Monday, March 31, 2008

Guest Post: Killcastro Speaks to RCAB

[RCAB is very pleased and proud to publish today its first Guest Post. The Killcastro Affaire has been covered on this blog more exhaustively than on any other. 20 posts we have devoted to it so far and we see no reason to stop while the fate of Killcastro's family remains unknown and Val Prieto continues to refuse to accept responsibility for this foulest deed in the history of the Cuban-American blogosphere. As you all know by now, Val Prieto outed Killcastro on his own blog last week, setting in motion a series of personal catastrophes in Killcastro's life which have surely not run their course. Val's reaction and that of a majority of the other Babalunians has been, literally, to laugh it off as some kind of sophomore prank. It is a tribute to Killcastro's nobility that he is willing to entertain the notion that Val did not fully understand the ramifications of what he was doing. That assumption is supported by Val's complete ignorance of the Cuban quehacer (reality). I, on the other hand, am less disposed than my friend to grant him the benefit of the doubt. He may be unschooled as far as history is concerned but he has a doctorate in the art of screwing others. But let the reader decide, for himself, the extent of Val's guilt. Originally posted here as a comment, writing around midnight, Killcastro has kindly revised and updated it for inclusion here. He speaks as Killcastro always does, with absolute frankness and without concealing his emotions -- MAT]

FIRST - NO NEWS of my wife's brother-in-law or my cousin...

Next, an explanation:

This keeps popping up and I do not know how many times I have explained it but here it goes again.

My name is not common at all in Cuba: the coincidence that someone they know shares it (I know him also and we are amazed at the fact we are tocayos) is not significant, nor would the name itself be significant nor get them get anywhere if my first name were not also accompanied by details of my life in Cuba and details of my life outside Cuba and of trips back there and references to the people I have as sources within the island.

So, in order to validate some of the news I have received, I have had to give details as to my general neighborhood. If I say I know “anything" because I was friends with Vivian Lechuga, the daughter of the Cuban ambassador to the UN during the 60’s, that gets them 1 inch closer to whom I am, but doesn’t do Vivian any harm becaause I was not an activist then. When I mention I was in jail at age 11 for 3 weeks without any good reason , that brings them 2 inches closer to me. But I am sure there were a lot of 11-year olds who got a damn good whacking in those days. Again they may get a tiny bit closer but not enough.

As I said , and everyone misses this, the domain is being investigated as of three weeks ago , and I may lose it, some "unknown" entity claims it violates Internet rules because it is registered with a Cuban address but it does not function out of Cuba. Now that tells you that someone snitched and that the government of Cuba is after whomever owns the domain. That also tells you the domain is monitored 24/7 automatically.

As far as the details of my life, I have mentioned my Secundaria Básica (High School), where there was no one in that secundaria with my first name (!); I have mentioned distances of my house to certain places; I have given, as it was breaking, news of acts of terrorism in La Habana that were committed near my house or my wife's. I have been careful to throw conflicting info that sometimes would put my family in Miramar, other times in El Vedado, etc. But, if you are a Cuban who has ever visited the island you know the authorities ask you whom you will visit there. I found that question peculiar, but with a first name being the first search item in a database they just tack thousands of last names to the first name in a SQL query and and quite a select group of people will pop up; next they will narrow that list by using other facts which they have culled from my blog (especially my high school) and they will be able to concentrate their search around a couple of hundred houses. In one of my posts, I mentioned that I lived near a certain bus depot, and that at the very corner of my house there was a hole that’s been there for 10 years. All these big and little details add up. Stick that into any computer and you'll come within about 10 square blocks, and simply asking around will take them straight to my house. But they did not bother anyone in my house. They tapped the phones instead. I suspect that they were waiting for me to call and get solid info that would put the whole family away for life. My cousin, whose godfather is a very high ranking Castro official, went to see what happened and he came back with the news, "they got us, the phones are tapped." Fortunately, his godfather vouched for him (I could identify the godfather, but fuck it, you either believe it or not; I don’t care anymore about anybody who doubts my veracity). He was also able to get a tap sweeper and swept 3 phones lines all clean. That doesn’t mean that they are not still watching.

The MOTHERFUCKER is that no sooner did they find my family than they found my wife's family as well. This would have happened eventually anyway, but not at the speed it was done. Now that I think of it, since my wife’s last visit to Cuba was a just a few months ago, her paperwork was probably still warm with the handling by the G2.

In that house only a 21-year old kid who’s married to my wife's sister seemed a likely candidate as a troublemaker, and on his way home he got thrown into a car and we still don't know about his fate. My cousin missed a day to go and see what had happened to the kid, and now we have lost contact (total contact) with my cousin as well, and this kid has a network that makes the G2 look like the keystone cops. So now two members of my family are missing. Others in my my team of informants where fast enough to cover their tracks and go into hiding, but my family did not do shit cause because they had no idea what I was doing and were innocent of any wrongdoing themselves.

To give you a more detailed snapshot of our operation in Cuba will hurt no one: there are at least 5 groups of informants including Charlie Bravo's, no group knows about the other so when we get a piece of news we know it is valid if it passes through at least 2 of the groups, which are far enough from one another not to have picked it up as a bola. And that is what we jokingly call our "Korean Crystal Ball"...

The people who always knew there might come a day when someone would knock on their doors had a plan, my family did not because I never got my family involved in my anti-Castro activities. I only relied on the promise of my cousin to take care of them "pase lo que pase." That was enough. Now lately several things have happened besides the investigation of the domain: we have broken news even before they became bolas in Cuba and Mr. T can vouch for our accuracy. [He does -- MAT]. I think Vana said in a post “how do you guys do this?” Lots of very brave patriotic men and women make it happen; we just sit here and wait till 3:00 AM for an email or a text message; they do all the work and they are damn good!

Through every “KaSStro is dead” charade, Val Prieto has been insatiable asking us if Fidel is or is not dead because his "sources" say he is. We laugh at this shit and his boleros perniciosos but get quite pissed at the likes of Val Prieto trying to use us as his personal news organization. I think my last post to him was “The prick is alive and seen by 4 people, so GO FUCK YOURSELF. If he is dead you will read it in our blog."

This latest surge of scoops, the detailed predictions as to the economy and the fact that El Exilio Histórico was never going to cavalcade into La Habana as heroes or conquerors must have pissed the hell outta the BLABALOTS, whose only contribution to Cuban freedom seems to be some recipe to make lechón asado. I really do not know cause I do not read the blog ever, they bore me, the whole macho man camp shit is way too American football for my taste; all in all they are not my Cubans, those are back there 90 miles south. So call it as you wish, fear of seeing their little world come crashing, envy for being so inherently lazy that they can't get one item of news from Cuba unless it is published by the MSM. Take for whatever you feel it's worth: Killcastro was (IS) a thorn at the side of that homoerotic bunch and some kind of retribution was at hand.

Two weeks ago out of nowhere, Ziva posts in our blog, something I always know precedes a confrontation. This was her trying desperately to begin a feud calling everyone that was "falling" for these improvements by Raúl is a fool! Yeah, she knows so fucking much about waiting in line for ¼ lb of gorgojo loaded rice! So the people in Cuba, who are happy as they haven’t been in years -- and I who, however they get it, am happy they are eating -- are branded fools by someone who has never put foot in Cuba. How much does one need to take from this bunch of psychos ?

So my answer to her was strong… but not insulting. Then she decides to send me a personal note saying “what the fuck KC why did you block my comment and BTW FUCK YOU.” At this point I was livid, so I told her to "stop drinking and look at the comment she had posted: it had NOT been banned and BTW she was a Cunt."

As anyone with a little bit of tactical thinking can discern here, this was a planned attack. Perhaps the motive was not to get my family hurt but to slow us down. I can believe that they are stupid enough to be unaware of the fact that revealing my identity would not just be spiteful and unethical but could and would result in retaliation against my family in Cuba. Okay, they have succeeded in stopping my activities for now and are very proud of themselves because of it. But I have enough material for several weeks of surprises.

As my name was disclosed Val Prieto's name and his cadre of CHIVATOS has been exposed also( didn’t think about that did you, Val?). Babalú blog is at this moment considered a collaborator of the regime both here and in Cuba, and as they found my house in La Habana, I am sure someone will track his down too. Call it karma.

I never trusted Prieto: the prick just looks way too much like KaSStro, which is not his fault, but he also acts like a dictator in waiting, which is. Four times he asked me to write for him and four times I refused, because he presented a very fractured personality, a weakness of character and an explosive temper, which flares up when anyone contradicts him or dares to oppose his mandates.

His self-bestowed title at Babalú is a joke is a joke: Editor-in-Chief of what? I guess he needed a journalist title cause Project Manager doesnt really impress anyone.

In one of my debates with Ziva she admitted she disagreed with Val but did not want to do so publicly because she was afraid to violate the Val Prieto mantra about not airing dirty laundry in public. Yep, that way you can be the biggest prick in history and no one finds out.

And since we are reminiscing ... a bit of a story about why CB and I resigned from collaborating with Henry's first blog, a blog we were invited to join. In one of the first posts, Henry stood up for the right of some asshole to burn the flag of the United States. This has nothing to do with Cuba per se, but we found it extremely upsetting, because regardless of how we criticize the government of the USA, its flag is sacred to us a symbol of freedom and democracy. We realized that if this prick defends the right to burn the U.S. flag, how long before he defends the right of burning the Cuba flag? To be consistent he would have to defend it and that was more than either of us could accept for a minute.

