Tuesday, September 30, 2008
By: Manuel A. Tellechea
The New York Tribune
Commentary Section, p. 9
October 21, 1988
A judge in New York upheld recently the right of beggars to beg, which decision he must have arrived at by the commendable expedient of taking the dictionary as his law book. His ruling, however, has proved very unpopular among the well-fed majority that believe it is better for a man to starve than to beg. The argument is again put forward which has for decades been used against casual charity: "Don't give a man a rope, but teach him how to hang himself," or something to that effect. This is not a conservative position and it certainly forms no part of the Judeo-Christian ethic, which exalts charity above all virtues. Its father is Herbert Spencer and it dates to the 19th century. Its common name is social Darwinism, or modern (as opposed to classical) liberalism.
Marxists also opposed casual charity because they thought that it would postpone that glorious day when the masses would rise against their oppressors. When the Marxists became the oppressors they continued to oppose it because they hoped that a starving people wouldn't have the strength to rise in the morning let alone rise in arms. In our time, however, there are no ideological positions on alms giving: revolutionaries no longer oppose it (having given up on the poor as the engine of revolution) and neither do capitalists (having no fear of them as such, either). Only the social Darwinists still publicly object to casual charity and their pseudo-science has been embraced by the general population. In the end, it is always the most savage and inhumane perspective that prevails in human relations.
Social Darwinists are always asking themselves if the poor are "deserving," but invariably the poor are always deserving unless one looks on their poverty as a well-deserved punishment. If we set out to divide the rich into the deserving rich and the undeserving rich, I should not think that we would find all the rich deserving. Yet no one would think to deprive the undeserving rich of the protection which society accords their wealth, but the social Darwinists would deny to the "undeserving" poor — that is, to as many of the poor as possible — all claims to society's protection (society here defined as society, not government). The benefits that society accords the rich are not dealt out according to need, but, rather, in proportion to the absence of need. With the rich we can never be too liberal:
The daughter of a rich acquaintance is marrying. Naturally, we will have to buy a gift. We must be reasonable, but reasonable not by our lights but theirs. In other words, we must be unreasonable. Our present — let us say a porcelain cabbage — is received with kindness and spotted some years hence being used as a doorstop. We will never be as extravagant again; nor need we worry about future baptisms or weddings. We have paid our homage to the rich. We have given from our relative needs to those who have no needs which we can satisfy. We have done no good, but who will say that we have done ill?
A porcelain cabbage is an innocuous thing, or so we may suppose. But, as G.K. Chesterton observed, "to give any present worth calling a present is to give power; to give power is to give liberty; to give liberty is to give potential sin." In a fit of pique a jealous wife may break that stony head of cabbage on the head of her stoned husband. Or dear papa may stub his gouty toe on a curious green doorstop and never cross that threshold again, causing dark days to descend thereupon. Surely such thoughts never enter our minds when we are spending money on the rich. Then we assume as a matter of course that what is superfluous will also prove innocuous. It is only when we are given alms to the poor that we are asked to consider the possible adverse consequences of casual charity.
Let us ask ourselves: Are we really more solicitous of the beggar's welfare than the rich man's? Surely not, since we never think to fulfill the expectations which the poor have of us. We do not give to the poor to commend ourselves to them but that we might command them. We never rise to charity, we stoop to charity. If the beggar in the gutter does not use our quarter to turn his life around, we think ourselves ill-used and say so. Yet no indignity that the millionaire's daughter may heap on our cabbage will ever move us to remonstrance. We have quite surrendered our cabbage and all claims to it. That portion of our estate we have transferred voluntarily and in perpetuity. But not the beggar's miserable quarter. Of him and of our quarter we are and will always be guardian and executor. So it is that cautious philanthropists are now distributing two-bit vouchers redeemable for food at specified locales — a scheme which hopes to make charity safe again for the poor. As compared to, say, school vouchers, these vouchers do not increase personal choice and hence liberty, but restrict if not altogether eliminate it. It is debatable which is the more demeaning: to regard the beggar as an adult responsible for his poverty, or as a child able to take responsibility for nothing, not even a quarter.
But although we do not trust him to be responsible for himself neither do we wish to be responsible for him. It is far easier to suppose that our quarter will ruin the beggar than the want of a quarter. But it is just as difficult to ruin oneself on a quarter as it is to save oneself with a quarter. At best our quarters may provide the beggar with a temporary reprise from his suffering. At worst, they will leave him unaffected in the gutter.
When we made our present to the rich man's daughter, we never asked ourselves if she needed it, for we knew for a fact she did not. But when we see someone whose need is patent, we stop to debate whether that need is real! Money is never said to harm the rich who do not need it. Money harms only the poor who desperately want for it. Yet how can that which is said to be harmless in very great quantities prove fatal in a very small dose? Ill may come of charity, but ill may come of anything; and of anything more likely than charity.
Social Darwinists believe that to give money to beggars rewards idleness and encourages alcoholism. It is alleged that the poor are poor because they will not work. If laziness always and invariably resulted in poverty, the widows of rich men would all be poor. Wealth is often something that just happens to you, and poverty is apt to happen to you far more commonly than wealth. The idle rich are idle because they are rich; they are not rich because they are idle. No more than the poor are poor because they are idle: the poor are idle because they are poor.
The antidote to casual charity is the apprehension that the beggar aspires only to be a drunkard and that by withholding our quarter we shall save him from becoming one. Temperance was never enforced for the rich even when it was the law, but we are still trying to force it down the throats of the poor. If the clubman can drink to intensify his pleasure, why shouldn't the grubman drink to mitigate his sorrows. The drunk in the gutter will never run down a pedestrian nor knock down a hydrant. He is no threat to limb or property. He is a nuisance, but not a menace. Social drinkers are the menace, not unsocial drinkers. And the people that social drinkers most often menace are unsocial drinkers: nothing so easy for a drunk in a car to flatten as a drunk staggering across a road.
