When Val Prieto attacked Yoani Sánchez in The Wall Street Journal last year as possibly a Castro mole and perhaps worse, no one could have imagined except those of us familiar with his erratic behavior that six months later he would be defending her prerogative to support the same candidate that Fidel Castro has endorsed for U.S. president.
Obama, who has stated repeatedly his intention to negotiate with Raúl Castro without prior conditions, in effect capitulating to him before they have even met, since negotiations without prior conditions has always been the regime's official position, appears to enjoy widespread support among Cuba's dissident community. I explained in an earlier post that the Damas en Blanco support him because they feel that Castro will release their imprisoned relatives as cover for Obama's unilateral surrender, which will very likely be the case.
Yoani's own support for Obama is somewhat more arcane and certainly less explicable. She believes that his color and age would shield him from criticism by the regime. Again, she is probably right. Why would the regime criticize a fellow traveller who is prepared to give it everything it ever wanted with absolutely no strings attached? But isn't it more important how the regime treats blacks on the island than how it would treat a black in the White House? Isn't having a strong anti-communist in the Oval Office who will denounce and hopefully redress the abuses committed by the regime more desirable than having an apologist for the regime there who will perpetuate and increase those abuses by removing all disincentives for them?
Yoani is more daring, more eloquent but not better informed than other Cubans on the island. She has committed the error of judging both Obama and McCain by meaningless external qualities (youth, color) while ignoring their personal histories, political trajectories and closest associations. I do not blame her, however, but her expatriate asesores, who are now in charge of "moderating" Generación Y, that is, introducing censorship to one of the world's greatest cybernetic bulwarks against censorship. I'm sure that they gave her the same "good advice" about endorsing Obama as they did about instituting moderation. The regime is not the only enemy of Cuban dissidents; they are also preyed upon by exiles who use them to advance their own agenda.
Although we are disappointed by her political naivete, there are others who are not in her precarious situation, who, in fact, enjoy every advantage that she does not and yet have the gall to say that there is no difference between McCain and Obama, implying what Yoani at least has the courage to say outright however misguided she may be.
Babalú's Henry Gómez is one of those political dilettanti and obscurantists: "In terms of Cuba," Henry writes, "Barack Obama's position today is not monumentally different [emphasis mine] than McCain's or even the President's." "Not monumentally different," he writes. What the hell does that mean? "Different" establishes an antithetical distinction between "A" and "B." A difference is a difference whether "monumental" or not. Difference does not connote degree but essence. And, yes, there is a very essential difference between McCain's (or Bush's) position on Cuba and Obama's, which is not limited to remittances or family visits. Put in the simplest terms: Obama wishes to make common cause with Castro and McCain does not. If that is a distinction without a difference to Henry then he might as well vote for Obama in Yoani's name.
Babalú's internationalist, George Moneo, has a decidedly nationalist take on elections: He believes that voters should only consider the interests of the U.S. when casting their ballots, not those of any other country. In fact, those who even consider, let alone give preference to, the interests of another country than this one, he believes should be deported to that other country. "One can not serve two masters," warns George sternly. This sounds a lot like the rantings of those who attack Jewish-Americans for "divided loyalties" vis-a-vis Israel. Although, of course, George would never use that argument against them. It is only Cuban-Americans who must be faulted for taking into consideration the 50 years of tyranny imposed on the Cuban people by Fidel Castro (with a big assist from the U.S.) when deciding for whom they should vote. Since this is a free country (at least until Obama is elected president), any criteria whatever in choosing a president is licit. If it were otherwise, then this would not be a free country. Following George's dialectics, Communist Cuba would be the most democratic country on earth because the people exercise no criteria whatever when voting. There one doesn't have to "serve two masters." One master suffices (and so does one candidate for every office).
Of the three it is Val, surprisingly, who is the most reasonable in his assessment of McCain vs. Obama. Perhaps he received the inspiration while staring at Ronald Reagan's portrait in the White House. Or maybe he concluded that it would be a long time between White House visits if he didn't contribute his mite to get McCain elected. For whatever reason Val used his post announcing Yoani's support for Obama to give the nod himself to John McCain. Perhaps he thinks that one endorsement balances the other.
Val's was not the most graceful endorsement to be sure. Still, he promised to "hold his nose" and vote for the "old foagie" not on account of McCain's virtues but Obama's considerable demerits (which he lists). Well, at least Val does recognize a difference between them, unlike Henry. He also considers it acceptable to take into consideration the effect that one's vote could have on Cuba's prospects for freedom, differing to that extent with George; but, like George, he places America's interests first when voting and would vote against Cuba's interests if these were in conflict with America's. In this election, however, no such conflict exists. In fact, I can think of no election since 1959 when Cuba and America's interests have been more closely aligned. As Martí put it, "together they are saved or together they are damned."
A visit from Henry in the "Comments."
Don't miss this debunking of Obama's "victory" which includes the best Obama quote yet: