Saturday, November 29, 2008

Second Cuban On the Way to Sainthood

A second Cuban, Brother José Olallo Valdés, was beatified in Camagüey today, the penultimate step on the road to sainthood. Last year, Fray José López Piteira, became the first Cuban to receive that recognition along with 498 other religious martyred by the Republicans in Spain's Civil War (1936-1939). Blessed Fray José, who was born in Cuba to Spanish parents, returned with them to Spain at age 5 and entered a seminary there at age 13. Although he could have invoked his Cuban citizenship to save his life, he chose to share the fate of his brothers in Christ who were murdered at Paracuellos de Jarama, on November 30, 1936. He was 23 at the time of death. His last words "¡Viva Cristo Rey!" were prophetic ones and would be heard again thousands of times when the Red Terror came to our country in 1959.

Jaime Cardinal Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, refused to attend López Piteira's beatification in the Vatican on October 28, 2007 for fear of offending the successors of the Stalinists who murdered him. Ortega even argued publicly that Blessed Fray José was not a "real Cuban" ("cubano cubano") as if his mitre had also invested him with the power to denationalize his countrymen rather than to excommunicate those that betrayed the Catholic religion by persecuting the faithful (which Ortega has never dared to do). In recognition of Ortega's obedience to two masters, Raúl Castro attended today's ceremony and sat in the front row with the Vatican representative. He was presented with a Bible during the service and the Superior General of the Hospitaller Order of St. John, to which Olallo had belonged, thanked Castro for allowing the beatification to take place in a public setting and honoring them with his presence. So was Blessed Brother José Olallo's memory dishonored and his veneration among Cubans compromised by those who had sponsored and propelled his cause with the intention of derailing or overshadowing López Piteira's.

Fray Jose López Piteira was everything that Cuba's pusillanimous prelates are not, which, of course, is why they snubbed and insulted Cuba's first beato. Never before in the 2000-year history of the Church had the hierarchy of any country failed to enjoin the faithful to venerate a Blessed Martyr who was also a native son.

Brother José Olallo was a 19th-century holy man who dedicated his life to caring for the sick. His beatification poses no embarrassment to the Cuban Church. But he was not a martyr for the faith nor a saint for our times. That would be Fray José López Piteira, the first Cuban martyred by the Communists.

A Prayer to Blessed Fray José López Piteira
First Cuban Martyr, Fray José López Piteira, Beatified In Rome Today
Blessed Fray José López Piteira, Catholic Martyr and Cuban
Why Father Félix Varela Has Not Been Elevated to Sainthood and Never Will Be
Jaime Cardinal Ortega: The "Dorian Gray" of Cuba
Monsignor Carlos Manuel de Céspedes III

The Simian Congress

It is said that 1000 monkeys banging randomly at typewriters for 1000 years will eventually produce War and Peace. Fantomas and John Longfellow, working on the same principle and with comparable gifts, have managed to produce in much less time an exchange which is worthy of reflection and debate. As we may never see anything like it again, I have decided to distinguish it with its own post and solicit your comments. Later I may address it myself.

Anonymous said...
How come you Cuban immigrants don't go fight for Cuba's freedom?
11/28/2008 4:04 PM

Fantomas said...
There is a battle down there for the last 50 years. So far the gov[ernment] has the upper hand.
Jails are full.
11/28/2008 4:23 PM

john longfellow aka lou dobbs said...
Yes, and during the week, Cuban-American dance clubs in Miami are also full.
11/28/2008 4:38 PM

When you tie a man's hands and yet expect him to hold the weight of the world on his shoulders or even swat a fly, you have asked more than he or anybody in his situation can accomplish, and if you want him to comply with your request, it is first incumbent upon you to untie his hands. There are men in both Cuban and U.S. jails who are there because they attempted to liberate their country against the wishes of both Castro and the U.S. A great many more are in their graves. The cause of Cuba has claimed more martyrs than there are in the Roman Martyrology. We don't need more martyrs. What we need is for our hands to be untied.

So long as the U.S. continues to restrain Cubans from liberating their country and is the chief guarantor and abettor of Castro's tyranny, Americans have no right to impugn our love of country much less to ask us to prove it by making war on their own.

So long as the U.S. government provides the Castro regime with information on the activities of anti-Castro organizations (as it has done for decades), it is Castro's ally, not ours.

So long as the U.S. criminalizes Cuban freedom, no American president should ever utter the words "Cuba Libre" except during happy hour.

To demand that Cubans, who have purchased their freedom in a foreign land at a very high price, should live as their brothers do in slavery is to ask Franklin or Jefferson what neither Jefferson nor Franklin were willing to do abroad, though their French dancing masters did not make them lesser patriots.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Rice Defers to Obama on Iran

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (may this be the last time I have to spell her name) said yesterday that though she thought it an "interesting idea" to open an Interests Section in Tehran, she will leave that decision to the incoming Obama administration. We can only hope that she has also abandoned her other "interesting idea" (see here ).

Thanksgiving for Cubans

Frederick Douglass once gave a famous speech about what the Fourth of July meant to black slaves. In short, it meant nothing. It would be wrong to say that Thanksgiving means nothing to Cuban exiles. Like the Pilgrims, we came here because we could not do otherwise. Our country had grown to small for us as England had for the Pilgrims. They, too, were exiles, removed from their place of persecution, but, unlike us, still subjects of the British Crown and bound to obey it. Sufferance was not suffrage, but the Pilgrims believed themselves to be free men and were determined to live as free men even if they had to go to the very ends of the earth to do so. We journeyed but 90 miles to a country that was at once perfectly familiar and completely incomprehensible to us. Like them, we adapted to our surroundings, rebuilt our lives and prospered. Cuban-Americans have been called the most successful immigrants in the history of this nation of immigrants, but, of course, we did not come here as immigrants 50 years ago and many of us still do not consider ourselves immigrants and never will. The fixed star in our lives still points South and it is still our hope to end our lives where they began.

On this day, still free (for now) and with material blessings abounding, we express gratitude for what we have received and pride in what we have given; and remember, as the Pilgrims also remembered nearly 400 years ago, whence we came and why. For us, the greatest Thanksgiving will be when the shackles of our countrymen are broken and they, too, may offer thanks for their freedom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sean Penn and Brown Dicks

Here it is in a nutshell (so to speak): Sean Penn has never forgotten that Madonna dumped him for a Cuban gigolo: he the great thespian dumped for a nobody with a brown dick. It hurt. It still hurts. But he'll have his revenge on the whole tribe of brown dicks by seeing to it that they will always wear chains more pendulous than their dicks.

In-between arrests for attempted murder and stints in rehab, Sean Penn still manages to squeeze-in an occasional movie (at the Odeum) or maverick diplomatic mission on behalf of anti-American tyrants everywhere. In late October the not-so-useful idiot, after three fun-filled days with Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, was flown in a government jet to Cuba, where he was allowed to hang out with Antonio Castro, Fidel's #2 son, and granted a seven-hour (!) audience with Raúl Castro himself. Hopefully, between Raúl and Antonio, they were about to recreate the "Fidel Experience" for him. Yes, seven hours. We don't know whom to pity more. Did Raúl sing arias from Red Chinese operas, or did Penn recite his lines from El Salvador? Only their translator knows for sure. Conversing for seven hours with an airhead like Sean Penn makes no political sense unless Raúl is morphing into Fidel or trying to seduce the actor in a non-political way. What we can be sure about, however, is that the liquor flowed in torrents and that everybody got wet. Perhaps the dipsomaniacal duo talked for two hours and spent the last five in an alcohol-induced stupor vomiting on each other. The account of his interview with Raúl Castro in the Nation does have a certain hallucinatory quality which cannot be entirely explained by his atrocious writing as vapid as it is prolix and pretentious.

The culmination of his 7 hours with Raúl was an invitation to Barack Obama, which Penn surely conveyed to him, to meet at Guantánamo Naval Base, where Raúl said he would be more than happy to present Obama with an American flag to take home with him. "Eureka," Penn must have shouted, "it is peace in our time!" Of course, Penn did not understand the implications of Raúl's suggestion, and his reaction to it must have amused Raúl greatly. Granted, to catch a fish that bites at any bait is hardly a feat of great sportsmanship; but there is surely some satisfaction in it. Guantánamo is the one place on earth where the U.S. and Cuba could meet "on an equal footing" (Raúl's phrase) and the last place where any American president should consent to meet with him. More provocative, though, is Raúl's offer to present Obama with an American flag at Guantánamo. Penn no doubt thought that this would be the ultimate gesture of reconciliation, and may even have suggested to Obama that he reciprocate by presenting Raúl with a Cuban flag, which the president-elect probably thought a good idea. What Penn doesn't get, because his knowledge of Cuban history is nil, is that the flag which Raúl proposes to present to Obama is the one that flies over Guantanamo Naval Base, that is, he wants Americans to quit Guantánamo and Cuba: "Yankee Go Home!" is the "Message to Obama" that Raúl wants the witless Penn to convey to Obama.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Che" Guevara's Statue in Central Park

The recently installed "Che" Guevara statue in New York's Central Park is presented as part of an ensemble consisting also of a statue of Julius Caesar and another of a character in a Dalí painting (the "Anthropomorphic Cabinet Woman"). The three statues constitute a single work of art though not joined in any way; the individual statues are, supposedly, meaningless outside the context of the greater work. You see, German sculptor Christian Jankowski isn't really honoring "Che" himself; oh no, he is simply articulating a convex message about the human condition which admits of infinite interpretations, sort of like Gertrude Stein's novels, or, indeed, Dalí's paintings. Except, of course, that the message here conveyed is not in the least surrealistic, nor obscured by layers of meaning ultimately signifying nothing. The so-called "ensemble" is nothing of the kind. The other statues are merely props intended to camouflage the "Che" statue. You could put up statues of the Great Khan and Tinker Bell and they would in nowise neutralize or subsume a statue of Adolph Hitler.

The significance of erecting a statue of Guevara (or Hitler) cannot be diluted into insignificance. All the window dressing in the world will not make it less objectionable or abhorrent. Of course, a statue of Adolph Hitler will never be erected in Central Park or anywhere else in New York City for reasons that need hardly be explained. New York City, more even than Israel or Germany, would not allow it, though there are no laws here forbidding it as there are in those countries. The crimes of "Che" Guevara are no more obscure than Hitler's; nor the blood that he shed less red. It must be his victims, then, who are unworthy of remembrance or respect. That such a mockery as this so-called "art display," which was imported from Barcelona (its first venue) for the purpose of exalting the "Butcher of the Cabaña," can pass unnoticed in a city where thousands will protest the removal of a bird's nest from its perch on the balustrade of a luxury apartment building, shows that humanity has blind spots that explain how decent men can be degraded by the likes of a Hitler or Guevara and society so desensitized as to make their recurrence possible if not inevitable.

Nowadays the barbarians at the gate are the purveyors and patrons of denatured art. Taxpayers, too, without their knowledge or against their consent, are forced by bureaucrats to underwrite art which attacks their values and degrades the human condition. The freedom to create has been transmogrified into the expectation of public support for artistic creation, and notoriety, not talent, made the touchstone of success. The precedent for the Guevara statue is Andrés Serrano's "Piss Christ" (a photograph of a crucifix immersed in the artist's urine), which was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum 20 years ago with a grant from the NEA. The desecration of the sublime is always followed by the exaltation of the inhuman.

Credit for this travesty goes to the Public Art Fund, the City of New York, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the New York Council for the Arts. The discredit, of course, belongs to all New Yorkers.


