Thursday, July 31, 2008

Judge Jeri Beth Cohen Is Up for Reelection: "Remember Elenita!"

If I were ask what I consider the finest moment in this blog's history, I would answer its months-long campaign to expose the judicial malfeasance of Judge Jeri Beth Cohen. Of course, I didn't draw her name out of a hat, which is how she must have been picked in the first place to be a judge. Her interest to RCAB lay in the fact that the case of Elián González was being heard, at long last and by proxy, in her courtroom. Another abused Cuban child, this time a girl, was being threatened with deportation to Communist Cuba because the father who had abandoned her at birth had decided that the road to fame and fortune for him was to sacrifice his daughter's future as Juan Miguel González had his son's. Judge Cohen, who saw the itinerant pig farmer Rafael Izquierdo as some noble savage out of Rousseau and not as a pawn in international politics, found him fit to be a "marginal father" and awarded him custody of Elenita, pending an appeal to a higher court. Before it could render its decision, however, a compromise was reached between the foster parents and the putative father which assured that Elenita would remain in the U.S. for at least 2 more years, when, hopefully, her return to Cuba will be either a moot question or one out of Cohen's hands.

The best way to assure that Judge Jeri Beth Cohen has no further say in Elenita's life is to remove her from the bench. Let me say that this is long overdue and that I am and will always be puzzled how someone who holds opinions about Cubans as racist and xenophobic as Cohen's could have been elected to office in Miami-Dade County in the first place. I suppose she kept her mouth shut then, as did Janet Reno in her day. But the bile will out and it did one day in her courtroom in July 2002, when she proclaimed "I do not think that they deport people back to Cuba. That is our big problem. If we deport people back to Cuba, we could empty our jails. We would have it made and be happy, but we cannot." Ironically, this was said in the context of a denatured parent's request that his 17-year old son be deported to Cuba. The Cuban-American Bar Association demanded an apology and threatened to file a complaint against her with the state's judicial ethics review panel, as would certainly have been done immediately if the subject of her comments had belonged to any other racial or ethnic minority? Can you imagine the uproar if Cohen had advocated repatriating all blacks to Africa, as Thomas Jefferson and other worthies once did? The Cuban-American lawyers, who still had to plead before her in court, accepted her apology on behalf of all Cubans and her faux pas was quickly forgiven and forgotten (contrary to The Miami Herald's assertions today). I am still amazed that I was the first to cite her quote in relation to this case. The Miami Herald certainly had "forgotten" and so had everybody else.

Well, The Herald has made amends by resurrecting that quote in an article about Abbie Corral, who represented Elenita's foster parents Joe and María Cubas during the custody trial and is now running against Judge Cohen in the November election. Ms. Corral could have picked one of several open seats and run uncontested for judge. Instead, she chose to challenge Judge Cohen for her seat. This will be the first challenge that Cohen will face since she was first elected in 1992. Of 32 sitting judges, only she and three others are running in contested races,which is yet another judicial scandal. If 32 state legislators were running for re-election unopposed, I think most would agree that the democratic process had broken down.

Not because she is a Cuban, not because she was Elenita's defender, but because she is not Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, I am endorsing Abbie Corral for circuit judge in Miami-Dade County. Besides McCain that will be RCAB's only endorsement this year.

One last thing: every day there are at least 3-4 visitors to this blog who come here by googling "Jeri Beth Cohen." This is because RCAB's coverage of the Elenita case pretty much defines Judge Cohen on the internet. I could not be more pleased or proud.

"What Can You Do for Me, Baby?"
In Elenita's Case, Freedom Wins
Judge Jeri B. Cohen Stopped Dead in Her Tracks By Appellate Court
Judge Jeri B. Cohen Seeks the Spotlight Again
Judge Jeri B. Cohen Awaits Her Report Card
Judge Cohen: The Little Girl Is Lying
Now Judge Cohen Officially Banishes the Truth from Her Courtroom
A Letter to Florida Governor Crist Appealing for Elenita's Life
More Fabricated Evidence Exposed and the "C Word" Banned from Judge Cohen's Courtroom
Elenita's Fairy Tale: Grimm Was Never This Grimm
What Judge Jeri B. Cohen Should Take to Bed Every Night
Judge Jeri B. Cohen's Decision: We Should All Want "Marginal" Fathers
Ana Menéndez Psychoanalyzes Cuban Exiles
The Real Parents — Joe and María Cubas
Joe Cubas: Castro's Worst Nightmare (and Henry's)
Ana Menéndez & Robert Molleda: The Hag and the Gelding; Or, Love in the Stable
Notable and Hateful: No Mercy for Children Who Straggle From Castro's Knee
What Creature Do I Despise the Most in the World?
The "Elenitas" Keep Multiplying
Is Oscar Corral In Cabaiguán, Cuba?
The Saga of Babalú's Henry Gómez & Alex of SotP
Judge Jeri B. Cohen Just "Hates It; Hates It; Hates It"
Judge Jeri Beth Cohen Gets Her Man (Off)
The Guajiro Hamlet: Rafael Izquiedo
Elián's Father was "Adopted" Too
El Bitongo
The Last Redoubt of Magical Realism: Judge Jeri Beth Cohen's Courtroom
By Their Scars You Will Know Them: The Ordeal of Elenita and Her Brother
Castro's Lawyers Kurzban & Davis Face Disbarment in Cubas-Izquierdo Custody Battle
Cui Bono: The Unasked Question in Judge Cohen's Courtroom
Elena Pérez: Her Life As a Mother and a Mistress (Or Chasing Cod in Cabaiguan)
Letter to Elena Pérez: Birth Mother of the Cuban Refugee Girl
Judge Jeri B. Cohen: Love Child of Janet Reno and Doris Meissner
The Poor Little Cuban Girl that They Call "Eliana"
Notable & Variable: Well, Well, Henry
What "American-Cuban" Bloggers Really Think About "Eliana"
¡Viva Ziva! The Moral Conscience of Babalu Blog

Honoring the Revolution's "Martyrs"

July 30th, the anniversary of the death in 1957 of Frank País, Cuba's most sanguinary terrorist, is commemorated in Castro's demesne as "Revolutionary Martyrs Day." The focus of memorial activities this year is Frank País' successor, who also had the good grace to get himself killed before the triumph of the Revolution and so earned Castro's eternal gratitude and friendship. This is something that Castro never awards to the living and the only way to earn it is to die. If Castro never actually said it he has certainly made it a guiding principle of his life: The only good revolutionary is a dead revolutionary.

They may not be competent to do anything else but Communists certainly are good at hagiography. They unveiled today in Santiago yet another monument to one of their revolutionary "martyrs." This time the honoree was René Ramos Latour, called by Castro "a commander in both hills and plains," by which he means that Ramos Latour did not confine his terrorist activity to just the cities but even took sabbaticals in the mountains with Fidel. It was there, 50 years ago, that he became one of the less than 100 rebels who were killed in combat there during the Revolution. With so few casualties they might as well save time and money by erecting a whole complex of statues to their "martyrs." It would make a fine site for bowling with tractors some day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Leftist Blogger Slams Babalú And We Are Not Amused

I do not like it when others steal my quarry. It is easy to feast on carrion, but not so easy to bring the beast down. I don't mind when Anglo bloggers exercise their cubanophobia on them. After all, then it's personal and has nothing to do with Cuba. It is quite another thing when a Cuban blogger presumes to trespass on my territory, and when it's a pro-Castro blogger, my anger knows no bounds because his criticism can rebound in their favor and lead others to think that Babalú is an anti-Castro and hence a pro-Cuban blog. It is an anti-Castro blog. It is by no means a pro-Cuban blog.

I really must wonder what possible inducement Babalú could have given Cuba Journal for it to say that they are batistianos and mafiosi. Let the Mafia be offended if it will. For my part, I have never known them to be supporters of General Batista. On the contrary, most, if not all, are fidelistas sin Fidel, by personal affinity or family legacy, who continue to depict the Revolution as a heroic endeavor and its most notorious figures, the terrorists of the July 26th Movement, as "martyrs" in freedom's cause. I well remember one of the last posts to which I contributed at Babalú that was dedicated to glorifying the figure of the vulgar assassin that was José Antonio Echeverría, the devout Catholic who thought nothing of murdering innocent children in cold blood.

The accusations which I make against Babalú cannot be made by Cuba Journal. I constantly throw at their faces the fact that they want to implode the Cuban people in a pressure cooker or compel them to shed rivers of innocent blood. Of course, this is also what Castro does to the Cuban people on a daily basis. Cuba Journal cannot attack Babalú for advocating something the practice of which it defends when carried out by Castro.

The best it can do is take Babalú to task for not capitalizing the Castro name; charge that Henry conspires to be the "Conductor" of an anti-Castro revolution when all he aspires to do is reintroduce commercial advertising to Cuba; allege (as pro forma) that Babalú shares a "U.S. paymaster" with Cuban dissidents; and shake its head in stupefaction because Babalú referred to Raúl's succession as "monarchical." Ironically, Cuba Journal also considers the transfer of power from brother to brother to be monarchical except not structurally but divinely ordained. Today it is only Communists (and some emirs and sultans) who still uphold the absolutism of kings.

Really, is this the best that Babalú's enemies on the left can do? If it is, then it is not very much. Of course the existence of Babalú is a great boon to the Castroites and they would do nothing to undermine it. What better propaganda can there be against exiles than Babalú's assertion that Cuban men on the island have no balls or its indifference to the desecration of the Cuban flag? The anti-Castroites at Babalú are made to order for them. They would not want them any other way.

H/T: You Know Who

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Notable & Larcenous: Fidelismo Sin Fidel

"One of the more stinging critiques Cuban exiles get is that we are all here waiting for the castro regime to topple to regain all of our properties and homes. I've always taken issue with that because not all of us were rich landowners and not all of us, rich landowner or not, would go back to Cuba to try to regain what was usurped. Pragmatically speaking and in my opinion, it's probably too late and too much water under the proverbial bridge for those who lost properties and businesses to attempt to get them back." -- Val Prieto, "What If It Were Your Home," Babalú, July 29, 2008

It's obviously not his home or his business. What Val is saying is that the Communist piñata should be validated in a post-Castro Cuba as it was in a post-Sandinista Nicaragua. He is apparently unaware of the fact that in the former Eastern bloc countries all properties confiscated by the Nazis and Communists have been returned to their legitimate owners or their heirs, including pre-revolutionary palaces and family estates.

