Saturday, May 31, 2008

Obama Quits Church

Realizing at long last that the 4-ring circus at Chicago's Trinity Unity Church of Christ wasn't going to close between now and November, Barack Obama had no choice but to sever his connection to the church that Rev. Jeremiah Wright built. It was not an easy decision for him to make as reflected in the months of soul-searching before finally figuring out what everybody else had long ago concluded -- there was no way that Trinity United would ever metamorphose into a mainstream church acceptable to more than ten percent of Americans. On the contrary, its bizarreries only increased with time and now it was even importing crackpots from other denominations to grace its tabernacle.

Still, this church was his "spiritual home" and its pastor emeritus had been the mentor who forged his social conscience and inducted him into Christianity: we might add, a proto-Marxist social conscience and a Christianity informed by liberation theology, the Marxist variant of Christianity.

There was little stability in Barack Obama's early life. Shuttled from Hawaii to Indonesia, from mother to grandparents, from a Muslim madrassa to a Catholic school, uncertain of who he was, with a father who abandoned him at birth and no black role model or any black friends, Barack Obama craved a sense of belonging, tradition, stability and continuity in his adult life. Hence he attended the same church for 20 years; hence he has been attended by the same physician for 20 years. It must have been traumatic indeed for him to resign from Trinity United, the bedrock of his newly-forged identity, where he became everything he is today, alas.

Obama experienced the same difficulty disassociating himself from his church as he had earlier distancing himself from his longtime minister. At first, he said that he would no more disown Rev. Wright than the grandmother who raised him. And now he is making it clear that despite his resignation: "I'm not denouncing the church, and I am not interested in people who want me to denounce the church. It's not a church worth denouncing." He means, of course, that it's not deserving of denunciation. No doubt, like Rev. Wright, the church or its new minister will do something in the next 6 months that will obliged Obama to denounce it regardless of his having already publicly severed his connection to it or vowed never to denounce it.

It is worth noting that his letter of resignation was written by his wife and is signed first by her. Make of that what you will. She is certainly the more dominant personality, the strong-willed and well-connected spouse that Rev. Wright introduced to Obama (or, some say, chose for him). She is the more radical of the two as Hillary was once more radical than Bill, and, like Hillary in 1992, she has her eye on the main chance and is as influential in her spouse's campaign.

Obama can resign from Trinity United but he is still what that church made him. And, ultimately, of course, he can't resign from himself.

Obama's "Message to Fidel"

Although Fidel Castro was not mentioned by name in Barack Obama's speech to the Cuban American National Foundation, there was a "Secret Message" for him in it which he would not have failed to grasp, and which his "Reflection" upon Obama's speech shows that he not only understood but used as the basis for his endorsement of Obama.

In his speech, Obama alluded to FDR's "Four Freedoms" as enunciated in his June 6, 1941 address to Congress. These are: 1) freedom of speech and expression; 2) freedom of religion; 3) freedom from want; 4) freedom from fear. Obama said that "What all of us should strive for is freedom as FDR described it." We prefer, of course, Martí's more succinct definition: "Freedom is the right of every man to think and speak without hypocrisy." From that freedom follows all others and without it there can be no other. But it suited Obama's purposes to define freedom in Roosevelt's terms because his "Four Freedoms" include "freedom from want," the old Marxist shibboleth to which every other freedom is sacrificed in a Communist society without ever obtaining a reprieve from hunger, starvation or famine, but, rather, adding manmade causes for these to the natural ones.

Obama cites Cuba as one of the nations in the Americas that suffers from want of political freedom. He does not, however, cite it as one that is deficient in "advancing freedom from want," a curious omission in a speech to a Cuban-American lobby that supports remittances and other kinds of assistance in order to mitigate the effects of Castro's impoverishment of the Cuban people. Yet it is not so curious if one considers that Obama's thought on Cuba and everything else is shaped by two polarities -- FDR and JFK.

Not only does Obama resurrect FDR's "Four Freedoms" but proclaims that "It's time for a new alliance of the Americas (that is, Alliance for Progress). FDR was a great believer in the utility of friendly dictatorships in Latin America (remember, "Somoza is a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch?"). Kennedy, of course, actually believed that Castro's anti-Cuban revolution was a classic social revolution, one fought, supposedly, to advance the cause of "freedom from want." On more than one occasion JFK expressed a deep remorse for having to oppose a revolution which was "doing so much good for the Cuban people." His support for the so-called "social agenda" of the Cuban Revolution is contained in the notorious "White Paper" on Cuba, written under Kennedy's instructions by toady-in-chief Arthur M. Schlesinger, which actually sanctions Cuba-like "social revolutions" throughout Latin America.

From JFK, Obama learned a certain partiality to Third-World social revolutions and from FDR the utility of cultivating friendly dictators. Apparently, Obama thinks that he can turn Castro into one of those by the force of his personality and with America's checkbook. Nothing would please Castro more than to be "friendly" to the U.S. on his terms. He has never wanted anything else. Of course, friendship on his terms means unconditional capitulation by the United States, which is the promise and prize that Obama holds out to him.

Obama conveyed his solidarity and assured Fidel of his future support by declaring that "[a]fter decades of pressing for top-down reforms [that is, the last 40 odd years since Kennedy], we need an agenda that advances democracy, security and opportunity from the bottom up." Or, in other words, we need popular revolutions in Latin America. Not in Cuba, of course, because the people there have already achieved that most important [Marxist] condition for a fully integrated society -- freedom from want, or so Obama believes.

That was the "Message to Fidel" that Obama transmitted in secret code in his speech: the recognition that it had achieved, at least, one of FDR's "Four Freedoms," the one, in particular, which matters the most to Castro and which he is most proud to claim as an "achievement." Of course, anyone who has ever gone beyond the propaganda (as clearly Obama has not) is aware that Castro transformed a once prosperous First-World country into a perennially struggling Third-World one. Still, for Obama, poverty is something that exists in Haiti and Peru, not Cuba.

In his "Reflection" on Obama's speech, Fidel Castro made it quite clear that he understood perfectly Obama's code and returned the compliment proffered by Obama:

"What did he say in his speech in Miami, this man who is doubtless, from a social and human viewpoint, the most progressive candidate for the presidency of the United States? 'For two hundred years,' he said, 'the United States has made it clear that we won't stand for foreign intervention in our hemisphere. But every day, all across the Americas, there is a different kind of struggle --not against foreign armies, but against the deadly threat of hunger and thirst, disease and despair. That is not a future that we have to accept --not for the child in Port au Prince or the family in the highlands of Peru. We can do better. We must do better. […] We cannot ignore suffering to our south, nor stand for the globalization of the empty stomach.' A magnificent description of imperialist globalization: the globalization of empty stomachs! We ought to thank him for it."

Yes, Fidel is feeling very grateful to Obama. That "globalization of empty stomachs" is worthy of Noah Chomsky himself, or Fidel Castro. Fidel goes on to compare the Monroe Doctrine to the "Obama Doctrine," and pronounces himself firmly on the side of the latter with its promise of "deepen[ing] the trust and the ties among our people."

Fidel especially liked a line toward the end of Obama's speech where he proclaims "[t]ogether, we can choose the future over the past." Fidel called it "a beautiful phrase, for it attests to the idea, or at least the apprehension, that history shapes great men and not all the other way around." Fidel seems to be discovering Marxist tropes everywhere in Obama's speech. He may be better at that than even me. But I prefer a different interpretation of Obama's "beautiful phrase."

"To choose the future over the past" is to ignore the lessons of the past in favor of the blind hopes of the future. There is nothing that Fidel would like more than for the U.S. to forget the last 49 years and resurrect all the hopes and illusions which it once had about his Revolution. If Obama is elected president, Fidel's hope may became our nightmare.

[Part II and conclusion of:]

Fidel Castro Endorses Barack Obama

The Damas de Blanco Reach Down to Obama

Marc Másferrer put it very succinctly recently in Uncommon Sense: "Damas: 'We Like Obama.'" I think a better take on their endorsement of Obama's plan to meet with Rául Castro would be: "Damas: 'We Should Like to See Again Our Imprisoned Husbands, Sons and Brothers.'"

The Damas de Blanco are not naive as some have suggested in attempting to explain their by no means new embrace of detente. In fact, the Dama de Blanco are more politically savvy than their self-appointed apologists. They have realized that their loved ones in Castro's prisons are hostages and that none will see the light of day again until such a meeting takes place.