Beggars are unsocial drinkers because we will not allow them to be social drinkers. If the bishop in his palace feels faint, we do not begrudge him a glass of brandy bought with the alms of the faithful. He has cares, we suppose. And weaknesses, we are sure. But if the beggar in the gutter is cold and hungry as beggars in gutters are wont to be, we are encouraged to deny him alms for fear that he will betake himself to the warmth of the public house (certainly no private house would receive him), and for the price of a glass of beer, banish his griefs for a while and allay his hunger with the stale offerings of the bar or the leavings of more fortunate men, whose presence at such establishments evokes no comment or censure.
Other articles from the Tellechea Newspaper Archives:
Alicia in Wonderland (1987)
Fidel's First Anal Emergency (1987)
Castro's Pet Author Lends his Nobel Credentials to Marxist Cuba (1988)
Nadia's Defection Signalled Ceausescu's End (1990)
Monday, September 29, 2008
I do not subscribe to New Age wisdom, nor should the reproduction of these findings be interpreted as an endorsement. We note, however, that in most cases the results are uncanny. I amend that last statement to read in most cases with which I am acquainted, since, frankly, most of these names are unfamiliar to me and likely to remain so. It is remarkable that someone took it upon himself to create a computer program which charts one's compatibility with Fidel Castro. So Fidel is now the golden mean of the human condition? Well, I choose to look at in a positive light. I don't think that most people aspire to be like Fidel. A high degree of compatibility with him would not, I think, be expected or welcomed, unlike, say, a high level of compatibility with Mother Teresa (or at least the perceived image of Mother Teresa). Oh, yes, you can also chart your own compatibility with Fidel Castro if you are interested. There you can judge for yourself the accuracy of this curious curious website.
Chow Yun Fat
Dr. PhilEddie Murphy
Freddie Prinze Jr.
George W. Bush
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Kim Jong Il
Robert De Niro
Robert Downey Jr.
Samuel L. Jackson
Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Sunday, September 28, 2008
What was Marc's transgression which so greatly offended the sensibilities of Babalú's sunshine patriots? He dared to suggest that the Cuban people should not be starved in Val's Human Pressure Cooker. His support for remittances and family visits won him the enmity of Babalú's biggest blowhards. The backbenchers, many of whom I suspect agreed with Marc, did not come to his defense, or, at least, declined to do so publicly. It was an inspiring sight, though, to see Marc upholding, alone and surrounded, human decency at Babalú.
I suspect that he held out as long as he did because he didn't want to surrender this valuable forum for Cuba's political prisoners (valuable, of course, because of its extension, not its content). He would have continued to endure the ad hominem attacks and malicious innuendos if that were the only price extracted from him for lending credibility to Babalú. But, in the end, Marc was left in an untenable position. By willingly participating in this Roman circus he was sanctioning it. One cannot stand apart from something if one is in the very middle of it. Even accusations of being a "fifth columnist" and others equally as ludicrous do not cleanse one of the taint of such an unsavory association though they do serve to sweep away what little reputation Babalú had left for anything resembling objectivity or fairness. I believe that, in the end, it was the fact that Marc was a member of the MSM which most infuriated the Babalunians and made him the scapegoat for the MSM's immemorial wrongs. The fact that Marc himself is practically the only advocate for Cuban freedom in the ranks of the MSM was ignored either from envy or intolerance.
I was amused, incidentally, when one of Marc's detractors alleged that I was his "master" and behind this schism at Babalú. Marc didn't get where he is with my help; nor does he need me to advise him what is in his best interest. Nor would I, in any case, be so presumptuous. In fact, throughout RCAB's extensive coverage of the Másferrer Affair, never did I suggest to him that he should stay or that he should go. That decision was his to make and he made it.
Marc was gracious enough to e-mail me after his resignation from Babalú to inform me of his decision. I suppose he feared that I might assume that he had been booted rather than resigned. Here we see again the measure of the man. Marc was concerned that an injustice should not be done to those who had treated him so shabbily. And, yes, he was right. I would have assumed that Val had ousted him. So would everybody else who is acquainted with Val Prieto and his modus operandi.
We have said in the past that Marc Másferrer, by focusing on the plight of Cuba's political prisoners at Uncommon Sense, provides the most valuable service to the cause of Cuban freedom of any Cuban blogger. It is our hope that Babalú will not ignore his work even if its big tent is not big enough to accommodate him. There is one positive sign at least -- they have not stricken Marc's blog from their Blogroll.
The Schism at Babalú Over Remittances
Deconstructing Henry Gómez's "Perverse" Attack on Marc Másferrer
Babalú Continues Auto-da-Fé Against Marc Másferrer Over Remittances (UPDATE)
The Trial of Marc Másferrer Continues
Saturday, September 27, 2008
I much prefer McCain's ambition regardless of what adjective is attached to it. Ambition is not a sin or character flaw. It is merely a desire to test one's mettle, to rise above one's circumstances and to succeed. It is not the negation of altruism but its complement. Unambitious men are altruistic to no effect. If you can't realize your own dreams then you will never be able to realize anybody else's.
I had hoped for a stronger performance by McCain and a weaker performance by Obama, but, overall, I am satisfied that McCain emerged the victor in their first debate. It sickens me to hear the Babalunians claiming that because Obama is younger and taller than McCain or supposedly better looking that these factors tipped the balance in Obama's favor during the debate. If we are going to be superficial then at least let us be honest. Would you prefer a doctor who looked like McCain or one who looked like Obama? If the race were among splinters, I think most people would pick Obama. But if you are going to entrust your country's future to somebody, I have to believe that you will be at least as careful with it as with your liver. A shallow evaluation, perhaps; but more substantial than one based on mere physical appearance.
Every man's face is a map of his life: McCain's shows the torments that he has had to endure in the course of his. Obama, who at 47 looks 23, has a face that reflects the fact his life thus far has consisted of undeserved preferment after undeserved preferment. Not because he's young but because there is nothing else to commend him except his youth -- which is the least impressive of commendations when coupled, as in his case, with inexperience -- Barack Obama declined McCain's offer of debating him not three but ten times. Why? Because it is Barack Obama who is afraid to stand on the same platform as John McCain, and for good reason.
I was going to post this last night before the debate but didn't get the chance:
It will be fun tonight. We will get to see if Barack Obama has memorized enough answers to enough questions, or whether he shall be forced to improvise an answer or two. Since he speaks in sentence fragments, and his untutored opinions have all the eloquence and spontaneity of a "man in the street" interview, Americans will get to see for themselves that they are in danger of electing an anchorman with a movable teleprompter as president. Certainly, we would all be better off if his talents (such as they are) had taken him in that direction.
Friday, September 26, 2008
I do not believe this means we should shy away from providing our families with financial assistance at a time of great distress. It is for those receiving the funds to be discreet if necessary. The way this money is handled once it reaches the hands of our brothers is entirely up to them, not us.
While this type of story is all-too-common, I don't believe it should impede us from helping our padres, tios y primos in a bid to alleviate at least a bit of their perpetual suffering.
No doubt many will disagree with me, and that's alright, but, those are my "two cents."
Posted by: CubaWatch at September 25, 2008 01:47 PM
Let's see if another of Babalú's 15 contributing writers cares to prove that he has no homicidal intent vis-à-vis the Cuban people. Humberto Fontova, whom I admire as a popularizer of Cuba's pre-revolutionary history and debunker of the myth of social progress under Castro, has offset Anatasio's defection from the cult of the Human Pressure Cooker by declaring himself one of those who would choke the Cuban people in order to strangle Castro:
Fontova's contention that Cubans should turn their backs on their relatives on the island because their grandfathers or great-grandfathers once shouted "¡Paredón!" amounts to nothing less than a bar sinister on all Cubans. Worse even than guilt by association, he advocates guilt by blood. He does not say for how many generations Cubans should be thus cursed; but we suspect that it is at least the Biblical seven generations. Fontova makes no pretense that he wants to starve the Cuban people in order to facilitate their freedom. He is quite clear that he only wishes to punish them. His honesty is actually refreshing after so much dissimulation.
From "Paredon!-Paredon!"--to "Please send me remittances!"
"Paredon! Paredon! Paredon!"......"Si Fidel es comunista, me ponen en la lista!" "Gusano!...Gusanos!...Mercenarios!!"
This was bad enough when so many of us were leaving. This was also screamed at the captured men and boys who put their lives on the line to liberate Cuba during the Bay of Pigs, as they were marched in hand-cuffs and Cuban crowds spat at them and screamed insults....Wonder how many of those screamers are now screaming for remittances from those same gusanos?
Posted by Humberto at September 25, 2008 04:59 PM
The Cubans responsible for installing Fidel Castro in power 50 years ago, who cheered his every usurpation and fed his insatiable blood lust, are now Castro's age, give or take 10 years. No Cuban born after 1959 ever shouted "¡Paredón!" and they constitute the overwhelming majority (85%) of the Cuban population. Nor would it be fair to say that all surviving septugenerians or octogenerians did, either.
What is undoubtedly true, however, is that as many paredonistas live in Miami as in Cuba. There is no such thing as an ex-fidelista just as there is no such thing as an ex-Nazi. Although they may have succeeded in putting miles and years between themselves and the scene of their crimes, and even if they feign regret or deny their complicity, they are no less guilty than those who never regretted their crimes or denied their complicity. If these fidelistas sin Fidel had remained in Cuba, they would not have escaped the consequences of their acts. Their decampment to Miami was the historical and moral equivalent of the Nazis' flight to South America. Many of these characters transmogrified into anti-Communists and became the most rabid enemies of the very people whose lives and country they destroyed before fleeing from the general conflagration.
So when is Fontova going to call for the denaturalization of the children and grandchildren of Miami's historical fidelistas sin Fidel? When will he label them hypocrites and worse for wishing to punish the children of Cuba for the crimes which their fathers and grandfathers committed while they themselves were children in Cuba? When is Fontova going to demand the seizure of their assets and the distribution of this money as reparations to Castro's victims on the island? When is he going to suggest that they should go hungry in expiation of the crimes of their fathers?
An exile who seeks revenge on innocent Cubans is no different from the bloodthirsty rabblerouser that led the masses in crying "¡Paredón!" at the dawn of the Revolution.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Babalunians have seized upon this purloined tuna as confirmation that the Castro regime cannot be entrusted to distribute humanitarian assistance on the island. Of course, no one ever argued otherwise, certainly not me. For 50 years Castro has used hunger as an instrument of state control, and at a time of national emergency his efforts in that direction would naturally be expected to increase, not lessen, the general desolation. Only if one believes that Castro is sensible to the suffering of the Cuban people and anxious to relieve it can one suppose that he would do something that might threaten the survival of the regime. To make the Cuban people stronger is to weaken proportionately the regime. To keep them in a state of pauperism, without knowing where their next sip of water or morsel of food will come from, makes resistance impossible and the regime invulnerable.
That is why remittances are subversive, because they offer an alternative to complete dependence on the state, which is really what "feeds" the tyranny. Since Cubans cannot count on the state to supply their needs, or, at the very least, not to steal the baby's milk money, they must rely on their relatives for the assistance that will allow them to buy the milk or even the Ecuadorian tuna. Otherwise, they should not have them or anything else. But, of course, that's what the Babalunians want: the elimination of remittances and family visits in order to complement and compound Castro's own efforts to institutionalize hunger on the island.
The Babalunians claim that they want to starve the regime but do not realize or care that starving the regime requires and is synonymous with starving the Cuban people. Even if they had the moral right to starve them -- which no one, I think, would argue that they do -- it would have no effect other than bolstering Castro's position. Starvation will not cause Cubans to rebel (it hasn't in 50 years), but denying them money because they "don't need it" will certainly make them more dependent on the despot and less inclined to challenge him. When life is reduced to a desperate quest to accumulate enough calories so that the body will not have to cannibalize its vital organs and lose years in order to gain days, the Darwinian struggle for survival will take precedence over any other struggle: the needs of the spirit will yield to the needs to the body. Revolution is a luxury which starving men can't afford. History offers not a single example of a revolution that was waged by men in extremis.
Clearly, it is Fidel Castro, not Val Prieto, who has used the Human Pressure Cooker to his best advantage. Carefully regulating it, increasing as well as decreasing the pressure, as the occasion demands, Castro has maintained himself in power for 50 years.
It is remarkable, therefore, that Val would want to use the pressure cooker against the Cuban people as well. Can the pressure cooker both enslave and liberate Cubans at once? The answer is no. It can do only one thing and what it can do is on display for all to see and has been for the last 50 years.
Val understands the value of the pressure cooker as does Castro, he just doesn't know how it works. Nevertheless, he approves of its practical effects (starvation and disease) because he yet hopes that they will produce the change he desires. Of course, it cannot produce that change any more than throwing a defenseless people against an all-powerful tyrant would result in anything else but their complete annihilation.
So every time that Castro increases the heat on his Human Pressure Cooker, makes the lives of Cubans more miserable and hopeless, the Babalunians rejoice and pat themselves on the back as if each victory that Castro obtains over their countrymen on the island brings them closer to "Next Year in Havana." Only if an island-wide cemetery is their idea of a free Cuba can they argue that the Cuban people are an expendable part of Cuba's future.
I heard from a relative in Cuba that those who oppose the regime are not being allowed to buy materials to fix their homes. And they are not being given the items or money that is being sent to them from outside.
Those known for opposing the regime are being prevented and removed from buying supplies (the rapid response brigades are pulling people out of lines). I even heard a story about a family with 3 children who lost their roof and were living in a shelter, but because they are not communists, they were thrown out of the shelter and had to return to their home even though there is no roof,running water, or electricity.
I sent money to my family in Cuba (of which the regime keeps 20%)I don't believe in letting people starve.
But with all that is going on, I fear for the future. How can one just forget what these pigs are doing? How can you just turn the other cheek when they've thrown you out with your children with no where to turn. What's going to happen in Cuba when those who have been trampled upon have a chance to retaliate? The future for Cuba looks very bleak.
9/26/2008 12:22 AM
Manuel A.Tellechea said...
Imagine the fate of those outcastes if they didn't have the money from the remittances? With it they may not be able to shop in state stores, but they can still use it on the black market. If forced from shelters they will be in a better position to find someone to take them in with money than without it.
Money can correct or palliate many of the injustices created by the Castro regime. Without it one is completely exposed to its abuses and helpless.
Hence the cruelty of those like Val Prieto and Commerce Secretary Gutiérrez who claim that Cubans don't need money to survive in Castro's Cuba.
Money is, in fact, what they most need especially at this time. Not only for the very reasons that everybody else needs it but for the additional one that it will afford them some protection from the ravages of the regime.
9/26/2008 5:21 AM
Why There Has Been No Successful Revolution to Overthrow Castro in 49 Years
Will Cuba Ever Be Free Again?
Will Cuba Ever Be Free Again? (Part II)
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
At Babalú, Val Prieto does not blame the Coast Guard for the unidentified Cuban's death: they also serve who kill the occasional Cuban straggler from Val's pressure cooker. Babalú prefers to blame the smugglers that tried to escape the Coast Guard's attempts to re-enslave the Cubans in Castro's name and Bush's (and with a nod to Bill Clinton as well).
How to Stop the Wanton Killing of Cubans on the High Seas
The Americanization of Val Prieto
Whom exactly are "them?" We will suppose that Secretary Gutiérrez is not so great a political naif as to suggest publicly for a second time in less than a week that the U.S. should suffocate the Cuban people. He no doubt meant the Castro regime. The Bush administration, however, has done nothing in eight years to restrict its "breathing room." On the contrary, it has been far more accommodating than its predecessor in all respects except kidnapping Cuban children and delivering them to Castro. During Bush's tenure the trade embargo has been effectively scrapped; the only remaining provision stipulates that the bankrupt Castro regime cannot buy on credit but must pay upfront for everything it buys (which, incidentally, is the only time that the administration tried to curb U.S. corporations from making bad loans that would eventually have to be underwritten by American taxpayers). Bush has also rigorously enforced the legal travesty known as the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy -- remember, a policy not a law -- longer than did Clinton, though he could have ended it on his first day in office by presidential order. Finally, Bush ceased all efforts to have Communist Cuba condemned for human rights abuses at international forums, and even acquiesced to the dissolution of the U.N. Human Rights Commission, at Geneva, which was replaced by a Committee for the Validation of Tyrants, controlled by Cuba and Iran.
Compared to the turbulent Clinton years, when U.S.-Cuban relations consisted of one crisis after the other, Bush has done everything in his two terms not to destabilize the Castro regime because it prized order above freedom, at least as far as Cuba was concerned. Specifically, our "great amigo" feared that the eruption of freedom in Cuba might lead to another mass exodus of refugees and Bush preferred to have Cubans as Castro's problem rather than his. Besides, why make a genuine effort to topple Castro when all you have to do is hold a Cuban Independence Day celebration at the White House every year to win the unconditional support of the likes of Val Prieto?
In the waning days of the Bush era, Secretary Gutiérrez has been delegated to take up again the torch of Cuban freedom (if he can find it). I suppose that the commerce secretary and former CEO of Kellogg Corporation is taking refuge in his Cuban roots to escape the present crisis on Wall Street. Even "¡Viva Cuba Libre!" sounds more credible these days than "Viva Deregulation!" or "Viva Golden Parachutes!"
We would have welcomed Gutiérrez to the cause, even at this late date, if his efforts were on behalf of the Cuban people rather than in support of those like Val Prieto who share Castro's goal of starving them. There is one difference between Prieto and Gutiérrez, however. Val wants to starve Cubans in order to goad them into rebellion. Gutiérrez did not get where he is by being "idealistic." He may have adopted Val's rhetoric ("Cubans don't need money because there's nothing to buy in Cuba"), but his motives are his own. He has refused to relax restrictions on remittances and family visits because he knows that it is necessary to increase the suffering of the Cuban people (limit their "breathing room") in order to avoid "chaos in Cuba" as he put it. A people that must struggle for every sip of water or morsal of food is engaged in a Darwinian struggle that precludes revolution. On the eve of the presidential election, the last thing that Gutiérrez (or Bush) wants is any kind of convulsion in Cuba. (Personally, I think that it would help John McCain, not hurt him. At such a moment, the difference between McCain and Obama would never seem more stark).
"Change has to happen in Cuba and I’ll tell you that the future of Cuba is not in Miami, it’s not in New Jersey but probably in a jail cell in Cuba. Somewhere in Cuba. That’s where the future leadership is." -- Secretary Gutiérrez, Ibid
Nor in Battle Creek, Michigan. Heaven help us!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
When Val Prieto declared to The Times recently that Cubans on the island didn't need money what he was in fact asserting was that they don't need food, lodging or anything else that supports human life. Val was aware, of course, that the regime itself would not provide these nor allow the West to do so, that international aid, in fact, was no more than a smokescreen behind which those, like himself, who actually favored starving the Cuban people, could go for cover so that they would not seem to be what they actually are -- Castro's partners in the annihilation of the Cuban people.
Anyone who has ever read Babalú is aware of its inveterate hostility to Cubans on the island and the fact that it has never made any distinction between Castro and his victims there. For Val & Co. the Cuban people are Castro's enablers in the same sense, for example, as copperheads who hated blacks looked upon them as passive supporters of their masters and enablers of their own slavery. It is always easy to blame the victim when your interests are on the other side. For the Babalunians, the only way to remove Castro is to remove the Cuban people. If a succession of hurricanes achieved their annihilation, or famines and disease decimated their numbers, they would regard it as the final fulfillment of God's judgment on the Cuban people. Of course, they are more than willing to help God's agency by doing "His" work on earth. They may not be able to rain down hurricanes on the hapless Cubans but they can certainly erect barriers to prevent their fellow exiles from helping their brethren on the island. They also serve who block the Good Samaritan's way.
Castro they are content to leave alone; they fight their wars against the Cuban people. By augmenting their misery through their human "Pressure Cooker" they hope that Cubans will finally rise up against their oppressors with their weakened bodies as their only weapons. This bloodbath, they hope, will either bring down Castro or deprive him of his slaves; either outcome is satisfactory to them as both would increase their power without any expenditure on their part either of blood or fortune.
It used to be, in more "innocent" times, that the Babalunians were quite open about their intentions vis-à-vis the Cuban people. The "Pressure Cooker" was on permanent display and Val was not in the least hesitant to call for rivers of blood as the only means of securing Cuba's freedom. Indeed, his heart was so engrossed by that prospect that never did he reach such heights of impassioned rhetoric as when he was pleading for Cubans to fill every mudhole and chasm in Cuba with their blood.
Lest anyone think I am guilty of hyperbole, let Val Prieto's own words define him and his motives:
"Freedom isn't going to knock on [the Cubans'] doors and ask to come in. It isn't going to arrive in a package from Hialeah or in the suitcase of a family member coming from abroad. Freedom is going to hide behind hunger. It's going to hide behind pain, it's going to hide behind sacrifice. It's going to hide behind bruises and in a pool of blood. And it's only going to be found when it is painstaking[ly] sought after, sought after with extreme hunger and empty bellies, with broken bones and bloody hands and with sheer desperation. There are 11 million people in Cuba, yet you see merely a handful standing firm in their convictions and against their government. Until that handful exponentially increases, not a damned thing will change." — Val Prieto, judging the Cuban people and passing sentence on them, Babalú blog, October 25, 2007
Monday, September 22, 2008
Hey, if you want to pay ransom to the captors, that's your business.
Posted by: Henry Louis Gomez Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 04:54 PM
Had the allies paid ransom for the Jews of Hungary a lot of lives would have been saved, that's what this is about, saving Cuban life.
Posted by: Vana Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 06:47 PM
Vana is absolutely right. And what happened to the Jews who were ransomed? They lived. Pope Pius XII redeemed the Jews of Rome with gold. They were not deported or sent to the death camps, the only Jewish community in Europe that survived the Holocaust intact and in situ. The communists have never forgiven Pius for recognizing that it was better to throw gold to the Nazis than Jews into ovens.
Saving human life is the paramount concern of man, always. Money cannot be put to a higher purpose than to ransom the lives of the innocent. The parent whose child is kidnapped does not haggle with the abductors. He pays what they demand and hopes for the best. We should think the parent an even greater monster than the kidnapper if he were to value his money or some arcane "principle" above the life of his child. Enriching the kidnapper is immaterial when the life of the child is at stake. Even punishing him should await the deliverance of the child lest by rescuing the ransom one should lose the child.
Incredibly, Val Prieto has stated in the past that he would not ransom the child, or, leastwise, his wife if she were kidnapped and in danger of losing her life:
"If some creep grabbed your wife and a gun point told you 'Give me money or Ill shoot her' and you gave him money and he told you 'Give me more money or Ill
shoot her' and you gave him more money and he once again tells you 'Give me money or ill shoot her.' Where does it end? What impetus does that creep have to free your wife, given that each and every time he asks you for money you give it to him?"
In this example Val's wife stands for the long-suffering Cuban people and the "creep" for Castro.
