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realclearworld

You can lead a jackass to water…

Seeing news stories about "Hollywood Celebrities" visiting Cuba and schmoozing with the dictatorship's elite is nothing new. The elite in Hollywood have a perverse fetish for brutal leftist regimes, among other things. But when I came across this particular story and saw Bill Murray's name, I was very disappointed.

Actor Bill Murray, second from right, sings after Benicio del Toro, left, accepted the Cuban Cultural Government Award  in Havana, Thursday, July 30, 2009.

Actor Bill Murray, second from right, sings after Benicio del Toro, left, accepted the Cuban Cultural Government Award in Havana, Thursday, July 30, 2009.

Not only was Murray one of my all-time favorite actors (and I emphasize was), his appearance in Andy Garcia's The Lost City gave me the impression that he was not one of your typical Hollywood jackasses that gets butterflies in their stomach every time they see a picture of Fidel or Che. Alas, it appears that Bill is one of those jackasses.

Officially, according to the news story, he and other actors are in Cuba doing "professional research," but even if we were to give him the benefit of the doubt, was it really necessary to attend an award ceremony celebrating Benicio del Toro's heroic portrayal of a psychopathic mass murderer?

One has to ask, did Bill bother to read the entire script of the Lost City or did he just read the pages that contained the lines for his character? A more pertinent question, however, would be that after reading the fact based story of the Lost City, having what I am sure of many conversations with Andy Garcia about the story, and then watching the movie, does Bill really give a rat's behind about the Cuban people and their struggle to rid themselves of the communist yoke of oppression?

From the picture above, it seems he doesn't. Goodbye, Bill.

72 comments to You can lead a jackass to water…

  • More disappointing for me is Robert Duvall being one of the others there with Murray and Del Toro (he's seated right behind Murray's right shoulder in the picture, next to James Caan). Duvall is definitely not your typical Hollywood lefty, and he supported the GOP in the last election. Oh well.

  • I was disappointed with Duvall, too, but Murray most of all.

  • Mr. Mojito

    Note this line from the article ...

    "Cuba is famous for having been a mafia playground before Castro took power"

    well its a good thing there is no mob in power now. (sarcasm)

  • Mr. Mojito

    Maybe Bill Murray was absent the day they shot this scene

    from - 6:18-8:05
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RV4sga5otXg

    Unreal

  • Del Toro's movie might have been a "hit in Cuba" but that's about it..mighta had something to do with Castro (who essentially wrote the screenplay) having it shown island-wide for free.

    It cost $52 million to make. Check this out:
    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=che.htm

  • Rayarena

    This must be one of those periodic streaks that we see in the media [usually happens about 3 times a year] when all of a sudden we start reading a blitzkrieg of lift-the-embargo, artists-visiting-Cuba, wonders-of-tourism-to-Cuba, and fluff-stories coming out all at once. We just had that group of musicians asking for more engagement with Cuba and now this story. This is the tip of the iceberg. More to come.

  • La Conchita

    -"Cuba is famous for having been a mafia playground before Castro took power"

    NOW: same playground, for different mafia!

  • Honey

    And I'm sure Che made lots of money from Cuba which so appreciated this movie. Oh, wait, that darned U.S. embargo got in the way and keeps Cuba back, otherwise there would have been big grosses in Cuba to make up for its dismal showing in this imperialist, evil U.S.

  • Honey

    Mr. Mojito,
    Note how in the NYTimes article you can almost feel the disgust when it is mentioned that Bush is the cause of the embargo and travel hold up. And goody, now Obama is freeing all of that up.
    How does this differ from propaganda? Truth is turned on its head.

  • Honey

    And the mention of the ticker shut off is made to sound like a good move on our government's part to help make relations with Cuba better. Oy.

  • asombra

    This photo and what's behind it encapsulates the Hollywood position on Cuba quite well. It should surprise nobody, since Hollywood has been anything but reticent or discreet in its support of Castro, Inc. The fact that Murray may appear personally likeable (which happens to be what his career rests on) obviously does not exclude that he'd be clowning around in Cuba at a Che-related gathering, to the amusement of some has-been old farts looking for attention and a cretinous younger "star" (not to mention the very accommodating host contingent, who know useful idiots when they see them, and definitely put them to use).