The 230 political prisoners officially recognized as such by the major human rights organizations, although they constitute exactly .001 percent of those incarcerated by Castro, are, by virtue of their celebrity and the exertions of the Damas themselves in calling attention to their plight, the reserved stock of Castro's jails. They are not going to be given away to just anybody. The days are long past when any official visitor to the island could bring his wish list and get his pick.

In fact, Raúl has called a moratorium on such reckless expenditure of Communist Cuba's most important bargaining chips. All 230 are reserved for Obama himself as surely as if they had been branded with his name. They are his reward for meeting with Raúl and his political cover: the MSM will see to it that Obama is hailed as their "liberator" and not as the president who capitulated to Castro unconditionally.

It is likely that if Obama is elected, or even in anticipation of his election, the 230 may be accorded better treatment. Slaves also, when their masters had decided to sell them down the river, were put on double rations and their various infirmities attended to so that they would make the best possible appearance on the auction block.

Of course, the Damas de Blanco would welcome any improvement in their living conditions and rejoice at the prospect of their release. One would have to be bereft of any sense of empathy or divorced from humanity itself to criticize them for petitioning Obama on behalf of their family members.

What we do find unconscionable is the fact that Obama put them in this position in the first place. An off-the cuff remark by him, which he could later have modified but chose instead to codify as the "Obama Doctrine," held out the promise to Raúl and all the world's tyrants that the U.S. would accommodate them and expect nothing in return but the pleasure of their company. Hopeful and emboldened by Obama's pledge, now reiterated on numerous occasions, they have frozen everything in place in expectation of that golden hour. This includes, of course, the fate of political prisoners.

What Obama holds out to them, and what they are all too eager to receive from him, is a totalitarian "New Deal." All the wrongs of the past, the crimes and the usurpations committed on their people, will be forgiven by one who has no right to presume to do so. No restitution will be required of them in exchange for this plenary indulgence nor any pledge extracted to alter their customary behavior. They can continue to be exactly what they are and what they have always been -- the scourge of their countrymen. The only difference will be that the U.S. shall not challenge their right to be tyrants.

The "Obama Doctrine" is far from progressive; it is, in fact, the very definition of reactionary, a throwback to the divine right of kings. Had he never enunciated it, he would never have received the support of the Damas de Blanco because their hopes for the freedom of Cuba's political prisoners would still be centered around freedom for all Cubans. Now they are convinced that if Obama is elected president in November the prospect of all Cubans regaining their freedom will be reduced to almost nothing, while, ironically, the prospect that 230 Cubans, among the least free of Castro's subjects, will regain theirs is almost guaranteed. Under such circumstances the Damas de Blanco are entirely right to get what is within their reach especially since it is what they most want.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What, No Drug Tests?

Barack Obama has just released a one-page letter from his doctor attesting to his "excellent health" and pronouncing him "medically-fit to serve as president." Last week, John McCain granted reporters access to more than 1200 pages of his medical records. Obama's physician for nearly half his life, Dr. David L. Scheiner of Chicago, has not examined his patient since 2006. Yet he has no qualms pronouncing him in "excellent health" today. Obama's campaign claims that the 300-words or so contained in Dr. Scheiner letter constitutes "a complete summary of [Obama's] doctor visits and medical records for the past two decades." William Strunk and E.B. White should have been that good.

I wonder what the media reaction would have been if McCain had released a one-page letter from his doctor as the sum total of his medical history? The general inference would have been that he had something to hide because of his age. Yet the sickest man ever to occupy the White House was also the youngest man ever elected president, John F. Kennedy. Everything about his health except his bad back was concealed from the public. The bad back was a war injury and hence could serve as his "Achilles heel." Unless you count his Nicorette gum, Obama has no "Achilles heel," none, at least, that could be mentioned in 300 words or less.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Meltdown at Babalú

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Notable and Always Despicable: Starving Cubans Without a Pressure Cooker

"I'm so fucking sick of people complaining about the travel restrictions and the restrictions on remittances... If you're too fucking dense to understand that your family in Cuba is basically being held at gunpoint and that you are essentially sending the perp the money to buy the bullets to load into the gun he's holding at your family's head, then I don't think I can convince you otherwise. -- Val Prieto, "Make Check Payable to ...," Babalú, May 27, 2008

Val wrote another self-described "rant" today against remittances and exiles visiting their kin on the island. For once, however, he did not bring out his patented pressure cooker. I believe that some credit is due to RCAB for its disappearance from Val's bag of tricks. The idea behind it, that to increase the misery of the Cuban people is the best way to end it, has been around for a long time and will likely continue to guide those who believe that Castro cares about the suffering of the Cuban people and would diminish rather than increase it if he had the chance. The fact that all of Castro's hostages are expendable to him is no justification for regarding them as expendable ourselves. Starvation is a powerful weapon of control. Castro has used it against the Cuban people since the ration card was introduced 47 years ago. Denying food and other necessities to our brethren on the island is collaborating with Castro in their repression.

If Val still believes, as he once said, that only a river of blood could save the Cuban people, he is sabotaging his own fondest hopes by desiring to starve them before bleeding them. As I have pointed out on more than one occasion, a starving man has difficulty enough rising in the morning let along rising in arms in the afternoon. That's the reason Castro starves his people. That's also the reason Val should not wish to starve them since he believes that it is possible to topple Castro internally sans guns, tanks, planes, etc. Even I will acknowledge that it would be easier to topple Castro sans guns, tanks and planes than it would be to topple him sans food.

I'm sure that Val meant it sincerely, but conveying sincerity for him is a hard proposition without using the F-word and its variants. Sincere or not, this may just be the most unintentionally funny line that Val has ever written: "When I go to Cuba, when I step on Cuban soil once again, I don't want to be Valentin Prieto from Kendall. I want to be Valentin Prieto de Bayamo. An equal." Oh, brother. My first reaction is: "Val, you can be Valentín of Bayamo right now (or Valentín of Arabia, if you want). No one is stopping you." Of course, Val will not return to the Bayamo of his childhood till the descendents of our Founding Fathers duplicate the feat of 1868. If they only knew how anxiously he is waiting, his fellow bayameses would no doubt burn their city as of old and make its streets run red with their noble blood. Then Val shall have the red carpet that he craves when he "steps on Cuban soil once again" as brother and equal after that blood is congealed.


"Freedom isn't going to knock on [the Cubans'] doors and ask to come in. It isn't going to arrive in a package from Hialeah or in the suitcase of a family member coming from abroad. Freedom is going to hide behind hunger. It's going to hide behind pain, it's going to hide behind sacrifice. It's going to hide behind bruises and in a pool of blood. And it's only going to be found when it is painstaking[ly] sought after, sought after with extreme hunger and empty bellies, with broken bones and bloody hands and with sheer desperation. There are 11 million people in Cuba, yet you see merely a handful standing firm in their convictions and against their government. Until that handful exponentially increases, not a damned thing will change." — Val Prieto, judging the Cuban people and passing sentence on them, Babalú, October 25, 2007

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

Fidel Castro Endorses Barack Obama

Fidel Castro was in quite a quandary. How to endorse Obama while at the same time not endorsing him? How to place himself historically on side of his redeemer while neutralizing the effects of his own endorsement, which can only be toxic to Obama? This, clearly, is one of those cases when prudence should trump all else and silence be more eloquent than words. But that, of course, is not Fidel's way. His reduced capacities have reinforced not diminished his personality. The vanquisher of free speech who denied all Cubans their say must always have his; the enemy of democracy who buried the ballot boxes in Cuba knows everything there is to know about the electoral process (elsewhere); the negrophobe who introduced divisions which had never before existed among Cubans knows what is required to achieve racial harmony in the U.S.; the despoiler who has never done anything but harm his country in every conceivable way knows what is in every other country's best interests.

It was inevitable, therefore, that Fidel would put in his two convertible centavos into the U.S. presidential race. The first thing he said in his latest "Reflection" in Granma is that Obama is guiltless of his country's original sin: "I feel no resentment towards [Obama] personally because he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated [by the U.S.] against Cuba and humanity." He admits that were he to defend Obama "he would do his adversaries [Castro's and/or Obama's] an enormous favor" and prefers instead to "criticize him." You will find little or no direct criticism of Obama in Fidel's assessment of his speech to the Cuban-American National Foundation. Everybody else is criticized, however. Más Canosa is accused posthumously of trying to assassinate him, as is CANF's current director José ("Pepe") Hernández. Bill Clinton is reminded that he did not fulfill his commitment to Castro to lift the "blockade" (so that was the carrot used to implement the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy). Fidel even accuses the Más Canosa clan of betraying Clinton (he means Gore) by rigging the election in Florida for Bush in exchange for his promise to -- you gussed it -- assassinate Castro. Wow, it would seem that all American politics revolves around the question of assassinating him. I wonder if he has a taster to sample his IV drip?