In a note to me, Henry said that Charlie had overreacted but with his nick being "Charlie Bravo" he was probably into this whole patriotic thing and asked that I speak to him and try to dissuade him from resigning. I refused and quit also.

Since then the motherfucking hypocrite has been a constant pain with his endless "let's be friends" appeals. Fuck you, I don’t wanna be friends with you.

I wonder if Val and Henry have this many problems with other bloggers. But here is the story, please read it and pass it along cause I am TIRED of repeating it!

Babaloo's Waterloos: Its Putrid Carnival

By now everyone is aware that Babalú has banished yesterday's "Squashing the Losers" post to its secret archives along with that priceless caricature. Very soon its secret archives will be bigger than the Vatican's. If they keep them closed for 1000 years maybe everybody will forget about Val's cybernetic terrorist attack on Killcastro and his family. At least, that's the plan. It may work in a thousand years but it isn't going to work today.

Of course, some of us are good at forecasting the moves of the Babalunians. It almost seems embarrassing to say so since it is akin to bragging that one can outsmart his neighbor's dog. You thought I was going to say children, but I hold their native genius in too high esteem to make that comparison. But, yes, I saved the expunged post and shall use it to good effect whenever the opportunity presents itself, which may be my next post. Its contents became so toxic to Babalú at the end and Henry himself so unhinged that there was no choice but to retire it. Too bad for them that they cannot lobotomize all their readers or do to their other critics what they did to Killcastro.

And now Val makes it all into a great joke, laughing at the wounds that he himself inflicted; and he is joined in that putrid carnival (feast of flesh-eaters) by Alberto de la Cruz, cubanology, fantomas and Robert Molleda (he has not commented yet, but he will). And Ziva, too (ah, these autos-da-fé!). Of course, laughing at your enemy's pain, dehumanizing and objectifying him, is one of the weapons of totalitarianism. And it can also be used by petite tyrants like Val and his retinue of bootlickers.

What a sorry spectacle they present to the world of our aspirations for Cuba. How they demean us all and our cause by just being themselves.

Babalú's Disappearing Lies

It just doesn't work. I've tried but I just can't make it happen. What I am trying to do is create a knight's name for Val. Since Henry Gómez now claims that Val Prieto went to Killcastro's blog to defend a damsel's honor, I thought that it would be appropriate to knight him for it. Sadly, his name is the most inappropriate for such an investiture. The only possible translation of it is "Val the Black Knight," for that is what prieto means -- black as in evil (let me clarify that lest the Rev. Jeremiah Wright call me a racist). And there's the rub, my friends: I can't make Val the hero of his own fairy tell because black knights are always the villains and I am nobody to challenge that centuries-old tradition. So, for once in my life, I cannot translate my ideas into words. Pity, for I had outlined quite an allegory, which might have brought back the Age of Chivalry. Instead, I must content myself with the unbarnished facts.

Killcastro and Ziva have a long history which has been characterized more by mutual respect and affinities than by antagonism. They are very blunt with each other, no doubt. Theirs is the kind of familiar bluntness which only follows a long friendship and which can never exist unless buttressed by such a friendship. An exchange of obscenities between them must be seen in that light. No one has the right, least of all the cause of their present strife, to interject himself in something which is none of his business. Ziva doesn't need to be "saved from Killcastro." No one has influenced more her thinking on Cuba than Killcastro. Ideologically, she is closer to Killcastro than Val and she is also closer to the real interests of the Cuban people even though she does not even have Val's 3 years of residence on the island. Ziva is always ready to support those in the most compromised positions, whether Posada Carriles or Elenita. The very people from whom the other Babalunians flee as from the plague, Ziva, indifferent to the fallout, will champion. That is why I once said that she was the conscience of Babalú. That, too, distinguishes her from Val Prieto and Henry Gómez. She knows this herself but is too invested in Babalú to let go. Perhaps she fears how much worse Babalú would become without her. In fact, I have no doubt it would be much worse. However, Ziva would be a much better Ziva without them.

Val did not go to Killcastro to defend Ziva. He doesn't even mention her name in his comment and it is very difficult to "defend" someone without even naming him:

"I hadnt come here in months until today and I see that nothing has changed. [KillCastro] the pathetic little whiny bitch shitting on his own and libeling me, ad nauseum, ad infinitum. Let me tell you something [KillCastro], one of these days, youre gonna have to own up to all those disparaging remarks youve made about me in person. On that day you wont have anonymity nor the use of the CAPS key. And on that day we'll see how well you carry those two little raisins you call balls. Up the prozac, man. If youre out, call tellechea, or vana, or whatever sock puppet he's using that day, Im sure he's got plenty." -- Val Prieto, Killcastro blog, March 26, 2008 12:20:00 PM

It is also incredibly condescending and entirely unnecessary to "defend" Ziva from Killcastro or anybody else. She is in a better position intellectually and in every other way to defend Val than Val is to defend her. And if she does defend him, it is more from loyalty than conviction.

No, Val's visit to Babalú had nothing to do with Ziva. Henry's historical revisionism cannot obscure that fact for a moment. What, then, brought Val to Killcastro's blog after what he claimed was the longest time? Val makes no secret of it. He tells Killcastro that he has come to his blog to blow his cover and then proceeds to do so. That's the beauty of Val's thinking: it is so shallow and hence so transparent. He is innept even at being a villain because he takes absolutely no care to hide his hand. It is there for all to see. Concealment is the shame of traitors. But Val doesn't even have that. His dagger is out in broad daylight and before the eyes of everybody. Then, having done what he did -- the most dastardly act that one can commit against a fellow Cuban -- he retreats in silence to his covert (because, really, what could he say in his defense?) and lets Henry spread disinformation about the proceedings at Killcastro as if these were not available for all to see. In marked contrast, I may say, to Henry's "Squashing the Losers" post which has already been deleted from Babalú (but can still be read here and elsewhere). We should consider this to be a retraction of Henry's mendacious allegations about Val "defending Ziva." It is also, of course, more proof that Babalú cannot be trusted about anything; that it does know the meaning of fair play; and that it mimics the totalitarians that it condemns.

No more lies or evasions from them. What matters, the only thing that matters, is the safety of Killcastro's family which has already been compromised by Val's inexcusable and unprecedented outing of him on Killcastro's own blog. The focus should be on that betrayal of trust and nothing else. Then his own culpable silence and Henry's bootless excuses will become perfectly understandable. What I will never understand, however, is how otherwise decent men and women can consent with their silence to what amounts to a public lynching. But "decent" people used to attend those in droves once upon a time. Many came right after Sunday services with their kids and even had picnics around the bonfire.

Notable & Ironic: Cuba's "Obscure" Provinces

"I personally have never seen footage of many of the more obscure provinces, so I'm looking forward to that." -- Monica, "Cuban Wildlife on PBS Tonight," Babalú, March 30, 2008

Monica is one of Babalú's newest contributors. I presume also that she is very young. So I will put the sarcasm meter on low. In a post about a PBS documentary on Cuban wildlife, Monica said that she would like to watch it because she "has never seen footage of many of the more obscure provinces." A Babalú commenter, miramiradePalmira, took exception: "Obscure? Like what? Tienes que ser de La Habana [You must be from Havana]." Let me say that I know what Monica means. There was a tourism campaign in Cuba in the 1950s that admonished Cubans to "Get to Know Cuba First." That is, to visit those so-called "obscure provinces" before travelling as tourists to foreign countries. Oh, God, the irony! How many Cubans who did not bother to visit all six provinces, the length and breath of our glorious island, have rued that fact in exile and to their graves? To have been given the greatest treasure and merely to have played with the jewels at the top of the chest! A thousand visits to St. Augustine will not compensate for that.

Something else that I should like to impart to Monica is that although there is a Camagüey province there is no "Villa Clara" or "Holguín" provinces. Those are part of the 14 pseudo-provinces carved out by Castro to confuse and divide regional affiliations. Cuba has only six historical provinces. The free Cuba that we remember and the free Cuba that you, Monica, will some day know has only six provinces, which, as defined by the Constitution of 1940, are: Pinar del Río; La Habana; Matanzas; Las Villas (previously Santa Clara); Camagüey previously (Puerto Príncipe); and Oriente (previously Santiago de Cuba).

This information may also prove beneficial to other Babalunians, including Val Prieto.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Notable & Quotable: "Where Are You, My Enemy?"

"I truly appreciate your post and there is nothing I would like more than stand in front of these men and women, shake hands and say let's go after the real enemy , the problem is, dear sir , that I do not know who the real enemy is." -- Killcastro to a commenter who called for reconciliation, "Update to Chivato! One Individual Missing," Killcastro blog, March 29, 2008

Vana Banned from Babalú

You don't get to comment here. Go back to Tellechea and cry to him about it." Henry "Economist" Gómez, "Squashing the Losers" (comment), Babalú, March 30, 2008

Vana is one of the strongest pillars of RCAB and we are delighted that today she joins that select group of commenters who have been banned from Babalú because of their political opinions. This honor is well-deserved. She is an independent thinker who is not afraid to speak her mind and will not be intimidated by anyone. Her ability to comment eloquently and succinctly even on the most complex topics, her unerring judgment and fierce cubanidad, above all, make her worthy of this distinction, which, although awarded with malice, is received with gratitude and praise.