    We all know this picture is perfectly representative. We've been spat upon by assholes like these countless times, yet we still spend money on them and their industry when we shouldn't be giving them the time of day. We should be at least as indifferent to them as they are to us--the only thing they deserve from us is contempt. No, "boycotting" them probably won't make them change, but that's not the point. Self-respect and dignity are.

    Nobody actually needs these overrated, overpaid, spectacularly dysfunctional, supremely presumptuous and arrogant fools. They are merely frills and eminently expendable. There are alternatives to such heavily tainted "entertainment." Look into it.

  • theCardinal

    Duvall and Murray are disappointments. Duvall normally doesn't march in ideological lock-step with the Hollywood elite. But you know what? Fuck 'em all. Deep down did any of you think these worthless pieces of crap really give a damn about anyone other than themselves. My solution - hit them where it hurts. If they so LOVE "the people" controlling production - then buy a bootleg movie. Download movies for free. Lots of good quality stuff out there. Heck - make copies and give it to friends.

  • asombra

    Hey, Cardinal, by this point, Duvall doesn't have much to lose. I doubt it makes much difference either way how "correct" he is. Someone like Cameron Diaz, on the other hand, is another matter (assuming, of course, she even remotely gives a shit in the first place, which is doubtful).

  • Mr. Mojito

    Steven Spielberg declared the 2 hours he spent with Fidel Castro as the most important in his entire life.

    Meanwhile Jack Nicholson has worshipped at the altar of Fidel.

    Hollywood loves the mythical idea of the Cuban revolution = long haired beatniks who look like hipsters who overthrow the evil rich dictator. The fact it is myth is secondary.

  • asombra

    "Was it really necessary to attend an award ceremony celebrating Benicio del Toro's heroic portrayal of a psychopathic mass murderer?"

    Never mind "necessary." Try "even remotely respectable, justifiable or honorable." But of course that's irrelevant. We're talking Hollywood celebrities here. This is absolutely par for the course.

    We're so used to this shameless, brazen HIJEPUTEZ (SOB behavior) that even we fail to be sufficiently outraged and repelled by it. It's so common, so routine, so familiar that it's sort of like Murray's movie Groundhog Day (which I didn't see, but heard about). Same shit over, and over, and over...so eventually it registers more or less as "normal." Goebbels was definitely on to something.

  • Mr. Mojito

    Asombra, I know that Carmen Diaz is half Cuban from her father's side. That apparently didn't keep her from wearing a Mao Tse Tung purse in Peru.

    ... although I guess it wasn't Che.

  • Mr. Mojito

    I'm sure that right now Duvall & Murray are rolling around in the suite of the Havana hilton after a night of mojitos, cohibas, and 15 year old prostitutes.

    Later today Raul will stop by with Del Toro and the crew will all head down Veradero for some "down time" before attending a cabaret and dining on lobster.

    "Workers of the World Unite alright"

  • asombra

    Incidentally, you see the paint job on that wall in the photo? The average Cuban can't even begin to hope for the walls in his house to look that way. Not even close. But a lounge for visiting useful idiots is a totally different matter.

  • Rayarena

    Asombra, I may have missed something, but was Cameron in the group of people that visited Cuba? That would be ultra disgusting, since her father was Cuban. Then again, she's so ditzy and seems painfully disconnected from her roots.

  • asombra

    Rayarena, I wasn't implying she was part of this particular gathering. I expect she wasn't, which changes nothing. I was simply using her as an example, that's all.

  • I thought Murray was better than that. Looks and impressions can be very deceiving. All of them in that picture are pathetic inhumane beings.

  • asombra

    Needless to say (but I'll say it nonetheless), no Hollywood celebrity would have been caught dead at some official function in apartheid-era South Africa, even if it was not overtly political, like a sports event. They are fucking HYPOCRITES, but I'm stating the obvious.

  • I know why Bill Murray did The Lost City. Two words: KA CHING.

  • Asombra , you make an excellent point. They are all hypocrites.

    Claudia , it is my understanding the Garcia called Murray to be in his movie. I thought he was a personal friend of Garcia's? What i am wondering is how he can be in his movie which Garcia spent years trying to make and then does this. He is basically slapping Garcia in the face.