Because Communist society is built on a foundation of theft does not mean that the same foundation should be used in reconstructing a democratic society under the Rule of Law. In fact, it would undermine civil society and make reconstruction itself impossible.

Since Val has always supported the return of confiscated properties to their American owners before lifting the U.S. trade embargo on Communist Cuba, it is only Cubans, both here and on the island, not his fellow Americans, who must consent to bear the burden of the Revolution's redistribution of the nation's patrimony to its henchmen. Because there was no "Agrarian Reform" under Castro: the fallow lands which the regime now proposes to lease to sharecroppers is proof of it. Nor was there any "Urban Reform," either, since the State maintained sole control of all confiscated real estate, collecting rents on it for nearly 50 years before deciding to let the occupants "buy" the ruins that they inhabit.

No one will ever maintain in good repair something which is not his and which he knows is not his. The upkeep of property is yet another benefit which a society derives that recognizes property rights. This holds true also for the sugar mills and other industries confiscated and run to the ground by Castro. The land on which they were built, more than the ruins on it, are still a valuable asset and should be returned to their legimitate owners rather than monopolized by the State or auctioned off to foreign corporations, as will be the case in a post-Castro Cuba unless the Rule of Law is upheld as pertains to private property.

I have had this debate before with someone who should be smarter than Val Prieto but isn't. Like Babalú's "Founding Editor," Professor Eduardo Peñalver, of Cornell University Law School, is willing to throw the Rule of Law "under the proverbial bridge," but unlike Val, who recognizes the ultimate injustice of doing so, the professor actually maintains that pre-revolutionary Cubans do not "deserve" to have their properties returned to them while maintaining at the same time that American Indians should have their tribal lands returned to them and African-Americans should receive reparations for the wrongs done to their ancestors.

The guy is Cuban-American, of course.

The debate is here:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Babalunian Weighs In On the Question of Cuban Balls

"[P]erhaps we should not be asking how many Cubans are there with the balls to stand up to the regime, but instead be asking how many Cubans are there that have the balls to continue oppressing, beating, and jailing their own... If anything, we should be considering the overabundance of balls by the Cubans who have chosen to forsake freedom and injure their own for a few extra pesos and some privileges." -- Alberto de la Cruz, "A Question of Balls," Babalú, July 28, 2008

In case you are wondering, Alberto de la Cruz has answered the question:

"Who has the balls in Cuba?"

Well, it's not the women who have a monopoly on the balls in Cuba, as Val claims.

Nor the men and women who confront the regime on a daily basis, as Marc asserts.

It's Castro thugs, according to Alberto.

The thugs are the ones with the balls, starting with Fidel and Raúl.

Someone should tell Alberto that a sadist is a coward and that cowards don't have balls.

If Fidel's "New Man" is made in his image, or "Che" Guevara's or even Raúl Castro's, then the "New Man" is indeed a eunuch who submitted willingly to his own mutilation in order to gain access to the seraglio.

That may be Alberto's definition of a "man" (new or otherwise). I don't think it's anybody else's.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Notable & Ballsy: Defending a Nation of Heroes

For the first time since I began chronicling Babalú's follies 16 months ago, I am reproducing in toto a post published there and with my entire approval. I will not praise Marc Másferrer because doing so will only make him enemies at Babalú and he already walks a thin line there. I will say that it is inconceivable to me that a fairminded man could think any other way. It is my hope that there are other fairminded men (and women) at Babalú and elsewhere who believe that to impute the manhood of Cuban men is to second Castro's work. We shall not hasten the day of Cuba's liberation by insulting her future liberators. They are not animals to be goaded into action by insults and kicks. No man has the right to ask another man to be a martyr unless he is willing to put his own head on the chopping block first. Martyrdom is not incumbant on any man and yet Cuba has had her share of martyrs and then some throughout her history and never more than in the last 50 years. We don't need more martyrs. What we need are men willing to live for Cuba. We cannot turn our country into a desert and call that victory. Cuba is more than her natural beauty great as that is; more than all our collective memories; more even than the graves of our parents. Cuba is first and foremost her people. They are her greatest asset and only hope. To spare their blood should always be our first concern. To honor the men and women who fight and foil the tyrant every day that they survive is our highest duty to our country. We cannot emulate their courage but we should at least offer them our support. Anything else is villainy.

July 27, 2008

Cuban men with balls

No one has the right to question the courage of the Cuban people, for it is not in doubt. Those who would question the testicular fortitude of the Cuban people, specifically, its men, are wrong on two points.

First, the doubters of Cuban manhood ignore the bravery it takes to just survive the daily tortures — the economic deprivation, the political repression, etc. — of life during dictatorship. I know I cannot imagine it, and I expect the same holds true for most of the people reading this. I sometimes share the frustration of those waiting for a mass uprising, for ultimately, it is the Cuban people's fight. But it borders on the immoral to suggest that they are not deserving of liberty because they choose not to carry out an uprising or other suicide mission. Honestly, if I lived in a police state as brutal and effective as Cuba's, I might stay at home, too.

And secondly, the doubters of Cuban manhood ignore that there are plenty of Cubans who have chosen not to stay at home. They work as journalists and librarians and human rights and democracy activists, battling against tremendous odds to challenge the dictatorship and to testify to its brutality. Their spirit is strong, and their courage is unmatched. The respect they are due is not lessened just because they choose to fight and live.

In fact, it is their responsibility to live for it is they who one day will lead a free Cuba.

Few Cubans on the island are braver than those prisoners of conscience and other political prisoners locked away in the castro gulag. They fight with courage and dignity against the worst of a dictatorship committed to extinguishing the light of good that each one of them represents.

Tonight, please remember political prisoners Alfredo Rodolfo Domínguez Batista, Orlando Zapata Tamayo, Luis Mariano Delís Utria and Juan Carlos Herrera Acosta who are on hunger strike at the Holguín Provincial Prison to demand better living conditions and greater respect for human rights in Cuban prisons. Herrera has even sewn his mouth shut to demonstrate his resolve.

Without question, they are Cuban men with balls.
(Cross-posted at Uncommon Sense.)
Posted by Marc at July 27, 2008 06:42 PM

Fantomas Returns to The Madhouse

Fantomas is now in The Madhouse and may be visited there until 4:00 PM today.

I know that all the RCAB family wishes the self-proclaimed "blod" of this blog a speedy and smooth recovery.

Fantomas is currently housed in the Madhouse Annex.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Notable & Emasculating 2: "Cubans Have No Balls"

"Besides a few very brave men, most of whom are either in jail or under constant government scrutiny and excessive repression, it seems that it's the women in Cuba who now have the balls to fight for change." -- Val Prieto, "Oppression in Cuba, BAH!," Babalú, July 24, 2008

Today I feel as those heroic editors that denounced the Ku Klux Klan in the Deep South must have felt on the day that the Klansmen shed their hoods and marched down Main Street.

The evil which I have combatted here is no longer afraid to be exposed: it does not shun the light of day but seeks it. By proudly proclaiming its hatred for the Cuban people without the least dissimulation nor any attempt to evade responsibility for its opinions, Babalú has, in effect, shed its hood today. For over a year I have parsed and distilled Babalú's words and extracted the poison in its seemingly innocuous fare. There is no need to do that anymore. I have proved my case one hundred times but no prosecution is ever more final than an admission of guilt. The admission is not accompanied by contrition, however, which means that the evil has not been flushed from its covert but merely shown its bloody claws. Therefore, the struggle continues, though now none could dare to question the nature of the beast or the necessity of fighting it.

What is the purpose of Babalú?

To degrade the enslaved Cuban people.

To question its desire for freedom.

To mock the sacrifices it has made over 50 years to obtain it.

To brand them a race of cowards unworthy of commiseration.

To castrate them.

This is a primal urge found among animals and primitive peoples. But not only there. Reverend Jesse Jackson expressed the desire recently that Barack Obama be castrated. Because he feels threatened by him and fears that he might accomplish what was never even remotely possible for him, Jackson wants to punish Obama for reducing his stature and usurping his authority; in short, for making him irrelevant.

The Babalunians feel the same resentment towards the Cuban people and Cuban men in particular. They are the enemy, not Fidel Castro, because they represent the future. Val & Co. fear that they do not possess what will be required to affect that future or profit from it. There is something about the newcomers that wounds their own manhood to the quick and they are afraid of having to face a nation where they would be the newcomers. Val, in particular, has counselled Cubans in the past to become cannon fodder by allowing themselves to be imploded in his famous pressure cooker. He has called for rivers of blood because the blood of Cubans on the island is completely expendable to him. He has done everything except offer his own blood. It is obviously the responsibility of Cubans on the island to bleed and die for Val. He is deeply offended by their refusal to submit to his wishes after all that he has done for them. You know, the dead chickens and the coconuts and the anonymous midnight calls and the hours spent on his blog till his fingers were bloody stumps and everything else that he has done or had done to him in the last 5 years. Those who have actually suffered for Cuba, the Bay of Pigs veterans or former political prisoners, never show their scars or consider that these entitle them to more than right to live and die in a free country. It is inconceivable that they would ever suggest that their countrymen have "no balls" because they know otherwise; nor, in their hour of suffering, would they suggest that their dignity and pride as men be stripped from them.

But Val has seen the enemy and it is them. In fact, he considers Cubans their own worst enemy. Not Fidel, not Raúl, not the police state, not Communism itself; and certainly not the country that has abetted totalitarian rule in our own for 50 years. For Val, it is the Cuban people who are the architects of Castroism and must be punished for it even beyond the punishment that they have already endured. He alludes to what he calls their "excessive repression" at the hands of the Castro regime. I am sure that if Val was in charge of them he would find some level of repression that was just right.