As I commented at the time:
"Val would refuse to give the 'creep' holding his wife at gunpoint more money because he (the 'creep') is too greedy. Better a dead spouse than to be 'fleeced' by such a lowlife. It's a matter of principle. His wife's brains splattered on the street are preferable to succumbing to blackmail or emptying out his bank account.I may have underestimated Val, or, at least, underestimated the cupidity of men. For last week Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutiérrez seconded his position that the Cuban people are not worth ransoming.
"I pity his wife. I pity the Cuban people if their fate were ever in Val's hands. Thank God it never will be."
If you're looking to the Jews as a model for Cuba Masada is more appropriate.
The heroic story of Masada and its dramatic end attracted many explorers to the Judean desert in attempts to locate the remains of the fortress. The site was identified in 1842, but intensive excavations took place only in 1963-65, with the help of hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers from Israel and from many foreign countries, eager to participate in this exciting archeological venture. To them and to Israelis, Masada symbolizes the determination of the Jewish people to be free in its own land.
Posted (at Uncommon Sense) by: Ziva Sahl, Monday, September 22, 2008 at 10:55 PM
I tried to post this at Uncommon Sense but for some reason my Typepad ID doesn't stick.
Ziva answers Vana's good point by bringing up the story of Masada as "more appropriate". What? Masada, seriously? The only solution for Cubans is to commit mass suicide?
At the beginning of the Special Period Castro used the siege of Masada in a speech as a parable for Cuba's resistance to the embargo. I'm not being facetious (google it) and Ziva probably doesn't know this, so I'm not going to accuse her of using "the same rethoric as the regime" like they do in their lynching of Masferrer. But it does show that their ideal scenario is a Cuba empty of Cubans.
Posted (at RCAB) by: Alex (of Miami & Beyond), 9/23/2008 11:20 AM
When all the knives have been unsheathed and all have bathed symbolically their hands in the blood of the accused, the Grand Inquisitor in the dunce's cap will appear to pass sentence on him.
We shall recap the proceedings when they are finally concluded. For now, attend a spectacle that human eyes have not seen in 400 years and may never witness again:
Sunday, September 21, 2008
We have challenged and refuted that idiocy time and again; and yet, Val persists in it and his yes-men second his delusion. I am now persuaded that their purpose is not and has never been to contribute personally to toppling Castro but to punish the Cuban people for not doing so, or, specifically, for not facing down tanks with their bare fists or flooding the country with their blood in the hope that blood will prove more efficacious than has water. Surviving Castro to enjoy some day a free Cuba is Val & Co.'s birthright, as they see it. For them to enjoy their birthright, however, it is necessary that Cubans on the island accept that it is their destiny to die to make that possible; and if they refuse to die, then Val and the rest would enjoin death on them through starvation or any other means. Those who have never enjoyed a minute of freedom in their own country should abandon that hope forever in order that those who have enjoyed freedom outside Cuba all their lives may be able to vacation some day in a free Cuba!
Once you understand what it is that Val & Co. expect from their hapless countrymen on the island, it all falls into place: their shameless support for the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot Policy; their opposition to remittances and family visits; their disdain for all Cubans on the island who are not at least in prison and for all newcomers without exception. It is their sense of entitlement and conviction that they are morally superior to Cubans on the island which informs all their fantasies and illusions about Cuba.
So great is their hatred for the Cuban people in Cuba that they have even joined Castro in multiplying their misery, each for his own purpose, of course, but ultimately through the same means and with the same evil intent. To keep Cubans on the edge of starvation has always been the regime's policy. Castro does not command the minds and hearts of the Cuban people; but he does control their stomachs. He has refused humanitarian assistance from not only the United States but 25 European countries. His intent could not be more clear. Nor could theirs. Val Prieto and his adjuncts at Babalú want to use the same weapon that Castro has used for 50 years against the Cuban people. With other motives, perhaps, but motives just as cruel and self-serving. Their united front against assistance to the people of Cuba has indeed put Cubans "between a wall and a hard place."
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Because it's closed system Marc [I think Marc knows that]. It's a racket [I think Marc knows that too]. I know you know exactly how this works [OK, so Marc knew all along and Henry knew that Marc knew. What then is the point of telling Marc what Marc already knows and did not deny?] You send your relative $100 and the regime gets $20 right off the bat [It wouldn't allow remittances if it didn't get a cut. Remember, it's a racket]. Then with the remaining $80 [500% of their average monthly salary] they can buy materials from the state at grossly inflated prices (if they are even available) ["Grossly inflated" but not enough to make the money useless; the same materials which may not be available at the state store will certainly be for sale on the black market and probably at a lower price]. Let's say a 4 x 8 piece of plywood costs $5 here [Henry actually has to "suppose" what it costs here? This is something that Val could actually help him with]. Well they'll gladly sell it to your relative for $15 or $20 [If Henry doesn't know what it costs here I doubt that he would know what it costs there]. So the buying power of your relative's $80 was reduced by 80% [Henry's buying power would be reduced if he moved to Cuba. A Cuban, however, doesn't shop in American stores. The "80%" figure, of course, is just made up out of whole cloth].
As if that weren't bad enough, you have to consider what the regime does with the $100 that it just scammed you out of [But let's forget what your relative does with the $100 because that hundred is more important to the regime than to your relative, right?]. It builds tourist hotels [No it does not. Fidel Castro has never invested one cent in Cuba to build hotels or anything else. Castro does own a 51% interest in all hotels on the island, extorted from the foreign investors who built the hotels and run them at their expense. The only hotel that Castro ever invested "his" money in building is a 40-story skyscraper in China]. It pays for fidel's healthcare [Yes, I am sure Fidel has to wait for the remittances to come in before he can pay his medical bills]. It pays for the repressive forces the regime employs [Henchmen are a dime a dozen in Cuba, alas. The security apparatus is financed through Castro's military-industrial complex. All the "soft money" profits of Castro Inc. (the "taxes" from the remittances and "royalties" from long-distance calls) are funnelled to offshore banks and overseas subsidiaries. Besides, Castro has already stolen everything of value in Cuba and a good chunk of Cuba's $36 billion foreign debt. Why dismiss the mother lode, which doesn't help Cubans, and aim your guns at the remittances, which actually do?].