  • CountNomis

    It doesn't make any sense at all with Duvall; on numerous times he has blasted Hollywood for its pro-Communist attitude. There may be something going on that we are not privy to.

    As to The Lost City movie, it is absolutely disgraceful that the Cuban community did not support the movie by attending it. It lost money. If even a third of the Cubans in the US had gone to see it, Garcia and the other producer wouldn't have lost their investment.

  • asombra

    By the way, if Cameron Diaz was not half Cuban but half Mexican, I expect she'd be considerably more vocal and activist on behalf of "her people." True, she might be too much of an airhead to put two and two together either way, but you get the idea. The Mexican-American or "Latina" card would definitely get a LOT more play, generally speaking. I guess what's useful gets used, and what's "problematic" gets shoved under the rug. Mind you, I think ALL entertainment celebrities should mostly mind their own business, which is entertainment, and keep their politics to themselves, but Hollywood is highly politicized and, of course, excruciatingly image and fashion-conscious. Hence the extremely selective and blatantly hypocritical nature of its advocacy.

  • Jerome

    Mr. Mojito, the dumbest quote in that article...

    "They say if you buy these clothes or anything else, it goes to Castro's hands," Mora said in Havana. "I don't think $30 for a shirt is going to make or break this guy. The money I spend goes to the people and their homes, not the government."

    What a moron!

  • asombra

    And is it just me, or does this photo look like karaoke night at a retirement home? Jeez, these superannuated jerks are pathetic. And del Toro! He looks like a retarded chimp, for Pete's sake. The only decent thing he could do with those damn flowers would be to take them to La Cabana as an offering to the many men and young boys murdered there by order of "Che." This whole business is truly, deeply revolting stuff. Keep singing, Billy boy.

  • Rayarena

    Asombra, you are 100% on-the-dime [as usual]! LOL..
    If Cameron were 1/2 Mexican American she would be playing the latina/chicana card like there's no tomorrow. Heck, if she were ONLY 1/4 Mexican, she'd be playing the latina/chicana card. LINDA RONSTADT anyone?

    It's not, after all, popular to be a Cuban American. Diaz is not stupid and she knows--regardless of what principles her father may have instilled in her--that being an anti-Castro Cuban American is not popular. Hell, being an anti-Castro anything is not popular as American Jew Julian Schnabel discovered when he started having problems finding anyone to finance his film "Before Night Falls" or any studio to release it.

    By the way, I'm starting to lose respect for my own people. I have never seen an ethnic group as opportunistic and as unprincipled as Cuban Americans. Everywhere you turn there's an Ana Menendez, Lisandro Perez, Mirta Ojito, Rick Sanchez type just lurking around. You just can't run hard enough. I don't see so many self-hating people in other groups. Gee whiz! That said, I'm not going to put Eva Mendes in the same boat as these other people I've mentioned, but I was a little disgusted to read that Eva Mendes and Cameron Diaz [no surprise there] made public pledges during the elections to support Obama:

    http://www.bild.de/BILD/news/bild-english/celebrity-gossip/2009/01/21/barack-obama-support-from-celebrities/stars-pledge-to-help-new-us-president-in-video.html

  • Mr. Mojito

    Being anti-Castro in Hollywood, academia, or the media is WORSE than being anti-semitic & racist combined.

    I've never seen one regime get such kid glove treatment.

    Its as if half the media elites were forced to take a loyalty oath, or lose their ration card.

    It gets even worse when you talk to today's youth. Which don't know any history. Hell half of them think Che was the equivalent of John Lennon with Fidel being the equivalent of Gandhi. WTF

  • Mr. Mojito

    Also what the HELL is Del Toro doing holding roses? Are those for Raul or did Raul send those to him?

    When Che played in Havana at the Karl Marx theater all 5,000 patrons gave it a minutes long standing ovation - little did Del Toro realize their ass was just numb from 4.5 hours.

  • asombra

    Rayarena, the Hollywood crowd is all about image and being fashionable. And yes, there IS a price to pay for being unfashionable, especially politically or ideologically. There are also rewards for following along and staying in line, so to speak. There is tremendous pressure to conform, to be "cool," with-it or what have you. Ask Gloria Estefan why she put Che-admirer Santana on her album that was supposed to honor Cuba. I don't think it "just happened," though it's conceivable that it could have been a purely commercial or business move. I don't admire Cameron Diaz, but I recognize it would cost her to be overtly anti-Castro, and let's face it, she's in it for her career, just like they all are.