Fidel is considerably more understanding of Obama's positions. In a speech which did not mention Fidel by name, he finds much that is commendable, even "magnificent definitions" and "beautiful phrases" informed by Obama's "acute intelligence" and displaying his "polemical gifts" and "spirit of hard work." Then, almost reflexively, he breaks the promise that he made to himself at the start of his Reflection and unequivocably endorses Obama: "[T]his man is doubtless, from a social and human perspective, the most progressive candidate for the presidency of the U.S."

Most U.S. media outlets are refusing to report Fidel's endorsement as an endorsement. Some are labelling it criticism and others even an attack on him. Just as Fidel refused to lay the blame for America's "crimes" on Obama, the MSM declined to saddle him with Fidel's praises. Has any man ever in the history of U.S. presidential politics been coddled more or protected more from himself and his friends than Barack Obama? Castro may have sensed this kindred feeling and decided that he could depend on their good offices to muddle what he said sufficiently to pass muster with the American public.

In any case his endorsement and the endorsement by proxy of Raúl will anoint Obama as Castro's organic heir in circles that have little enthusiasm for the clownish Hugo except as a moneybag while inspiring nothing more than amusement in most Americans who have yet to make the connection between Fidel and Obama because the MSM is intent that they should not know.

[In Part Two we will reveal the secret "Message to Fidel" contained in Obama's speech to CANF which Castro's "Reflection" indicates he immediately grasped and which was the occasion of his public endorsement of Obama].

Monday, May 26, 2008

Blog Review: "Cuba 21"

Cuba 21 is an entirely new concept and approach to blogging at least in the Cuban-American blogosphere. I am at a lost as to what to call it. "Soapbox blogging" would be good except that it connotes a certain spontaneous but at the same time fractured intensity of which this well-written and integral blog gives no evidence. The concept, if not the product, is similar, however. Readers of Cuba 21 are invited to become its authors. It solicits contributions from other bloggers whether reprints or original articles, specifying that it even welcomes those that plug other blogs. Now, I can think of nothing more rife for abuse; and yet, it appears, that no contributor has misused thus far the generous hospitality extended to him.

Its mission statement is "[To] unite all Cubans, inside and outside Cuba, whether of the right or the left." Here, again, we also must pause. Unity for the sake of unity is meaningless. Unity requires a purpose just as love requires an object. If that purpose is the liberation of Cuba, then I am all for unity. If the purpose is to show how Cubans can be tolerant of one another's opinions, how the dissident can co-exist in harmony with the henchman, the anti-Castro exile with the pro-Castro apologist, then no. Such "unity" is divisive and intended to destroy unity, not foment it. The truth cannot be assimilated with lies. When it is thus corrupted, it ceases to be truth. Men, likewise, who are upholders of truth, cannot make common cause with those who are its enemies without themselves being corrupted. Historia de Cuba.

And yet, remarkably, although there is one contributor to Cuba 21 who is altogether too obsequious to Raúl and actually seems to believe that he intends to redeem the Revolution by doing what Fidel promised to do but did not, all of its contributors, including that deluded individual, acknowledge that the last 49 years have meant nothing but misery for the Cuban people.

Again, I am perplexed as to why the Castro apologists have not made a concerted attack upon it, as one would expect them to do when they have been practically invited to do so. For whatever reason -- and I suspect that some have been repelled, openness or not -- Cuba 21 remains essentially an anti-Castro blog. Its diversity is confined to its Blogroll which includes blogs from all currents of opinion, including the most rabidly pro-Castro. Even this I will not object to because one must know what the enemy is thinking in order to be able to combat him. Personally, I am content that others should inform themselves on the subject and acknowledge no obligation to promote their propaganda. Still, I have no problem with others doing so since their propaganda is also a self-indictment which only the biggest idiots would be unable to see through.

The most interesting aspect of Cuba 21 are its excellent historical vignettes modelled on Havana 50/60, which I have always said is the best Cuban-American blog. It is not an easy formula to copy. You must combine your personal recollection of a specific site in Cuba with historical background and evocative photographs to create an ambiance of a time and place which exists only in our memory. I suppose that for some it is an emotional catharsis. I would not try it myself because such an experiment is certain to leave one feeling emptier inside, more alone and isolated from your past even as one tries to ford a new approach to it. The experience of exile itself, without the necessity of picking at wounds, does the same thing everyday without any special effort on our part. That much said, it is enjoyable to read the recollections of others. Yes, it re-awakens memories of our own but through the prism of another's experience and at a certain remove which makes the reading of such recollections more bearable. There is a wonderful evocation of Maceo's statue and its environs up at Cuba 21 right now which I commend to your reading pleasure.

Cuba 21 also contains news and videos which I have not seem duplicated anywhere else. Of special interest is an interview of Cuba's major dissidents as conducted and aired by Cuban State Television. They were ambushed in the worst Mike Wallace fashion except that being libelled was the least of their concerns. Naturally, they never knew whether they were actually being interviewed for television or if this was just a ruse to elicit their opinions for other purposes. They were all understandibly nervous and very cautious as they had every reason to be since the interviews were taped for a program on the regime's recent allegations that dissidents in Cuba are controlled and bankrolled by the U.S. The blogger who presented the video chastises the dissidents for their performance on the video and recommends that they prepare themselves better in the future. This is the same thing as criticizing someone for not making sufficient accommodations for the pink elephant that just dropped from the sky at his feet. I have no doubt that next time Cuban television besieges them, they will be better prepared and acquit themselves more to that blogger's satisfaction because it shall no longer be something at variance with all their experience.

There is one final thing about this blog which I have withheld and will allow you to discover for yourselves. Let me just say that some people are at every party and funeral.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Rare Treat for "Sunday Funday"

An admittedly rare treat is on the menu for "Sunday Funday." We will review another blog besides Babalú. Will it be your blog? Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What Was Missing in Obama's Speech? Fidel

The late Jorge Más Canosa, founder and chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, courted Bill Clinton with disastrous consequences for the Cuban people. Now his son and successor, Más Santos, whose lobbying group was excluded from participation in the "Aid to Cuba" piñata, has cast his lot with Barack Obama, who will, presumably, give CANF a better shake. The fact Obama was invited to address it is more than just an olive branch extended to him. It indicates that CANF does not consider his views on Cuba outside the mainstream of American politics, which, given what his views are, is nothing less than an endorsement of him.

This move also indicates just how desperate CANF is to seem relevant again and hear itself described once more in the MSM as "the most powerful/influential Cuban exile organization," which CANF has not been in any appreciable degree since the schism that followed Más Canosa's death. The old guard, unhappy with CANF's new openness to engaging in dialogue with the Castro regime, accused it of betraying Más Canosa's legacy and formed their own group the Cuban Liberty Council. With the so-called "hardliners" gone, an alliance of convenience between CANF and Obama is, therefore, not as bizarre as it may sound if anything is really bizarre in politics.

If Obama had simply espoused the "necessity"of engaging the Castro regime directly and left out the part about doing so "without preconditions" there would have been no difference between his position and CANF's. In fact, if Obama had substituted "with everything on the table" for "without prior conditions" (the former being only a more diplomatic way of saying the same thing) not only would there have been no difference but CANF might even have felt comfortable acknowledging that fact. This does not mean, of course, that Obama's position is in the mainstream; but, rather, that CANF is no longer a mainstream exile organization.

No American politician in the last 50 years, at least no successful politician, has espoused complete capitulation to the Castro regime as the best way to "engage" it. Forget about capitulation: negotiation with Castro, in any form, was once considered beyond the pale of acceptable discourse, though all American presidents, including Reagan, sent emissaries to him sub rosa to sound him out with predictable results. Jerry Ford came the closest of any U.S. presidents to accommodating Castro. He was only one week from announcing the resumption of ties with Communist Cuba when Castro's mercenary legions invaded Angola. It seems that Ford forgot to make not undertaking wars of aggression against other countries in the Third World one of the pre-conditions for establishing diplomatic relations.