Congratulations and best wishes to Vana from the RCAB family.

Henry the Caricaturist

We had never suspected that Henry "Economist" Gómez's talents included self-caricature of the pictorial kind (although he's a master of the written kind). But he has posted a credible caricature of himself in the act of scraping something that looks like little people from his shoe. Has Henry really grown to such size that he now threatens the lives of passing pedestrians with his avoirdupois? Or are those gingerbread men that fell on the floor while Henry was consuming his breakfast this morning? The drawing is open to many interpretations since no words accompany his little masterpiece.

He's going to be a busy camper deleting the comments that his caricature is likely to elicit. Of course, that might be a welcome change of pace since Babalú does not elicit many comments nowadays, or what comments it receives are "not fit to print."


What does it mean? Henry's puzzled readers ask.

Here is his answer:

"The beautiful thing about images is that everyone can interpret them however they [sic] like [sic]. But obviously there are some people the size of coachroaches [sic] crawling around out [sic] the feet of a bigger man."

I think the reason Henry didn't include words in his post is that he is, literally, speechless for once. Look what a fine mess he made of that sentence. Out of common respect for my readers, I feel that I must correct it:

"The beautiful thing about images is that everyone can interpret them however [he] like[s]. But obviously there are some people the size of [cock]roaches crawling around [at] the feet of a bigger man."

A Babalú reader complained that Henry's explanation "says nothing" and Henry expanded on it:

"Without getting too deep into it, there are douchebags out there that think they can viciously attack a female contributor to this blog and not expect the editor to do or say anything about it. And furthermore when the editor called their bluff they think that they can spread calumnies about said editor. And even furthermore there are sanctimonious sons of bitches out there who have stolen thousands of hours from the taxpayers blogging at their government jobs that think they can repeat the calumnies. Well maybe they can. But it doesn't matter really, does it? At the end of the day they are still coachroaches [sic], douchebags and sanctimonious time stealing weasels and Babalu is still an island on the net without a bearded dictator."

OK, the game is up, and it has not gone the way that Henry envisioned. Expect this comment from Louis to be deleted at any moment if not the entire post/thread (unless they really are desperate for comments):

"Ah, I see. The KillCastro affair. While they can be a bit strident in their criticisms and have their moments of being douchebags, your side does not seem to be on the side of the angels either. I have loved this blog from the day I first read it. It has given voice to the aspirations that we Cuban-Americans have for a free Cuba. However, I have, as have others, been put off by how thin-skinned and crass its editors can sometimes be in regards to criticisms, however benign, from those who dare to disagree with them and the blog's prevailing opinion. I hope that Babalu and other Cuban-themed blogs will adopt a more moderate tone and come together for a free Cuba, regardless of our differences on achieving that end."

I don't agree with Louis' moral relativism. The Babalunians, however, will object to his morality.

Henry has allowed Louis' comment to stand and answered it with the most candid admission ever made in the history of Babalú:

"We don't allow propaganda to be posted on this blog or in the comments. If that makes us strident, then so be it. But there are people out there that are your friends one day and destroying you the next. I don't have the time or energy to deal with paranoid schizophrenic idiots that are living in a world of their [own]. Guys that have big balls hiding behind the curtain of anonymity."

They don't "allow" their own contributing editors to post what they want on Babalú. That's a new one. Everybody already knows that they have never allowed commenters to.

As I predicted this is going to be the worst day in Henry's blogging career (well, aside from the time he nearly got Biscet killed). Louis' rejoinder floored him:

"Hope you don't mean that I'm propagandizing. If so, allow me to disabuse you of that notion right now. As we say her in Texas, "I've got no dog in this hunt." However, if someone chooses to employ a nom de guerre and remain anonymous, while that shouldn't hold him above reproach, there are usually pretty good reasons why someone chooses to remain anonymous. If you blogged under another name, would that undermine your credibility in any way? I don't think so. Balls, or lack of, don't have anything to do with it."

Sr Cohiba Joins Babalú

We had expected at least some of the Babalunians to abandon the ship of their disgraced chivato leader. Instead, they are actually enlisting new recruits, which is not as remarkable as the fact that there are actually new recruits to enlist. Not hapless fantomas whose fate by now is in the hands of Babalu's Veterans Committee (composed of George). Good luck to him.

The new inductee is Sr Cohiba, Henry's rational partner at Cuban American Pundits (CAP). At 2:39 AM appeared Sr Cohiba's first post. It was a test. Fifteen minutes later appeared Henry's announcement welcoming him to Babalú's "magnificent cadre of writers." His anti-Obama writings at CAP are commendable and stand in sharp contrast to Henry's hissy fits about John McCain (which are becoming less frequent lately). Babalú certainly needs a strong advocate for John McCain to clear the mess that the "political animal since the age of 5" has made there. Sr Cohiba is also a lawyer. And Val may need one of those soon, too.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Important New Developments in Killcastro Affaire

Using information furnished by Val Prieto, Cuban state security has moved against the family of Killcastro. His sister-in-law's husband is in detention and his young cousin is on the run.

The first fruits of Val's betrayal are already evident, though we fear the horrible harvest has just begun

God protect Killcastro and his family and confound his enemies here and in Cuba.

Read Killcastro's measured and dignified recounting of what are surely for him the worst days of his life:

"El Chivato Val Prieto Comedy Bashin' Hour"

I have just finished listening to "El Chivato Val Prieto Comedy Bashin' Hour," a spontaneous monologue starring Alex Hernández, formerly of Ya No Más blog.

Ah, the young, God bless them for the good that they do for those of us who are not young anymore! Their originality, their vitality, their recklessness are the best tonic for the disillusionment and disgust that the Val Prietos of this world inspire in those of us who still care about the human condition.

Alex's blog radio show is listed at 15 minutes but runs an hour.

This is the future:

Bunker Babalú

The Babalunians have retreated into their bunker with their beleaguered leader who still cannot recognize the magnitude of his predicament or accept the fact that he has been defeated as much by his own hubris as anything else. This is not a new Val Prieto that we are seeing but simply a darker facet of his personality which hitherto he took care to keep well-concealed. If he had continued to work in the shadows his real self would have been known to few. But in some moment of impatience, when he tired for once of doing circuitously what could be accomplished more quickly directly, he allowed himself to act with an unconcealed hand, carried away by a sense of his own invincibility (always the downfall of megalomaniacs).

Still, it is hard to believe that anyone could be so full of himself as to think that he could publicly dispose of a rival by dispatching his family without anyone noticing. Even mafia dons don't go there, and if they do, they take great care to hide their tracks. None is as brazen as Val, who appears to have watched Scarface one too many times in his youth. That, incidentally, is the favorite movie of all thugs and thug-wannabes, and we would not be surprised if Val, who is invariably described by others in those terms, has found a role model impersonating an Italian actor's steretypical impersonation of a fictional Cuban mafioso. Only in America.

We do not know yet the full extent of the damage Val has caused, but there is no doubt that he meant to cause it. We hope for Killcastro's and his family's sake that Charlie Bravo was able to disarm Val's little bomb in the knick of time. The uncertainty, however, is torment enough. We know that Castro could act tomorrow or a year from now. This information is his to use at his pleasure and in the manner best calculated to increase Killcastro's discomfort and extend it. There is something incredibly unwholesome, even unholy, in enlisting Fidel Castro as your personal avenger, the court of last resort for those who have scores to settle but would rather let somebody else do the dirty work while they rub their hands in anticipation.

Even Castro's apologists in the blogosphere are aghast at such behavior and condemn it, unaware, perhaps, that in condemning it they are also acknowledging the potential for evil that Castro poses; for outing Killcastro in the absence of Castro would still be reprehensible but not potentially lethal. So now Val is an object lesson to those who are ready and able to accept or ignore everything else vile about Castro but will not actually stick their hands in the blood.

It is ironic also that anti-Castro bloggers, Babalú's "magnificent cadre of writers," its satellites and even those who maintain an independent trajectory, have thus far refused to report much less condemn Val's behavior. Has it suddenly become acceptable to be a chivato (government snitch)? Betraying one's neighbor to Castro's gestapo is something that they would have no problem condemning if committed by a Cuban on the island. But when it is an exile that is guilty of a worse offense -- for the island chivatos are still Castro's subjects, unlike Val -- no anti-Castro blogger dares to call him out on it. There is no opprobrium too great for those who may commit such an offense under duress or even torture in Cuba; but, also, not one word of reprove for one who does so out of spite and without extenuating circumstances.

A certain "Eugenio" -- I wonder which of "Val's Pals" he is? -- criticized me (but not by name) on Killcastro's blog for holding Val's associates accountable for his reprehensible behavior. He may not be "Val's keeper" but no one compelled him to be his apologist (or perhaps someone did). I replied by quoting Martí: "Those who contemplate a great injustice and do not speak out against it are complicit in it." Of course, the blame is even greater if they have a personal association with the culprit. This is not "guilt by association" but responsibility for one's associations. These define us as much as anything else.