I never used to believe that Cubans on the island could be afraid of their kinsmen in the Yuma. We are, as I've always said, one people divided by one tyrant. I am not so sure anymore. What would be the reaction of Cubans on the islasnd to Val's words? I should think their first reaction would be, Val who? Afterwards would come the outrage at one, however insignificant, who feels and expresses such contempt and hatred for the Cuban people. It is Cuban women, of course, who would be offended the most at this insult to their husbands, fathers and sons.

Anyone who questions the manhood of Cubans must, first, be completely ignorant of our history. The fear of appearing a fool would constrain anyone else from making such a despicable accusation. And there is something else that is required of such a fool: If he would question whether Cubans have balls he had better put his own on display and they had better be frigging cannonballs. And Val is no Biscet or Posada Carriles.


George Moneo said much the same thing as Val in a comment on July 1 ("The Jewish women who fought in 1943 [at the Warsaw Ghetto] had more balls than I am seeing today in Cuba). Little minds do tend to feed off each other:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Will Henry Now Stop Merchandising "Che" T-Shirts?

I am not interested in the subject of Henry's "Proud Member of the Miami Mafia" t-shirts. However, if he is going to banish them from his blogstore because non-Cubans consider them in bad taste or demeaning to his "niggas" (as he puts it), then he should also stop selling his "Che Is Still Dead" t-shirts. It really doesn't matter if Henry's t-shirts are pro- or anti-Che. He is still profitting personally from the "Che" brand. I don't believe that Jews have ever capitalized on Hitler's. They could have legally claimed marketting rights to his brand (still popular in Arab countries, among others), along with royalties from the sale of Mein Kampf and whatever residual income might still be generated by his estate, in token restitution for the crimes committed against them; but they rightly consider such monies as bloodgelt and would have nothing to do with it. The money generated from the sale of "Che" t-shirts is also blood money. No Cuban should wish to have anything to do with it, much less profit from that monster's legacy.

The sale of "Miami Mafia" t-shirts by a Miami Cuban shows poor judgment and bad taste. The sale of Che t-shirts by one who otherwise condemns the commercialization of the Che brand (by everybody except himself, that is) is the most flagrant hypocrisy imaginable. But it does illustrate better than anything else the difference between "principle" and "principal."

The Prime of Reverend Al Sharpton

Did I not predict back in 1994 that Reverend Al Sharpton would some day become the conscience of the civil rights movement?

Yes, I did.

Today, Rev. Sharpton redeemed that promise when he publicly denounced the Castro regime for its systemic persecution of Cuban blacks. What for others may seem an aberration to be regarded with suspicion or bemusement is for me the blossoming of a character and fulfillment of a destiny.

When somebody does something right, I don't look into their motives and I let God concern Himself with the purity of their hearts. The fact remains that Al Sharpton is the first black leader to denounce Castro's mistreatment of blacks in 30 years. The others were 1960s black militants who fled to or chose to live in Communist Cuba and learned firsthand there that the"Socialist Paradise" was far from colorblind. The most famous of these radicals, Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver, wrote that not even in the deepest South at the height of Jim Crow had he seen anything comparable to the official persecution to which blacks were subjected in Castro's Cuba.

In denouncing the Castro regime Rev. Sharpton has done what Jesse Jackson never did. His trips to Cuba were always intended to publicize himself not the plight of Cuban blacks. His relations with Castro were in every way "fraternal," and because he was not a critic of the regime and much less an advocate of civil rights in Cuba, Jackson was rewarded with numerous political prisoners whose release was credited to him. Having shown his solidarity with the Revolution, Jackson returned a "hero" to the United States thanks to Castro's "largesse" in disposing of his human trophies.

More than 30 years after he first went to Cuba, Jesse Jackson has yet to condemn Castro for human rights abuses. Neither has Nelson Mandela, who is on record as affirming that he will never condemn Castro. Barack Obama, if elected president, has pledged to meet with Raúl Castro without prior conditions, that is, without demanding any changes whatever in the regime. This has always been the official Castroite position, and in adopting it as his own Obama has in effect already capitulated to Raúl before even meeting with him.

It is at this ominous moment in Cuban-American relations that Reverend Sharpton has taken his historic stand on behalf of black Cubans. If he were successful in securing the release of Cuba's political prisoners by publicly challenging the regime, I would be surprised. Still, he has ended the silence and that is just as important. African-American leaders never tired of condemning South Africa, yet for 50 years, longer than apartheid existed in South Africa, they have lent support to Castro's white oligarchy which subjugates a predominantly black population. Reverend Sharpton's denunciation ends a half-century of complicity and may encourage other black leaders to take the side of the race not of an alien ideology that means them no good.

With Jesse Jackson referring to blacks as "niggers" and calling for their castration, and Barack Obama castigating blacks for their supposed moral failings as men and fathers and what used to be known in the bad old days as "shiftlessness" in order to ingratiate himself to his mother's folks, it may well be that Reverend Sharpton's time has come, as I predicted long ago.

It will certainly come if Brack Obama is defeated. I have to believe that in his heart of hearts he's wishing that even more than me.

[I am looking for that prophetic clipping and will post it as soon as I find it. It was written in the wake of an attempt on Sharpton's life in 1994].

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Henry Catches Fire in Australia

Henry would go to the very ends of the English-speaking world through the miracle of radio to spread the bad word about Castro. Whether Jamaica, Zambia, Australia, Tutsi-land or Hoochie-Land, hell, even darkest Canada, he is always on call for a chat. I regard this as a point in his favor. It is certainly a more judicious expenditure of his time and polemical energies than is the Babalu [Faux] Radio [90-Minute] "Hour" with its 8 listeners, half of whom can't actually hear the broadcast. Presumably even the Australian desert has a wider audience.

Speaking of which, Henry appeared tonight on an Australian radio show whose complete title (which Henry did not give) is: Sunday Night Safran: Politics, Religion and Hoochies. The show is actually aimed at young people and is much more mature and less vulgar than would be one with a similar demographic on U.S. airwaves. Still, it's not exactly La edad de oro. John Safran himself is a conservative by Australian standards and very personable as most Australians are. Safran's sidekick is the exception. Father Bob MacGuire, who, according to the show's own webpage, "rambles on in a frenetic and loopy manner as a regular guest on SN," is in his 80s and pretty much addlebrained, a condition which may have nothing to do with his age. He's known as the "Bruce Ritter of Australia," or, at least, he was once known as that before Father Bruce was caught anointing street waifs in places he shouldn't have.

The first thing that we learned from listening to Sunday Night Safran was that Henry had not just been invited out of the blue but pressed for an invitation to the show. How such a cosmic confluence came about I hardly know. I imagine Henry listening on a shortwave radio all night to programs from exotic locales hoping to hear "Cuba" mentioned. He apparently stumbled on Safran's show last week when the guest was the president of the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society, which would have been more aptly named the "Australian Communist Party (A.C.P)-Fidel Castro Friendship Society." Henry reproduces today on Babalú comments from Safran's Guest Book generated by her appearance on the show which prove that Aussies are smarter about Cuba than Henry gave them credit for (at least those who are not academics).

While listening to Henry's rebuttal of the previous week's Cuba "expert" I reflexively made a list in my mind of possible objections to Henry's comments, but soon it became apparent that Henry was making sense on a rather sustained basis while his hosts sounded as if a Martian had dropped in their midst. Their intonation of "Miami Cuban" had just that inflection. My overall impression is that he acquitted himself well on the show. I must admit that I did kind of chuckle when he announced that his life's ambition was to resurrect the art of commercial advertising in Cuba. Really, I don't think you are going to need it in a free Cuba, at least for the first decade or so, because Cubans won't have to be persuaded to buy anything. But it is a harmless dream and Henry is welcome to it.

After Henry had done his segment and an awful Australian rap song was played (yes, it's everywhere), Father Bob remarked that "the bloke [meaning Henry] was a fascist." Safran rightly took him to task for not calling him that to his face (or eardrum) and asked him how he knew that for a fact. "The catch phrase 'Christ the King' [uttered by Cubans as they faced the firing squad] is a dead give-away for poor blokes in the Church like me because that's the catch phrase that declares that a person tends to be on the side of imperialism," which Father Bob declared to be synonymous with "fascism."

Henry has been invited back for next week's show to rebut the charge that he's a "fascist." If he plays his cards right he might just get a regular gig on the show, as did Father Bob who, before he was asked to co-host the show, was a regular caller.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Posthumous Blog Review: Estancia Cubana

Perhaps I should devote myself to writing obituaries rather than reviews of Cuban-American blogs. It is easier, of course, to review something static than something in motion. The judgment, then, has a permanence which cannot be guaranteed otherwise. It is possible, though highly unlikely, that Val may have a Pauline conversion and become an enemy of censorship and flag desecration, confine his pressure cooker to his kitchen and stop calling for rivers of innocent blood to flow in our country, in which case everything that I have written about Babalú up to that time would become dated. Of course, there is no chance of that. I merely use it as an illustration of the futility in most cases of reviewing a book, a movie or a blog which is still a work in progress.

The blog that I am reviewing today Estancia Cubana has reached its final chapter and is now complete (at least to its author's satisfaction). Camilo López Darias took leave of his readers on July 12 with thanks but without explanation, as is his right. What is not incumbent upon us to do, what is neither responsibility nor duty, may be dispensed with at any time without warning or apology. No one can understand this better than a disciple of Ayn Rand's cult of individualism.

López Darias notes that "Man's liberty as something valuable and desirable has been an alien concept throughout [Cuba's] socio-cultural history. Individuality, the real essence of the most basic justice, has been crushed and subjugated [in our country] by our eternal tendency to social tribalism." If he had limited himself to the Castro era, there would be nothing objectionable in this observation. But López Darias traces our supposed indifference to liberty and "tribal mentality," which he believes are at the root of our national tragedy, to the Republic and ultimately to the 19th century, which is traversed from one end to the other by our wars of independence.

When the British historian Hugh Thomas wrote his monumental history of our country he titled it Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom. Although his book is replete with errors of fact, Thomas did understand the great undercurrent that ran through all Cuban history. A nation of four millions which, at the end of the 19th century, had sacrificed nearly one fourth of its population to attain its independence, clearly was not unacquainted or indifferent to the "value" or "desirability" of freedom. If such a hecatomb fostered "tribalism" -- that is, if it condensed a heterogenous people into one in the crucible of war -- was that not something to be desired? Would divisions and personalismos have been preferable (not that these didn't exist)?