  • Mr. Mojito

    BBC's take

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8177736.stm

    Apparently Murray was singing to "union members" ...

    aka members of the Communist Party

  • Colena- If Murray was really asked by Andy Garcia to be a part in the movie, then Andy needs some new friends.

    As for Cameron Diaz- a third generation American, her father's Cuban side came from Cuba in 1898 from Spain. I doubt very much that she feels connected to the plight of the exile community or to what is going on in Cuba. So yes, Rayarena, I think "disconnected" is a good word.

  • Henry Agueros

    I WILL NEVER EVER AGAIN SPEND A HARD EARNED DOLLAR TO SEE A MOVIE WITH BILL MURREY OR ROBERT DUVALL.
    DEL TORO IS NO SUPPRISE AS HE IS ALWAYS DOPED UP ANYWAYS.

  • drillanwr

    Hollywood = opportunistic whores

    Hollywood = people who THINK they can think for themselves, but more times than not need a script and a director to tell them what to say and think

    Hollywood = mostly libtards who don't have a family history of actual family members being imprisoned or slaughtered under the hands of these heroes che and castro ... but then, that same fact never stopped them from shitting all over our troops in the Iraq war movie depictions

    Hollywood = Communism for thee (the unwashed masses) but not for me (I get to keep all MY money and freedom)

    Hollywood = self-important unimportant prigs

  • asombra

    I know it's obvious, since the irony is massive, but it doesn't hurt to spell it out:

    Some Puerto Rican asshole, who comes across like a moron offscreen and saw fit to glorify a sadistic psychopath, is treated royally in Havana and given the Cuban Cultural Government Award for his efforts.

    Celia Cruz, a glory of Cuban popular culture and a great credit (artistically AND personally) to both her people and humanity, was denied entry into Cuba when her mother died there and has never received any Castro government award of any kind.

    I say we have a MAJOR discrepancy here. Of course, this is utterly inconsequential to any useful idiot, including the ones in this lovely photo, even assuming they know who and what Celia Cruz was. They're Hollywood celebrities, you see. They know better than we do. They understand these things. We're just retrograde and over-emotional--at best.

    FUCK THEM ALL.

  • Rayarena

    Claudia,
    Actually, Cameron's Cuban roots are not that distant. Her father was born in the USA of Cuban-born parents. Her father is what is known in the Cuban community as "un Tampen~o," and they are VERY CUBAN. Many of them are so adamant about their Cubanness that they feel more Cuban than the Cubans that arrived in the USA in the 60's. I know, because I have relatives that live in Tampa and they would always joke about that.

    Cameron is indifferent to the Cuban American community, but it's not because of distance. By the way, many "Mexican-Americans" have been born in the USA dating back to the Mexican-American war and yet, they have a very strong sense of ethnic pride.

  • Rayarena

    Asombra,

    Good point vis-a-vis De Toro vs. Celia Cruz, but remember, Fidel Castro is the man that has hated Cuba and Cubans more than anyone else in history.

    Since day one, he has done nothing more than destroy Cuba and slander Cubans. It's uncanny. I don't think that there has ever been a world leader that has worked more to destroy "his country" than Fidel. I mean, he's told the world that we were shit before he took over, that all Cuban women were prostitutes, that Cuba was an underdeveloped country and then he has worked to turn it into what he claims that it was pre-59. Then practically any non-Cuban who goes to Cuba has more rights than any Cuban inside Cuba.

    He is to Cubans what the KKK is to blacks. He really hates us. We don't have a country, we have an anti-country, because our country is our enemy. It works against our interests.

  • Honey

    Obama is starting to sound like him, apologizing for this country as he travels around the world, treating our allies like enemies of the U.S. and our enemies as friends, allowing Iran to get the bomb, thinking our industrious citizenry is not the rightful owners of the fruits of their labor so it should go to the rightful owners, who did not earn it. Doesn't sound much like Obama likes Americans, either.

