know exactly what you get into: love it or leave it!