I refuse to believe that there is no redoubt of decency and honor in the Cuban-American blogosphere or even among Babalú's satellites but so it would appear. Their silence speaks volumes about their ethics but, above all, about the "compañerismo" that has enabled the Castro dictatorship for 49 years to govern our country. Is there no one here who will say: "¡Ya no más!" There are those in Cuba who dare to say it at the cost of their lives and freedom. Yet no one here dares to? And yet they have no difficulty calling Cubans on the island "cowards" and prodding them to "poner los muertos."


Friday, March 28, 2008

An Apology from Val?

Val Prieto cannot undo the harm that he has done. So what would be the honorable thing for him to do? He could start with an apology to Killcastro. Not on Killcastro's blog. That would be easy. But on his own blog. Another "Shame Post" but this time with some sincerity and genuine contrition. That would be the mark of a man. We should all live long enough to see that day because we would all live forever.

Whether Killcastro chooses to accept Val's apology is another matter. There are things that cannot be forgiven or forgotten. An attempt against one's family is one. But because Killcastro wouldn't accept the apology doesn't mean that Val shouldn't make it. On the contrary. Common decency demands it. His conscience should also.

An apology would do Killcastro no good. It would do Val a world of good.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Killcastro Responds to Val's Aggression on His Family

Yesterday in an unprecedented breach of blog etiquette Val Prieto visited Killcastro's blog for the expressed purpose of outing him. Under any circumstances it is an unconscionable act deserving of repudiation. In this particular case, however, it is something more -- it is an act of aggression. Val knows that Killcastro and his wife have close family on the island that could be made to answer for his efforts on behalf of all Cubans. Nevertheless, Val chose to expose them to danger and inflict on Killcastro the heartache of knowing that his nearest and dearest could be in jeopardy. What deep animus could compel a man to act thusly, what mixture of envy and guile could drive him to betray someone who had been a friend to him and never said a word against him?

If ever I was persuaded that I had been too harsh on Val, this act of perfidy on his part assured me at once that, if anything, I have been too lenient. No doubt I have underestimated him: not his abilities but his capabilities. He is apparently capable of anything underhanded and devious. He is not merely something to laugh at, ridicule and mock. He is one of history's evil clowns. Behind the mask lurks another mask more hideous and frightful than the one he wears before the world.

In the comment Val left at Killcastro, which Charlie Bravo caught quickly enough to remove the incriminating information from, Val also makes reference to Vana and me. He apparently believes that we are the same person and I could care less. What matters is the safety of Killcastro's family, his friends and acquaintances whose lives Val has endangered by compromising Killcastro's identity.

Killcastro has just posted his reply to Val Prieto and it should be read by all, first, as an object lesson in dignity, and no one is more needful of such an object lesson than Val himself; and second, because of its historic character. I truly believe that this is the "Magna Charta" that will free Babalú's satellites from the potentially dangerous course which they are pursuing by following that errant dead star.


Fearful, as he has every reason to be, that Castro's goons had already moved against his family on the basis of the information furnished by Val Prieto, Killcastro tried to call them and learned that their phoneline had already been tapped. He was unable to contact his wife's family because it does not have a phone; but attempts to reach his contacts on the island who do proved unavailing. As Killcastro concludes, "this ain't looking good."

The Silence of the Lambs

Babalú's "magnificent cadre" of contributing writers appears to have taken a vow of silence or had one forced on them. Perhaps they are all on Spring break as I suggested in an earlier post, or, more likely, they are hiding from Val's autos-da-fé. Since many of them blog anonymously, they must feel a bit apprehensive (to say the least) at Val's kamikaze outing of Killcastro on his own blog. A friend suggested to me that Val is holding his writers "hostage." I should not be surprised. The trick will be to hold his readers hostage. The commenters have already deserted Babalú in droves.

Babaloo's Waterloos: Val Prieto Condemns Himself

More crocodile tears for Yoani Sánchez from Val Prieto this morning. Of course, his real sympathies are with the censors. He dreams of being able to alter a few numbers in code and knocking out his competition (or "enemies," as he calls us). Generation Y, with 1.2 million hits a month, would be near the top of Val's "Hit List."

Val, the Cuban blogosphere's most aggressive censor, is now condemning the Castro regime for censorship. It's not exactly the pot calling the kettle black, because Castro's kettle is so black that it's calcified. Still, Val's pot is a smudgy embarassment.

A better simile is called for:

Val Prieto condemning censorship is like the village whore decrying syphilis.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Many Colors of Val Prieto

From an interview that purportedly lasted 1 ½ hours, Telemundo was able to distill the essence of Val Prieto into 10 seconds. Clearly they need better editors if they couldn't hold him to 5. Val insinuates that he might have been on longer except for the fact that he generously directed their attention to Yoani Sánchez whose blog Generation Y was recently censored by the Castro regime. Since Telemundo was doing a story about that very subject it seems remarkable that they did not attempt to contact her themselves. Had they never seen her blog? On what, then, were they basing their story? Well, actually it is quite possible that Val may have put them in touch with the Cuba-based blogger since she links to Babalú on her blog. If so, Val has more colors than Benetton. Last year, "Architect" Val Prieto was quoted in a story about her in The Wall Street Journal (December 22, 2007; Page A1):

Others, especially the exile community, can't quite believe Ms. Sánchez gets away with what she does. They wonder if she is an unwitting dupe — or a complicit agent — in a campaign to make Raúl Castro appear more tolerant as he seeks greater foreign aid.

"From the bottom of my heart, I want her blog to be legitimate and be the seed that grows into something in Cuba," says Val Prieto, a 42-year-old Miami-based architect who edits an anti-Castro blog called Babalu. "The reason the exile community is wary is that we've been bamboozled time and time again. You never can tell when it comes to Castro."

Sometimes "you never can tell" when it comes to Val, either.

George Moneo, then the herald of Val's glory, posted the entire WSJ article at Babalú; no doubt because it is not every day that Val Prieto is called an "architect" or quoted on the front page of the WSJ. Of course, Val was not exactly the hero of the story. In fact, an argument could be made that he was the villain and not just because of his churlish remarks. He is the sole specimen of those "bloggers who dish out harsh opinions on Mr. Castro ... from the cozy confines of Miami" quoted in the article. If Val had not been churlish but given Yoani Sánchez her due, perhaps the writer from the WSJ would have been less likely to insinuate that he and all Cuban-American bloggers from Miami were cowards. But Val always puts his (our) worst foot forward. It's almost as if he consciously seeks to discredit all Cuban exiles. Certainly, the media seek him out now precisely because they expect him to and he does not disappoint — ever.

Congratulations to "Black Sheep of Exile"

Black Sheep of Exile is Killcastro's younger and cheekier sister , and on March 30th it turns one. We will always remember that anniversary because Black Sheep and RCAB were born a day apart. Killcastro and Black Sheep of Exile were not only the first blogs to welcome us to the blogosphere (Black Sheep with its first post), but the first to link to RCAB. In the beginning, most of our referrals came from Killcastro. It is well-known that that the Babalunians, when they want to know what is being said on the street or the secret councils of power in Cuba, recourse first to Killcastro, which has a network of informants in Cuba in the most unexpected places. And there they found us, too. The boycott against us initiated by Val might have succeeded but for Killcastro's spontaneous offer of assistance.

It should be noted that our respective blogs, though pursuing the same end, do not always take the same roads. Unlike the Babalunians, we do not want the whole Cuban-American blogosphere to speak with one voice. Such artificial unity is the hallmark of totalitarian states such as Communist Cuba. Nevertheless, the respect and faith which we both have for and in our countrymen on the island, our refusal to let others demean them by questioning their courage and dignity when it is theirs that is in doubt, binds us in common cause.

Moreover, we are not Miami-centric blogs. To turn Cuba into Miami II is not our aspiration, nor to turn Cubans into Americans. We know too much Cuban history and have lived more than enough to ever entertain such notions. We do not dream of rendering the Cuban nation in a pressure cooker, nor of rivers of blood, once congealed, providing a carpet for our return. We are not willing to starve our mothers (or anybody else's mother) in order to spite Castro. We believe that the Cuban people have suffered enough and do not desire to add to their sufferings. Cuba without Cubans is not acceptable to us though it is some kind of ideal for those whose patriotism is more concerned with preserving our country from our people than preserving our people. We are not alone, of course, though the other tendency is well-established in the Cuban blogosphere.

Here is the review that we published of Black Sheep of Exile on May 28, 2007:

This blog is older by one day than the Black Sheep of Exile. Our seniority allows us not only to review but to welcome to the Cuban blogosphere this latest and most interesting addition to it. Those familiar with the incisiveness and brazen originality of Killcastro, which is really sui generis among Cuban-American blogs for maintaining active contacts in Cuba and reporting firsthand on the quehacer cubano, will find the same and more at the Black Sheep of Exile, which draws with even a more personal and nostalgic brush the realities of life in Cuba as seen from the unique perspective of Killcastro and Charlie Bravo, who actually lived there for most of their lives and experienced in the only way they can be experienced the horrors that they report. That fact also has made them more understanding and compassionate towards those left behind, though not to the extreme of justifying conduct which should be censored here or there.