I simply don't understand what the desire is to go out of your way to fund the people perpetuating the crimes [What Henry doesn't understand is why the Cuban people need food, clothing and housing. It's funding these that to Henry is the "crime"].
Plus you make it sound like it's illegal to send ANY money to Cuba which you know is false [Marc never implied that and only a fool would believe it]. Cubans living in America can send Cubans on the island the equivalent of FIVE times the average Cuban monthly salary without sidestepping U.S. law which is easily sidestepped. [Henry makes it sound like it's legal for all Cubans here to send all Cubans there money. It is not. Money can only be sent to parents, children and siblings and the sum that can be sent monthly is also limited to $100. That may be the American definition of family but it is not the Cuban definition. At the beginning Henry belittled the sum of $100 as insignificant; now he hails it as a bonanza].
So what are we arguing about here? [Babalú's desire to starve Cubans into rebellion?]. This is crazy. [Yeah, plenty crazy]. We can provide FIVE times what the Cuban state provides and We're the bad guys? [I guess FIVE times SHIT is good enough for Cubans. And what the hell is that "we" doing there? Does Henry send remittances to his relatives in Cuba? No, Cubans who send money to relatives in Cuba are not bad guys. It's Cubans who would be content to see them starve who are the bad guys, on whatever side of the Florida Straits they happen to reside].
Please Marc. I'm afraid you're embarrassing yourself. [Marc is embarrassing himself? Oh, brother!].
Plus what do you tell the 80% of Cubans who don't have relatives en la yuma to send them greenbacks? [It was 71% last week at Babalú; next week it will probably be 90%. In fact, most Cubans on the island have relatives in the U.S. The Cuban definition of family, as has already been noted, encompasses more than parents, children and siblings]. What good does removing the remittance restrictions do them? [So if all Cubans can't benefit by remittances then none should? How egalitarian! Imagine, Raúl renounces egalitarianism and Henry embraces it! BTW, Henry recently boasted that he's making ten times more now than he ever did before in his life. Shouldn't he renounce those riches because most of his fellow Babalunians are not doing as well? What good does paying him a sultan's salary do the rest of them?]. I'd argue based on what I said earlier about what the regime spends its money on that you are you subsidizing their captors [But everything that Henry said earlier was wrong. Based on what he said I would argue that Henry is more concerned about starving the regime than about Cubans who are starving]. Perverse [Perverse doesn't even cover it].
Posted by: Henry Louis Gomez Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 12:11 AM
In reply to Marc's latest post about remittances, Henry accuses him of "going out of [his] way to fund the people perpetuating the crimes" against the Cuban people; and, again, of "subsidizing their captors;" and, finally, of being "crazy" and "perverse."
When the generalissimo and the chief-of-staff of the Starvation Army accuse you of being "crazy" and "perverse," it is a testimonial to your sanity and nobility of character just as their canard that you are underwriting our countrymen's oppression is a patent of the purest patriotism.
I will let Marc reply to Henry first. Then I will reply to him.
Marc Másferrer Answers His Critics at Babalú:
Thanks for not answering the questions. You helped make my point.
I think we can all agree that the No. 1 scourge of the Cuban people is the Castro dictatorship. It is responsible for the suffering of the Cuban people, and anyone who thinks otherwise, is a fool or worse. You may suggest that I believe otherwise — that I am "perverse" or "erring in my judgment," but all that would prove is that you haven't read my work as closely as I thought. In place of reasoned argument, I will accept your insults, again because it helps make my point.
The dictatorship's paramount responsibility, does not absolve the United States for policies that at best, have failed to bring down the dictatorship and at worst, have added to the suffering of the people with whom it claims to stand.
Even if everything you suggest about remittances is true, also true is that limits imposed by the U.S. government have not brought down the regime, or even caused it to tighten its belt. Unfortunately, the effect has not been so negligible on the Cuban people, who suffer in an abject poverty — yes, mainly because of the dictatorship, but worsened by the American sanctions. Our role in this tragedy is magnified during the current post-hurricane crisis, and the American response raises real questions about our true fealty to the Cuban people and their welfare.
I think I'm starting to see a pattern in American policy towards Cubans — those on the island, that is, not in Miami. The American government will talk a good game, even inviting dissidents and their families to the White House. But then it enforces policies — the limit on family remittances, "wet-foot, dry-foot" — that add to the pain of the Cuban people. All the while, the dictatorship in Havana is as powerful as ever.
Here's another question. When will people start to notice?
Posted by: Marc R. Masferrer Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 03:07 PM
Friday, September 19, 2008
Anita Snow the Hunger Artist, or The New York Times' "Snow Job"
Happy to oblige, Ms. Snow. Don't be a stranger. There's a lot for you to learn here and a lot to rue.
We also received a visit from another reader in Cuba (dotcu). Those details we will keep confidential. He left two comments in the previous thread.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
As much as I loathe even entering this den of sophistry, and, while I dont feel it necessary to respond to you or any slanderous post you write, since you are basically accusing me as the sole purveyor of starvation among the Cuban people, i need to set the record straight.
I believe my comment at PD speaks for itself and is more than resonant in its truth.
And, as with every piece you read in any major metropolitan newspaper and especially one like the NYT, they quote their interviewees according to their story line. My conversation with the NYT reporter in question was almost a half hour long. From that he quoted less than ten words. And, I might add, the least effective words to my argument and position.
While I do continue to believe that the remittances should not be lifted, my position isnt based solely on there "being nothing to buy" (Surely, once the humanitarian aid starts coming in, there will be plenty to buy at all castro stores.) but for a myriad other reasons which have been discussed and debated, ad nauseum at Babalu and throughout the blogosphere and other media venues.