Obama will not make the same mistake. In negotiating with Castro, "President" Obama will make no demand that Castro might reject. Where no concessions are extracted, none may be expected. That's OK with Obama, too. He is only interested in succeeding and doesn't care whether it's on Castro's terms or not. And, Raúl, of course, will try to make it as painless as possible for Obama. Not by implementing any kind of liberalization or meaningful reforms, of course. He will, however, hand over to Obama the 230 political prisoners which human rights organizations have formally annointed as such and as many of the other 230,000 in his jails as Obama may want (we don't think he'll want any more). Then it's a done deal. Fifty years Fidel has waited and now, tottering on the brink of the grave, victory will finally be his. Castro always expected that the U.S. would surrender unconditionally to him and it will if Barack Obama is elected president.

Let this be a lesson to all tyrants: Never capitulate, run down the clock, and eventually an American president wholly ignorant of history and in collusion with America's enemies, will come to your rescue, and postpone for 50 years, or indefinitely, the re-birth of freedom and democracy in your country. Fidel Castro was fortunate enough to have had one such president in his lifetime (JFK). He may actually live to see another.

In his speech, Obama made a few passing references to Cuba concealed in a surplusage of verbiage covering topics from FDR's "Four Freedoms" to the effect of youth gangs in Central America. What no one seems to have noticed is that Obama did not mention Fidel Castro in his speech as if he and his crimes had already passed into history. This omission spared him having to address Fidel as "former president" or dictator, "onetime leader" or tyrant. It also eliminated the possibility that his audience would manifest their disapproval when he uttered his name. He certainly wouldn't want to provide an occasion of his public embarrassment.

When Obama spoke of "tyranny," it was the "tyranny of oil" that he lambasted, not the Castro tyranny. And when he attacked a dictator, it was Hugo Chávez, not Fidel Castro. While accrediting Hugo Chávez's last election as "democratic [!]," Obama said that he was a "demagogue," an "authoritarian" and "perilous." He did not say the same thing about the Castros. Before an audience of more or less anti-Castro Cubans, Obama did not feel right joining in the anti-Castro "bashing" by calling a spade a spade. Besides, Obama can afford to beat up a little on Chávez. He doesn't have to restore diplomatic or economic relations with Venezuela. Hugo is good to go: Obama can attack him without hurting him. If attacking him can provide the necessary cover not to attack Castro, he is more than ready to make an "example" of Chávez.

What exactly did Obama say about Cuba?

Exactly what he had said before.

He will "stand up for freedom in Cuba" by enabling tyranny there.

Obama's real concern is to make Communism work in Cuba as it does in China, that is, work in America's interest. The repression of the Tibetans shows that the Communist Chinese have no respect for human rights and that nothing has changed in China except that it is financially more viable. The tyranny now stands on firmer ground and is better equipped to perpetuate itself into infinity. It is precisely such a "space" which Obama hopes to create for Stalinism in Cuba.

Obama assured his listeners that he wouldn't just fly to Havana the day after his inauguration. There would be some preliminary arrangements before he met with Raúl. Future Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America and Castro's onetime lawyer, Greg Craig, will iron out the details of this latter-day Munich. The preparations might take some time, he hinted. But Obama left no doubt whatever that he intends to do precisely what he has said he would do and in exactly the manner he has stipulated -- without prior conditions. He is determined to be the "hostess with the mostest" to all the world's tyrants, not just Raúl. He is going to render them harmless like a snake charmer. After all, charm has carried him a long way. He is on the verge of becoming president of the United States on the strength of it and nothing else.

Which makes the defeat of Obama all the more imperative if Cuba is ever to be free again.


There's a very good deconstruction of Obama's speech at Babalú by his onetime booster Henry Gómez and even some grudging praise elsewhere for McCain's position on Cuba. I am tempted to charge Henry with gross inconsistency, but I will let it pass since he now appears to be going in the right direction. I wonder if Ros-Lehtinen, McCain's earliest supporter, boxed Henry's ears at Cuba Nostalgia? If she did, good for her. That's also the first time I've praised her in ages.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Cry Me a River, Val

For Val, Cuba is a vale of tears to which he contributes more than his share. It took him three days to compose himself sufficiently to write about his trip to the White House, and then, when he finally did, Bush was mentioned only as Willy Chirino's emcee. Once upon a time Bush was a lot more to Val. In fact, Bush was Val's "mentor" as Rev. Wright was Obama's. It was from Bush that Val borrowed his "Pressure Cooker Theory." For Bush was the first to postulate that only by increasing the misery of the Cuban people can their misery end. It's an interesting formulation with many possible variants: such as, only by stoning a drunk man can you make him less stoned and so forth.

Did Val actually see his once-beloved POTUS? He boasts that he was "standing just 20 feet from the president." Imagine. Closer than that and they might have shared an elevator. I'm surprised that Val did not write that their two eyes met in a knowing glance for a fraction of a second which seemed like eternity. Really, it does appear that Val is distancing himself just a tad from the president. "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" couldn't separate them; but $4.00 oil and the mortgage crisis seem to have put some space between them. Maybe.

Just as likely it is Bush who's distancing himself from Val, not the other way around. What do I mean? Perhaps Val was relegated to the overflow room with the big-screen tv and a box of presidential Kleenex. That would explain the lack of "you are there" feel to Val's recollections, which, so far, are limited to expressing his emotion at hearing Willy Chirino sing "Nuestro Día Ya Viene Llegando" and at the playing of the Cuban National Anthem, in that order.

George W. Bush holds the distinction of having enslaved more Cubans than any living man except the undead one. For eight years he has upheld the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot"policy which returned more Cubans to slavery than the Dred Scott decision ever did. He enforced that odious policy longer than did Clinton. Since it is not a law (and, indeed, contravenes an existing law known as The Cuban Adjustment Act [1966]), Bush enforced it, like Clinton, through presidential fiat. Which means that in any of the last 3000 days he could have ended that travesty with a stroke of his pen and did not. Instead, thousands of helpless refugees were hunted like animals on the high seas, their boats capsized and their hapless occupants left to drown or worse. The "lucky ones" among these were returned to Castro's tender mercies. This is the man who "honored" Val with an invitation to the White House and whom Val "honored" by accepting it.

There is no photograph of President Bush with Val Prieto for him proudly to hang in his new kitchen. I guess you have to contribute $10,000 to get one of those or at least $10,000 worth of publicity. Val failed on both counts. But maybe he can buy a signed picture of Bush on eBay. They go for about $5.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Of Crabs and Men

While the world awaits the story of "Mr. Prieto Goes to Washington," Val has regaled his readers with a "Cubanish Aesopean [sic] tale" about an old Cuban fisherman who doesn't use a lid on his crab trap. Why? Here's the punch line: Because they are Cuban crabs. "When one crab tries to climb out, the rest pull him back in."

Well, I've told Val's "joke" in 20 words instead of his 300 and it still isn't funny. And it certainly isn't "approproiate [sic] on many, many levels."

In fact, not only is it greatly unfunny as a joke it is also greatly uninstructive as a parable. But more than that, it is offensive and untrue on all levels.

No people in history have shown greater solidarity in the face of adversity, or given more signal proofs of their willingness to help their fellow man at great personal risk and even at the peril of their lives than have Cubans over the last 50 years. It would have been impossible for Cubans to have survived our long national crucible if they had not been able to rely on one another. Certainly they had no one else to rely on.

We all know that Val Prieto is opposed to family remittances or visits to the island by exiles who want to help their relatives survive the material privations that Castro has inflicted on them. (He might make an exception of cellphones since sending these to Cuba now has Bush's blessing). Val opposes these visits because he believes that Cuban exiles return to the island to carouse like other tourists. For him, Cubans helping other Cubans is an aberration whether it's Cuban exiles reaching out to their relatives in Cuba or Cubans on the island lending a hand to other Cubans. In his eyes, we are the most wretched people on earth, incapable of love, loyalty or empathy. That is, something below even the order of crustaceans. And, like crabs, Cubans are only fit to be dropped in a pot of boiling water or seethed in a pressure cooker.

Yes, we already have Val's recipe.

Perhaps he even shared it with President Bush.


There is apparently one Cuban family at least where love, (blind) loyalty and empathy have not been extinguished. Of course, it is the Prieto family. This is what Val's niece Amanda wrote about her uncle's trip to Washington, D.C. to witness the last Cuban Independence Day presidential charade:

"I do not have the words to express how proud I am of my uncle. I told him over the weekend that this is his calling. He was meant to be a voice for the Cuban people. I don't know anyone with as much passion and determination for a cause as he has for this one, and I'm an honored to be his niece. "

The poor child obviously expects that the next time her uncle visits the White House it will be as president of Cuba.