They are both formidable writers and both use English in the new and innovative ways pioneered by Cabrera Infante but taking him up a few notches. Their cubanization of English does not usually sacrifice correctness, but does make it do things that one would have thought impossible in this staid and emotionally-constrained tongue. This, of course, is a very different approach from my own, which is to out-English the English (I don't even think about the Americans). Two different approaches to English but both informed by the same Cuban spirit of rebellion which can manifest itself either by expanding the original (their case) or restoring it (mine).

Really, as most of you know, because you come in droves from
Killcastro, Charlie and Killcastro are a joy to read, both for content and delivery, but, above all, for that in-your-face originality that both captivates and instructs. After a visit to killcastro or the Black Sheep of Exile one feels as if one has partaken of a hearty and substantial meal, a sensation altogether different from the lighheadedness that follows after sampling the fluffy and watery fare at other Cuban-American blogs. The difference, of course, is genuineness: the fact that one is and does not merely aspire to be. But let me stop here before this turns into another review of Babalú.

Those familiar with
Killcastro know that I have differed with its editors on several issues in the past, but it has always been possible for us to reach consensus. When I think that there must be millions of Killcastros and Charlie Bravos in Cuba, it greatly consoles me. Without them, I would have no such consolation.

I urge you to read the following recent posts on the
Black Sheep of Exile:

El hebreo (memories of an elderly Jew in Havana who taught Charlie Bravo the meaning of fascism and communism and how Castro was the fusion of both sides of the same totalitarian coin).

Momias Gallegas (On Charlie Bravo's boyhood excursions to Colón Cemetery, the Chinese Cemetery and the Protestant Cemetery).

Sí, España (a touching tribute to the mother country and a necessary tonic for those who think that one can possibly affirm one's Cuban identity by hating her).

A Voluntary Buzzcut (which Charlie and his friends got in Cuba to show their solidarity with U.S. troops in Kuwait during the First Iraq War).

The Switch (about the bittersweet love affaire between Cubans and their cars).

I know you don't need an invitation or further inducement, so go there:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Spring Break at Babalú

For the last few weeks or so, Henry "Economist" Gómez has been completely occupied, entranced and mystified by an article published in Tropic Magazine in 1988 where author John Dorschner predicted what Miami would be like in 2008. As if this guy were Nostradamus, Henry has devoted five lengthy posts (and a sixth has been announced) to reproducing and evaluating Dorschner's predictions. But, who is this guy and why does what he thought 20 years ago matter? He couldn't even predict that The Miami Herald would scrap Tropic Magazine in 2000. Or that some teenager who missed the story the first time around would, 20 years later, open his time capsule, which everybody at The Herald had forgotten or dismissed as irrelevant, and regale the world again ad nauseum with his speculations about 2008 (hey, we're here already!).

While Henry has been ensconced at the Public Library accessing The Miami Herald archives for free (free copies, too?), Val has been remodelling his house, or, from the looks of the photograph on Babalú, levelling it. This at a time when the real estate market is dead and capital improvements mean only capital losses. Since Val is apparently doing it all himself, he laments that he has little time at present for blogging. I guess Castle Prieto comes before Empire Prieto.

With the "Father of the Cuban Blogosphere" on sabbatical from Babalú while auditioning to be the Cuban Bob Villa for Telemundo (wait, Bob Villa is Cuban) and with Henry wrapped-up in his mystical studies of the New Oracle at Delphi, the blog's newest (and sanest) writers have been given the opportunity to reform Babalú, but, sad to say, they are not taking advantage of it, as they appear also to be following their bliss elsewhere.

Spring break at Babalú, I suppose.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Birth of RCAB: Its Foundational Documents

[On March 29, 2007, the Review of Cuban-American Blogs published its inaugural post entitled "The Biggest Cocksucking in Cuban-American Blog History." The history of its birth is already well-known: I was booted from Babalú when Val Prieto declared that the next person to criticize the Estefans would be. Actually, I had made a rather mild comment before Val issued his edict of expulsion. Nevertheless, Val, who should have known better, booted me ex post facto, thereby committing the biggest mistake of his blogging career. He realized it soon enough and within minutes had rescinded his ban. Of course, the executioner cannot recall the blade once it has fallen. A moment's rashness turned into a year's lament for Val. What he had intended as no more than a casual insult (back then, when Babalú actually had commenters, Val was quite fond of abusing them) devolved on him with such fury that it stunned him for a moment. When he recovered (?) Val penned his rebuttal entitled "I'm a Cocksucker, Don't You Know" and I replied again by deconstructing and annotating his own remarks. (That, incidentally, is a definition of hanging someone by his own petard). These are the two foundational documents of the RCAB. We present them for those who may have missed them the first time around (which was mostly everybody). As readers of RCAB know, the anger that I felt originally towards Val & Co. was largely sublimated into humor long ago. I regard them now with no personal animosity but merely as convenient props for illustrating common errors which are perpetrated from within our community to its detriment. I note with some satisfaction that my admonishments have not gone unheeded and that Babalú has rectified many errors in policy and polity over the past year. Of course, this progress is offset in part by newer errors. It is not Val, however, who is responsible for most of the latest aberrations but Henry Gómez, who has effectively wrested control of Babalú from Val and is leading it in unexpected and strange paths, which are more calculated to effect its discredit than anything I ever wrote in the spirit of constructive criticism].

The Biggest Cocksucking In Cuban-American Blog History

"I Hang My Head in Shame" [As Well You Might]
by Val Prieto (as annotated by Manuel A. Tellechea)

The majority of the time I live my life with the utmost pride that I am a Cuban exile, [you mean that there are times when you have not felt proud to be a Cuban-American?] and that I have never been and never will be part and parcel of that communist scourge that plagues the island of my birth [having left the island at age 3 that would hardly be possible and whatever credit is owed in that regard belongs to your parents]. Yet there are moments, very few and very far between, that a profound and all encompassing sense of shame of being a Cuban Exile envelops me [yes, we know, you have already unbosomed yourself].

As I type this, I live in that envelop [envelope?]. Never have I ever felt such embarrassment and such remorse and self-disgust [at being a Cuban-American, again].

I just got off the phone with Emilio Estefan [some people feel enriched just talking to a semi-billionaire] and I will state here publicly [is there any other way?], in no uncertain terms, that he and Gloria deserve an apology from each and every one of us [you don't say?] for our trampling of their reputations [do you speak for yourself or everybody else?] vis-a-vis their upcoming album 90 Millas [so which has been trampled, their reputations or the album? Their album is an unknown quantity and the Estefans themselves will shortly prove one too]. I feel ashamed simply for even having the slightest doubt as to their convictions, whether or not I stated these publicly or not [so you are apologizing for what was in your heart, the secrets of which only you know, like Jimmy Carter?].

So here it is, like it or not:

I support Gloria and Emilio Estefan's new work 90 Millas completely and wholeheartedly [although you have never seen it nor do you know its contents] and I will not allow [even if I must resort to censorship] any further slander of their persons [if published it's libel, not slander] or conviction [?] on this blog. It seems, my first instinct were 100% correct when Henry posted on this subject last week [really, 100%! That's infallibility. I think you may fall a little short of that].

No one here knows what is exactly on that album [and neither do you].

No one here knows what conversations the Estefans had prior, during and after the recording with Carlos Santana [and neither do you, except on Estefan's authority, which for you is vox dei].

No one here knows what the album is truly about [you said that already], who else is featured on same and what the accompanying documentary features and focuses on [but we do know that the "Che"-loving Castro (p)sycophant Carlos Santana will be featured there].

Moreover, you can criticize their music til your hearts content [no, that's what the critics do], but as I've stated here and elsewhere, the Estefans have been impeccable examples of the Cuban exile community their entire lives [yes, the Oprah and Stedman of Cuban-Americans] and have represented our community and its convictions with dignity, class and honesty [and don't forget altruism], with little or no thought to their professional careers [is there even one minute in the last 30 years that their careers have not been at the center of their thoughts and lives?] and despite being in an industry where their particular views - our views - [are you sure their views are our views?] are less, much less, than popular and constantly criticized and denigrated [the Estefans are Democrats, friends of Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela and champions of all the liberal causes; their liberal political allies have certainly never denigrated them].

There are some folks out their who are of the belief that the Estefans dont do enough for the freedom of Cuba given their public exposure and notoriety [in fact, they do nothing for the Cuban cause compared to what they do for liberal causes]. To those folks all I can say is you are dead wrong [about what? The Estefans have never contributed anything but lipservice to any Cuban cause, including Elian]. While they may not be constantly in the news spouting the evils of fidel castro and his regime, they have taken on industries, kings, presidents, the United Nations and countless other people and entities ["taken them on," you say? That means that they have met with world leaders who were sympathetic to Castro. Well, one, at least, Nelson Mandela and they didn't "take him on"]. That implies that they have met enemies of [what?] and are always fighting for what all of you here and I are fighting for on a daily basis, only they have been doing so their entire adult lives [oh, the Estefans not only fight more than us but they have been doing it longer than any other exiles. Imagine, two people doing more than 2 million, and still managing, in the process, to make a half-billion dollars!].