Unlike those who believe (as I do) that the 1959 Revolution was a historical aberration, López Darias maintains that it was the culmination of a process that led inexorably to the creation a totalitarian state in Cuba. This theory is also espoused by the Castroites except that to them this inexorable process culminated in "national liberation."

I do not believe in ineludible national destinies or historical forces that drive people in one direction or another. The downfall of our country was not the result of dominoes that had been tumbling for more than 100 years. It was the work of a homicidal maniac who seduced a people too little experienced with actual tyranny and too trusting in his sponsor, their neighbor and mightiest power on earth, into believing that no irreversible ill could come of an operetta revolution that claimed 184 lives on both sides. All of pre-1933 German history is now recounted as an anticipation of Hitler and there are antecedents and undercurrents enough to make a seemingly convincing but ultimately tendentious case. In Cuban history, there were no antecedents or undercurrents that could have pointed to a Castro. Hitler made his programme crystal clear in Mein Kampf long before he came to power. Castro not only concealed everything he stood for but sang a siren's song of freedom and democracy.

What was it that Cuba's entire history was tending towards? The siren song that most Cubans believed and followed or the death knell which only his enemies seemed to hear? Castro himself acknowledged once that if his own men had known that he was a Communist they would have certainly shot him. If all Cubans would have repudiated the real Castro if the real Castro had revealed himself in the beginning, is it not more accurate to say that he represented the negation rather than the fulfillment of their hopes and wishes? The illusion of freedom took the place of freedom. No promise of tyranny was made to fulfill a historic destiny that presaged tyranny.

No, there were no historical or empirical forces driving Cuba, the first Latin America country (then or now) to cross the threshhold of the First World, to renounce progress, and, indeed, civilization itself, in order to follow Castro on a long march away from everything to which her people had aspired as a nation for 100 years. It was as hostages, not willing participants, that they were driven on that road to national suicide. And it was not Castro alone but the two superpowers that forced that yoke on them and drove them on that road.

There is no disagreement between us that the last 50 years have been the most catastrophic in Cuban history. Our differences are limited to the causes of our national tragedy. This is a subject that will be discussed and debated for as long as there is a Cuba. It is necessary that it should be. Nor do I believe that there is only one possible explanation, though I am sure that López Darias' explanation is simply wrong because it is too informed by those "foreign readings" which Martí warned us against. Rand cannot explain to us the last 50 years. We must find our own answers based on our own idiosyncracies and experiences.

Estancia Cubana, as is obvious from this topic and almost all others it discussed, was a thinking man's blog, and its loss is much to be lamented on that account. It is not a requisite that I agree with a blogger's point of view for me to find merit in his blog. Because I disagree so sharply with Babalú and find little ever to praise in it, such an assumption receives credit that it does not deserve. López Darias is a succinct writer; you will find richness of ideas but no surplusage of verbiage in his posts. It would not be difficult to read his entire output in an hour with much advantage on many counts. It is our hope that he resumes his blog or starts another in the future.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fidel Castro's First Resignation

49 years ago today, Fidel Castro resigned for the first time. Then it was the premiership that he occupied, not the presidency. His so-called resignation was a ruse intended to force his handpicked president, Manuel Urrutia, from office. Urrutia, the judge who had cast the dissenting vote to acquit Castro for the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953 but had signed thousands of execution orders as Cuba's puppet president, in violation of the Constitution of 1940 which abolished the death penalty and the oath he had taken to uphold it, had the annoying habit (at least it annoyed Castro) of repeating over and over again that "his government" was not Communist. In the beginning Castro had also denied it, but by July 1959 he had taken umbrage with the constant demands that he disavow Communism and had gone so far as to say that he was not an anti-Communist ("We will not attack Communists so that others will refrain from calling us Communists. That is not what honorable men do").

The more ambiguous Castro became about his political ideology the more adamant Urrutia sounded in denouncing Communist "influences" in Cuba. The chief "influence," of course, was Castro himself; but since Urrutia owed both his national reputation and his office to Castro he was long in realizing that he was not merely a puppet (common enough in Republican politics) but the stooge of Communists. When Comandante Pedro Díaz Lanz, chief of the Revolutionary Air Force, became the first defector to expose Castro as a Communist, Urrutia refused to believe him and demanded Díaz Lanz's extradition from the U.S. so that he could stand trial for treason.

This might have seemed to some an elaborate ruse to win time: Castro erecting the foundations of Communism while Urrutia assured everybody no such thing was happening or could happen. But if was not a ruse. Urrutia believed, as did most Cubans at the time, that this blood-drenched regime which had murdered more Cubans in 6 months than had ever perished from political violence in the previous 56 years of Republican rule, was not the sum of its acts but the sum of its (unfulfilled) promises. He could sanction virtually anything and did so long as he was allowed to believe that it was in pursuit of some nebulous greater good and brighter future. Man's capacity for self-deception is limitless and it is ironic that a label frightened Urrutia more than the reign of terror he had helped to inaugurate and sustain. The label he opposed while the thing itself he ignored. If that label had been any other than "Communist" and the crimes identical, his conscience would have been malleable enough to dismiss all objections to the new order.

Not even when Castro stopped consulting or even apprising Urrutia of his plans did the puppet president lose faith in his ability to counter these Communist "influences" which now engulfed and isolated him. It was then that Urrutia did something unprecedented in the political history of Cuba or any other country: The president went on strike, absenting himself from meetings of the Council of Ministers and refusing to sign the latest decrees dictated by Castro. How long he proposed to maintain this "passive resistance" to the government over which he nominally presided is anybody's guess. Perhaps until he got Castro's assurances again that he was not a Communist.

In the showdown between the dictator and the puppet, is was the dictator that blinked. His "blink," however, had the force of a hurricane: Fidel Castro abruptly announced his decision to resign as Prime Minister. When asked the reason for his resignation, Castro averred that: "I am an enemy of cheap theatrics and histrionics in public life." Thus spake one of its most accomplished masters in the supreme moment of contrived high drama in his dictatorial career.

That very day signs went up everywhere in Cuba pleading with Castro to reconsider his decision:

"¡Con Fidel hasta el fin!"
["With you, Fidel, to the end!"]

"¿Renuncia, para qué?"
[Resignation? What for?]

"¡Fidel, Cuba te necesita!"
["Fidel, Cuba needs you!"]

"Malanga de pie antes que pollo de rodillas."
["Better to eat malanga on our feet than chicken on our knees."]

"Fidel, limpia el gobierno de vacilantes."
["Fidel, clean the government of vacillators."]

"Fidel o muerte."
["Fidel or death"].

Castro himself led the first acto de repudio in Cuban history at the studios of CMQ Television against the titular president of the Republic. He accused Urrutia of fomenting the myth of Communist infiltration in order to facilitate foreign intervention. Representatives from unions and civic organization, now completely co-opted by Castroites, appeared on the program to demand Urrutia's resignation and convince Castro to reconsider his own. With the whole nation seemingly turned against him and protesters gathering outside the Presidential Palace, Urrutia submitted his own resignation to the Council of Ministers and the news was announced to the jubilant audience before the conclusion of the broadcast.

Castro, of course, had renounced nothing but a title (and one which he had bestowed on himself). His power, which was already absolute, he had not relinquished for a minute. Urrutia's replacement was a Communist lawyer named Osvaldo Dorticós, unknown to most Cubans and a puppet who was never tempted to pull his own strings.

Castro withdrew his own resignation as premier at the first July 26th rally in Santiago de Cuba.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Babalú's #1 Friend

It had to happen eventually, sooner than later: Val has run out of alliteration for the imbecilic questions which he poses to his readers on a regular basis (with an occasional assist from Alberto de la Cruz, who has proved himself a fast unlearner). Today's question is entitled "A Wednesday Query." After this month's "Wednesday Wondering," Val had to declare defeat or postpone his question for another more synonym-rich day. Or he could have used the one remaining alternative which escaped his attention: "A Wednesday Wonderment." Having then exhausted all synonyms for "query" beginning with a "w," he should in future consider describing the nature of the question rather than harping on the self-evident fact that it is a question. Thus: "A Wednesday Waggery," "A Wednesday Wisecrack," "A Wednesday Witlessness."

Let this be my reply to those who feel that I have a personal animus towards Val. Despite Babalú's degradation of the Cuban people and desecration of the Cuban flag, I continue to hope for its reform and contribute what I can towards it. An anonymous commenter said recently that RCAB is "Babalú's #1 satellite." He was wrong in the sense that he meant: RCAB is no satrapy of Babalú. It is, however, the most active agent for its regeneration. Just criticism is always to be preferred to unmerited praise. Flatterers do us no service and may actually harm us by creating in us an unjust estimation of ourselves. The well-informed and well-intended critic, by pointing to our errors and suggesting what should be done to correct them, is also our wellwisher. It would be no exaggeration, then, to say that RCAB is Babalu's #1 friend in the Cuban-American blogosphere.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Question from Ms. Calabaza About Babalú's Flag Desecration


May I play the devil's advocate in this situation? I believe that the post at
Babalú was not meant to desecrate the flag but as a form of satire/irony. The poster had no idea that it would offend so many, especially those of a certain age and above ~ due to our life experiences and beliefs. My question is: What if after Angel Garzon's comment to Babalú which I have lauded and found to be very much in step, Babalú would have taken the flag down. They could have simply stated that it was not meant to offend in any way, but because of the mere idea that anyone could take it that way they were removing it.

Would this have been the end of the issue?

PS - I am NOT trying to add fuel to fire, quite the contrary.
7/14/2008 3:29 PM

Although ignorance is not an excuse it is certainly one that the Babalunians could plead in all honesty not only as regards the desecration of the Cuban flag but any other issue relating to Cuba on which they choose to deliver themselves of an opinion. George Moneo could well have inserted Eduardo's Sarmiento's cartoon in Babalú as "The New Cuban Flag" without the slightest inkling that it constituted a profanation of the Cuban flag. Indeed, I will go so far as to accept that if George had known or somebody else had told him that the caricature, whatever its social commentary, was first and foremost an insult to the Cuban flag, that he would have resisted the urge to seem "cosmopolitan" at the expense of proferring an insult to our flag. If George had known the provenance of the cartoon he would also have been loathe to publish it. The fact that it is the work of one of Castro's caricaturists would surely have sounded an alarm for him. But, of course, he reproduced the offensive cartoon without knowing the artist or the artist's agenda. This is because his knowledge of Cuban history and the quehacer cubano (Cuban reality) is limited by the fact that he does not speak Spanish and has never set foot in Cuba in his life. On one level, of course, such an interest in his Cuban roots is commendable. It is not so commendable, however, for him to opine on Cuban affairs when he refuses to learn our language which is the portal to our history and culture. The greatest service that George can do for our country, as well as the greatest favor that he can do for himself, is to learn Spanish. I do not think that it is beyond him even now. I am sure that if he had taken the trouble to do so over the last 50 odd years he would surely have avoided this and other embarrassing situations.

But once the offensive cartoon was published and its real character pointed out to him and all the Babalunians, what was Babalú's reaction? Well, it was not the reaction of a true patriot who might have given offense unintentionally to our flag but would never persist in his error once it was pointed out to him much less deny the offense by confirming it. It is interesting that George was joined in what now amounted to a defense of the desecration of the Cuban flag by Val, Alberto and Claudia: a Cuban who left the island at age three; another, dubbed "El Americanito," because he was not born there; and a third who is not Cuban. Again, I consider it commendable on all their parts, and especially Claudia's, that they feel Cuban. But that really isn't enough. In fact, it much too little if you intend to dictate to Cubans "of a certain age" and "with life experiences and beliefs" formed in Cuba how they should react to the desecration of our country's most sacred symbol. It may just be that their "Cuban radar" is not what it should be. They do not see the irreverence because they have never worshipped at our temple; they cannot understand the offense because it does not touch them personally. I do not doubt that they would be quick to perceive and denounce any desecration of the American flag. This is, after all, their country. Cuba is a country of interest to them. Of course, it is not the same thing.

If Babalú had taken down the desecration I would have been surprised and pleased. It would have represented an encouraging step towards genuine cubanidad. Instead, Val deleted the entire discussion on the flag desecration, which contained Marc Másferrer and Angel Garzón's devastating and unanswerable critiques. This I consider to be a further disrespect of those whose judgment and patriotic sensibilities are keener than theirs. It is, however, in keeping with Babalú's traditional response to dissent of any kind.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Controversial Cartoons in the New Yorker and Babalú Compared

On the cover of the New Yorker this week is a caricature of Barack and Michelle Obama in the Oval Office which depicts him in Indonesian Muslim garb and her in Marxist guerrilla chic toting an AK 47. On the wall over the fireplace hangs a painting of Osama Bin Laden, and in the fireplace itself burns an American flag. If the New Yorker had placed Raúl Castro's picture over the mantel instead of Osama's or found some other way to insert him in the scene (perhaps trying to insert Obama), the cartoon would have been a graphic condensation of my own thought on the Manchurian couple. Of course, we know that artist Barry Blitt intended the cartoon as a lampoon of people like me, that is, clear-thinking people. But his efforts backfired because he got too close to the truth and violated the #1 rule at the New Yorker: "Cartoons Must Not Be Funny."

The cartoon has been denounced by both the Obama and McCain camps. It would also have been denounced by Val Prieto at another time for its depiction of flag burning, but the well-known yankófilo is currently involved in his own controversy concerning Babalú's desecration of the Cuban flag, which necessitated that he maintain a prudent silence on the issue. Instead, water carrier Alberto de la Cruz copied a snippet from a Politico commentary on the cartoon, and the shameless George Moneo, who had published Sarmiento's desecration of the Cuban flag, provided another snippet. Cruz's take was that the liberals are their own worst enemies, which observation will also apply very well to the Babalunians themselves.

Does the depiction in art of a flag burning constitute a desecration of the flag? If the flag itself were on fire, singed or otherwise mutilated, then the answer would be yes. In Blitt's cartoon, however, the Stars and Stripes sits phoenix-like upon the flames, untouched by them. This could be interpreted as a refutation of flag-burning as well.

There is no ambiguity, however, about Sarmiento's desecration of the Cuban flag, or Babalú's enthusiastic endorsement of it as some kind of metaphor for our present reality. Sarmiento has sliced the star on the Cuban flag in two and serrated the blue stripes to resemble ocean waves; the half of the star that remains on the red triangle now looks like two severed legs and the other half cast adrift on the blue "waves" like a boat. If Blitt had altered the elements of the American flag, emptied the field of stars and replaced them with a swastika, or kept the stars but changed the blue field to black, or, as Marc Másferrer suggested in the deleted Babalú thread, enclosed the stars in barbed wire, Blitt's depiction of the American flag would be as offensive as Sarmiento's. In Blitt's cartoon, the layout of the U.S. flag is unaltered; in Sarmiento's it is reconfigured in such a manner as to suggest that Cuban refugees have turned their backs on their flag by fleeing from the Castro tyranny, confounding the tyranny with our country. Sarmiento, a cartoonist for a Communist publication in Cuba, no doubt wished to convey the impression that exiles had repudiated their country by fleeing the tyranny. Such a message would be entirely consonant with the regime's own propaganda. In endorsing both the desecration of our flag and the message of the cartoon, Babalú has not only committed a crime of lesè-majesté but sided with the oppressors of our country in condemning the exile community for following the example of Martí and Maceo.

Babalú's obstinate refusal to disassociate itself from Sarmiento's Castroite cartoon, its "unpublishing" of critical comments about the desecration but wilful refusal to "unpublish" the desecration itself, shows that it shares the totalitarian mindset of its putative enemies and their contempt for our national symbols as well.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Eliezer Aronowsky's Tribute to the Cuban Flag

Despite their merit and relevance, there are names that elude history's attention. In the case of Eliezer Aronowsky (1910-?) we are at a loss to explain why. Aronowsky, who immigrated to Cuba before the Holocaust, was our most prominent Jewish poet. He authored two books of poetry in Yiddish entitled Kuba: Lider un Poemes (Cuban Cantos) and Tropisch Licht (Tropical Light). Several of his poems were translated into Spanish by Andrés Piedra-Bueno, who also published a translation of Aronowsky's epic poem Maceo [Habana, Cuba: Ediciones Bené Berith Maimónides, 1950]. He was also a regular contributor to the Habaner Lebn, a Yiddish daily newspaper that was published in Cuba from 1932 to 1960.

Eliezer Aronowsky's greatest claim to fame, however, is as the author of the first book about and denunciation of the Buchenwald concentration camp, which was published in Cuba in 1939 (In kontsentratsye-lager Bukhenvald: pedzenlekhe ibelebungenfun Samuel Hilovitsh. Havana: Havaner lebn, 1939).

While perusing a copy of the Cuban-Jewish magazine Genesis (May 1950) dedicated to the centenary of the Cuban flag, I found the following poem by Aronowsky entitled "To the Cuban Flag," translated by Piedra-Bueno. Unfortunately, the original Yiddish version was not included.

What facts I could gather about him were obtained from bibliographies of Jewish poets or Holocaust writers. Not even the year of his death or place of birth is known. The few facts that we do know about him are enough, though, to attest to his love for his adopted country and his vision and courage as one of the world's first denouncers of the Holocaust.

A la Bandera Cubana

Blanca, como el fulgor del claro día;
azul, como el hechizo de la noche;
roja, como la hoguera del crepúsculo,
y tu estrella de plata, flor de flores.

Cifra de libertad, hace cien años
que ondeas sobre muchos corazones.
La roca es gris, pero tu suelo es verde;
y a esa esperanza virginal respondes...

Por ti, todas las razas se congregan
y en tu corona sus brillantes ponen,
porque la libertad que representas
es un brazo en firme para todos los hombres...

Fuiste borbada en la sangre heroica
al conjuro marcial de épicos sones,
tal como el bayamés que escribió el himno
y que murió por él, en recio bronce

Como en el río se refleja el cielo,
en tu cielo de amor brillan dos soles
-- Martí y Maceo --, que la patria alumbran
en una eternidad de resplandores...

Aunque las sombras rieguen sus semillas
en el surco ideal del horizonte,
por ti el pueblo se encuentra y levanta
y las cadenas coloniales rompe...

Por ti, la tierra su cristal desata
en musicales cauces y en inefables voces...
Al besarte dos mares, es como si Dios mismo
te besara, bandera, en beso de fulgores...

Eliezer Aronowsky
Traducción de Andrés de Piedra-Buena

I have highlighted the third stanza because it voices a sentiment which was widely felt by immigrants to our country for whom Morro Castle represented life and freedom no less than the Statue of Liberty did for Emma Lazarus. Before 1959, Cuba was a nation of immigrants, having received, proportionally, more immigrants in the years between 1920 and 1958 than its neighbor to the North. A third of Cuba's population of 6.6 million in 1958 were immigrants or first generation Cubans. These included refugees from Tsarist and Soviet Russia, the Republican and Nationalist sides in the Spanish Civil War, and Nazi Germany and the captive countries.

Fidel Castro forced many of these immigrants to leave Cuba after he had robbed them of their life's work, and now their descendents, newly reclaimed by Spain, will depart their country for the land of their ancestors, to begin new lives as citizens of a foreign country. Though this new disposition will mean freedom for millions of our countrymen, it will rob our country of the people that it needs for its reconstruction after Communism. This, too, is Castro's legacy to our country. With the hemisphere's lowest birth rate and one of the world's highest rates of abortion and suicide, and, now, the probable immigration of 3-4 million Cubans, the question may well be asked, how long before our country is wholly depopulated?

At moments when we despair about the fate of country, and the last 50 years are a rosary strung with those moments, it is good to refresh our souls with the poetry of those whose faith in our country's future was boundless because so did her horizons seem then. In Aronowsky's ode we see the great importance that our national symbols and heroes had for Cuba's immigrants. As these were for them the most accessible expressions of their new sense of national identity and patriotic fervor, so, too, should our national symbols represent for us today in the diaspora our firmest anchor to our country and most sacred reliquary of our love for it.