This gets more interesting by the minute. Now the artist claims that his statue is not really a representation of "Che" Guevara but of a lookalike dressed like Guevara. In that case he should have chiselled the imposter's name at the base of the statue, not "Che" Guevara's. I wonder if we can now expect a "faux Hitler" from Jankowski and what the reaction of the German government would be to it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

George Bush's Parting "Gift" to Cuban-Americans

When Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama, I was reminded of his praise for Fidel Castro before a congressional committee in 2003 and wondered if he had ever done anything more on his behalf than express publicly his admiration for him. It has now been revealed that his successor, Condoleezza Rice, whom I have ignored for most of her tenure because she is eminently ignorable and also because she has a name that I cannot spell without a significant loss of brain cells, conspired actively on Fidel Castro's behalf since she became Secretary of State. Her efforts to "normalize" relations with Castro culminated in sending a high-level delegation from to Havana, headed by its the State Department's then Inspector-General, Howard Krongard, to explore the possibility of upgrading diplomatic relations with Communist Cuba. Rice obviously bought into the idea that the regime was undergoing some kind of liberal transformation, or even democratic transition, in the wake of Castro's supposed retirement and considered giving the process a further impetus by endorsing it before the putrid plant had bore any fruits. Her plan to endorse a chimera and reward an illusion was duly communicated to her boss, who did not shoot down her idea but advised her to wait to implement it after the presidential elections, that is, until the Republicans could dupe Cuban-Americans for one last time. I suppose it was considerate of Bush not to sabotage McCain's candidacy by revealing this "December Surprise." Or, perhaps, fabricating a financial debacle just before the election was deemed sufficient cooperation from the White House. I have already said, in jest, that George Bush had a vested interest in having the worst president in U.S. history succeed the next-to-worst. Now I am not laughing at my own joke anymore.

Every word that I have ever written about George Bush in the last eight years has been redolent with the apprehension of betrayal. Among U.S. presidents he was especially smarmy in his protestations of adherence to the cause of "Cuba Libre." Obviously, something got lost in the translation because most Cuban exiles couldn't get enough of his labia (witness Val Prieto's undying appetite for same). In truth, however, since the time of Richard Nixon, who officially ended all U.S. attempts to overthrow Castro, there has not been a single U.S. president whether Republican or Democrat who has not considered or even brought to a near consummation the so-called normalization of U.S.-Cuban relations despite repeated public assurances (to us) that they would not seek a rapprochement with the Castro regime while the tyrant continued to violate the human rights of the Cuban people.

Gerald Ford, eager to replicate Nixon's coup de theatre in China, on a smaller but no less interesting stage, came within a week of re-establishing diplomatic relations with Communist Cuba. The invasion of Angola put an end to Ford's hopes of lifting the Plantain Curtain and "liberating" Cuba as he "liberated" Poland. Jimmy Carter, too, entertained the same hopes and opened an Interests Section in Havana in anticipation of the resumption of full relations when Castro unleashed the Mariel boatlift and sent his Afrika Korps into Ethiopia. Even Ronald Reagan, the cold warrior who despised détente, gave it a try in Cuba, sending General Vernon Walters as his personal envoy to Fidel Castro, but Castro, then sitting pretty on a mountain of Soviet rubbles, had nothing to gain by succumbing to Reagan's advances or Bush pere's, who was too overwhelmed reaping Reagan's harvest in Eastern Europe to pay much attention to Cuba.

Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Castro never complained about the trade embargo but ridiculed it as an abject failure which had not preempted Cuba's development but prompted it. The end of Soviet subsidies caused Castro to change the party line: the "blockade," and, by implication, U.S. estrangement from Cuba, was now to blame for all of the island's woes, past and present. Nevertheless, Castro responded to Bill Clinton with his customary disdain, unleashing the 1994 Balsero Crisis in order to fortify Fortress Cuba. Clinton, who feared a repetition of the 1980 exodus, gave Castro what he wanted, which was not diplomatic recognition but the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy, which committed the U.S. to guarding Castro's borders and returning refugees to Cuba who did not reach its own. Castro used the good offices of the Clinton administration strictly for propaganda purposes, such as the shooting of the unarmed "Brothers-to-Rescue" airplane over international waters and the kidnapping and forcible repatriation of Elián González, relying on its disposition not merely to forgo retaliation but to do its bidding whenever possible.

I, for one, was frankly shocked when Clinton concluded his second term without restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba. The credit, I suppose, must go to Al Gore, who surely prevailed on Bill Clinton not to further alienate the Cuban-American vote by "normalizing" relations with Cuba; but the backlash came nonetheless and supposedly cost Al Gore the presidency, although he had actually opposed Elián's deportation to Cuba.

George Bush credited Cuban-Americans with his election victory in 2000, though, really, his margin of victory was so small in Florida that almost any group could have provided it, even African-Americans. Cuban exiles got very little in exchange for their unconditional support of Bush, however. Bush was always stressing his personal commitment to a free Cuba, but never deviated from Clinton's policy of unilateral accommodation of the Castro regime, upholding the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy twice as long as Clinton did and presiding over the piecemeal dismantling of the trade embargo till nothing remained of it but the proscription against selling on credit to Cuba, which is itself under constant attack by (mostly) Republican congressmen from the Farm Belt.

It was Powell, again, who made the relaxation of the trade embargo and prospective resumption of full diplomatic ties with Communist Cuba possible when he declared, during a visit to Brazil in 2001, that Cuba was no longer a security threat to Latin America despite being on the State Department's own "List of Terrorist States" and running its own its biological weapons programme. Not only did Powell's unfounded assertion give the green light for the unchecked advance of Communism in the region, it also implied that Castro's predations on his primary victims, the Cuban people, were of no consequence to the U.S.; and that if Castro would just be content to limit his tyranny to Cuba's own borders the U.S. would not object or interfere. The failure of the Bush administration to obtain a condemnation of the Castro regime at the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Geneva, and then its ineffectual opposition to the Commission's demise and replacement by a U.N. Committee controlled by the worst violators of human rights in the world, including Cuba, demonstrated to what extent the U.S. had deprioritized not only human rights abuses in Cuba but anywhere else in the world. Castro's crackdown on 75 dissidents in 2003 was no doubt attributable in part to America's new laissez-faire attitude towards human rights. The Bush administration's response to Cuba's "Black Spring" was to punish the Cuban people and Cuban exiles by endeavoring to drive a wedge between them by restricting remittances and family contacts while taking no punitive actions against the regime itself. The same revanchist attitude towards the Cuban people (not the regime) was in evidence again this Fall when Bush vetoed any easing of these restrictions in the wake of devastating hurricanes. One of the reasons offered for this refusal was that such assistance might "destabilize" the regime (the same rationale used by the regime in refusing aid from the U.S. and European Community). And there is the key to Bush's approach towards Cuba over the last 8 years: do nothing for good or ill that would loosen Castro's hold on the Cuban people because he alone, or the system of repression that he created, can maintain order in Cuba and prevent a social explosion. I have dubbed this Bush's "Containment of Freedom" policy. The final object of such a policy, of course, is to institutionalize Castroism in Cuba forever.