Our passion sometimes get the better of us [you don't say?] and when we jump the gun [yes, a very apropos phrase, that about 'jumping the gun'], as in this case [really?], we only hurt ourselves and our cause [you are right there]. And then we certainly live up to that stigma that we are always trying to rectify [how can one "live up" to a "stigma"? Do you mean that we deserve the "stigma"? You must because you say we are trying to "rectify" it].

In the words of Emilio: "Some of the comments directed at me and Gloria questioning our convictions as Cubans and as exiles are like mentandome la madre" [no they are not. Besides, why should it matter to Emilio Estefan if any of his compatriots "question his convictions" if he and Gloria actually lived up to them? What, they haven't gotten enough of their usual brown-assing quota from the community this month? Well, you've just got them over that hump].

I apologize to Gloria and Emilio, personally [that is your right], for any discord or detriment this blog may have caused and I hope you all will do the same [yes, sir, with all deliberate speed, let all of us bow before their power and wealth as you do].

Update: I forgot to menton that Emilio will be issuing a press release tonight or tomorrow regarding this which Ill post as soon as it's recieved [that is true and to your credit].

Someone [Henry?] mentioned to me that perhaps Emilio may be doing some PR damage control and that perhaps the call and the subsequent media appearances - Emilio was on a phone interview on TV just after speaking to me - are an attempt to diffuse waht could be a major issue regarding 90 Millas. That may be so [what else could it be? Does Emilio call you everyday?], but from my conversation and what I took from it, he is more angry about criticisms regarding their convictions from their own community. That said and my conversation being off the record, time will most certainly tell [and within the hour]. Should I have been duped or be wrong, Ill be the first to publicly eat crow [while still continuing to defend them].Val Prieto, Babalú, March 27, 2007


"I'm a Cocksucker, Don't Ya Know." Yes We Do, Val

"I'm a Cocksucker, Dont Ya Know"
by Val Prieto (annotated by Manuel A. Tellechea)

One would think that after nearly four years of blogging day in and day out about Cuba [that's 1460 days] and the reality of same [of what? blogging 1460 days about Cuba?], that after nearly four years of taking on leftists, fidelistas, communists, and other assorted idiots, [didn't you want to take them on?] that after four years of arguing with and about the MSM, [have you actually argued with the MSM?] politicos and assorted officials, [you've never argued with politicians except those that take no cognizance of you, but never with our "don't-rock-the-boat" Cuban-American congressmen and senators] that after four years of busting my ass from sun up to sundown, [which you wouldn't have done, otherwise?] that after four years of being called a fascist, an asshole, a right wing extremist, close-minded, intransingent and a slew of other ephiteths, [I think you mean "epithets"] that after four years of death threats and picking up coconuts and dead chickens from the front of my home, [why do you "pick up" the evidence? why don't you pick up the phone and call the police?] all because of and on behalf of my work for the freedom of Cuba, [a fair assumption, but an assumption nonetheless; it could just be that your neighbors hate you] I would have at least earned a modicum of respect [is a "modicum of respect" all the respect you want?]. Not a reverence, [oh, is reverence what you think you deserve?] , mind you, [mind yourself] nor some shrine dedicated to me, [like the Virgin of Charity's, perhaps?] but just a simple nod, if not for my personal opinions, [certainly not] but [you mean "then," not "but"] for the thousands and thousands of hours work depicted here on the pages and archives of this blog and the thousands and thousands of hours spent behind the scenes in a humble attempt to [do] something for the island of my birth and the people therein. [But didn't you say that the Estefans have done more for the cause of Cuba than all of us put together? Then why are you taking credit for "thousands" of hours of work when surely they must have done millions (at least)?].

But no. I am called a cocksucker by someone who is supposedly my own and who is supposedly on the same side of the argument as that of this blog. A cocksucker. [Why? Because of what you said about the Estefans, criticism of whom you expressly forbade on your blog upon penalty of expulsion].

For four years I have been arguing with pro-dialogue Cuban-Americans who always claim that this Cuban-American community behaves like rabid fascists, knee-jerk reactionaries and intransignet extremists who turn on their own if the opinions expressed by others aren't on a par with that of the "community." "Nonsense," Ive always said. You need look no further than the archives and writings of this blog to prove that this is not true. Some of us dont turn on our own [yeah, just the "rabid fascists, knee-jerk reactionaries and intransigent extremists" which you claim exist in our ranks and to which you imply I belong]. Some of us dont shit where we eat [certainly not you. Although whatever made you think you could eat off the Estefans' plate, I'll never know]. Some of us prefer to not air our dirty laundry, however tempting that may be, so it will not be detrimental to the community as a whole [you mean like not airing your dirty laundry exactly as you are doing right now?].

Manuel Tellechea, who has always been afforded a voice on this blog, who, despite much commentary where this blogger has disagreed with wholeheartedly [the only times you ever disagreed with me was when I attacked Bush and the Coast Guard for the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy and when I questioned the motives of the Estefans in embracing Santana] , has never been debased nor denigrated nor publicly scorned here by myself or by others [should I have expected to be "debased, denigrated or publicly scorned" for my opinions on Bush and the Estefans? Wasn't booting me enough?]. It is not that I have not disagreed with him, nor found his arguments to be less than realistic and sane, nor found them to be detrimental to the cause, I have many a time. [Wow! My arguments were "less than realistic and sane" and "detrimental to the cause" to boot, and yet you never took me on!]. And I have vehemently disagreed with him on many occassions [still in petu] , but never, never, have I taken him to task publicly nor with disdain and merciless criticism and slanderous accusation [again, you want brownie points for this?]. Never, ever, has this son of a welder [what does that have to do with anything except to sow class hatred?] referred to an "intellectual and moral bastion" such as Manuel as a cocksucker or anything to that effect [I have never given you cause to].

I was brought up with respect and taught to respect others, whether their opinions were diametrically opposed to mine [the only people whose opinions are "diametrically opposed" to yours are the fidelistas. Do you "respect" them?].

Yet Manuel Tellechea chose my Shame post, where I stated my opinion and feelings upon realizing that my community had perhaps jumped the gun vis-a-vis the Estefans/Carlos Santana issue [no, you jumped the gun in defending them], and in which post I not only spoke from the heart [with all the insincerity you could muster], but had the fortitude and integrity [praising yourself again?] to immediately admit I was wrong when same was proven [What else were you going to do after the Estefans made you look like a fool? Nevertheless, you continued your proscription against anyone criticizing the Estefans on your blog upon penalty of expulsion], to not only begin a new blog [as is my right] but to call me out as a "cocksucker" [Not exactly right. I didn't call you a "cocksucker" but did say that you had participated in the biggest act of cocksucking in the history of Cuban-American blogging. Still, I must admit that cocksuckers are as cocksuckers do].

The irony of this is that through his very first post, the mere fact that he not only self-righteously criticized my post, denigrated my name and labeled me a cocksucker, Manuel pretty much confirmed the criticisms I expressed in the Shame post to begin with. [My first post on the RCAB consisted of reproducing your "I Hang My Head in Shame" post and annotating it. You denigrated your own name by writing it]. He shat on his own [you mean I shat on you] and publicly debased the person [didn't you mean to say "exalted person," or is that implied?] that has been fighting it out here on the internet on behalf of Cuba the longest and with the most exposure [the longest, no; with the most exposure, probably]. All because I refused to shit on Gloria and Emilio Estefan, however meritted it may have been or still be, in public. [Well, you finally got over those scrupples 4 months later, when you allowed the Estefans to be called "traitors" on your blog. I guess they did not quite fulfill your expectations of them in the interim: no more phone calls and Emilio even reneged on his invitation to "do" lunch with you].

Mind you, Mr. Tellechea was not privy to any correspondence between myself and the Estefans, nor was he privy to my actions behind the scenes nor was he privy to my heated conversations with Emilio Estefan and other members of his organization. [If you had wanted to make me or your other readers at Babalu privy to any of that you could have. But you didn't because you promised the Estefans you wouldn't and your first allegiance was to them].

I am fallible just like any other human being is [you mean you are not the pope], and I have made many mistakes in my tenure on Babalu as in life [you forgot to add "as every other human being has done"], but I have always been true to my principles and my convictions and I would have been dishonest with you all and myself, had I not proffered my sentiments on the issue. [No one objected to you "proferring your sentiments." What I objected to was your refusal to allow others to proffer theirs without threat of expulsion]. While my position may not have been the popular one, nor necessarily, in hindsight, the correct one, had I not expressed my opinion honestly it would have been an affront to my integrity [and a credit to your commonsense].

Because, in the long run, it's all about integrity, Manuel. And this cocksucker still holds his head up high. I wish I could say the same for you. [What? Cocksucker without quotation marks? You are calling yourself a cocksucker and one who holds his head high about being a cocksucker? You leave me speechless and I leave you exactly where I found you — with your mouth wide open]. Val Prieto, Babalú, April 2, 2007

Notable & Fascinating: Is Henry the Easter Bunny?

"Henry: from the height and weight of that Easter bunny, me thinks that might be you inside that costume." -- Antonio de la Cova, "Happy Easter" (comment), Babalú, March 23, 2008

Methinks so, too.

The authority of a man like Professor de la Cova cannot be dismissed out of hand. When my own is added to his opinion, I think the case is made beyond a reasonable doubt for Henry's rabbithood.