  • Rayarena,
    I'm just going by the interview she gave Latina magazine when she started out. If her paternal grandfather was a proud Cuban tampeño, then someone must not have instilled that same pride in her heritage in her. The fact that she carried that bag around Peru, however, just shows how little she knows about what's going on. And you are totally right, Mexican Americans are very proud of their ancestry and all their struggles and victories. If you can get your hands on a song called Solidaridad by a bunch of famous Mexican singers, a la Band Aid, it will give you goosebumps. I bought the cassette when I lived in Mexico but God only knows where it got to.

  • rjbonau

    Where can I throw up?

  • [...] H/T Alberto de la Cruz @ Babalu Blog [...]

  • firefly

    "Cuba is famous for having been a mafia playground before Castro took power."

    The Left and the MSM love to quote this phrase to justify the Cuban revolution. The fact is that Cuba was not a mafia playground. In the capital city of Habana, the Mafia controlled ONLY a few gambling casinos. I posted the following back in December 2006:

    Cuba had the same type gambling you could also find in 1958 Las Vegas, Indiana Harbor's famous "Big House", Mississippi Golf Coast, Monte Carlo, etc.? As a matter of fact, several cities in the U.S. alone had gambling and casinos YEARS before Cuba ever did. Actually, prior to 1955 the only casinos operating in Habana were the Tropicana and the Sans Souci. Listed below are the principal gambling casinos in operation in 1958 Habana and Mafia involvement:

    TROPICANA – Operated by Lefty Clark. His principal assistant was Pierre Canavase who was believed to have had ties to Lucky Luciano. Both men had been arrested for minor violations while operating in Las Vegas.

    SANS SOUCI – Operated by Santo Trafficante. Trafficante was a native of Tampa, Florida, where his father ran a “bolita racket.” It was rumored that they were members of the Mafia. With relation to Trafficante, the Cuban police worked closely with the District Attorney’s office of Queens County, Brooklyn, New York. In January 1958 Trafficante was questioned by the Cuban National police regarding the highly publicized Apalachin meeting that Trafficante attended in New York. There is a full report made by the Cuban police dated January 23, 1958 that includes transcripts of long distance telephone calls made from the Sans Souci during the period August-December 1957. This report was given to the District Attorney’s office. In addition, “on January 23, 1958 the Cuban Department of Investigation, Havana, Cuba notified the Bureau of Narcotics that Santo Trafficante was registered in their Alien Office under No. 93461.” To say that the Cuban government turned a blind eye to the activities of those operating the casinos is the height of stupidity when there is ample evidence of the cooperation between the two countries.

    RIVIERA – Operated by Meyer Lansky, Frank Erickson, Giordino Celline and Ed Levenson. This was one of the most honest run casinos in Habana.

    CASINO INTERNACIONAL (at the Hotel Nacional) – Operated by Wilbur Clark. His principal assistants were: Edward Goffredo Cellini and Merle Jacobs. None had any criminal record in the U.S.

    SEVILLA BILTMORE – Owned and operated by Amletic Battisti a Italian-Cuban. No criminal record.

    CAPRI HOTEL CASINO – Nicolas di Constanzo. Actor George Raft was half owner. No criminal record.

    NATIONAL CASINO – Operated by Jake Lansky. Brother of Meyer Lansky. Both brothers owned a mayor part of the casino.

    HAVANA HILTON CASINO – Operated by Clifford Jones, Nevada Senator Kenneth Johnson and Sydney Arce of New York. No known criminal records. The Hilton casino began operation in March 1958.

    Such WAS the WELL documented gambling situation in Habana at the time the castro brothers took over the country. Indeed, according to the “Treasury Department, United States Customs Service, Habana, Cuba,” in a letter from W.W. Johnson, dated March 1958, (cc: to the IRS) 70% of the casino’s patrons were Americans; the remaining 30% were tourists from other countries and Cuban nationals. To be sure, these casinos/gambling were TRANSPARENT to the over 6 million Cubans living on the island the same way that casinos and gambling in Las Vegas is transparent to the rest of the U.S. population. Was organized crime in Cuba? Yes! But it was never, ever to the extent that you found it in the United States.