The disclosure of Rice's proposals to "normalize" relations with Cuba and Iran in the waning days of the Bush administration will probably derail both initiatives. Even supporters of both measures have cautioned the lame duck president to leave those decisions to President-elect Obama, who must live with the consequences for the next four years.

Yes, George, don't usurp Obama's right to screw us, if not for his sake, then for the sake of the Republican Party. Although, really, what can George Bush care about a party that he has destroyed virtually singlehandedly?

Perhaps Barack Obama is the culmination rather than the exception to 50 years of betrayals by U.S. presidents. Indeed, Obama may even be praised for his candour in announcing his betrayal of the Cuban people before the fact rather than after.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Matters Now Is the Republican Reaction to the Nominations of Holder and Craig

"Today, in Little Havana, a day prior to Obama's visit to Miami, Elián's great-uncle, Delfín González, will hold a press conference to denounce the fact that two of the principal actors in the Elián affaire, Greg Craig and Eric Holder, are now key advisers to Barack Obama. The then Assistant Attorney General Eric Holder, who planned the logistics of Elián's kidnapping, is now in charge of the advisory committee that will vet Obama's running-mate and is likely to be named Attorney General in a future Obama administration. Castro's (and Clinton's) lawyer and longtime unregistered agent of influence of the Cuban regime, Greg Craig, who ostensibly represented Elián's father and provided a "safe haven" to father and son in his own house under the surveillance of Castro agents from the Cuban Interests Section, is now Obama's advisor on Latin America and probable choice for Under-Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs." — "Elián's Never-Ending Saga," RCAB, June 20, 2008

It was never a secret that both Eric Holder and Greg Craig were destined to be political commissars in the Obama Revolution. As I predicted here Holder will be nominated for Attorney General, but Craig will not be Undersecretary of State for Latin American, not out of any consideration for the sensibilities of Cuban exiles, but because he is not-so-cordially hated by the future Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, for having dumped her in favor of Obama before she could even make her case to him. Craig, Hillary's whilom friend of 30+ years and Bill's counsel during his impeachment hearings, is the keeper of all the Clinton's dirty laundry, and Hillary will never forgive him for hanging it all (as she suspects) in Obama's camp. If State is to be Hillary's domain, then there is no place there for this slimy turncoat. Instead, Craig has been named to the more powerful position of White House counsel, where he will advice the "constitutional lawyer" on constitutional law from the unique perspective of one who has broken or twisted every law in the book.

The Republicans in the Senate, who are acting like Obama's bendover buddies even before the official beginning of the honeymoon period (really Obama's political career has been one endless honeymoon), have already signalled that they will give Holder a pass for "Pardongate" at his confirmation hearings and none has raised any objection to Greg Craig. I am not concerned about Democrats acting like Democrats. What concerns me is Republicans acting like Democrats. If Holder's lawless behavior during the seizure of Elián González is not even a beep on the radar anymore and Craig's representation of Fidel Castro in the Elián affaire and in a host of other legal matters is deemed to fall within the scope of lawyer-client privilege, then it can only be because the Republicans do not want to squander their scant political capital on behalf of our community by raising those questions.

During the Bush presidency, Cuban-American demanded nothing of the man whom they made president and received hearty thanks and nothing else in return. Cuban exiles will never enlist in the Democratic party nor should they: exercising that kind of "leverage" is comparable to that which was exerted by the hangman in his public duties, except that we would be both victim and executioner. There is nowhere for us to go outside the Republican party. Therefore, our efforts should be concentrated in the next four years in demanding the respect which we have earned from the GOP as its most faithful constituents. If it is not forthcoming, then we should become passive spectators in its descent into bipartisanship. Till, finally, when all differences have been erased or muted between the major parties, we can expect (or at least hope) for the birth of a new political dispensation that will replace the incestuous melding of Democrats and Republicans. The end of civilization does not exclude the possibility of its re-birth, though the pall may not be easily dissipated, perhaps not even in our lifetime.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Cuban Elections of 1958: The Real Story

FIU's Center for Cuban Studies is hosting a seminar at Graham Center on the Cuban elections of November 1958. From what El Nuevo Herald reports "Cuba: Between Bullets and Ballots" is based on the erroneous premise that these elections were fraudulent. I am the only living person to the best of my knowledge who knows the truth about Cuba's last democratic elections. I suppose I have the responsibility of revealing these facts for the historical record, and since I never promised my grandfather that I would keep them as a trust, I can do so now without betraying a personal confidence. Since he always stood by his actions in those final days of the Cuban Republic, I feel no compunction myself to excuse much less apologize for them. Others, perhaps most, may take exception at his conduct, which, I think, only confirms the truth of his revelations, since men generally conceal that which indicts them in the eyes of their critics. If I have not made public these facts before it is because there was no audience for them. The elections of 1958 have been dismissed by most historians as irrelevant if not irreverent: at best, a solution to a problem that, by then, admitted of no civil solution; or, at worst, an electoral farce that was universally repudiated by everybody except Batista's most die hard supporters. It was neither.

More than 50 percent of the Cuban electorate participated in 1958 elections. Such a turnout would have been the norm in any U.S. election. Of course, the elections of 1958 were not held under normal conditions in Cuba but in the midst of a civil war. The rebels called for a boycott of the elections and warned that anyone who voted in the morning would be dead by noon. Having carried out indiscriminate bombings against the civilian population for three years, the rebels' threats were taken very seriously. Nevertheless, 50% of voters were not cowed by their threats and exercised their right of suffrage in what amounted to a public repudiation of Castro and his barbudos.

