Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Meltdown at Babalú

A meltdown is how we may best characterize what happened yesterday at Babalú. It was conceived as a controlled exercise in "Val bashing," planned and encouraged by Val himself as a way to revive interest in a moribund blog and focus attention on himself. Babalú's Founding Editor surely did not expect, however, a spontaneous uprising against the intolerance and heartlessness with which he treats his countrymen on the island but that's exactly what he got. The uprising was led by LittleGator and seconded by pototo and Babalú contributor Marc R. Másferrer: the last independent voices that have not yet been silenced by the Cuban-American blogosphere's most active censors.

As pro forma, the dissenters were subjected to autos-da-fe by Babalu's three Grand Inquisitors. Henry accused LittleGator, who is both anti-Castro and anti-embargo, of being in the regime's service. Val threatened to ban him as a commenter and make it impossible for him to access the blog. LittleGator, for his part, with much equanimity but lethal accuracy, shot down every balloon that Val sent up, telling him things that nobody had ever dared to say to him at Babalú. Marc, whose patience with Val has been sorely tested of late, was not far behind in his criticisms, referring to Val's position as "immoral," which Val, naturally, took to mean that Marc was calling him immoral. Nevertheless, Val did not threaten the editor of Uncommon Sense with expulsion, perhaps because he is the only one of Babalú's "magnificent cadre of contributors" who gives more to his blog than he receives in return. Even pototo, Babalu's longest surviving commenter, who almost never disagrees with Val (hence the fact that he is its oldest commenter), sided this time with LittleGator and Marc.

The cause of this rigmarole was a post titled "Me, Me, Me, Me, Me" where Val defended the restrictions on remittances and travel to the island imposed by Bush in 2004 and reiterated his long-held position that starving the Cuban people is the best way to starve the regime. LittleGator refuted Val in exactly the same number of words as he had used in the title of his post: "Them, Them, Them, Them, Them." I do not intend, though, to chronicle this debate blow for blow when it can still be read at Babalú (but read it soon, as its shelf-life is certain to be short).

It is well to remember that travel and remittances to Cuba were wedge issues for Val long before Obama adopted them. Just as exploiting these issues will not help Obama to divide and conquer the Cuban-American vote neither will it contribute to perpetuating the Castro regime or securing Cuba's freedom. Their purpose is to alleviate the present suffering of the Cuban people. Surely, no one could object to that?


Val does: "How can our altruism and generosity not have a negative effect? Remittances, travel tourism, medicine, food, all of them, have been used effectively by the regime to drive a wedge in the exile community." This, of course, would have been impossible for the regime to do without the active cooperation of those here who gladly understudy for Castro in the role of ogre. If "altruism and generosity" have a "negative impact," then are indifference and selfishness what Cubans on the island deserve of us? Or is savaging them just another ploy to stir up the natives like announcing Castro's death during the summer doldrums last year?

After hundreds of successive posts had elicited no feedback, Val finally realized that there was a crisis of confidence at Babalú, a general ennui that threatened its existence and had already affected its relevance. Instead of honestly inquiring into the causes of Babalú's decline and attempting to address whatever lapses in his judgment had brought it about (which are obvious to everybody except him), Val decided to explode the rhetorical equivalent of a stink bomb to see if there was anybody out there anymore who gave a damn about what he had to say. He called this exercise a "rant" and warned the faint of heart that they might be offended by his liberal use of the F-word. In fact, that was the least offensive and far from the most contrived element of his harangue. He said nothing in it that he had not already said before, but distilled and concentrated his venom till all semblance of objectivity and common sense, let alone humanity, had been burned away and all that remained was the pure essence of evil.

Once again he blamed the people of Cuba for failing to topple Castro, as if toppling Castro were a duty owed personally to him and their failure to do so a slight of him. The only Cubans that Val likes are those like Oscar Biscet who are languishing in Castro's jails. Unless you are willing to be a martyr for freedom, it doesn't matter to Val if you rot forever in slavery in that greater prison that all Cubans inhabit. That slavery and human dignity are never compatible is not enough for Val; the slave must prove to him, by shedding his blood, that he is worthy of the freedom that Val enjoys without ever expending one drop of his blood. Even those who escaped their master are unworthy of Val's respect if they didn't also lose their lives in the process. As for all other Cubans, Fidel must not have cracked the whip enough if they are not on streets right now agitating for Val's freedom. But that poses no problem for Val. Fidel is not the only one who can make the lives of his subjects more miserable. Val himself can also apply the whip, not in the spirit of vengeance, of course, but of fraternity. Val believes that by (further) starving Cubans, as Weyler starved the pacificos, he will shake them from their apathy and set them on the road to their liberation or extinction, either of which is acceptable to Val as both outcomes would open the royal road for his return to his native Bayamo on that red carpet of congealed blood. Val's argument has never really been with Fidel Castro, but with his countrymen on the island whom he thinks wear their chains as talismen and with their relatives stateside who commit the unpardonable crime of trying to salve the wounds made by those chains.