The desecration of our most important national symbol, which would once have seemed inconceivable, has became no more than a joke to Babalú's anti-Cuban "patriots." Those who obsessed so much about the symbolism of "Che" t-shirts could not see that tearing in half the star on Cuba's flag or serrating its stripes was an act of desecration.

One cannot love Cuba and hate her people.

One cannot love Cuba and insult her flag.

Babalú's Deletes All Comments on "The New Cuban Flag"

Everything else can be fought except human nature; that is immutable. Therefore, it was not even in question whether Val would allow a free debate to proceed at Babalú concerning George Moneo's reproduction of Eduardo Sarmiento's offensive cacicature of the Cuban flag. Everybody who participated in that discussion knew that at some point it would be abruptly interrupted and censored. Well, it never was a free discussion to begin with, since only a fraction of the comments submitted were actually published; but skewered as it was in their favor, their vigilance could not be 24/7, so it was inevitable that a critical comment or two would penetrate their cordon sanitaire in the wee hours of the morning. It would have been too conspicuous to delete just those comments; they have done that, of course, in the past, with utter shamelessness, but the controversy regarding Babalú's desecration of the Cuban flag had shone the spotlight on it and made such selective censorship too risky a proposition. So Val decided, instead, to delete the entire thread and close discussion on "The New Cuban Flag," which, ironically, has been accorded more respect than the old at Babalú. The only thing that Val did not eliminate, however, was the Sarmiento's desecration of the Cuban flag.

Given Val's abundant love for his adopted country, which truly knows no bounds and encompasses even support for the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy, it is inconceivable that he would treat the U.S. flag in the same manner that the Cuban flag has been treated at Babalú. This is part of the "American-Cuban" mentality that pervades Babalú and colors all its thinking on Cuba and especially its treatment of Cubans on the island and newcomers from Cuba, who, of late, have become both the enemy within and the enemy without rather than Castro and his henchmen. The only exception which Val makes is for individual political prisoners. The rest of the Cuban people he regards as collaborators of the regime who can only redeem themselves by shedding rivers of blood or by submitting to be rendered in a pressure cooker (Val's similes, not mine).

When so little concern is shown for Cubans as human beings should we expect Babalú to respect the symbols of the Cuban nation? Of course not. Its desecration of the Cuban flag is in keeping with its devaluing of all things Cuban, not least Cuban lives.

The RCAB, from its inception, has provided a refuge for both Babalú's deleted comments and its banned commenters. So here, for the record, incomplete and altered as it has been, is the deleted thread from Moneo's post "The New Cuban Flag:"

July 09, 2008
The new Cuban flag

(H/T Gabriel D.)
Posted by George Moneo at July 9, 2008 02:59 PM


Sad, but dead on!
Posted by: jluix at July 9, 2008 04:05 PM

Hay una polémica en el tapete: Resulta que en Babalú aparecía una imagen de la bandera cubana modificada en alusión al Exodo y "Review of Cuban Blogs" publica un post indignado.
Si bien es cierto que yo no utilisaría la bandera en esa forma para ilustrar ninguna idea por justa que fuera, creo que la intención de Moneo obviamente no fue ofender a la bandera ni a los cubanos. Para mi no pasa de ser irreverencia.

Tomado de "Blogs sobre Cuba": (
Posted by: Al Godar at July 9, 2008 09:57 PM

Al, I am leaving this comment solely as a clarification so that all the screeching voices can shut up: the image was given to me by a recent Cuban exile who thought it was the perfect metaphor for the situation in Cuba: 'even the star is taking to the sea to leave Cuba.'

An image that needs an explanation has not done its job. This one, however, should be self-explanatory. Maybe all of the "outrage" directed at this -- an image that captures the reality of Cuba today -- can be redirected to the Obama campaign lady who had che superimposed on the Cuban flag. The nattering negativists didn't raise one little objection to that. And to me, che's picture on the flag is a desecration. My two cents.
Posted by: George L. Moneo at July 9, 2008 10:33 PM

I think the design is inspired.
Posted by: Paco at July 9, 2008 10:44 PM

I laughed out loud. It's perfect.
Posted by: Zhangliqun at July 10, 2008 01:10 AM

George, perhaps you did not have any derogatory intention when you posted this desecration of my Cuba's National Flag. No one is perfect, all of us humans err at one time or another. I urge you to do the right thing, take the correct action(s) and prevent further potential damage to your reputation and that of Babalu Blog, I'd suggest that you take down the graphic, apologize with utmost sincerity and prepare yourself for what may come your way. I do not always agree with you, I detest your propensity to the profane, but you are an educated man with many principles with which I agree. I reiterate, I do not believe that you had any negative intentions in mind or heart, nevertheless, please take it down. Thanks.
Posted by: Angel Garzón at July 10, 2008 01:45 AM

My intent when I posted the image was -- and is -- as clear as gin: the image is a metaphor for the condition Cuba is in today. Period. This is nothing more than a cheap and manipulative attempt to drum up hysteria and controversy where none exists. If you or your friends are too obtuse to get the message, so be it. The image stays and my message now is the same as was when I posted it.

Angel, we live in America. I still have the right to post this, just as much as you have the right to disagree with me posting it. You have a lot of crust to think you can come here and tell me what to write or post, demanding an apology for some manufactured offense. Our blog has a variety of opinions, some more pointed than others, but we consistently, unambiguously and unashamedly disseminate a pro-America, anti-castro, anti-communist message here. If that message, or how we deliver it, bothers you that much, go elsewhere. I certainly won't shed any tears.
Posted by: George L. Moneo at July 10, 2008 07:15 AM

People actually complained about the flag... Dumb asses I tell ya, all of them... Where were these asses when the puta in Texas had Che on the Cuban flag?
Posted by: readytoshoot at July 10, 2008 08:54 AM

I immediately grasped the message of the flag and thought it was GREAT! But then again, I'm not one of those "ban the flag burners" kind of people I guess :)

Sorry Al, but you sound a little bit nuts to me. This can in no way be seen as desecration of the cuban flag. It SHOULD be the national flag of communist cuba though.
Posted by: Cangrejero de Caibarién at July 10, 2008 09:49 AM


Al volver de distante ribera,
con el alma enlutada, y sombria
afanoso busque mi bandera
Y otra he visto ademas de la mia!

Donde esta mi bandera cubana.
La bandera mas bella que existe?
Desde el buque la vi esta mañana,
y no he visto una cosa más triste!...

Con la fe de las almas austeras
hoy sostengo con honda energia
que no deben flotar dos banderas
donde basta con una: La mía!

En los campos que hoy son un osario
vio a los bravos batiéndose juntos,
y ella ha sido el honroso sudario
de los pobres guerreros difuntos.

Orgullosa lucio en la pelea,
sin pueril y romántico alarde:
Al cubano que en ella no crea
se le debe azotar por cobarde!

En el fondo de obscuras prisiones
no escucho ni la queja mas leve,
y sus huellas en otras regiones
son letreros de luz en la nieve...

No la veis? Mi bandera es aquella
que no ha sido jamás mercenaria,
y en la cual resplandece una estrella
con más luz, cuanto más solitaria.

Del destierro en el alma la traje
entre tantos recuerdos dispersos
y he sabido rendirle homenaje
al hacerla flotar en mis versos.

Aunque lánguida y triste tremola,
mi ambición es que el sol con su lumbre
la ilumine a ella sola - A ella sola! -
en el llano, en el mar y en la cumbre.

Si deshecha en menudos pedazos
llega a ser mi bandera algun día...
Nuestros muertos alzando los brazos
la sabran defender todaví­a...

Bonifacio Byrnes
Posted by: Vic at July 10, 2008 11:14 AM

Gracias, Vic. I hadnt read that in a long time.

I think it's important to note that no one is calling for a new cuban flag nor that tis be it. This is an artist's statement of what can only be called the reality of Cuba.
Posted by: Val Prieto at July 10, 2008 03:34 PM

An additional part of that reality is that if Cubans are stopped on the open seas, they get sent back to Cuba — thanks to wet-foot, dry-foot, America's contribution to the continuing torture of the Cuban people.

How American of us. Maybe we can add barbed wire to the Stars and Stripes to reflect that reality.
Posted by: Marc R. Masferrer at July 10, 2008 03:45 PM

My intent when I posted the image was -- and is -- as clear as gin: the image is a metaphor for the condition Cuba is in today. Period.

I was and I am very well aware of the metaphorical nature of the graphic and what it purportedly represents. You must be aware that there are many subjects, not the least of which is national pride and its representation by national symbols, that are considered "off limits" or beyond the realm of the common, certainly you are aware that even a small flag represents a nation and its people, you must know that any violation(s) or desecration(s) of such symbol(s) in any way, shape or form may and have caused nations to declare wars against one another, it is due to these reasons that national flags are only desecrated when provocation for war is the intention of the perpetrators, or when disdain and hatred of the nation and the people that a national flag represents is at the heart of the insulting violators. You get offended every time you see any representation of Che Guevara, yet the desecration of the national symbol of Cuba and its people does not seem to bother you in the least. Certainly there are many other alternatives that could have been employed to convey the message that you purport to have tried to convey It is common practice to place a disclaimer within any given presentation, whichever its nature, to clarify the intention(s) of the author(s) for anyone who may possibly take offense at whatever such presentation is intended to represent, but such escape clause is not customarily applied to national flags.

This is nothing more than a cheap and manipulative attempt to drum up hysteria and controversy where none exists. If you or your friends are too obtuse to get the message, so be it. The image stays and my message now is the same as was when I posted it.