    All above notwithstanding, at the time of castro’s attack on the Moncada Barracks in July 26, 1953 there were only TWO casino/gaming houses in Cuba, so his excuse about liberating Cuba from “the vices of pre-revolutionary Cuba” is nothing but a bunch of CRAP the left just love to perpetuate.

  • deganmiles

    Firely, saying that the owners of various casinos had No Criminal Record is next to meaningless in this context.

    Loads of mafia types had successful careers in crime, but with no criminal records.

    And I looked at a random one of the casinos you listed:

    CAPRI HOTEL CASINO – Nicolas di Constanzo. Actor George Raft was half owner. No criminal record.

    Fine, but a quick google search finds that that same casino was OWNED by mobster Santo Trafficante, Jr. of Tampa, Florida. And George Raft was hired as a front.

    So, I don't know, your 'evidence' on this seems shaky.

  • Mr. Mojito

    Firefly, I think the mafia thing resonates for a few reasons.

    1. The fact that the few casinos there were run by the "whos who" of the mob - Trafficante, Lansky, etc.

    2. Godfather II. Amazing movie to be sure, but just like Scarface implanted the idea that all Marielitos were criminals, it helped the narrative that all of Pre Castro Cuba were mobsters.

    3. The fact that Lansky fled on the same day as Batista. It gave the impression that they were in cahoots - even Garcia's Lost City gives the mob and Lansky a prominent role in the start.

    ps - I saw the new Dillinger film recently starring Che-lover Johnny Depp (bootleg) and about 3-4 times they kept mentioning "are you gonna flee to Cuba" and this was taking place in the 1930's. Media is the new history book + I admit that I believe the mob had too much power in Cuba - Cuba should be for Cubans not for shit eating goons who don't respect the rule of law.

  • Mr. Mojito

    New York Post article on Mob in Cuba

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/06082008/postopinion/postopbooks/havana_nocturne_114473.htm?page=0

    ... apparently in 1957, Sen. John F. Kennedy arrived in Cuba for a "fact-finding mission." Trafficante arranged for "three gorgeous prostitutes" to service JFK at a local whorehouse as the Tampa boss and an associate watched from behind a two-way mirror.

  • Mr. Mojito

    Has anyone read

    Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It to the Revolution

    ???

    I'm curious how fair and accurate it is.

    This Washington Post review seems ok

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/10/AR2008071002349.html

  • drillanwr

    Hollywood cites mob crime in Cuba as bad and Commie take over as the good solution and salvation.

    Easy to see why they absolutely love and adore the current government in power of this nation's highest crime rate and capitol city ...

    Growing up in Youngstown, Ohio the mob was big here too. Not so big now. Oh, still some here and there, even in the local government. But there's a saying around my area:

    When the mob was in control of the city there was no "crime" ...

    People went downtown to shop and dine. Downtown ain't so bad these day as it was 20-30 yrs ago ... but it still ain't as good.

    Oh, don't get me wrong. Not condoning the mob.

    Just sayin' ...

    Mob took you out they had a reason.

    Che and castro killed out of sheer hate and lust for power.

    Communism has murdered 10s of millions in the world. Don't think "the mob" can claim anything near those numbers

  • Does the fact that the mob controlled casinos in Cuba -- and they did -- make castro's revolution and his communism any less evil? You folks are playing their game. We KNOW what Cuba was; our parents and grandparent knew. THEY DON'T.

  • Jerome

    Mr Mojito, I read the book and I liked it. Humberto Fontova seems to have a different opinion of it. I remember on a post some months back he mentioned how the book mistated how much revenue the casinos were bringing in Cuba. Don't quote me on it, but maybe Humberto can help you with that.

    Personally, I thought the book was informative. Humberto, please post any other inaccuracies the book may have.

  • Mr. Mojito

    George, I think we all agree that the little evil was replaced by the BIG evil. That is self evident.

  • Rayarena

    Regarding the MOB in Cuba, part of the problem that Cubans suffer from is the innate prejudice, bias and preconceived notions that people have about Cuba and Cubans.