The metaphor is not mine. It belongs to LittleGator and so fascinated Val that he started a second post around it. There Val rages against those who would apply balm to wounds when the proper thing to do is teach the sufferers to -- fish! "Wounds," Val adds, in capital letters,"THAT FOR MANY ARE SELF-INFLICTED." Yes, for some, on both sides of the Florida Straits, with full bellies here and empty bellies there. And the ones who deserve to be punished, of course, are there and not here. Setting foot on American soil washes all fidelistas of their original sin and allows them to join the ranks of anti-communists unmolested. I should add that this special dispensation is only for exiles who came here in the early days of the Revolution. The others, whom Val writes "take a cold and calculating position when applying for asylum and are granted same," should have no special claim for asylum but be treated like "EVERY OTHER IMMIGRANT WHO TRIES TO COME TO THESE STATES." So Val now admits (again in capital letters) that he is opposed to the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 (which brought all his family here) and the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy not because it is inhuman but because it is unfair to other "immigrants!"

Henry doesn't have a good word to say about salve either. Or what is it that another commenter calls it? "Enabling salve" as if an unenabling salve would be better. Henry objects to the salve because "the wounds are being inflicted on far more people than receive the salve." So no salve for anybody if there is not enough salve for everybody. More fundamentally, Henry objects to salve because of its "anesthetic quality," that is, because it takes the pain away. He would prefer that the Cuban people receive the full measure of that pain like the ministers who opposed the use of all painkillers in childbirth because of the Biblical injunction that all women shall bring forth children in pain. Obviously, Cubans must suffer to be free as the U.S.-born Henry never did or ever shall.

Val, for his part, believes that all Cubans are afflicted with a national Stockholm Syndrome which causes them to see their kidnappers as redeemers, making them Castro's allies in their own oppression, and that, therefore, the easiest way to topple him is to reduce them to an even more abject state till they have no choice but to rise without arms or die without alms.

For nearly half a century the Cuban people have lived on the verge of starvation, and on hundreds of occasions, for protracted intervals, experienced actual famine, including the decade-long "Special Period" when caloric consumption was at the lowest point in Cuban history as even the Castroites themselves have lately acknowledged while trumpetting the benefits of starvation in promoting good health.

Well, clearly Castro is still doing his part. Who, then, is failing to do theirs by endeavoring to mitigate the effects of this healthful starvation? Cuban exiles who don't have Val's detached understanding of the human condition or his willingness to sacrifice others on behalf of his greater good. The real "villians," according to Val, are those who feed (or, in his opinion, overfeed) the Cuban people and make it easier for Castro not to feed them, thereby enriching the regime and delaying the day of Cuba's liberation beyond Val's lifetime.

Val is in his early 40s and may well live 40 years more or even 50. If he is indeed convinced, as he has said, that he will lived out his days without freedom ever returning to our homeland, then what is it that he intends to accomplishing by inflicting further misery on the Cuban people? Sick and perverse it would be if he thought that his freedom depended upon their degradation. But he does not believe that. Nothing will come of multiplying their misery, but still, because he hates them, Val wants them to be as miserable as they can be even if no advantage accrues to him from it.

Does he resent Castro's monopoly on inflicting suffering on the Cuban people or is he seeking to become his partner in that enterprise? Castro, like all Communists, uses starvation as an instrument of societal control. Val wishes that he, too, could subject them to his whims by strangling them by their belts. In fact, Val is not content, as is Fidel, to have a society where some starve less than others. Val believes that if all cannot eat equally well, then all should eat equally badly, or not at all. He prefers the latter for those who live in Bayamo, not Kendall.


Ms Calabaza said...

Not everyone is capable of having a civil debate. . . They obviously don't know how to engage without throwing insults, name-calling or censoring. I've said this before and say it again, I have no beef with most contributors there but the guys who run the place are running it to the ground. . . Shame.

joep said...