Whether or no it is Henry (he denies it), it is enough that there are those who think it could be him.

Some have suggested that the picture may have been taken at a mall, which brings up the interesting possibility that Henry may work there part-time as a bunny rabbit during the Easter season. Henry recently admitted that he uses a public library computer to take advantage of the free downloads from The Miami Herald archives. Perhaps working professionally as the Easter Rabbit is another of the "Economist's" economies.

Dressing as the Easter Bunny to amuse one's children is not something that anyone should be ashamed of. Nor is there anything dishonorable in pursuing a career as a rabbit impersonator. Mel Blanc made a fortune at it.

We had rather, however, that it was Val, not Henry, in the rabbit costume; for then we might have been able to answer a question that has long puzzled mankind:

"If a man in a rabbit suit sees his own reflection in the mirror does he think he's drunk?"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Easter Means to Cubans

The hope of the resurrection is one that profoundly resonates in all Cubans not only on Easter but throughout the year: every kind of resurrection, material and immaterial, secular and spriritual, even the raising of our dead, if that were possible, but certainly the resurrection of our country as a tribute to them and a debt of honor to future generations of Cubans. Because that other resurrection is always present in our thoughts and occupies so great a part of our lives, it may be said, without vainglory, that Christ's Resurrection is more real to us and more necessary than to other Christians.

The more alone we are, the more forsaken our country is, the closer to Christ we are. Every year we reap a bigger crop of betrayals, our allies are fewer and our enemies more numerous and vent on our destruction. But none of that matters, ultimately, because nobody's responsibility for the well-being of our country is equal to ours even if the blame for its destruction is not ours alone. As Christ shouldered the sins of all other men, so must we carry our own cross, and no one shall be prodded to help us. Fifty years we have borne it with faith and hope and so unto the end.

Cuba is the only Christian nation still under the yoke of Communism. Certainly we reject the suggestion that God would think more of us for being Christians or less of Tibetans for being Buddhists. A God sensible to the suffering of all mankind would not make such a distinction. And, indeed, He does not. It makes no difference to Him whether those who suffer are Christians or Buddhists, Cubans or Tibetans. He is with all of us in spirit. But we must all of us work out our own deliverance with the means available to us and in the manner that best conduces to it. Divine Providence is reserved for heaven. On earth, we are the agents of our own redemption.

Last year's Easter meditation:

Pascua de Resurrección, the Feast of the Resurrection, man's triumph over death and the forces of evil, achieved through Christ's death and the temporal triumph of those forces, is one of those eternal mysteries of the faith, better believed than understood. Therein lies perhaps the greatest achievement of Catholic cosmology: the belief that those who are murdered for their faith, Christ Himself or his apostles in all ages, are the real winners and those who nailed them to crosses, kindled the fires of their pyres, frayed and stoned them are the losers. The Catholic Church is the church of martyrs, martyrdom itself being the highest expression of the faith. Defeat as victory; death as life; earthly injustice as the prelude to Divine Providence.

For the last 48 years no people no earth have suffered a greater martyrdom than the people of Cuba. Indeed, throughout our history, the just among us in all generations have fallen prey to the forces of darkness, including our own secular Christ, José Martí, who said that he would be nailed to a cross if it won our people their (earthly) freedom.

So why, if no people have paid a greater price in blood and suffering, have the Cuban people remained in slavery for 5 decades, with no end in sight to their travails? Is this some sign of divine grace? Are we the new Israelites, God's chosen people, chosen, like the Jews, to endure hecatombs and holocausts in time immemorial because we are especially favored by the Father? I hope not. And that is my Easter wish.
April 5, 2007

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Pope Condemns Violations of Human Rights (in Ancient Rome)

In his Good Friday homile Pope Benedict XVI alluded to the Christians who were thrown to the lions in the Colosseum 2000 years ago. Whether that indeed happened or not it is good to see that the pope cares about anybody's human rights, living or dead. What possible good the pope intends to do two millenia after the fact for those dusty martyrs, and whether the flesh and bone ones who are at this very moment being martyred for the faith in places like China and Cuba will have to wait 2000 years for another pope to take cognizance of their sacrifice (and to the same effect), must remain one of those inscrutable mysteries which mortal man must renounce knowing but can certainly make some well-founded speculations upon. Perhaps we cannot expect the pope to utter one word on behalf of Buddhists being butchered in Tibet by Chinese Communists (that kind of ecumenism is altogether too Christian for Catholicism to tolerate), but there are also millions of Catholics throughout China who face the same persecution and merit not a word of recognition much less solidarity from the pope.

Not that the pope ignored China. Like his predecessor, Benedict has been "cultivating" the Chinese Communists since he became pope. Although he never alludes to the persecution of the faithful in China, the pope is fond of including Chinese tokens in his masses. This time he asked the archbishop of Hong Kong, Joseph Cardinal Zen, to compose meditations to be read at all the stations of the Cross. Zen admits the Vatican warned him not to include anything in his meditations that might give offence to Beijing as the pope is "eager for the Vatican and China's Communist government to establish diplomatic ties." And once such ties are established, as in Cuba, the Vatican will continue to observe a moratorium on criticism of the Communists in order to maintain those ties in good repair.

When, then, will come the space for criticism let alone condemnation? The answer is never. Remember Christ's injunction about "giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God?" Well, it has been reformulated for our times. Now Caesar can ascribe to himself the prerogatives of the Church -- in China's case, going so far as to appoint the bishops -- but the Church must cede to Caesar absolute authority to savage the people of Christ. If ancient paganism fed Christians to the lions it must have done so without opposition from the Church. Their heirs today continue to persecute the faithful with the Church's tacit approval. Neutrality in the face of evil is complicity.


Well, this will make everybody's Easter more joyful, I'm sure. Pope Benedict has donated the collection from one of the Holy Thursday masses to a Cuban orphanage (the first such donation to Cuba ever). The Associated Press notes that the Vatican has worked hard in recent years to "rebuild credibility with Havana, opposing the U.S. embargo and keeping an arm's length from the exile community in Florida." Cuban exiles should certainly return the favor on Easter and keep an arm's length from the collection plate.

A New Addition to Our Blogroll: "Obalesque"

We are very pleased to add Obalesque to our "Fraternal Blogroll." Our readers will surely recognize an old friend in a new guise. We are delighted that Steve took our advice and did not deny his brainy matter to the blogosphere. His most recent post is about a Bavarian woman who went to the hospital for a knee operation and ended-up with a new anus. Our readers will recall that Fidel Castro shattered his knee not long ago and was outfitted with a new anus also. A coincidence? I speculate on the matter there. Fidel Castro, who is obviously hooked up to the internet and God knows what else, also makes a cameo appearance at Obalesque:

"I am very pleased with my new anus. Its aesthetic appeal and functionality has impressed everyone, including my brother Raúl who wants one for himself. He says you can’t teach an old anus new tricks, or did he say that he can’t get new tricks for an old anus? Excuse me, I am a bit addled nowadays."

Raúl has replied to Fidel's comment:
Coño, Fidel. What happens in boarding school, stays in boarding school. I curse the day I let Al Gore visit you (oops! did I let something out of the bag besides your shit?). First your insipid reflections in Granma and now you are crawling the nets when you should be pushing the daisies (And who the hell is this "squathole?" His name sounds interesting). Remember who is presidente now. BTW, Rev. Wright and Obama just RSVP’ed for your state funeral.

And what's this? Al Gore has chimed in, too:
I want to thank Presidente Raúl for his suggestion that I taught Fidel about the internet. As Father of the Internet, I suppose I did in some tangential way. In truth, however, I have not had the privilege of visiting your beautiful and ecologically-green island. I hope that your decision to legalize toasters and other electrical appliances will not impact negatively on the delicate balance between Fidel’s pristine Dark Ages and your own new Era of Feudalism.

Senator Larry Craig sends greetings to Raúl:
I want to say that I admire a country where two men can play an innocent game of footsie in a public bathroom without state interference. Fidel, you define manliness for an entire generation of heterosexuals like myself. Raúl, I’ll see you later this month.

Senator Obama denies Raúl's assertion:
I will not be attending Fidel’s funeral because Rev. Jeremiah Wright assures me he will live forever.

Pope Benedict XVI agrees with Sen. Obama:
From your lips Obama to Fidel's fundament.

Cardinal Bertone agrees with the pope:
I can assure His Holiness that kissing Fidel's fundament was the finest thing I ever did in my life.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Notable & Cretinous: Cubans Have Enemies in Their Backyard, Too

"The morning that [Castro's] eyes don't open, and Cuba opens up in a big way, we can have some problems in this part of the world." - Richard Sealy, Barbados Minister of Tourism, at a press conference given at Government House on 13 March, quoted in the Barbados Nation News, "Cuba May Be a Threat," on March 20, 2008

The headline in Barbados' biggest newspaper reads "Cuba May be a Threat." What they mean, course, is that Cuban freedom may be a threat to Barbados. Which is true. Who would travel to a brightly-painted village-state when they could visit a country as distinctive and a culture as universal as any to be found in the world? Even the ruins of Havana are more interesting and evocative than anything to be found in Barbados' landscape. And, of course, when Cuba is free the Caribbean Pompeii will rise again like the phoenix. Before 1959, Cuba was the envy of both Greater and Lesser Antilles. To a large extent it still is and will always be. Castro cast a pall on Cuba which brought bright days to everybody in the Caribbean basin. When that shadow finally lifts it will be Barbados and the other Caribbean islands that will return to their matted pre-1959 existences when a trip to Barbados was akin to a safari in Africa without the lions and the elephants.