    I live in NYC, what city has more corruption and mobsters than NYC? Yet no one would, ever depict NYC as this two-dimensional caricature where the mob runs the entire city. And I can assure you, NYC makes Old Havana look like child's play. Why is this? Because people think--part thanks to Castro's propaganda and part thanks to the preconceived notions that Americans have about the Hispanic world where they don't make distinctions between Cubans, Mexicans, Bolivians Dominicans, or even Spaniards---that Cuba had no culture, wealth or history. In a country so devoid of any substance, it makes sense that an outside force would dominate the entire country. To Americans, so blinded with the vision of Cubans as shirtless, disease-riddled, illiterate peasants, its hard to think of the average Cuban as leading a middle class life like my parents did and like millions of average Cubans did. My parents worries were those of any other lower middle class/working class family. Their dream was the dreams of an American family in Middletown, America: save up enough money to buy a house and raise their two children. That's all. Like 99.9% of all Cubans, they had no mob ties, but Americans find that hard to believe.

    Look at Cuban Americans. We live in the USA right under their noses and yet, look at the all of the preconceived notions about us right here. It's schizophrenic. On the one hand, we are these white, wealthy millionaires, ex-batistianos, octogenarians, right winged, fascists and intolerant ingrates that run American foreign policy on Cuba to the detriment of the rest of the nation, and on the other hand we are these gang banging, brown-and-out, welfare bound, criminals and mafiosos that contribute nothing to society and turn "white safe neighborhoods," into festering ghettos.

    If we are depicted as these caricatures right here in the USA RIGHT UNDER THEIR NOSES, we really can't expect them to think of us as anything other than a caricature in old Cuba: a cross between the Godfather II and Sean Connery's "Cuba".

  • Honey

    Rayarena,
    This is an excerpt of what I wrote to Professor Carlos Eire as a reaction to your comment about the MOB in Cuba:

    It explains how easy it is for stereotypes to overshadow reality.

    I truly could not understand where Oliphant was coming from in that wretched cartoon. And I could not understand why my book group did such an about face so quickly at the end of our discussion of your book. They were fine as long as your book was about a quaint childhood in a foreign culture. But when I read your letters, I guess they could not cope with the fact that communism was so irretrievably bad.
    And while I didn't want to accept what you said about the racism against Cubans, I finally had to agree that that was the explanation of such resistance to understanding the essence of what you were saying. This was very difficult for me to accept. But that other book group I went to on your book and your letters brought me around. It pained me to acknowledge such a terrible truth.

    Now when I read what Rayarena is saying here, I don't argue with it. I have come so far towards understanding your pain in this country. It is a journey I didn't want to make and I am sad that I have arrived to join Rayarena's conclusions.

    I cannot explain it but I think there is a correlation between all of this and the worship of Obama. For liberals there is a comfort zone in liking Obama. It threatens them at their core to have to acknowledge that left wing solutions are destructive or that communism is all bad.

    And another bad thing is that I can't explain what Rayarena is saying to anyone in my book group because they would call me paranoid or ridiculous and wouldn't recognize themselves in this comment. It is a terrible thing to think such bad things about oneself. (The only thing that saved me from being prejudiced is that I am an anti communist and by default I side with others who are. Otherwise Rayarena might have been describing me, too. How awful.)
    The odd thing is if I use Israel about stereotypes, they might understand. All of the prejudice about Israel goes so against any reality of its achievements and all that that country has in common with ours. (Before Obama, that is.)

  • Rayarena

    Honey, it's a painful conclusion to come to, but it's better to know the truth than to live in a fool's world. And I know many Cubans who just don't get it. I think that part of the problem is that Cubans on an individual basis have done very well in life. They've gone to college, gotten degrees, prospered, live in good neighborhoods and have achieved the American dream. When one is accepted on a personal level, in one's job and surroundings, it's hard to understand that as a group we are not accepted or understood. I'll give you an example, I was talking to a Cuban lady who is married to an American about anti-Cuban bigotry in this country and her reply was,
    "oh, but my American mother-in-law loves me!" What kind of asinine reply is that, I thought? Like many Cubans, she was unable to see the issue beyond herself.

    When I first started examining anti-Cuban bigotry, I was shocked. I couldn't help but feel frustrated that such a successful group could be seen as nothing more than ghetto rats. Remember during Elian? That's the way that we were depicted.