Six months earlier, in March 1958, Cubans had ignored Castro's call for a general strike, which was also phrased in the same menacing terms. Less than 10 percent of Cuba's workers succumbed to Castro's intimidation on that occasion, which Castro called the greatest defeat of the Cuban Revolution. Clearly, between March and November 1958, the rebels had succeeded in increasing their popular support from 10 percent to just under 50 percent. Their terrorist campaigns, however, were not solely responsible for this increment. In the interim, the U.S. had switched its allegiance from Batista to Castro and instituted an embargo on arms sales to the Cuban government. Never before had the U.S. undertaken such an action against a friendly government and its implications were not lost on anyone, least of all the Cuban people. Still, 50 percent of Cuban voters cast their ballots on November 3, 1958 in what was not only a repudiation of the rebels but of U.S. meddling in Cuban affairs, which, more than anything else, had brought us to such a juncture.

There were three main candidates running for president: former prime minister Andrés Rivero Agüero, who had the backing of Batista; ex-president Ramón Grau San Martín, who had run against Batista's candidate in 1944 and won; and Carlos Márquez Sterling, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and president of the constitutional convention of 1940. It was expected that Grau and Márquez Sterling would split the anti-Batista vote between them. Castro's call for a boycott of the election was also expected to diminish the vote for the opposition. In fact, the U.S. ambassador, Earl T. Smith, in another flagrant violation of Cuban sovereignty, met with both opposition candidates in a failed attempt to convince them to form a unitary ticket that could guarantee the defeat of Batista's candidate. Still, Batista was thought to be so unpopular in Cuba that even with the opposition divided it was far from certain that Rivero Agüero would prevail. Batista was not sure that his candidate could win, either; but was determined that the election of 1958 would not be a repeat of that of 1944, when he had allowed his handpicked successor, Carlos Saladrigas, to be defeated by his perennial rival Grau San Martín.*

Batista believed, and not without good cause, that a victory for Grau or Márquez Sterling amounted to a victory for Castro. Neither of the opposition candidates had agreed to continue fighting Castro's rebels and both had insinuated that they would ask them to join the government if elected. This would have been tantamount, of course, to handing power over to them. As president (1944-48) Grau had in fact granted complete freedom to gangsters like Castro, deputized them and had them compete for his favor. His administration had incubated all the nefarious personalities that took center stage in the Cuban Revolution. Marquéz Sterling, although an honest man, also believed that he could institutionalize the Cuban Revolution. [The rebels had such contempt for this member of the loyal opposition that they put him under house arrest when they seized power and would have had him shot except that they were too busy dispatching Batista's supporters to tackle (quite yet) his democratic opponents].

My maternal grandfather, Alberto García Valdés, was minister of communications at the time of the 1958 elections, which portfolio he had assumed after serving for one-week as minister of labor during Castro's failed general strike. As communications minister he was in charge of the railroads, motorized traffic and civil aviation; the postal and telegraph offices and radio and television. He controlled the distribution and collection of the ballots, the transmission of the results by telegraph lines and their release to the media. In short, he had it in his power to assure a victory for the government candidate had that been necessary and was disposed to do so to save the country from a Communist takeover.

Except that it wasn't necessary.

It was the Cuban people who made Andrés Rivero Agüero Cuba's last constitutional president in the last democratic election held on the island.

The election of 1958 was their last public repudiation of Fidel Castro.

My grandfather personally informed Batista of the results, who was astonished but not more so than the president-elect himself. Rivero Agüero was scheduled to be sworn-in on February 24, 1959. The U.S. did not allow him to take office but gave an ultimatum to Batista to resign by January 1st and clear the way for Castro.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hercules and Hylas

In a photograph worthy of a 19th century gay pornographer, the mythical lovers Hercules and Hylas are reborn in the persons of Fidel Castro and his Scuban ephebus at Penúltimos Días:

Castro y el Coppertone

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Mexicans Will Be the First to "Test" Obama

Barack Obama's election has already begun to have international repercussions and he's about to be tested in a way that no American president has ever been before. No, I don't mean the replay of the Missile Crisis which the Russians have in store for him, and which, like the original, they are sure to win.

I guess, on second thought, that this is also a "missile crisis" of a kind, except that the protagonists are not Russians but Mexicans. This should not surprise anyone since nobody hates the gringos as much as the Mexicans do, which is understandable since they stole half their country and now call its original inhabitants "illegal migrants." But the revenge the Mexicans have planned is more than Machiavellian; indeed, it is the real "Montezuma's Revenge."

Mexico City has decreed that effective December 1st Mexican men age 70 or older will be entitled to receive free Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. Some of these new patriarchs have already sired 40-50 offspring and will no doubt produce another generation of Mexican-Americans before they are gathered to their fathers. Expect them to be crossing the border within 20 years, just in time to reinforce the Hispanic majority which demographers predict in the U.S. by 2026.

Of course, Obama will meet this new challenge with his usual opportunism: he will sign an Amnesty law for all undocumented Mexicans and add 14 million new registered voters to the rolls of the Democratic party. That's one crisis he's sure to ace.

For the First Time, Hispanic Surnames Among the Top Ten in the U.S.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

When Truth Is Castrated: Babalú Confronts the Next Four Years

From Babalú:

It ain't even January yet...

...and it already feels like socialism.

Sorry to be the purveyor of negativity and all, and my apologies to any Obama supporters out there but...

I cant even watch or read the news lately without the hairs on the back of my neck rising. Things are getting ugly and fast. I suppose I could list everything that's on the horizon for us that will bring the ideals and values of this country to their knees, but what would be the point, really? The fringe, along with their naive counterparts, has spoken and elected a socialist to lead this country.

I'd like to be gracious like my fellow contributors here and state - believe - that a President Obama will be my president. And I suppose I could force myself to swallow that purgante and "support" the new President elect. But you know what? I'd be lying, to you and above all else, to myself. Truth is, Obama is everything that I think a President shouldn't be.

So, for the record and so we all know at least where I stand, personally, that guy that will be sworn in as president come January? Yeah, him. He doesn't represent what I believe in in the least and he certainly doesn't represent me.