Brilliant post, MaT. I go away for a few days, and the first post I read upon returning is another master work. Bravo!

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

This is what I still can't understand: Val has proclaimed urbe ex orbe that he hates Cubans and that there is no horror that he would not wish visited upon them.

Yet there are still 17 contributing writers at Babalú, many of whom don't share his hatred for Cubans, who, nonetheless, will not send him to hell.

At some point collaboration becomes complicity and I think that point has been reached.

Mamey said...

I think the decent people left at Babalu should split and start their own blog. It really smells bad over there.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Cigar Mike has just put up an homage to comedian Harvey Korman, who passed away today. Immediately 9 commenters left their condolences and remembrances. Would that Babalú's editors and commenters cared as much about Cuba, but posts about Cuba usually elicit no comments unless Val calls for the extinction of the Cuban people, then 3 or so commenters will dissent.

Vana said...


Again your post has led me to shed tears, tears for the inhuman behavior of Val and the fine cadre of writers, most must feel as he does for they are still there, Val wants the worse for those over there but wants the best for his family here, starvation does not work or the regime would have toppled during the Special Period when I'm sure a lot died, or lost their health.

Val is becoming more revolting, more agressive seems so much like Fidel and his fine cadre of cohorts he sickens me to the core, but life will kick his ass it always does, people like him do get it in the end, he has chosen his path and it is an evil one.

Vana said...


Good to hear of you again, (you had us worried) hope all is well with you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Mat you don't grow at all . Here you always have the same charaters commenting vana, joe , calabaza, farinas, corgi, etc

The same moscas always

nonee moose said...

Great post MAT. Is Barbie-Loo not irrelevant yet? All they do is sink lower. And then they sink some more.

I do like how you've begun to shame the associate editors. What took you so long?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


You forgot to include yourself. How humble you are! You alone account for dozens of commenters and are the biggest fly on the wall of all.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I was hoping I wouldn't have to shame them into doing the right thing. It still seems possible that some at least might find the dignity to repudiate Val and disassociate themselves from Babalú. Sadly, the longer they stay with him the more like him they become.

Agustin Farinas said...

Fantomas' goofy style is so thin and transparent, he gets found out everytime by MAT. Yet he insists on commenting here as an anonymous everytime at least 4 or 5 times per posting. His only brain cell is working overtime with very little memory and is unable to fool anyone, least of all MAT.

Vana said...


Fantomas is so transparent his style of writing gives him away, I don't know why he bothers to post anonymously,is so obvious it's him.

Anonymous said...

Who is Val Prieto? LOL

Vana said...


There is a Cuban Video making the rounds, by a Cuban band called Moneda Dura, the title is Mala Leche the chorus applies to people like Val.

Y todavia me encuentro con
gente que vive para ponerme
la mas mala

Gente que no habla
Solo que te ladra gente
Que tupe las palabras

Si yo no te hago daño
No es pa' que te despeches
Si yo no te hago daño
Cual es tu mala leche.

Che che chea said...

Vana ese video de mala leche es mas viejo que Matusalen

Angel Garzón said...

OK, so has no one that comments here, anonymous or otherwise, recently tried to look at this issue from an unbiased, neutral, emotionally-detached and plainly evidentially based perspective? I will give it a try, not with the intention of attacking anyone at RCAB, or at BabaluBlog, or at the numerous Cuban and Cuban-American blogs and websites that purport to oppose or support the diluted embargo, but with the sincere goal of attempting to somehow encourage everyone to debate the logical merits and faults of both sides of the issue. I am not going to be playing the part of devil's advocate, I believe that the reason(s) that apparently have caused a number of commentators to abstain from participating at Babalublog, lies in or with the approach and disagreeable delivery of disparity by some of its contributors, this opinion does not include the participants that keep on asking the same questions ad nauseam in order to incite conflict and its resulting chaos.

Where at Babalu has Val Prieto indicated that "starving the Cuban people" is his objective, be it directly or otherwise? This is not a rhetorical question, I truly would like to be shown the evidence, not when Val is in the midst of an emotional outburst, but when he has addressed the subject in a reasonable fashion.

P.S. I do not know the history of Mr. T's and Val's relationship, so please accept my apology in advance, for my lack of familiarity with this subject. Thanks. I will drop by later tonight.

Anonymous said...

Vana what is a libreta'

Please answer

Vana said...

Val address a subject in a reasonable fashion, where? when? you are asking for too much Angel.

