Babalú's position on family remittances is reprehensible. It was so before the hurricanes struck but now it amounts to genocidal intent. My endless taunts finally got Val to retire his "pressure cooker" for rendering humans (specifically Cubans), but though he does not use that metaphor anymore, the intent is the same because for him hurricanes are natural "pressure cookers." Val wants to increase, not lessen, the misery of the Cuban people in the hope that they will rise against their oppressors sans arms, sans food, sans everything. He has said in the past that all that is needed for Cuba to be free is for Cubans to "grow balls" and be willing to fill if not "rivers of blood" then at least "pools of blood." For Val this is not a time to help Cubans live but to let them die.
Since the regime will not allow as much as a nail to enter Cuba without its countenance, and the only means available of sending assistance to the island is through remittances, it is disingenuous to oppose the latter in favor of an alternative which doesn't exist. In fact, this is the modern-day equivalent of "Let them eat cake." If Marie-Antoinette really said that it was because she was naive not cynical. But the Babalunians are not in the least naive:
"Let's face it, folks, castro is not going to allow humanitarian organizations into Cuba to assist disaster relief. castro Depot is not going to allow "charity" from neighboring states it does not see eye to eye with. castro Depot is not going to allow its own people to coordinate their own relief efforts. castro Depot is not going to allow the Cuban people to receive, directly, humanitarian donations from abroad." -- Val Prieto, "Castro Depot," Babalú, Sept. 9, 2008
"Cuba does not allow these [humanitarian] organizations to come in and help the population, no matter how dire the circumstances, no matter how deadly the consequences. The Cuban government [sic] simply does not allow it. Period." -- Val Prieto, "And Speaking of Money...," Babalú, Sept. 8, 2008
And here is Gusano acknowledging the same thing:
"What needs to happen is international pressure for the Cuban regime to allow international aid to flow directly to the victims through internationally sanctioned agencies like the Red Cross. But the regime will never allow the Red Cross in Cuba. The only Red Cross in Cuba is the one that all Cubans are forced to carry on their backs." -- Gusano, "More Hurricane Food (for Thought)," Babalú, Sept. 9, 2008
Val and Gusano are both right. The Castro regime will never relieve the Cuban people of the cross that it has laid on their shoulders nor allow a Simon to help them bear it. Their 50-year via crucis will not be interrupted because of humanitarian concerns. The regime is deaf to all such appeals of conscience. But because it is deaf does not mean that we have to be. The Revolution's position is consistent with its history. Abandoning our countrymen to their fate, however, is not consistent with ours. For 50 years, Cuban exiles have been the only lifeline of our people. To withhold assistance at the hour of their greatest need in order to exert pressure on those who are unmoved by their plight accomplishes nothing except to make us accomplices to their desolation.
Not only does Babalú oppose a moratorium on present restrictions on remittances, it actually supports what amounts to a moratorium on aid from exiles to their Cuban brethren at least for "the first few weeks" of the crisis while they wait for emergency assistance from countries and international organizations which Val and Gusano have already admitted will never reach them:
"Let me make this crystal clear: sending some money to Cuba will undoubtedly help. There's no question about that. But for the first few weeks -- the first or two weeks even -- after a hurricane, there is no use for money [emphasis mine]. What the people affected by the storm need is food, water, medical supplies, clothes, shelter... you know, emergency supplies." -- Val Prieto, "Cuba Depot," Ibid
The first weeks are the most crucial in recovering from the effects of a hurricane. Yet it is precisely during that time that Val suggests Cubans will have "no use for money." What they will need then is "emergency supplies." But where are these "emergency supplies" to come from? Does he believe that the Castro regime will meet the needs of the Cuban people? Well, actually, yes:
"Ladies and gentlemen, if you were thinking about donating to some hurricane relief effort in Cuba or sending money to those in the affected areas, hold on to your cash. The following report proves that, as the saying goes, en Cuba no falta nada!" -- Val Prieto, "Milk for Babies!!!!!," Babalú, Sept. 9, 2008
So now we should trust the regime to do what is in the best interest of the Cuban people and rely on its assurances that it is supplying all their essential needs. Well, if the assurances of Castro's henchmen are enough to assuage Val's concern, such as it is, I would not be surprised. I suppose that this might also be a joke, which would make it marginally less offensive than if spoken in earnest; but hardly indicative of genuine solicitude in any case.
When Babalú reprinted Yoani Sánchez's latest post from Generación Y ("Scorched Earth," Sept. 9), where she writes that "the most viable initiative is for family members abroad to send cash to their relatives in Cuba," Val felt obliged to place his own coletilla attesting to the fact that her views on hurricane relief do not have his personal imprimatur lest anyone assume that reproducing her column implied an endorsement of her position on remittances:
"I must disagree with Yoani. The most viable initiative is not sending cash, but getting the Cuba government to allow humanitarian and relief organizations and agencies into the island [which] bring with them the infrastructure to distribute aid and repair Cuba's infrastructure on their own."
How exactly does Val propose to "get" the Castro regime to allow such assistance? He does not say. Certainly his optimism in this instance contradicts his previously stated position: "The Cuban government simply does not allow it. Period." It also contradicts his position after commenting on Yoani's post: "Let's face it, folks, castro is not going to allow humanitarian organizations into Cuba to assist disaster relief."
By now you have probably arrived at the same conclusion as I have: Val Prieto's only concern is to limit cash remittances to Cuba. He relies on President Bush for that; and on Castro himself to see to it that no humanitarian assistance makes it to Cuba from relief organizations. These are the necessary conditions for Val's pressure cooker and his excitement is great indeed at the prospect of its being turned on. If he could blog up another storm, he would. A week or two is all he hopes will be required under such optimal conditions. There's only one little problem with Val's pressure cooker. As Charlie Bravo once observed: "The theory of the pressure cooker worked wonders in Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia, and North Korea. Everybody got cooked inside it, and it never exploded."