No people in the world more sincerely wish for the continuation of Castro's tyranny in Cuba than do the other Caribbean states, especially the English-speaking ones. Too insignificant to impact world politics (and that's a blessing), and with a political culture which is correspondingly insular and self-absorbed, the leaders of these island nations speak their minds with shocking candor to those acquainted with the tergiversations of Old World politicians. Imagine, if you will, Zapatero loudly proclaiming that he wishes the Castro brothers health and long life so that Spanish investments on the island will remain secure and the regime's debt to Spain not formerly renounced (it has long ceased to be serviced). No, that will never do. Those sentiments are no doubt genuinely felt but will never be openly expressed. Dissimulation of the truth is the art of politics in countries such as Spain which are layered over with a thousand coats of varnish that conceal political crimes at the same time as they give a high gloss to national politics. It is different in a country like Barbados where there is no need for hypocrisy and greed can be displayed in broad daylight without attracting a crowd to protest, a country where greed is held to be inoffensive because its aspirations and its reach are so circumscribed. But greed, of course, is no different in a tall man than in a short one; nor in a microscopic country like Barbados than in a behemoth like Canada. Greed is greed. And evil is evil whatever the size of the container.

To the Barbadans, Jamaicans and all the rest of our Caribbean brothers, I say, do not be afraid. You have nothing to fear from Cubans. Cuba's freedom and prosperity will not be to your detriment. Before 1959, Cuba provided you with jobs and sustenance. We were to you what the U.S. is to Mexico today. You will always be welcome to eat at our table.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Notable & Absent: What Val Knows About History

"I know there are quite a few Babalu readers out there that came to the US either as an adult or a teenager and thus never formally learned about the Revolutionary War and all its players. I urge you all to maybe use this HBO series [about John Adams] as a starting point because - despite the many flaws people perceive this country to have, historically and presently - it truly is an incredible, beautiful and inspiring history. - Val Prieto, "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!" Babalú, March 18, 2008

Val is advising elderly Cuban exiles to learn U.S. history. The advice is superfluous on two counts. First, because they have lived American history and from the wrong end. Second, because they are obliged under duress to learn it in their declining years in order to pass their citizenship exams and be eligible to receive Social Security, Medicare and other benefits for which they have worked and contributed 40 years or more. For many, this is the greatest tribulation that could befall them in their great age. I should like to see Americans of all ages having to learn Cuban history in expiation for what their country did to my country and in the hope that they won't do it again. But this a vain and even ridiculous hope. Americans know nothing about their own history and can't well be expected to learn ours.

One who, apparently, knows neither is Val Prieto himself. What's this about "the many flaws people perceive [emphasis mine] this country to have?" So the United States is only "perceived" to have committed historical wrongs past and present? The Treaty of Paris (1898) is only a "perception." The Platt Amendment is only a "perception." Guantánamo Naval Base is only a "perception." The Bay of Pigs is only a "perception." The Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact is only a "perception." The "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy is only a "perception." And that's just the short list of "perceived wrongs" done to Cubans. If you include everybody else's short list, you have quite a long list of "perceptions."

If Val Prieto were acquainted with Cuban history he wouldn't be overawed by America's Founding Fathers as if our own were somehow deficient in glory. Martí alone is worth the lot of them and no U.S. revolutionary-era general, including and particularly Washington, could hold Maceo's riding crop, let alone his sword.

John Adams is the greatest of the U.S. Founding Fathers whose life you could film without including redheaded house slaves and thousands of others laboring in the fields.

Before declaring Cuba's independence, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes freed all his slaves. All the other rich planters who supported his uprising followed his example. They all preferred financial ruin to being hypocrites. Not so with the father of the American Republic who never told a lie except to himself about himself or the philosopher of the Revolution who wrote that "All men are created equal" but refused personally to accept that self-evident fact.

And don't miss this blast from the past:

Notable & More Delusional Still: "Patrick Henry" Prieto Rides Again

Notable & Indifferent: Henry Shows How to Be a "Winner"

"I can't lose in the presidential race because I don't have a candidate." - Henry "Economist" Gómez, "Good Luck With That! (comment)," Babalú, March 18, 2008

The "I Can't Lose Because I Don't Have a [blank]" Formula may be useful when it comes to other chimerical areas of Henry's life besides civic duty. For example:

"It can't rain because I don't have an umbrella."

"I can't be late because I don't know what time it is."

"I can't be wrong because I don't have a clue."

Any or all of these may prove useful when he gets his invite to Barack Obama's inauguration.

The 5th Anniversary of Cuba's "Black Spring"

There is one thing that has become painfully obvious over the last 49 years to Cubans. We are alone. We did not get where we are by ourselves. We were not even the most important agent of our destruction. But we are the only agent of our redemption. It is something worth recalling on this day, the 5th anniversary of the Castro regime's imprisonment of 75 independent journalists, librarians and other dissidents, who dared to act as free men in a country that is not free, and what was more audacious still, tried to facilitate the means to their countrymen that might enable them to take possession of their own lives and destiny. More than the news or books that they disseminated in violation of the regime's information blockade on the Cuban people, it was their example that the regime feared and sought to eradicate. Despite its efforts to silence them, they have not been able to stem the flow of information into Cuba or out of Cuba. On the contrary, the last five years have seen an even greater erosion in the regime's control of what the Cuban people can know.

In Martí's day, ideas travelled on roads paved with paper. Now they travel much faster and farther and it is impossible to extinguish them by burning the paper they are printed on.

Although the regime still maintains its monopoly on disinformation, it has not been able to quarantine alternate sources of information. The internet has proved a "potro salvaje" (wild colt) that they could not domesticate. Its monopoly on paper, ink and printing presses now seems almost quaint and will become increasingly irrelevant. This "potro salvaje" is a winged horse and its enemies are the most leaden of men. The recent decision to allow the sale of computers to the population amounts to a capitulation on the part of their tamers. Yes, the price at which they are sold will be exorbitant and they are certain to be bugged and disabled in a thousand ways; but the Cuban people will find the means to acquire and reconfigure them: the deprivations that the Revolution has imposed on Cubans have taught them to be resourceful if nothing else. This door to the outside world (or "balsa cibernética") will open other doors even those that lead to the barricaded corridors of power.

The fathers and mothers of this Cybernetic Revolution, 55 of whom are still in Castro's dungeons, are responsible for changing the dynamic between the people and their oppressors for the first time in 49 years. And they have done something even more important: they have shown that Cubans are not alone because we still have one another. God bless them and the thousands like them who languish in Castro's prisons and speed the day of their liberation and ours.

Cuba's Black Spring has not yielded wilted flowers but sown seeds that are still blooming and spreading over the landscape.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cubans Too Have a Bit of the Blarney

According to Irish folklore, the first Irishman was a Spaniard named Milo who sailed in a barrel from Iberia to [H]iber[n]ia. Recent DNA genome testing has revealed the legend to be true. As Bryan Sykes writes in his book Blood of the Isles (2006), "the genetic evidence shows that a large proportion of Irish Celts, on both the male and female side, did arrive from Iberia at or the same time as farming reached the Isles." Moreover, linguists also now believe that the Gaelic language (Goidelic) is derived from Euskadi (the Basque language).

The largest Irish migration prior to the Great Potato Famine of 1848 was to Spain in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Irish, who were awarded Spanish citizenship on arriving in Spain as persecuted Catholics, joined the Spanish army's Hibernian regiments and became Spain's best soldiers and most famous generals. Many of these were posted in Cuba and married into the island's aristocracy, establishing our own great Irish-Cuban families (the O'Farrills, the O'Reillys, the Kindelans, the Madans, the Duanys, the O'Gabans, the Coppingers and the O'Naughtens).

Four Captains General of Cuba were of Irish origin (Nicolás Mahy; Sebastián Kindelán; Leopoldo O'Donnell and Luís Prendergast). On the other end of the social scale, some 378 Irish laborers contracted in New York built Cuba's first railroad in 1835. They also hold the distinction of staging the island's first strike. Most remained in Cuba because Spain refused to repatriate them.

In Cuba's Wars of Independence, the most famous of the many Irishmen who fought for our freedom was Canadian-born General William A.C. Ryan, who after a short but brilliant career as inspector and chief of calvary in Camagüey was captured aboard the American vessel Virginius and executed by the Spanish at age 30; and Captain "Dynamite Johnny" O'Brien, owner of the steamer Bermuda, one of the most daring and successful gunrunners to Cuba who also safely transported General Calixto García there.

Also of Irish extraction was the poet Bonifacio Byrne, whose "Ode to the Cuban Flag" is the most famous Cuban patriotic poem.

Eamon de Valera, Father of the Republic of Eire, was the Brooklyn-born son of a 19th century Cuban émigré and an Irishwoman.

The Irish returned the favor with Ernesto Guevara y Lynch (how appropriate!) but we shall forgive them that this day.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!