I didn't think there could be something worse for Cuba than a President Barack Obama.

I was wrong.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Veinte de Mayo

When the U.S. decided 30 years ago that having three-day weekends was preferable to honoring the actual anniversaries of their historic holidays, it made an exception of the Fourth of July. It would not be celebrated on any other day but July 4th.

It is good to see that one politician at least honors our country on the actual anniversary of her independence. It is May 20th, not the 21st or 23rd that marks the birth of the Cuban Republic in 1902. I am always suspicious of anyone that seems to want to avoid that day. This year everybody except Senator McCain has moved the date to accommodate his schedule or his prejudices, including President Bush, the organizers of the May 21st Cuban Solidarity Day and Senator Barack Obama, who specifically requested that the Cuban-American National Foundation change the day of his speech to that organization to May 23rd. In his case, we are sure, it was no scheduling conflict.

Castro replaced May 20th with July 26th as the Cuban National Holiday. Instead of celebrating the culmination of nearly a century of struggles to obtain Cuba's independence, the Cuban people are obliged to mark the start of Castro anti-Cuban Revolution, which allowed every foreign country so disposed to recolonize our country, selling our hard-won independence to the highest bidder. Its 30-year vassalage to the Soviet Union, which ended only when the Soviet Union did, involved Cuba in dozens of mercenary wars throughout the world and cost the lives of more than 100,000 of our countrymen.

Still, the architects of our country's ruin purport that the Republic that was inaugurated on May 20th was imperfect -- a "pseudo-republic" or "neo-colonialist republic" -- because its sovereignty was compromised by the Platt Amendment which gave the U.S. the right to intervene in Cuba whenever it believed that Cubans were compromising their independence. This was indeed a monstrous imposition: no occupying power under international law has the right to limit much less conspire against the sovereignty of an occupied nation. But the Republic established on May 20th was not static as is Castro's anti-Cuban Revolution; it evolved politically over three decades and by 1934 had shaken off the Platt Amendmnent and achieved absolute sovereignty.

Why not, then, commemorate the abrogation of the Platt Amendment as the real anniversary of Cuban independence? Because that day would never have come unless May 20th had come first. The declaration of Cuban Independence in 1902 made it impossible for the U.S. or any other country to annex Cuba except through a war of conquest. The U.S. could meddle in Cuban affairs and did; it could even intervene militarily, as it also did. But it could not recolonize Cuba, that is, it could not abolish its independence and declare it a U.S. territory or state. After 1902 annexation became impossible, and annexation, of course, had been the goal of American foreign policy towards Cuba since the time of Jefferson. The U.S. waited for 75 years for the "ripe apple" to fall into its lap, but the prevision of Martí and the weight of his legacy, prevented it. The sacrifice of May 19th insured the victory of May 20th.

So, yes, May 20th deserves to be commemorated by all Cubans as the birth of our nation. Any Cuban who repudiates it is in fact repudiating our independence.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The May 20th Speech that Matters

John McCain's Cuban Independence Day Speech

Today, on Cuba's Independence Day, we have occasion to celebrate the rich cultural heritage and deep-rooted traditions of the Cuban people. Cuban Americans, many of whom have ascended to the heights of business, government, and the arts, have enriched and enlivened our country. In every field, and in states across America, they bring to our communities their custom of hard work and personal initiative. And for many of these patriotic individuals, while their lives and work are here in the United States, a bit of Cuba will always endure in their hearts.

So must it be for all Americans who cherish those freedoms we so often take for granted at home. For today is not a cause for celebration alone. Those inspired freedom fighters who secured Cuba's independence over 100 years ago could hardly know that their descendants would be engaged in a struggle for freedom and democracy a century later. And yet today, the Cuban people continue to live under tyranny, and their struggle goes on.

It is not a fruitless struggle, not by any means. One day, America will again have warm relations with a Cuban government that represents the sovereign will of its people, one that respects their fundamental human and political rights. One day, Cuba will be an important ally in advancing democracy throughout our hemisphere. Make no mistake: Cuba is destined to be free.

Today, as so many of you know too well, the situation is very different. Fidel Castro has passed the titles of power to his brother in a fashion suited more for a personal fiefdom than to a government purporting to represent that proud and dynamic people. A few recent news articles have labeled as "reforms" the smattering of small changes that have taken place since Raul Castro has formally taken charge. Such characterizations must sound quite cynical to the political prisoners that fill Cuban jails, to the millions who suffer under poverty and repression, and to all those who wish to choose their leaders, not suffer under them. The Castro regime enforces strict limits against freedom of expression, of association, of assembly, of movement, of speech. Last year, as many as 5,000 citizens served sentences for the vague crime of "dangerousness."

Yet tyranny will not forever endure, and as President, I will not passively await the day when the Cuban people enjoy the blessings of freedom and democracy. It is in our national interest to support their aspirations and oppose those of the Castro regime, one that harbors fugitives from U.S. justice, expresses unrelenting hostility to America, and shoots down unarmed civilian aircraft. I wish the other presidential candidates felt similarly. Just a few years ago, Senator Obama had a very clear view on Cuba. When asked in a questionnaire about his policy toward Cuba, he answered: "I believe that normalization of relations with Cuba would help the oppressed and poverty-stricken Cuban people while setting the stage for a more democratic government once Castro inevitably leaves the scene." Now Senator Obama has shifted positions and says he only favors easing the embargo, not lifting it. He also wants to sit down unconditionally for a presidential meeting with Raul Castro. These steps would send the worst possible signal to Cuba's dictators – there is no need to undertake fundamental reforms, they can simply wait for a unilateral change in US policy. I believe we should give hope to the Cuban people, not to the Castro regime. My administration will press the Cuban regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally, to legalize all political parties, labor unions, and free media, and to schedule internationally monitored elections. The embargo must stay in place until these basic elements of democratic society are met.

Maintaining the embargo is, however, just one element of a broader approach my administration would make to the people of Cuba. I would provide more material assistance and moral support to the courageous human rights activists who bravely defy the regime every day, and increase Radio and TV Marti and other means to communicate directly with the Cuban people. My Justice Department would vigorously prosecute Cuban officials implicated in the murder of Americans, drug trafficking, and other crimes. While our Cuba policy will not always be in accord with that of our hemispheric and European partners, my administration will begin an active dialogue with them to develop a plan for post-Castro Cuba, a plan that will spark rapid change and a new awakening in that country. The Cuban people have waited long enough.

As we work with our hemispheric partners, we must be clear about the kind of leadership America seeks to provide. For decades, in Republican and Democratic administrations alike, the United States has treated Latin America as a junior partner rather than as a neighbor, like a little brother rather than as an equal. As a resident of a state that borders Mexico, I am acutely aware of the extraordinary contributions that our neighbors make to the United States – from trade to culture to a commitment to democracy and human rights. Latin America today is increasingly vital to the fortunes of the United States, and Americans north and south share a common geography and a common destiny. It is time to embrace this destiny for the benefit of all our peoples.

We have made progress toward this vision by expanding the benefits of free commerce, through NAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, and our free trade agreements with Peru and Chile. But the progress has stalled; our longstanding bipartisan commitment to hemispheric prosperity is crumbling. We see this most vividly in Barack Obama's and Hillary Clinton's opposition to the free trade agreement with Colombia. The failure of the Congress to take up and approve this agreement is a reminder why 80 percent of Americans think we are on the wrong track. Congress can find time to pass a pork-filled farm bill, but it cannot stir itself to support a key ally and further American prosperity.

The Colombia FTA would benefit American workers and consumers – the U.S. International Trade Administration estimates that over $1 billion in tariffs have been imposed on U.S. exports to Colombia since the FTA was signed, tariffs that would be eliminated once the agreement takes effect. Here in Florida, trade has created new markets for the Sunshine State's world-class produce, manufactured goods, and professional services. Florida's exports to Canada and Mexico rose by some 208 percent since NAFTA was enacted, and its exports to Chile grew 99 percent in the first four years of its free trade agreement. Colombia today stands as Florida's fifth largest export market – Florida exported $2.1 billion worth of goods there last year – and now the Colombians are offering to drop their barriers to American goods. Yet Senators Obama and Clinton oppose the agreement, wishing to retreat behind protectionist walls and undermine a key hemispheric ally.