"Socialist ideology, like so many others, has two main dangers. One stems from confused and incomplete readings of foreign texts, and the other from the arrogance and hidden rage of those who, in order to climb up in the world, pretend to be frantic defenders of the helpless so as to have shoulders on which to stand."
Jose Martí

Val Prieto, November 13, 2008

I don't believe that I have ever quoted one of Val Prieto's posts in toto before. I know for a fact that I have never done so in approbation. Val is saying now what I was saying a year ago, and if he can manage to keep only a year behind me, things may turn out better at Babalú than one could have hoped. In truth, Val never joined the McCain feeding frenzy at Babalú, though he did allow the "magnificent cadre" to savage the Republican candidate as falling short of the glory of Newt Gingrich for far longer than they condemned Obama as a Castro clone. Not until the very end did the Babalunians seem to realize that any flavor of Republican was preferable to Socialism à la carte. 50 years ago an earlier generation of Cubans made the same mistake with consequences that are well-known.

The next 4 years at Babalú will be spent hurling anathemas at Obama, which we certainly prefer to granting indulgences to Bush; but, in the end, it will all be for naught, for unless Obama proves to be something altogether different from what his history and associations indicate -- that is, unless he is a complete apostate -- all the words of condemnation in the world will find no echo because the MSM (which will be the state media, effective January 20) will create an alternate "reality" which hails failure as success and the elimination of freedom as self-determination. If you want to know how completely the truth can be marginalized in the world, look to Cuba. You can be sure that our enemies will.

Or witness dauntless Henry at Babalú, who is still engaged in trying to prove statistically for the umpteenth time that Cuban exiles are solidly Republican and that there was no generational shift to the Democratic party in this election. See what I mean? How can anybody believe in such an enormity, and why is the onus on disproving rather than proving it? Because the media created the myth and perpetuates it in the absence of all evidence, indeed, contrary to all evidence. And Henry, who has the truth on his side as surely as Galileo did, is obliged to vindicate it over and over again, obsessed that nobody is paying attention to him, because, in fact, nobody is. The myth has overwhelmed the truth and by force of repetition accumulated a (false) pedigree with far more allure than mere demographics.

I literally spent decades battling the myth of social progress under Castro and I was not the only one. The facts were all on our side but these were discounted in favor of the illusion which glorified Castro at the expense of the Cuban people, who were depicted as a nation of noble savages brought to the light of civilization by the wondrous agency of the Revolution, when, in fact, Cuba only became a Third World nation when Castro declared it as such and then proceeded to make his fantasy a fact. The country that was once the envy of Latin America, which had, alone among Latin American countries, achieved a level of plenary development which not merely rivalled but excelled half of Europe and on many indices surpassed the U.S. itself, has for 50 years been portrayed in the MSM, academia and the popular culture as a cesspool of inequity and class divisions when in fact it was one of the most progressive and fully integrated societies of its day.

A lie that is perpetuated for 50 years does not cease to be a lie, nor does the truth become less true because it is consistently denied. What is lost is the recognition and application of the truth and its lessons. The truth when ignored ceases to be fecund; in fact, it is effectively castrated.

Sadly, the truth is not only assaulted by its enemies but by those who refuse to acknowledge it once it has been officially proscribed. Their motives are often opportunistic but not necessarily so. Many Cubans who know the truth about pre-Castro Cuba have never shared that knowledge with their children, in fact, they have done their utmost to conceal it from them, believing, wrongly, that what is not known cannot be missed and that nothing becomes more substantial when the recollection of something is expunged from the national memory through voluntary or enforced amnesia. Although they may have done so to spare their progeny the pain and disillusion of their own lives, nothing was gained and much was lost by withholding the truth from them. The truth, if naught else, was their birthright, and a life bereft of truth is a masquerade, and, ultimately, a lie -- yet another lie to add to the aggregate. When all the country becomes accomplices in the suppression of the truth, history stops as it has in Cuba and as it will in the United States.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is Barack Obama's Win a Victory Against Racism? Val Thinks So

"I do think there is one undeniable good that has come from an Obama victory: let it never be said that this country is racist... I know the sense of pride, the sense of justice, the sense of relief and the sense of happiness African-Americans - and Americans in general - must be feeling right now. A glorious day, indeed." -- Val Prieto, "No Hard Feelings," Babalú, November 5, 2008

Val's initial reaction to the election of Obama was to rejoice at the ecstasy which it seemed to inspire in the black community. He was too preoccupied with showing that he was not a racist to realize that the election of Barack Obama was the greatest calamity that ever befell African-Americans. Blacks rejected Socialism in the 1930s when all the liberal intelligentsia were pushing it down their throats determined that they should be the engine of revolution in this country (and, of course, its first casualties). Their deep religiosity, common sense and distrust of the promises of whites saved them from being used by Communist agitators to promote an agenda that would have led to the reprise of slavery.

Black intellectuals, who were closer in formation to their white counterparts than the black masses, did embrace Communism as a universal panacea for not just America's but the world's ills. Although the Communists co-opted men of real achievement like W.E.B. DuBois and J. Phillip Randolph, they never promoted them as their standard bearers, preferring the likes of Bayard Rustin (MLK's advisor) and Frank Marshall Davis (Obama's boyhood mentor), because they were malleable and completely reliable, not "race men" but party men. In Obama, whose principal achievement is to have attained the presidency with the least qualifications of any major party candidate in history, they found both a tabula rasa and an unknown quantity (to everybody but themselves), willing to say or do anything, even denounce comrades or flaunt Socialist dogma, in order to enthrone it when in power.

Ideologically, Barack Obama is a clone of Bernie Sanders, the only self-avowed Socialist in Congress. He differs from Sanders only in his race. Skin color should not trump ideology and it is hardly a "glorious day" when it does. The essential is always more important than the superficial, and nothing is more superficial than pigmentation. Nevertheless, blacks who took pride in Obama's pigmentation (which is the only thing that most shared with him) did not embrace his socialist agenda, but believed, or at least hoped, that his election would deal a death blow to racism in this country. Val, as we have seen, regards Obama's election as proof that racism is now a dead letter in America.