Print this comment out, frame it and hang it on your wall in front of your computer and light a candle for it every day as it will be the very last time I venture into this blog for any reason whatsoever. There's enough shit going around, cuba-wise, to spend time coming to the internet's best purveyor of same.
9/18/2008 3:03 PM
Given your inability to draw logical conclusions or defend your positions rationally, I do not wonder that you would regard the vigorous practice of the polemical arts as "sophistry." Although you claim to "loathe entering this den of sophistry," you are certainly no stranger to it if that is your implication. Since the very first day that RCAB was inaugurated, you and your cohorts have been its most faithful visitors. Not that I blame you: If I had a Tellechea parsing my words and exposing their intent, I don't think I could keep away either. No need, then, for you to conceal as a culpable vice what is, in fact, a palpable virtue, though one from whose practice you derive no advantage.
Did it never occur to you for even a moment that The New York Times reporter who interviewed you for 30 minutes was only interested in entrapping you, and that, consequently, you should have chosen your words very carefully to avoid falling into his trap and taking all of us with you? When The Wall Street Journal interviewed you last year, you must no doubt have said something complimentary about Yoani Sánchez; but none of that made it into print; instead, only your suspicions about her were quoted. Did you assume, perhaps, that The Times would treat you any differently? Were you not aware of its historic disdain for Cuban exiles and the cause of Cuban freedom? Did you flatter yourself that you could outsmart them at their own game or even ingratiate yourself to them? If so, you gave yourself too much credit.
The Times got their "money quote" off you and it turned out to be literally that -- a quote about Cubans not needing money. I know you too well to suppose that this was your only faux pas. Your interview probably consisted of a litany of embarrassing gaffes any one of which might have served to discredit yourself and your fellow Cuban-Americans. But that "money quote" had the additional advantage of being so palpably untrue -- so divorced from all experience, and, indeed, from reality itself -- that not only did it succeed in portraying all of us as monsters but also as madmen.
There is no people on earth so miserable that their situation may not be alleviated with money, nor any spot on earth, however isolated from civilization, where money is useless. I could fill this page with quotes culled from Babalú about how important money is to you personally. But, really, that is not necessary because it is important in the lives of all men. Including Cubans. Is there anyone else in the whole expanse of the earth who does not know that except you or your soulmate Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutiérrez, former CEO of Kellogg? I am sure that his parachute wasn't lined with newspaper.
I am glad that you now realize that the "less than ten words" which The Times quoted from you in its story about hurricane assistance to Cuba "were the least effective words to [your] argument and position." If you mean that they were "the least effective" because they exposed your real motives when you would have preferred to conceal them, then I do not see that your regret matters much. The harm has already been done. When Secretary Gutiérrez echoed your now infamous words as the rationale for not eliminating restrictions on remittances, the suffering of the Cuban people was exponentially increased. The irony, of course, is that he attributed your opinion to the Cuban people. I can think of no worse spokesman for them than one who has repeatedly advocated starving them as the most effective means of overthrowing Castro.
That is still your position, isn't it? You have not repudiated your "Pressure Cooker Theory," have you? That being the case I don't see how you can accuse me of having "slandered" you for reporting your known intentions vis-à-vis the Cuban people. I have not accused you of being "the sole purveyor of starvation among the Cuban people." But you are certainly a purveyor, or, as I would have put it, a salesman of starvation; and -- what I would never have believed -- a successful one. What the elaboration of your inanities at Babalú over 5 years never achieved, less than ten words fraught with hatred for all Cubans did.
I do not for a minute believe that this "is the last time that [you] will venture to this blog for any reason whatever." Your last visit to RCAB? Do you think that anybody believes that? Do you believe that yourself?
"What we are hearing from Cubans in Cuba is they don't need money because there's nothing to buy." -- Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutiérrez, at press conference, in Florida, September 17, 2006
It's not every day that Valentín Prieto is quoted by the Secretary of Commerce much less his opinion cited as the rationale for U.S. government policy towards Cuba. Yet, in the span of one week, Babalú's "Founding Editor" was not only quoted in The New York Times but his words were used verbatim by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez to justify the Bush administration's refusal to relax restrictions on remittances to Cuba.
One would think that Val's sudden rise to national prominence would at least merit a mention on Babalú. Not by Val, of course, he is far too humble, but by one of his fawning minions. With a little tweaking and just the right amount of padding this story could be reported on Babalú as: "Val Prieto is asked to join President Bush's kitchen cabinet as adviser on the needs and wants of Cubans on the island."
Penúltimos Días, based in Spain, has taken note of Val's seminal contribution to this debate and accorded him the recognition that he richly deserves for perpetuating the suffering of the Cuban people in their darkest hour:
"La tesis de que no hace falta enviar dinero, pues en la isla no hay nada que comprar, que lanzó Val Prieto en una entrevista para The New York Times, y que recogió oportunamente el Secretario de Comercio, Carlos Gutiérrez en una declaración pública."
["The thesis that it is not necessary to send money to Cuba because there is nothing to buy there was first put forward by Val Prieto in an interview with The New York Times and later cited at an opportune moment by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutiérrez in a public statement"].
Val answers his critics at Penúltimos Días:
"caballeros, hasta cuando vamos a estar en esto? Cuantos de ustedes pueden afirmar que el gobierno cubano no va a usurpar las donaciones humatarias para ponerla a la venta y que el dinero que nosotros mandemos no terminara de compra para las misma donacines humantitarias que se robo el gobierno?
Si todos estos partidos nombrados aqui hubiesen usado toda la energia, todo el tiempo y puesto todo el esfuerzo en forzar a el gobierno cubano a tener que aceptar toda la ayuda humanitaria, sea la que sea, venga de quien venga, sea de quien sea, hoy - ahora mismo ya - los cubanos en la isla ya posiblemente hubuieran cruzado el niagra y sin bicileta."
This does not require translation since it is written in English using (more or less) Spanish words.