When one claims that we should not send money to our loved ones that's starving them, when one does not want any nation to do business with Cuba, that's starving them, when one claims that the Wet Foot/Dry foot should stand, that's killing them and sending them back to Castros gulag, when one claims that Cubans in Cuba mind you, of course not him, should shed their blood to liberate Cuba, that's killing them, it all amounts to the same thing, starve them in mind and spirit, that's starving them.

Hope you understand my point of view.

pedro el panadero said...


All you have to do is spend five mimuted browsing babalu and you will find direct/indirect evidence---abviously you have not been reading babalu lately.

gringo from wisconsin said...

Vanita, you have not answer us yet

What is a cuban libreta?

pepe el loco said...

attention: pls lets ignore fantomas ... do not mention his name again ... until he comes out of "hiding" ... he hates to be ignore... he has been involve in closed-door negotiations with val and the babalu board of directors regarding his conditional return to babaland.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Vana has given an excellent answer.

If Val were "reasonable," he would not advocate starving the Cuban people by denying them every manner of assistance. I refer you to the quote which I cite in this post where Val says that exiles are hurting Cubans on the island with their "altruism and generosity" and then goes on to list every kind of assistance he objects to, which, of course, is literally every kind.

You have also the entire RCAB archives at your disposal. There you will find hundreds of quotes from Val Prieto, especially in our "Notable & Quotable" feature. Finally, as a last resort, you might consider visiting Babalú. Yes, I know, it's a lot more fun reading my take on what they write, but sometimes, horrible as it is, one must go to the original source and form one's own conclusions.

yulian el cochero de bayamo said...

Senor dueño del blog, le escribo para decirle que su prediccion fue erronea. Fantomas continua # 2 en el blogroll de bubulu . Aun despues de la censura a que ha sido sometido por el perro poodle que no muerde
Tenemos que aceptar que fantomas tiene un estilo inigualable. Es un luchador con 3 pares cojones y por eso lo respeto
La gente de Bubulu lo podran censurar pero jamas lo podran callar y ellos estan resignados que no pueden con el.
Por eso amigo administrador del blog creo que fantomas continuara en la posicion #2

Manuel Vana Pepe el loco said...

El sitemeter no funciona se fundio

Quien escribio eso?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


His blog may not have been delinked but fantomas himself is not allowed to comment on Babalú, or else is too afraid to do so for fear that George might finally cut his satellite loose.

Fantomas is very afraid. He'll be lucky if they decide not to starve him.

Vana said...


La mejor tactica con el cara de condon es ignorarlo, muchos de esos anonimos es el, no nos puede engañar, vana que es la libreta? el que lee este blog y no lo sabe es un idiota, o tiene ganas de joder, a quien te suena ese?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Fantomas could be making himself useful by telling us about the Obama rally in Puerto Rico today. He was spotted standing in line with the babies waiting to be kissed by Obama.

Angel Garzón said...

...You have also the entire RCAB archives at your disposal. There you will find hundreds of quotes from Val Prieto, especially in our "Notable & Quotable" feature...

Thank you, I am doing that as I write this, but I know that you knew that already, as I don't find it necessary to mask my IP here.

"...Finally, as a last resort, you might consider visiting Babalú. Yes, I know, it's a lot more fun reading my take on what they write, but sometimes, horrible as it is, one must go to the original source and form one's own conclusions."

I have visited Babalu almost daily in the last three or four weeks Mr. T, I originally found out about it as a result of a comment that Alex Hernandez (formerly of ¡Ya no Más!) had posted on a thread at the Herald in response to a xenophobe from Wisconsin that had berated a group of balseros that managed to make it to land while evading the Coast Guard. I checked the various blogs that Alex had listed on his blogroll and eventually found Babalu, that was in the summer of 2007, just a few days before Val announced that fifo had died, I commented there quite a few times and even though I did not always completely agree with Val, Henry and George, I did agree with their points of view vis-a-vis the tyranny, in fact I was somewhat out of line one day on a comment I had made concerning Fred Thompson's campaign visit to Miami and I was not treated unfairly at all, in fact the opposite was the truth, somehow they noticed that my comment was made in the heat of the moment and they let me slide as we used to say back in the 70s.

I had stopped visiting any blogs sometime around late October of 2007 because my mother was diagnosed with a terminal disease, as it turns out, thank God she had been incorrectly diagnosed, her symptoms were very similar to those of the misdiagnosed disease but it took about five months to discern the real culprit, which is thankfully treatable.