In fact Obama's election does not signify the end of racism in America. On the contrary, his presidency will likely lead to its resurgence because most Americans see him as a black and not as a Socialist, and when the reaction comes against his policies, it will be directed at the black and not at the Socialist. In the end, it may be blacks who are unjustly scapegoated for the national hecatomb which the next four years will bring down upon all Americans regardless of color. The black vote did not elect Barack Obama: it is whites in traditionally Republican states who provided the margin of victory for him. But it is blacks who will suffer unfairly and for an indeterminate future if Obama blows it. And his Socialist proclivities will pretty much guarantee that he will. Big time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Bell Does Not Toll for RCAB Alone

The decision to close the Review of Cuban-American Blogs on January 20 was not an arbitrary one, nor having once made it have I regretted it or sought some loophole that might enable me to circumvent it (though loopholes there are aplenty). Some have expressed to me the hope that I would not close it. Still others refuse to believe that I will close it, showing, yet again, how little they know me despite being convinced that they know me all too well. The Babalunians, however, have not been among the doubters, perhaps from a natural apprehension that questioning my decision might convince me to alter it; but that is just an unfounded fear, as would also be the conceit that their crossed fingers closed the deal.

Nothing that Babalú has done or is likely to do in the future played any part in my decision to close RCAB. Let me say for the record, if such a thing even needs to be said, that there has been no miraculous transformation at Babalú that would justify any claim on my part to success. It is essentially the same blog, at once anti-Fidel and anti-Cuban, that it was on the day that RCAB first challenged its presumption in claiming to speak for all Cuban exiles, much less Cubans on the island. I never seriously thought that Babalú could be reformed, not from within or without. Marc Másferrer's departure proved the futility of entertaining hopes about its self-regeneration; and, I suppose, the closing of RCAB confirms that the patient is beyond all human agency and must be given for lost. What has changed since last year is the perception which others have of Babalú's "Founding Editor" and principals . And I don't even take credit for that. This transformation they have accomplished themselves since I merely reported and analyzed the disrepute which they sowed and harvested, and pointed out, for the benefit of the connoisseur, what I considered the "elixir" of their vintage crops. As Martí said, "The wine of the plantain is bitter, but it is our wine." Well this is not our wine, however bitter.

From the onset, Babalú mortgaged Cuba's freedom to George Bush. Sadly, in this case, there's not going to be any bail out. One would have thought that after our collective experience with Castro (and a succession of U.S. presidents without a clue) the Babalunians would have been wary of entrusting Cuba's future to any one man. Bush, bold and reckless in everything he did, was uncommonly cautious in his approach to Cuba. His embrace of the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy, which he upheld twice as long as Clinton did, and his indifference to the systematic dismantling of the trade embargo at the instigation of Republican congressmen (like the ascendant Flake), demonstrated that what Bush prized most was stability in Cuba, and if stability had to purchased at the cost of Cuban freedom, it was a bargain that he was more than willing to strike. In fact, when Obama decrees, as he shortly will, that the Castro regime can now buy on credit everything which Bush allowed it to buy with cash, the embargo will in effect be null and void, despite the congressional laws that codify it.

I hope the Babalunians will recognize then the indispensable role that Bush played in "normalizing" relations with Communist Cuba right under their crapulous noses. No American president was ever more beholden to Cuban-Americans for his political success than George W. Bush. He himself acknowledged it on numerous occasions, which makes it hard for us to deny it now. But to him our support was an entitlement, not an obligation. Ditto for Reagan and every other U.S. president who ever trifled with our love of country or led us to believe that he was our "great amigo." The bad intentions of our enemies have always been seconded by the bad offices of our "friends." That is the root of our national tragedy and Barack Obama's election is its fruit.

This much I will say about the president-elect: he lied to everybody, but he didn't lie to us. From the beginning he was crystal clear about his intentions towards Communist Cuba: unconditional capitulation on Castro's terms, not ours. Obama wants to build democracy in Cuba by solidifying the position of the anti-democrats. The U.S. has tried in the past to bolster the position of dissidents on the island: it has done very little and that very badly. Obama's approach dumps the dissidents in favor of those who really call the shots in Cuba. Surely he cannot be so naive as to believe that this is the royal road to Cuban freedom. Either he considers Cuban freedom unimportant or unsalvageable and is content to substitute the sufferance of the U.S. for it, or he regards Communist Cuba as an example rather than as an admonition.

The future of Babalú was also decided on November 4th, though Val & Co. haven't realize it yet with perhaps one exception. Not just because Obama will institutionalize Castroism and assure that its brand of feudalism will survive to the last Cuban generation. But also because Babalú will partake in the general decay of all blogs once the government sets out to regulate the blogosphere by extending the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" to it and criminalizing all anonymous blogging or commenting.

The bell is tolling and it does not toll just for us (though we seem to be the only ones listening).


RCAB also learned today that our esteemed colleague Black Sheep of Exile will close due to the same reasons.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Notable & Reminiscent: "Whose house? Obama's House!"

"Whose house? Obama's House!" -- "Obama's House," Smashed Flog, November 7, 2008 [quoted in SFDB ].

Neither Smashed Flog nor Rick (of SFDB) knows that "¡Fidel, esta es tu casa!" was the most popular slogan of the Cuban Revolution. After Fidel Castro's ascent to power (as per the dictum of the U.S.) practically every house in Cuba had a placard proudly pronouncing that it was "Fidel's house." Little did those homeowners imagine that Castro didn't need an invitation to make their houses his. Or their land. Or their stores. Or anything else that belonged to them.

"Damn Marxists."

