To err is human. To steal is also human and to murder. Being human does not excuse activity that degrades the human condition because not to err, not to steal and not to murder are also human. Man ultimately bears responsibility for choosing what kind of human he will be. If he opts to be a scoundrel he should be judged as a scoundrel. His humanity is not exculpatory. On the contrary, it is what indicts him; for we are far removed from the days when animals shared stocks and scaffolds with humans. It would make more sense for a public sinner to plead that he is closer to the beasts than to man. That, at least, might be an extenuating circumstance, since he could be missing a chromosome or some brain-sustaining chemical which makes it impossible for him to know between right and wrong, good and evil. What makes no sense, however, is to claim that having a conscience predisposes one to unconscionable acts.
Nor are all errors equal. Not every error is mercenary. There are honest errors that benefit no one and unintentional errors that cost us dearly but hurt no one but us.
Felipe Sixto did not err in that way.
He stole $600,000 intended to promote the Cuban people's freedom and ameliorate their wretchedness. He took from one of the most destitute people on earth, his own people, in a manner reminiscent of the sub rosa dealings of Castro & Co. By denying them access to that aid, Sixto not only increased their material suffering but helped to tighten the regime's hold on them. He also discredited better men than himself who have devoted their lives to helping them. By any definition, he is a traitor to the cause of Cuban freedom, a dishonest public servant and false friend.
He "was (is)" also, according to Henry Gómez, "a friend of [Babalú] blog" ["To Err is Human..." January 7]. But, of course, he would be. Sixto's efforts, although not intended as such, helped to build up the steam in Val Prieto's "Human Pressure Cooker." For that he is deserving of a pardon and Henry grants his old Belén classmate one for whatever it's worth (not much). He is especially impressed by the fact that Sixto made restitution to the U.S. government for the stolen funds once the theft was discovered. This, too, counts in his favor because in the end the Cuban people were denied the aid that had been assigned to them because of his malfeasance and, as Sixto himself admits, will likely receive much less in the future because of it.
This cannot but gratify Val Prieto who is on record (in The New York Times, no less) as theorizing that the Cuban people "don't need money," which is curiously close to Castro's immemorial assertion that "nobody needs anything in Cuba." In fact, there appear to be more differences between Val and Sixto on this subject than between Val and Castro. Sixto apologizes for "the delay in freedom for the Cuban people" occasioned by his betrayal of trust. From Val's perspective, however, Sixto is not a traitor but a hero because his actions will hasten, not delay, their liberation by raising the temperature in the "Human Pressure Cooker."
Come to think of it, maybe Val should ask Felipe Sixto to join Babalú's magnificent cadres.