There is no manipulation whatsoever at the heart of this issue, there is however, a serious affront to the national symbol of my native Cuba and to all Cubans, whether in Cuba, or anywhere else in the world. You seem to prefer to use contemptuous innuendo to attack me for having warned you as to the potentially negative consequences of your act of desecration, so be it, shoot the messenger and by all means, do not take the time to understand the message. Tthat appears to be more the norm than the exception with you. Your own words prove you guilty of your crime, you refuse to do what you should do for the good of the cause of democracy in Cuba, you choose to give the tyranny in power in Cuba another propaganda tool to use against all freedom loving Cubans and our friends and allies throughout the world, you choose to insult all Cubans whom you apparently believe are beneath you, especially our brothers and sisters within the island prison who suffer daily at the hands of the tyranny and most if not all of the recent arrivals, you coincidentally allege that it is one of those recently arrived Cubans who is the original author of the graphic, I doubt the veracity of such allegation, but there is a clear pattern of superiority complex to your statements, the members of the tyranny in Cuba suffer from the same affliction. You sir are an affront to Cuba and to all of us Cubans, you sir are a shameful example of what takes place when people allow bad influences from unpatriotic citizens of another nation to permeate their once proud national identity, you sir have been negatively influenced by those who posses no compunction whatsoever about using their own flag for underwear, placing a national symbol in the nether regions of their human anatomy. You sir, should immediately cease and desist from insulting the nation, the symbols, the nationals, the expatriates and anything and everything that represents our beloved Cuba.

Angel, we live in America. I still have the right to post this, just as much as you have the right to disagree with me posting it. You have a lot of crust to think you can come here and tell me what to write or post, demanding an apology for some manufactured offense. Our blog has a variety of opinions, some more pointed than others, but we consistently, unambiguously and unashamedly disseminate a pro-America, anti-castro, anti-communist message here. If that message, or how we deliver it, bothers you that much, go elsewhere. I certainly won't shed any tears.

No George, we live in the United States of America, from the furthest, northernmost reaches of Canada's territory to the furthermost reaches of Chile's and Argentina's territories and all other nations of America in between, we live in America, all of those nations citizens and residents live in America George, not the Illusion that you call America, another bad influence that you have assimilated from misinformed and misguided citizens of the U.S.A. You DO NOT have the right to desecrate the national symbol of Cuba and the Cubans it represents, living and dead. I did not tell you what you have the right to write or post, or what you do not have the right to write or post, I advised you as to the potentially damaging consequences of your act of desecration would be for your personal reputation, as well as, for the reputation of Babalu Blog, certainly you must be aware that there are consequences to our actions and words, freedom of speech allows any idiot to falsely yell "fire" at a theatre but with consequences for the perpetrator. You seem to lack or not want to avail yourself of logic, common sense and linear thought process. Your Blog (your own words, I was under the impression that it was Valentin Prieto's Blog) used to have a variety of opinions, mostly from commentators, most of whom have been banished and banned from commenting in the most outrageous displays of profanity laden derogatory disrespect and affront to all modicums of civility, so much for believing in the democratic and civil process. What you claim to be the core of the message that Babalu purports to disseminate, curiously does not indicate pro-Cuba and/or pro-Cuban, I guess all the claims to supporting and advocating for the cause of a free, democratic and civil Cuban republic, as well as, the claims of support for the Cuban people are not included, or perhaps your impression of what makes a true Cuban is nothing but a reflection of what you see every time you look in the mirror, if that is the case, I will unequivocally state that I want no part or parcel of that image that purportedly would represent what you apparently believe makes a real or ideal Cuban, I prefer to stay as I am, a true Cuban among the multitudes of Cubans, with all of our different characteristics that serve all of us so well to enrich our culture and civil pride. To finalize my statement, I would like to offer you this tip, when you offer others with whom you disagree to go elsewhere, you are too late already, the echo chamber that Babalu has become speaks for itself. Enough said.
Posted by: Angel Garzón at July 10, 2008 05:22 PM


When Val deleted this entire thread, he offered the following explanation, which, like all justifications of censorship, explains nothing but his own censorious mindset:

Update (Val): I have unpublished the comments related to this post. I simply will not allow such shallow, petty and disingenuously feigned insult bs commentary to go on here unchecked. The image above is an artist's statement on what he or she perceives to be the reality of today's Cuba and that's that. There is no desecration going on, no calls for a new Cuban flag, no intended or implied insult to the national symbol.

If you feel insulted by the image above, then you should, as it speaks volumes as to the truth about Cuba. Moreover, what should truly insult those of us that love Cuba and her symbolic flag is to see the likes of communists, socialists and fidelistas like the castros and their supporters waving her around for almost fifty years, shielding their idealistic ugliness behind her beauty.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Babalú Makes a Present to Me of Its Readers

Another few hundred more readers today, I suppose. Maybe less, because it is a Friday. For reasons unknown to me, Val Prieto has decided to share his readers with me yet again. It is a generous gesture, no doubt, far more effective than actually linking this blog because it focuses the attention of all its readers upon it. Googling my name, which is mentioned half a dozen times in yesterday's post dedicated to me, brought them forthwith to RCAB, where they remained because the discussion was far more interesting here than at Babalú (as usual). I didn't even bother to refute Val's "Chicken Post," because, really, there is nothing to refute in a joke; or, rather, the only refutation of a joke is a better joke (seek link below).

When this blog was first founded the Babalunians set up several parody sites, which Val even announced on Babalú. That's how this blog actually took off. If their purpose was to isolate me then bringing these sites to their readers' attention was the worst possible way to do it because it only served to whet their interest in the original. My own reaction was to link all those parody blogs and quote the few funny passages in them, which I am glad I did because otherwise there would be no record of their earliest "sincerest form of flattery" since the Babalunians eventually tired of publicizing my blog and closed down all their homage blogs.

The sudden and unexpected revival of their efforts on behalf of this blog yesterday was no doubt intended to allay attention from George's desecration of the Cuban flag and Val's refusal to disclaim the desecration. Of course, anyone looking at "The New Cuban Flag," as George dubbed it, could not fail to grasp the obvious even if he had no idea of the Rules Governing the Use of the Cuban Flag (1950), which I quoted in the previous thread. Marc Másferrer brilliantly made that point when he observed that cutting the star on the Cuban flag in half and casting one-half adrift on wavy blue stripes to illustrate the plight of Cuban refugees under the "Dry Foot/Wet Foot" policy is no different from enclosing the field of stars on the U.S. flag in barbed wire to signify the same thing. Everybody ignored Marc's comment because there was no way to answer it except by endorsing the desecration of the "Stars and Stripes" as well, or by asserting that it is permissible to desecrate the Cuban flag but not the U.S. flag.

Well, they have not had enough. Today Henry reprises the subject with a new post that harks back to yesterday's post. Well, if I am the most interesting subject at Babalú these days, I can hardly complain.

Welcome, again, new readers from Babalú. I know that you, like those who came here before you, will make RCAB your new blog home.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Babalú's New Flag

It was a busy night and a busy morning for Val Prieto. His inbox is bulging with e-mails from readers and fellow bloggers indignant at George Moneo's desecration of the Cuban flag yesterday on Babalú. The satellites and even some of the "magnificent cadres" have expressed their disapproval and urged him to take down the offensive caricature. For once, however, Val has taken a stand against censorship. The hateful pastiche of the Cuban flag will stand. "The New Cuban Flag," as George dubbed it, is now Babalú's flag and Val will go down with his ship defending it.

So, Babalunians, stand at attention and salute your new flag, which expresses the contempt and hatred which Val & Co. feel for Cuba and the Cuban people.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cuban Flag Desecrated at Babalú

Now I have seen it all.

If I were to close this blog tomorrow, I would not miss one damn thing.

You can bring down the curtain.

They have reached bottom.

The Cuban flag has been desecrated at Babalú.

The flag for which Martí and Maceo and ten thousand times seventy martyrs shed their generous blood, the hallowed emblem of our nationality and independence, has been made the occasion of a humorless joke by one who knows nothing of her glorious history or of the respect which is owed her by all Cubans.

I will not reproduce the offensive caricature of our flag or even describe what it is that they have done to her. Instead, I will quote our National Poet's immortal tribute:

To the Cuban Flag

Beautiful, gallant, victorious
And beyond the tyrant's hand,
Thou art the banner most glorious
And the ideal of my land...

When thy colors float on high,
Eternal dream of Martí,
Such pride do I feel in me,
I would have heaven reply
Whether thou prolong the sky
Or the sky surges from thee!

A la bandera cubana

Gallarda, hermosa, triunfal,
tras de múltiples afrentas,
de la patria representas
el romántico ideal...

Cuando agitas tu cendal
-sueño eterno de Martí-
tal emoción siento en mi,
que indago al celeste velo
si en ti se prolonga el cielo
o el cielo surge de ti...!

By Agustín Acosta (1886-1979)
Translated by Manuel A. Tellechea


The flag is not a bulletin board.

It is not a pattern to be cut.

It is not a canvas to be painted upon.

The flag is us.

Just as no man would tolerate becoming a bulletin board, a pattern to be cut or a canvas to be painted upon, no man should ever allow the flag to be desecrated in such a manner.

If the flag cannot claim at least as much respect as we expect of each other, then it is only a piece of cloth.

Those who treat it as a piece of cloth have renounced allegiance to the nation and to the people that it represents; or, perhaps, they have never felt such allegiance at all.

Spain's New "Law of Return" Lambasted in Racist Cartoon in "Granma"

Here it is, as published in Granma, official organ of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party: the graphic reaction of the Castro regime to Spain's new "Law of Return" which grants Spanish citizenship to the foreign-born descendents of Spaniards who emigrated to Cuba (and other countries) in the first half of the 20th century. This includes Fidel Castro's own children, of course, and nearly half of Cuba's population. In total, more than 1.2 Spaniards crossed the Atlantic in search of a better life in Spain's former colony. Most prospered in their adopted country and grew roots there until Castro robbed them of the fruits of their hard work and literally deracinated their lives. Many returned to Spain with only the clothes on their backs and 40 or 50 additional years to start their lives anew, or, rather, to end them as best as they could; but most remained in Cuba because their children and grandchildren had been born and raised there and they did not want to be separated from them in their old age.

In the 1990s, when most of the original emigrants were dead, the Spanish government negotiated on their behalf and without their consent a settlement of their claims for confiscated properties. The aggregate of Spanish assets in Cuba before 1959, consisting mostly of small businesses but large ones as well, far exceeded the $6 billion which the U.S. claims is owed to its citizens. Yet the Spanish government settled the claims of its nationals for $50 million (of which Castro didn't pay a cent). In effect, it transferred Spanish properties worth billions to Castro and robbed its own citizens for a second time.