The strategic implications of rejecting this agreement are profound. Colombia is a beacon of hope in a region where the Castro brothers, Hugo Chavez, and others are actively seeking to thwart economic progress and democracy. Delaying approval of the Colombian Free Trade Agreement will not create one American job or start one American business, but it will divide us from our Colombian partners at a time when they are battling the FARC terrorists and their allied drug cartels. It will undercut America's standing with our allies in a critical region and across the world, at a moment when rebuilding these relationships has never been more important. It will set back the goal of deepening relations with our neighbors to the south and enhancing the stability, peace, and prosperity of our hemisphere.

If I am elected president, the United States will not bow to the special interests seeking to block progress. Instead, we will forge a new policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean Basin, one founded on peace and security, shared prosperity, democracy and freedom, and mutual respect. We will work to prevent Venezuela and Bolivia from taking the same road to failure Castro has paved for Cuba, and we will broaden and strengthen ties with key states like Brazil, Peru, and Chile. We will make clear to all countries in the region that if they share our values of freedom and openness, they can count on us as a friend. We will not abandon our partners to demagogues, drug lords, and despair, but expand the benefits of security, trade and prosperity to all.

My vision embodies the interests and the values of America and seeks the betterment of all people, everywhere in our hemisphere. And it is a vision that includes the people of Cuba.

Courageous men found their calling at the beginning of the last century in winning for Cuba its independence. And those brave men and women who stand up for their rights today will, one day soon, win for Cuba its freedom. When they do, they will enjoy not only the fruits of their own liberation, but also the firm and fast friendship of all Americans who have stood with them throughout the years of struggle. On this Cuban Independence Day, let us take a moment to pray that Cubans everywhere can one day soon enjoy the liberty for which their forefathers fought.

May 20th 2008
Miami, Florida

Will Cuba Ever Be Free Again? (Part II)

Part II

I have already dedicated an essay to explaining why I believe there has been no internal insurrection in Cuba in the last 49 years. Fortunately for us, there doesn't have to be one for our country to regain her freedom because the Castro regime is not and has never been sustained by internal forces.

It is not the Cuban people who are the bulwark of Castro's anti-Cuban Revolution. On the contrary, it is their willingness to sabotage it at any and all moments that has kept it in a state of near collapse for almost 50 years, not just the monumental incompetence of Fidel Castro or the irredeemable insanity of Marxist economics. The Cuban people's spontaneous and near-unanimous resolve to do everything in their power to abet the failure of the revolutionary project would have toppled the regime long ago if the Revolution had ever relied on domestic sources for its survival. In fact, it never has. The Cuban Revolution is not nationalistic in origin or trajectory. It is and has always been an international enterprise sponsored and sustained by foreigners.

Left to its own resources, it would not have survived under any guise but crumbled under the weight of the collective incompetence of it leaders and the resistance of the people. But it was never alone. The U.S., which installed Castro in power, has maintained him there for 49 and counting. If its nominal opposition favored the regime, the U.S. was there to provide it. If it did not, the U.S. was ready to dispense with any opposition. When Castro said the embargo was meaningless and proclaimed loudly to the world that Cuba did not need the U.S. for anything, the U.S. obliged by maintaining the embargo. When Soviet subsidies stopped and Castro blamed all of Cuba's problems on the embargo, the U.S. relaxed and eventually gutted the embargo to oblige him.

At the most crucial moment in Cuban history, with Castro posed to obliterate the island in what amounted to the first recorded case of "suicide by cop," the U.S., again, blinked. Rather than undertake the removal of the cause of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Americans were content merely to barter for the withdrawal of the instrumentalities. The Kennedy-Khrushchev pact was purchased at the price of our country's perpetual oppression, for JFK, after betraying us at the Bay of Pigs, agreed to make the U.S. the guarantor of Communism in Cuba, in effect ceding our country to the Soviet Union much as Great Britain had ceded Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany in 1938. Yet the same act of betrayal, which is a source of shame for Britain today, has long been held to be the finest moment in U.S. statecraft. Some nations, it would appear, are more expendable than others.

The Soviet Union underwrote the Cuban Revolution for nearly 30 years, which no doubt contributed to its own economic collapse and hastened the end of Communism in Eastern Europe. It did not, however, bring freedom to the Cuban people. Others were ready and even anxious to take Russia's place. China and all the Western nations, in fact, did their bit to perpetuate Castro's rule. Canada and Spain, which with Mexico have always endeavored to undermine the interests of the U.S. by their support of Castro, resurrected Cuba's tourism industry as the panacea that would save the Cuban Revolution. Despite defaulting on all its foreign obligations and a more than 20-year hiatus on servicing its foreign debt, Communist Cuba was never cut off but continued to be the beneficiary of what amounted to subsidies from countries that periodically purported to deplore its human rights abuses but still underwrote Castro's rule. Even Third World countries have subsidized Castro by contracting for the services of his slaves. This would not have sufficed to sustain the regime if a historical anomaly called Hugo Chávez had not come to Castro's rescue in the hope of some day replacing him.

If Barack Obama is elected president, the Cuban Revolution shall have a new lease on life. The unnecessary sacrifices it has inflicted on the Cuban people will be rewarded in a measure that shall surpass Castro's fondest expectations. The wait has been long, but not a difficult one for the Cuban hierarchy, which always placed their creature comforts before the necessities of the Cuban people. Now they are to be confirmed in all their prerogatives by the United States and accorded not only recognition but vindication. The surrender of the U.S., without prior conditions, has always been Castro's goal and the only terms acceptable to him. Obama has announced that he will negotiate with Castro unconditionally. I am sure that this promise is the only thing that is keeping Fidel alive.

If instead of abetting Castro for nearly 50 years, the U.S. and the rest of the world had opposed his rule, the efforts of the Cuban people to undermine his regime by what amounts to the longest sustained period of passive resistance in history -- the only resistance open to Cubans -- would have liberated them without firing one shot. But that kind of worldwide effort was reserved for another pariah state, South Africa, which, incidentally, is now engaged in the systematic slaughter, almost amounting to genocide, of all foreigners in their country (no, not the whites, but 3 million blacks refugees from Zimbabwe and other African countries).

For Cuba to be free again, the world must not engage Cuba; it must quit Cuba. It is that simple. If in the last half-century the Cuban Revolution has proved anything other than its depravity, it has shown, beyond a doubt, that it is completely unequipped to survive on its own. The Cuban people have done everything in their power to contribute to their own liberation by undermining the system that oppresses them. But that will never be enough while the rest of the world, including the U.S., is complicit in their enslavement.

Monday, May 19, 2008

On the 113th Anniversary of the Apostle's Death

Today, May 19th, marks the 113th anniversary of José Martí's death but never has he been more alive than today or more indispensable for our country's future. He is the reliquary of our country's aspirations for freedom and the agent of its regeneration now as then. Men live only a finite time on earth; but the greatest men transcend the days of man and become immortal because they embody in themselves and in their work timeless ideals which are forever relevant and vital. Such was Martí to our people and all the peoples of the Americas, indeed, to everyone anywhere who has ever bothered to acquaint himself with his life and writings. As Martí said, "I believe that man has a duty to do good even after death. Therefore, I write." If we had heeded his words and followed his example, we would have been spared the great calamity that befell us as a people. The last 50 years have only reinforced his central place in our national cosmology and the necessity of rebuilding our country along the lines that he laid out.

A popular song of the 1940s lamented that Martí should never have died because he alone could have returned dignity and probity to our national life. There is precisely where we erred as a people: the fatalism of believing that only a resurrected Martí, and not his teachings alive in all of us, could save us. Maybe these last 50 years were an unavoidable expiation for ever thinking that we had found a substitute for Martí in the vilest man that was ever born in our country. There is no substitute for Martí and we will forever err if we expect there to be one. Martí does not need a subtitute because he has never left us. It is our duty as individuals and as a nation to honor his memory by showing ourselves to be worthy of his legacy. The only way to do so is to assimilate and apply his teachings. Therein we will find also the way to our country's redemption.

Also of interest:

May 19, 1895: Death of José Martí at Dos Ríos

A Selection of Quotations by José Martí (Translated from the Spanish)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Will Cuba Ever Be Free Again?

Part I

Will Cuba ever be free again?

Of course.

There is no doubt that she will be free someday.