This blog's archive is quite extensive, when you write, you write!!!

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


You were walking on thin ice when you attacked Henry's erstwhile idol, Fred Thompson. But whatever your opinion was about him you had a perfect right to hold that opinion and they had no right to censor or ban you for holding it. So don't be grateful for not being censored, consider yourself well-served.

It would appear, however, that Babalu's readers, including yourself, are now preconditioned to expect censorship and do.

When it happens that one is not censored or banned for expressing a contrary opinion, it is now deemed a special favor or even a boom. They have let you "slide," that is, forgo the usual punishment for dissenting with the blog line (or should I say, party line?). This, in turn, encourages its commenters to practice self-censorship, which Val & Co. actually want you to do because it saves them the trouble of censoring you.

Do you remember any of this from a previous life?

Vana said...


In line with the babies to be kissed by gave me a belly laugh, thanks I needed it.

Angel Garzón said...


You were walking on thin ice when you attacked Henry's erstwhile idol, Fred Thompson. But whatever your opinion was about him you had a perfect right to hold that opinion and they had no right to censor or ban you for holding it. So don't be grateful for not being censored, consider yourself well-served..."

No, no, no, I did not attack Fred Thompson, although I considered him to be a political lightweight, I made an off the cuff comment about whomever had gone to Versailles to meet Fred, I questioned whether the point of meeting him was just to have pictures taken with Fred, as the thread appeared to have been pic focused at the time, I stated that had I been there, I would not have been wasting time being photographed with the candidate, but instead I would have asked tough questions about US-Cuba relations, or something along those lines, I don't remember all of my exact words, but I do remember writing that I was pissed-off that no tough issues appeared to have been addressed and of course I find that tone or demeanor rather inappropriate, to me a blog is to a certain degree the author(s)' house, so I expect that I would be respectful, nothing more, nothing less.

"...It would appear, however, that Babalu's readers, including yourself, are now preconditioned to expect censorship and do..."

I can't speak for anyone else, but I do not fall under your categorization, which you have very intelligently chosen to preamble with "It would appear," in order to insert a certain level of ambivalence, that would allow you to retort something along the line of "I never said that it was a certainty, so..." I call that covering all the bases while making sure that you cover your derriere, I also practice that diplomatic style, so I cannot blame you for using it, I just wanted you to know that I know what you're apparently doing. ;-)

..."When it happens that one is not censored or banned for expressing a contrary opinion, it is now deemed a special favor or even a boom. They have let you "slide," that is, forgo the usual punishment for dissenting with the blog line (or should I say, party line?). This, in turn, encourages its commenters to practice self-censorship, which Val & Co. actually want you to do because it saves them the trouble of censoring you..."

See my previous paragraph. BTW, I am really baffled here, you are without a doubt a cultured, educated man, anyway, there is no such word as commenters, the correct word is commentator(s), a little nugget for your otherwise extensive vocabulary, we can learn something new every day, as long as we are willing to do so.

"...Do you remember any of this from a previous life?

LOL, please tell me that you're joking Mr. T, I must confess that I am not privy to all that has transpired vis-a-vis you and Babalu, so for now, I believe it's best to pass no judgment onto either side, I do wish that the goal of a free Cuba and the benefits that such a system would bestow upon our fellow Cubans, which cannot be accomplished without unity, would take precedence over everything else.

joey "mugshot" giggles said...

In the old days as a student of Latin, I developed a curiosity for words.
Commenter exist as much as does commentator.
They come from the same Latin root.
In English, commenter equals the old Latin which morphed into the Italian commentarista, Spanish comentarista, while French produced commentateur which led to the English commentator.
Commenter, appeared at the end of the nineteenth century, and was used to describe a journalist which wrote opinion pieces.
Then, unfortunately I left my scholar inclinations for a life of thrill, but the old habits has forever being ingrained in me. Words are swords, just with a supernumerary S.

n. 1. One who makes or writes comments; a commentator; an annotator.
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C. & G. Merriam Co.

Now, back to my sinful ways.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I once shared your dislike for commenter, preferring, instead, commentator. But commenter has become the standard usage to describe one who comments on a blog. In fact, the word commenter now means nothing else. Language must evolve with the times. It is there to serve us not that we should be subserviant to it.

When I asked "doesn't this sound familiar?" I meant, of course, that censorship should remind you of Cuba.