Perhaps this belated "Law of Return" is a way for the Spanish government to make amends to those it wronged, or, rather, to their descendents. Spain did that before in 1924 when it promulgated the world's first "Law of Return" which benefitted the descendents of Jews expelled from Spain in 1492. That law, intended as a symbolic gesture, saved 600,000 lives during the Holocaust. Spain's scions in the Americas at least did not have to wait 400 years to obtain some measure of justice.

The new law poses a dilemma for the regime: it means fewer mouths to feed but also fewer hands to work Castro's island-wide plantation, and, of course, the humiliation of being repudiated publicly by yet another mass exodus representing yet another generation of discontented Cubans. In such circumstances there is only one card which the regime can still play: the race card. It did so during the Mariel boatlift and this cartoon indicates that it is prepared to do so again.

The cartoon itself is obviously intended for Spanish consumption and plays on the xenophobic racism which is enjoying a revival not only in Spain but throughout Europe. The implication is that a great number (in the cartoon, all) of Spain's newly-minted citizens by way of Cuba will be black. No doubt a great many will be: Spaniards themselves saw to that by mixing freely with the island's inhabitants. That, of course, is the glory of Spain: its colonists assimilated native populations, as opposed to Anglo-Saxons who tended to decimate them.

Granma's caricature of blacks could not be more grotesque or instructive. Obviously, blacks are "the other" in Castro's Cuba, and it must really puzzle the island's political commissars, who segregate Cuban blacks in non-autonomous ghettos which they are not allowed to leave, why Spaniards would wish to import what they themselves regard as Cuba's "Black Problem." Notice, also, that most of those on line waiting to emigrate in the cartoon are male except for an old woman and child. The message to Spaniards is that they should not expect the mulatas that they love but only black males, which most of them do not love as well.

The caption in the cartoon is intended for internal consumption and can be interpreted in at least two ways. It could refer to the irony that Europeans, who abducted by force the black ancestors of Cuban mulattos, are now naturalizing and repatriating them based on their white ancestry. Or it could be trying to imply that before the Revolution only those who were compelled or expelled by the Spanish authorities ever immigrated to Cuba, and to remember that the authorities that once booted their ancestors could boot them, too.

The message that the cartoon actually conveys, besides the rampant racism, is that the regime continues to be afraid of its own people and resents mightily any government that would "smuggle" its to hostages to freedom by resorting to legal "sleight of hand." The "Law of Return" is Spain's version of the Cuban Adjustment Act exept that to take advantage of it Cubans don't have to risk their lives at sea. Freedom is now just an Iberia flight away.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

An Observation from Sr. Cohiba

"As noted weeks ago, it's less painful to undergo electroshock treatment than it is to argue with a liberal." -- Señor Cohiba, "A Video for My Liberal Counterparts," Babalú, July 7, 2008

OK, Mike, if you say so.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Tío Val Cuenta Cuentos (Uncle Val's Tales)

What would Val ever do without the workmen whom he employs on a regular basis in the expansion of Villa Valentina? Not since Sara Winchester, heiress to the riflemaker, was told by a spiritualist that she would die if construction ever ceased on her mansion, has anyone built so many staircases that lead nowhere, so many rooms without doors and doors without rooms. Those who know of the dead chickens and coconuts left on Val's front lawn might suspect that he's under the same compunction as the old dowager, but I know the real reason for Val's building boom. It is his fascination with newcomers from Cuba.

Val is their scourge and they are his muse. He has devoted several several posts to Cuban construction workers and their vicissitudes in this country. He detests them, of course, even more than he does Cubans on the island who have not escaped his pressure cooker, using them as props to illustrate what he considers the defective character of Cubans raised on the island after the Castro takeover.

In a previous vignette Val wrote about one recent refugee who was saving his money so that he could visit his parents in Cuba and "get laid right and left." Apparently, the moralistic society that the newcomer encountered in Miami did not provide a sexual outlet for him. Val, who believes that Cubans on the island should forgo sex and employ that energy in overthrowing Castro, blasted the newcomer for his presumption and ordered him from the extraterritorial bastion of cubanidad which is the Prieto house. The man, supposedly, called Val a "gusano" in retaliation. I hope Val got an "A" in his creative writing class for that story.

He is deserving of an "A+" for his latest composition. This time around Val created a seemingly sympathetic newcomer and then proceeded to demonize him till he had reduced him even beneath the level of the Cuban who wanted to exercise his culpable libido. This other Cuban wanted nothing more than to bring his wife and children here. He was working at two jobs 16 hours a day to make that happen. Still, it was not enough to raise the $5000 which the "coyote" who had brought him to this country demanded of him in addition to the $5000 which he had already paid him in Cuba. Now, it seems more than a little odd, to say the least, that this industrious young man was able to amass the first $5000 in Cuba but could not raise the second $5000 here. But don't let us interrupt Val's story with such unfictional objections.

The "coyote" had first demanded the additional $5000 when the Cuban was about to board the boat for his journey here, and reappeared, outside the Krome Detention Center, when he was released, threatening to kill him, his family in Miami and his family in Cuba unless he immediately produced the money. When the newcomer objected that he did not have the money on him, the "coyote," who had a heart of gold, gave him two months to raise the money. I guess it was two months because after 2 months the newcomer surely would have become wise to the fact that this is a nation of laws.

His uncle, who owned a construction company in Miami, provided him with one of his two jobs. One would have thought that "the kid," as Val calls him, would have confided his predicament to his uncle and tried to borrow the money from him. After all, his uncle and his uncle's family, here and in Cuba, had also been threatened with death by the "coyote" and the uncle might perhaps be interested in knowing it. But "the kid" said nothing. He proceeded to raise the sum on his own by stealing money from his uncle, tools from his other employer as well jewelry from one of the homes where he worked installing tiles.

Now "the kid" is in prison, the uncle about to lose his contracting license and his other employer without the means of production. And, yes, the lady whose "antique and inherited jewels" were stolen is none too happy either. All, presumably, have pressed charges against him because "the kid" is now in jail. When Val met "the kid" two months ago all was well with him. Now his life is in shambles. Another case of a lightening investigation and arrest by the Miami Dade Police Department. If the Prosecutors' Office and the judge work as deliberately Val should be announcing within the next week that he's been sent to prison for life.

What we find most amazing (or should that he fantastical?) about this story is that Val describes "the kid" as "honest, noble, erudite and smart." Granted, being called "erudite and smart" by Val Prieto is hardly the most trustworthy of recommendations. Still, one would have to be the dumbest and most irredeemable of idiots to have acted in the manner which Val attributes to "the kid."

In case you haven't noticed already this is a cautionary tale about the dangers inherent in the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy, or, to put it more broadly, the unworthiness of arrivistes to enjoy freedom in the United States and the venality of those who make such freedom possible for them.

Babalú's editors and commenters replied to Val's "Coyote" post in the spirit of charity which we have come to expect from them when addressing the subject of Castro's victims. Ventanita, the cloistered contributing writer, broke her silence long enough to lament the fact that the "coyote" won't be punished also. Henry followed, reminding everybody that he has long been opposed to Cubans fleeing to this country, well, leastwise to "scumbags" bringing them here. The 19th century abolitionists were also called "scumbags" and worse by the Southern slaveholders. There is no record, however, that any freed slave ever referred to them in that way. Leave it to Henry to find a new way to bring dishonor to the Cuban exile community. George, for his part, lamented, not very convincingly, the prospect that Val's fictional character "risks deportation back to Cuba." Perhaps that will be a future chapter in Val's opus: "The Prodigal Returns and Regrets He Ever Left."

Other commenters were less empathic than Babalú great-hearted cadres. J2Tharome, making his debut at Babalú, got to the heart (or heartlessness) of the matter with little prodding from the oldhands: it's not the newcomers; it's not the smugglers; it's not the Miami relatives that are to blame for this "tragedy" but the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy! Cut their sea legs and they won't be getting in trouble when they land here because they won't be here for long.

Then Cangrejero de Caibarien, Babalú's resident defender of gay rights, who last week took pototo to task for questioning the morality of gays, proceeded to impugn the morals of the whole Cuban nation:

"Sadly, this is also the result of nearly 50 years of castrocommunism in Cuba. The general morality of the population has sunk to depths few of you would recognize or accept if you had ventured back to the island recently. Trust me, it hurts me to say this, but the years of lying, stealing, and the "doble cara" turn you into a scumbag. The symptoms are evident in the way people carry themselves on the street, how they talk, and ultimately, how they act. I am telling you, I think we are better off getting rid of wet foot/dry foot altogether and going back to individual asylum hearings. Sadly, Cuba is producing mostly trash these days."

Finally, longtime contributor lori, to add credence to Val's fictional tale, volunteered that she knows of another case similar to this one where the newcomer committed suicide to save his family from being killed in Cuba. Now, how exactly would killing himself save his family? By killing himself wouln't he be passing his burden on to them? Wouldn't they be hounded for the money and threatened with death if they didn't produce it? Lori's story makes no more sense than Val's.

For any of this to be true, the prisons and morgues in Miami would have to be filled with the victims of these homicidal "coyotes." In Cuba, too, the stories would eventually emerge of entire families massacred by the "coyotes." What better propaganda could there be against the Cuban Adjustment Act? Yet, oddly, the Communists are apparently involved in a vast conspiracy of silence to cover up those deaths. But why?

Outside of Val's imagination there is no evidence for any of this. What evidence does abound is that the newcomers are just as hardworking, committed and honest as previous generations of Cuban exiles. It is well to remember that the same canards were once levelled at the marielitos. They silenced their critics by achieving the same success in this country as other Cubans. So, too, will this latest group of freedom-seekers unless Val and his ilk succeed in pushing them back into the ocean.

Also of interest

How to Stop the Wanton Killing of Cubans on the High Seas
Val the Abolitionist vs. Henry the Slaver
One Man's Obsession: The Smugglers Who Risk All to Free Castro's Slaves
Angels Who Smuggle Men to Freedom
Alfonso Chardy is the New Oscar Corral
You Cannot Love Cuba and Hate Cubans
The Truth In Season