Those for whom this assurance is enough, whose vision and faith is Mosaic, should stop reading here.

We have wandered in the desert somewhat longer than Moses did; or, rather, we have wandered away from the desert that has become our homeland in the hope of being able to return there in the fullness of time. That is the remarkable thing about time which we didn't need Einstein to explain to us: it is always expanding. Yet we ourselves are not. Those of us who have already expanded (and expended) fifty years in the hope of catching up with our country's destiny, returning to that desert and making it blossom again, as it once did, cannot cherish the hope of being gardeners there or even of witnessing its blossoming beyond the days of man. Time for us is definitely finite. The nearer we come to the horizon the less time there is left for us to meet it.

So the original question must be rephrased:

Will we live to see a free Cuba?

Is that hope still tenable?

Not for all of us, not even for most of us. Perhaps not even for any of us.

It really does depend on one's individual expectations, that is, how one chooses to define "free." The more you define freedom down, the closer your definition is to the present system (i.e. the negation of freedom), the closer you are to seeing that day. If consumer freedom suffices, then Cubans have already set out on the road to "freedom" with the Chinese model as their ultimate though unreachable goal. If new faces are all that is required, then there will be many new faces in the immediate future, and more importantly, the old familiar detestable faces of communism will all be gone soon if not the thing itself. If that is enough to meet your definition of freedom, then you are that much closer to the "freedom" you desire. If a re-built Cuba, with skycrapers as high as Shanghai's and state-corporativism (also known as fascism) in full-throttle thanks to a sympathetic U.S. president that will do for Cuba what Nixon did for China (except without prior conditions), then your dream of a "free" Cuba may be here as soon as November. If you believe that tyranny can evolve into something other and preferable to tyranny without guns and against the wishes of a regional hagemon which considers stability preferable to freedom in Cuba, then what are you doing here when the best perspective from which to witness that evolution is there?

If, however, you belong to the majority of Cuban exiles unwilling to make any accommodation with the evil that destroyed our country, or to tolerate a thriving tyranny more than an impoverished one, if progress means to you the fulfillment of man's thriving to be free rather the State's striving to be omnipotent, if you want the best for Cuba and not merely what others would settle for as good enough for our country, our wait has just begun.

[In Part II, we will discuss what is required now for Cuba to regain her freedom and for us to be able to see her free before we end our days].

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Notable & Quotable: Gay Marriage Debated At Babalú Apropos of Obama

"Can you [Sr Cohiba] look a gay man in the eye and say, 'You have no right to marry?'" -- thinwhiteduke, "If Obama Wins This Is What You'll Get from the Courts [comment]," Babalú, May 15, 2008

As that riposte indicates, Sr Cohiba, Babalú's resident legal expert, is now engaged in the most animated debate in ages at Babalú. About gay rights. Not in Cuba, but in California. It was not as the legal expert but the Obama-unmasker that Sr. Cohiba warned today that if Barack Obama is elected president he can be expected to pack the courts, and, especially, the Supreme Court, with liberal deconstructionists who might attempt to legislate immorality as their predecessors once attempted to legislate morality. His bone of contention, so to speak, is gay marriage, for which the California Supreme Court claims to have found sufficient sanction in the Constitution to overturn a public vote proscribing it.

Anything to defeat a socialist, I suppose, but aren't there a thousand worse things that an Obama Supreme Court could do than legalize gay marriage? Such as, for example, legalize "intergenerational sex" (otherwise known as child abuse) or partial birth abortion (otherwise known as murder)? Or, how about emptying America's prisons because the disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics confined there is deemed to be prima facie evidence of racial discrimination?

These are not farfetched schemes by any means but coda of the Democratic Party's lunatic fringe to which Barack Obama belongs. Except, of course, that the lunatic fringe is no longer marginalized with Obama as his party's likely standard bearer. The "fringe" is now the mainstream. They don't, of course, say that they favor the molestation of children, just the elimination or reduction of the age of consent; they don't identify themselves as "baby killers" but they do deny that it is wrong to murder a baby on an operating table because they don't recognize that the baby is a baby though they do recognize that the table is a table; and they don't call themselves advocates of "criminals' rights" but consider imprisoned minorities to be victims of the legal system rather than violators of the law.

Barack Obama is himself the leading exponent of partial birth abortion in the Democratic Party. He is the only senator to have ever voted for it, that is, to affirm the legality of killing babies that have already exited the birth canal (that is, been delivered) by stabbing them with a scalpel, bashing their heads or tearing off their limbs. He has even argued that this procedure might be justifiable to save the life of the mother. Let's see: a "terrible accident" has occurred and a baby has been born despite the best efforts of the abortionist to suction its brains out or turn it to mincemeat inside the womb. What to do? Well, Obama wouldn't want to compromise the mental health of a woman who consented to the murder of her child by presenting her with a living baby. Never that. God forbid! So he would allow the baby to be viciously murdered as it writhes and breathes on the operating table. Barack Obama stands at head of the 5 percent of Americans who are in favor of allowing this atrocity worthy of Mengele (though Mengele himself stopped short of it).

I have always framed the argument against Obama in terms of Cuba because that is the chief concern of this blog. But even if, God be merciful, the Castro regime disappears from the face of the earth tomorrow, it would still be the death of this country and the free world (including its youngest member) to entrust the presidency of the United States to Barack Obama. Imagine Obama's mentor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright as president, or Wright's mentor Minister Louis Farrakhan: it is no different. Obama is the product of a particular mindset without the usual trappings that accompany and define it. The trappings are in themselves inconsequential except as markers of that mindset. Obama has rejected them but refused to embrace the markers or codewords of the opposition -- until Rev. Wright stepped into his campaign (as opposed to his life).

Now he wears his flag pin, salutes the flag, loves America and invokes God's blessing on this great nation. There is nothing that Obama is unwilling to do to secure the presidency: even counterfeit patriotism, which, from his perspective, is the ultimate public sin. Barack Obama's positions on virtually every social issue run counter to the beliefs of a vast majority of Americans, not excluding black and Hispanics, and, indeed, particularly blacks and Hispanics. African-Americans support him despite his views not because of them. So, in fact, do a majority of all his supporters, who have decided that electing a black president would be the final stage in purging racism from this country. The fact that they have chosen someone who exploits racial divisions for his own benefit and will enshrine race as the litmus test for all state policy does not seem to be as important to them as his pigmentation. The desideratum of having a black president outweighs all other considerations.

I do not think, however, that opponents of Obama will gain much by attacking his position on gay marriage, though this, too, is an idea rejected by most Americans (and particularly African-Americans). It's pretty certain that those who oppose it as a core issue are not supporting Obama. It is also unlikely that fighting Obama on that account will get someone who wasn't voting for McCain to change his mind. What will likely happen, what is in fact already happening to poor Cohiba, is to stir discontent without benefitting anyone (except maybe Obama). Why risk making enemies for McCain by exploiting an issue that may mean little or nothing to you but everything to someone else? And why do so when there are other issues like partial birth abortion that a majority of Americans can coalesce around without the issue being obscured by accusations of "homophobia" and the like? I don't know what the proponents of partial birth abortion would call McCain for opposing it. An "infancidephobe?" Not as catchy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Bellman Never Rings Twice Except at Babalú

'Tis that time of year again when Val Prieto's fancy turns to thoughts of Fidel Castro's death, real or imaginary. Even now Babalu's Founding Editor and sometime bellman is furiously pulling at the ropes and soon there shall peel out a now-familiar knell announcing the glorious news of Fidel's death, again. If this were a sincere impulse on his part motivated by a genuine if uncontrollable urge to hurry the Grim Reaper along on his ineludible task, we might excuse or even applaud Val's enthusiasm. But we all know this instinct is strictly mercenary and manifests itself at periodic intervals, not spontaneously, but when it will do Babalú the most good. Ironically, though the rumor of Fidel's death has circulated more than any rumor in history, it still manages to gain traction every time it is trotted out. Val doesn't mind exploiting the hoary rumor even if it raises Bababú's stats at the expense of its diminishing credibility.

The last time Val killed Castro, back in August of last year, Babalú received 50,000 hits in one day and almost as many the next, which signifies a spike of 1000-2000 percent. The fallout from the hoax that time, when Babalú joined forces with PerezHilton to disseminate the bogus news, was the most severe to date and should have taught him a lesson. The patience and humor of most readers had long been exhausted. They didn't relish in the least being made fools of again, having their expectations raised for the expressed purpose of dashing them. Fidel's death is not merely an occasion for celebration. The joy is far from undiluted. At best, it is a mixed joy: the murderer will no longer kill, but he leaves a mountain of corpses in his wake which his minions will raise higher in his name before the house of horrors that he built crumbles in a heap to form his monument.