Damn Right.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Definition of an "Arrepentido"

There is no word in the American political lexicon for arrepentido, although there will be soon. An arrepentido is someone who, by definition, regrets his own actions in supporting an aspirant to power because it led to a national debacle which he did not envision or desire, but to which he contributed inadvertently and unadvisedly. Rarely, however, does an arrepentido accept personal responsibility for his choice, but will claim that he was misled, betrayed or used. At the same time as he regrets the calamity that has befallen his country, he takes a secret pride in his past protagonismo (the only time in his life when anything that he did mattered) and will not disavow his role completely, defending aspects of it which he believes put him in a heroic or favorable light. He has no problem blaming everybody else, however, including his erstwhile underlings on account that their motives were not as pure as his even if their actions were identical or even less culpable. There is nothing in his own conduct that he doesn't attempt to justify, nor anything in somebody else's that he wouldn't condemn. His conscience is as malleable as his backbone; he approaches the truth acrobatically and is the hero of his own story, which ends badly for everybody (including himself). The arrepentido believes himself entitled to the gratitude of his countrymen for what he professes to be his good intentions but blameless for the consequences of his acts: blameless, in short, for the evil that he helped bring into the world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama & Babalú: Perfect Together

For 5 years, Babalú has been defending George Bush at the expense of the Cuban people. Whenever Bush said "Cuba libre" -- which was often and to no effect -- it sounded to me as if he were ordering a drink. For the Babalunians it was music to their ears and manna on their tongues. No, I don't think that they really believed that Bush would do for Cuba what he did for Iraq. It was just comforting, in a lullaby kind of way, to know that there was someone in the White House who "knew our pain" even if he also exploited it and never sought to alleviate it. Unlike George Bush, Barack Obama will not be content with mouthing platitudes; he will be, in Mas Santos' words, very "proactive about Cuba." That means that he will meet with Fidel and Raúl (and any other sworn enemy of the U.S.) without pre-conditions, which happens, incidentally, to be the only pre-condition imposed by Castro himself for negotiations with the U.S. or any other country: "take me as I am."

Having capitulated to Castro unconditionally, Obama will then proceed to "normalize" relations with Communist Cuba, which essentially involves the admission on the part of the U.S. that Castroism is the normal condition for Cubans, or perhaps I should say the formal recognition of same, since in practice that has been the U.S. position for decades and certainly for Bush's two terms. The difference now is that the U.S. will not only guarantee the political survival of Communist Cuba, it will also become responsible for its economic survival. After having defaulted on all its creditors over the last 50 years, Castro will now return to the original source of his expropriatory predations and get a second chance to "build Communism" on the backs of Americans, but not unsuspecting Americans as in 1959 but complicit ones.

There is nothing that can be done to stop Barack Obama from handing the ultimate lifeline to the Castro regime. Cuba may indeed become the "next Israel," as Más Santos hopes. Certainly, the U.S. may have need of another Israel once it abandons the one in the Middle East. I have no doubt that Fidel Castro can be as obeisant a lacquey to an Obama administration as he was to the Soviet Union if the U.S. is paying all his bills and never mentioning the subject of human rights. The blood and sinew of the Cuban people have always been for sale to the highest bidder in Castro's slave market. Fidel will no doubt enjoy the irony that it is a black man that will go to bid there.

The implications of Barack Obama's election, however, have been set aside at Babalú at least for today. Led by Val and Sr Cohiba the Babalunians have been falling over themselves taking voluntary loyalty oaths to President-elect Obama in anticipation, no doubt, of the soon-to-be prescribed one. It is, for them, a kind of reverse racism. If Bernie Sanders had been elected president, they would feel no compulsion to embrace him. But because Senator Sanders is a white Socialist and Obama a black one, they feel compelled to demonstrate that their animus is not racial in nature, as if that assumption had any validity before they chose to address it. All this slobbering about "Obama is our president, too" -- so reminiscent of Fantomas -- nicely complements Obama's own assertion that those who didn't vote for him are as important to him as those who did. Such reciprocal hypocrisy is exactly what we would expect of both Obama and Babalú, nothing more and nothing less; and based upon it, there may indeed be common ground between them.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

75 Days Left of Freedom in America

It is night in America.

Being a man of my word, I will adhere to my commitment to close this blog on January 20, 2009 if Barack Obama was elected president. I doubt whether I shall have much more to say between now and then. My final essay will be on arrepentidos, which is what everybody who voted for Obama will be ere long.

During the next 75 days I will be re-reading all my books before they are confiscated and burned.

God Save America! (though Cuba has been on that line for 50 years without much luck).





Monday, November 3, 2008

Madelyn Dunham (1922-2008) R.I.P.

"If I could ever find one reason to hope that Barack Obama would be elected, it would be for [his grandmother's] sake. Only for her sake. -- RCAB, October 20, 2008 [see below ].

Well, now there is no reason.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Death of Western Civilization?

America is on its deathbed and the grand experiment in representative government begun here more than 2 centuries ago may have reached its final days. The proto-Marxist radicals that control the Democratic party foisted Barack Obama on this country despite the fact that he never won enough delegates to obtain the presidential nomination. Only after 2 states (Florida and Michigan) were disenfranchised and Hillary Clinton's pledged delegates coerced into backing Obama or losing their standing in the party did that political nonentity with few qualifications and many dubious associations, repudiated in primary after primary despite having already been anointed as the party's candidate by the MSM, claim his unlawful prize. Having shamelessly cheated and lied to obtain the nomination, as he has done in every election in which he has ever participated, Barack Obama now stands ready to claim America's freedom and independence as his spoils and booty.

I have said that the election of Barack Obama will lead to the end of Western civilization; for in the new dark ages to come there will not be a single redoubt left upon the earth where it might be preserved and rekindled some day. When Rome fell, Byzantium maintained the light of civilization. In human history never has barbarism had full sway over the planet: there has always been a hilly Irish monastery, all but inaccessible and immune to the general decay, which has outlasted the centuries, and, finally, restored man's humanity to man. In the world in which we live today there is no place for civilization to hide. It can be extinguished utterly and will be if the forces that wreaked terror and destruction upon the world in the 20th century can be revived in the 21st. That horror the most calamitous in human history, still very much within living memory and experience, is remembered everywhere except here in America, which largely escaped its effects or experienced them at second-hand. It is here and nowhere else that Communism (enough with synonyms) will destroy democracy through the ballot box as Naziism did the Weimar Republic in 1933.

Unless Americans recognize the enemy and stop it. That's why there is still a question mark in the title of this post.


In the "Comments" section, John Longfellow pays us a long visit and I give Fulano de Cal some useful advice which everybody should follow.