Val has perfected a way of insinuating Castro's death before announcing his hunch as a fact. Today we saw the first unequivocal step in that direction ("... And Then Something Went *POOF*... "). If precedent holds, Val will announce Fidel's death on Friday. Gusano was bold enough to poke fun at Babalú's weaver of tales while insinuating that the reason the regime has felt no compunction lately to prove that Castro is alive is because Val has not questioned it. The sycophants flatter Val even when they mock him. Perhaps they enjoy the spectacle of his self-humiliation. We would enjoy it, too, except that it plays with people's rawest emotions and plunges them into even greater despair by feeding false hopes to them when hope is all they have left to cling to.

The rumormongers do not profit as much as Castro does by their work. Such premature burials and untimely resurrections only contribute to the myth of Castro's invulnerability and reinforce the notion that he has cheated death too as he has all who have opposed him. The only thing that can prop Castro now is to represent him as dead. As a living man, he is all but finished. As a dead man, however, he is surprisingly spry and communicative.

I wonder sometimes if Fidel is Babalú's messiah because he keeps dying for their sins.

Also of interest:

Is Fidel Castro Dead? Babalú Again Has the (Wrong) Answer

The Pot Calls the Kettle Prieto

"Good-bye Miami!" and "Hello Cairo!"

RCAB Virtual Lithograph #1

"Good-bye Miami!"

"Hello Cairo!"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ana Menéndez is Leaving Miami for Lebanon

Although there are very few things that RCAB and Babalú admire in common, there are a great many things that we hate in common. Near the top of that list, along with Lesnick, Aruca and Montiel-Davis, is Ana Menéndez, the transplanted Valley girl who discovered in her 30s that being Cuban — or the right (that is, left) sort of Cuban, anyway — could jump start a stalled writing career and make her the pin-up girl for every Cuban-hater in the universe. Her ignorance of all things Cuban and her contempt for all things Cuban were invaluable credentials in becoming a media expert on all things Cuban.

But she possessed something else which set her apart from the other "Cuban experts" anointed by The Miami Herald as representatives of a community which did not know them, and, worse, which they did not know: Ana Menéndez only consented to "pass" as Cuban if she could make it clear in each and every column that she was not a Cuban exile, but better, nobler and more sophisticated, an almost unique pattern of Cubanhood which had evolved in exile along the same lines as Castro's "New Man (Woman)" without the excuse of indoctrination or coercion.

She was such a perfect stooge of left-wing interests that the only way we could hope to rid ourselves of her was through promotion, and the gods have smiled upon us when they heaped on her more unearned honors and cushy sinecures. A Fulbright Fellowship — named after one of the Senate's most strident anti-Communists, architect of the Cuban trade embargo, relentless enemy of the Castro regime and reliable friend of Cuban exiles — has been awarded to this disciple of accommodation, apologist for the Castro regime and inveterate enemy of her exiled countrymen. The irony is so rich that it is almost lethal to consume it let alone savor it. I am sure that Fulbright himself would appreciate it.

Thanks to the agency of the old Cold Warrior this execrable woman is to be sent out of the country for one year, to Lebanon, of all places, the land of her ancient ancestors, where she will impart her wisdom on Cuba (which she has never seen) to that country's hapless university students. There is at least one valuable lesson which she can teach them: how Cuba, once the "Lebanon of the Caribbean," and Lebanon, once the "Cuba of the Middle East," shared a common fate which was consummated 50 years ago: both, once vibrant redoubts of civilization, are now wastelands; Lebanon, because of a civil war and numerous invasions; and Cuba, because one man, without dropping a single bomb, turned marble to dust.

The good news doesn't stop there, however. After her return from Lebanon, she will became an international correspondent, which means that she will spend most of her time out of the country, still writing for The Miami Herald but not about Miami anymore. This is the best possible news for all Cuban exiles, whom Menéndez will now have to go out of her way to malign. One Cuban, more than the others, will celebrate this fact: her own beleaguered father.

The only time that I was ever moved by anything that Ana Menéndez wrote was when she related the anguish and shame which her father felt because she was his daughter. How on one occasion, in particular, he stopped speaking to her because he interpreted her negative portrayal of our community as a rejection of her own parents. I felt sorry, of course, for him, not for her. And now I feel sorry for Lebanon, as if it didn't have troubles enough.

The royal palms sway carelessly today and the cedars of Lebanon shake with fear.

Also of interest:

Ana Menéndez Psychoanalyzes Cuban Exiles (09/24/07)


RCAB is proud to announce that it will issue its first commemorative virtual lithograph (suitable for printing) to mark the migration to greener pastures of former Miami Herald columnist Ana Menéndez. Do not miss it. It is sure to become a virtual collector's item. Keep looking here and it shall soon appear and just as soon disappear (we don't want to glut the market).

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A "New" Poem By José Martí Written for His Sister to Present to Their Mother "On Her Day"

A mi querida Madre en su día

¿Qué frases había que demostrarle pueda
La intensa emoción del alma mía
Hoy que ilumina de tu aurora el día
El llano tropical y la arboleda?

No pueda haber quien en ternura exceda
A la dulce expresión de mi alegria,
Y ruego a Dios que nunca ¡oh madre mía!
La nube del dolor hiera tu frente.
Que siempre pueda yo con alma ardiente
Apurar en tu alma inmaculada
Albas de luz y aromas del Oriente.

Tu hija: Ana Martí

To My Dear Mother on Her Day

What words are there that ever could convey
The deep emotion I feel in my heart
To see your halo illuminate the day,
And dawn, from tropic plain to woodland, start?

No joy more tender is there to exceed
The sweet expression of my happiness,
And I beseech God my prayer to heed
That sorrow's cloud your brow should never press
And I may always with a heart as ardent
Awaken in your own immaculate soul
The light of dawn and aromas of the Orient.

Your Daughter: Ana Martí
[Translated by Manuel A. Tellechea]

On this Mother's Day I am pleased to share with my readers this hitherto unknown poem whose authorship I have ascribed to José Martí, though it is signed by his sister Ana (Mariana Salustiana). The poem is dedicated to their mother Leonor Pérez on "su día," which was certainly her santo (Saint's Day) since neither birthdays nor Mother's Day were celebrated at the time. The poem dates from around 1866, when Martí would have been 13 and Ana 10. Since none of Martí's five sisters ever exhibited any literary inclinations or left any other poems or writings, it is not a farfetched conjecture that Martí wrote this poem for his sister to copy and present to their mother. The original, in my collection of martiana, is clearly in her handwriting, not Marti's. It also contains several neatly made corrections and additions from another hand, which we believe to be Martí's. Certainly the sophisticated style leaves no doubt as to Martí's authorship. The last line "Albas de luz y aromas del Oriente" is as characteristic of him as any line of poetry found in his writings. The precociousness of this composition, moreover, which not merely anticipates but suddenly explodes with the full bloom of Martí's genius, can leave no doubt as to our attribution.

In Seis Crónicas Inéditas de José Martí (Editorial Dos Ríos, 1997), which I had the honor to co-author with the eminent Cuban historian Carlos Ripoll, six unsigned articles by Martí were identified and translated (they had appeared originally in English in The New York Sun). These articles were later incorporated without our knowledge or consent, but, unexpectedly, with full acknowledgment to us, in volume 7 of the new "Edición Crítica" of Martí's Complete Works being currently published in Havana by the Centro de Estudios Martianos.

I consider this poem an even more important discovery than the six anonymous articles in The Sun, which, after all, were published 128 years ago in a well-known newspaper and would surely have been attributed to Martí by someone else some day, and, in any case, would never have been lost.

This poem, written on fragile tissue paper with embossed lacework borders, could have disappeared long ago and denied us this priceless example of Martí's juvenilia, of which there are very few surviving specimens. Among those is another adolescent poem dedicated to his mother as well as his earliest surviving letter, written at age 9, also written to her.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Change at the Top at Babalú

Val Prieto is no longer Babalu's "editor-in-chief." He is now listed on its masthead as "Founding Editor." That title is usually accorded to the founder of a newspaper or magazine after he has retired, or, more commonly, expired.

It cannot be long before Val awards himself the title of "Augustus."