    Part of the problem is as the late great Reinaldo Arenas said, we have an anti-country. We have a country that works against us. Most foreign nationals have the good auspices of their motherland's national embassy to fall back on and to defend them if they have any problems. We don't. The Cuban Mission to the U.N. in NYC and the Cuban Interest Section in Washington works against us. They convene press conferences and refer to us as the "Miami Mafia" and "rightwinged extremists." They hammer in the stereotypes repeated, over and over again. If a newspaper writes a positive story about us that is at the same time critical of the regime, they will request to meet the editorial staff at the newspaper, etc.... They organize one-way cultural presentations from Cuba where visiting professors come here and repeat the same lies about pre-Castro Cuba being a den of prostitutes and mobsters, and Cuban Americans being extremists.

    Couple this with the notions that Americans have of all Hispanics [it doesn't help that the media and U.S. Census doesn't make distinctions and that we are all put in the same boat. Whether they are talking about Cubans in Miami or Mexicans in East L.A., they will use the catch all term "latinos"] and its easy to see why there is so much misunderstanding.

    I have a theory, if Canada had become communist, instead of Cuba, I don't think that Americans would feel the same way. You see, to Americans we were a third-world backwards country run by a God-awful dictator, Batista, who ran Cuba in cahoots with the MOB. Even if they accept that Castro is a dictator, they probably don't understand why we complain so much, since Cuba before Castro was a hellhole anyway. And what's the difference, Latin Americans never had viable democracies and besides, the only thing that ever came out of Latin America were sombreros, the frito bandito, enchiladas and Cinco de Mayo. So, we really didn't lose anything. It's not as if France became communist and it lost all of its national patrimony. To them, we didn't have museums, beautiful buildings, monuments, etc.. we just had shantytowns and chickens running around on unpaved streets.

  • drillanwr

    Right, George -

    The "mob" is still alive and strong enough today in this country. And there are several versions of "mob crime" in this country.

    But Communism IS the ultimate syndicate. They take over and control everything so that the people have to come to the 'godfathers' and ask for everything.

    Right now there is a mob syndicate in control of our government. See how and how much they have 'acquired' in just 6 short months? See how much more they are about to grab control of?

    I'm not condoning the mob in Cuba ... I'm saying it was NOT a reason, or the reason, checastro came in and slaughtered and stole. It's a mamby-assed argument the left/Hollywood uses at a set up to stifle opposition to the communist ruin Cuba has become. None of these beautiful people stayed in a typical Cuban home while down there. I would venture to say none of them even dared visit a typical Cuban neighborhood ... or lesser neighborhoods ... to see the damage and destruction 50 years has caused.

    They play on this mob reasoning, while insisting how quaint and lovely it is that Cuba has its 'classic cars' still on the streets and the people live such simple carefree lives because the state sees to all their needs ... BLEH!. These people are vermin ... like flies and maggots to a dying body. I'd love to be able to take everything from them and control what and how much and how often they get anything. See how far Bill and Ben would get with a rice cooker and a couple pounds (if that) of rice a month between them.

  • drillanwr

    Rayarena, George, et al -

    As I watched the movie "The Lost City" there was an indigenous attempt to overthrow the corrupt government. They stormed Batista's compound but he managed to slip away. I never fully understood their 'leanings' but hoped they weren't the non-military version of checastro ... that they intended democracy for their Cuba, not communism. I don't have insight into that, can anyone fill me in?

  • drillanwr

    oh, Rayarena -

    Regarding grouping everyone into some generalized "Latino" tent ...

    My Hungarian Grandparents were generally passive folks ... until someone would group them in with Romanians or "Slavs".

    My college daughter's boyfriend's parents are from Thiland. He says people from individual Asian countries feel the same way about lumping them all together as "Asians" ... that it blurs and ignores the long history behind their individual struggles and divisiveness with each other. (We know about Europe in WWII ... and to some degree our concept of WWII/Pacific is limited to Japan vs us... but we generally don't have a clue as to what else Japan was doing to other Asian countries during that time. Which is another reason why "Asians" do NOT like to be grouped together. They want no responsibility, even abstract, for a country like WWII Japan's war crimes.)

    Countries have a right to their own individuality and responsibility of their own history. It's another tactic to suck everyone into the "collective" ... while still setting up "groups" against each other.

  • Rayarena

    drillanwr,

    While I understand your Hungarian parents objections and how Asians feel, with Cuban Americans its even worst, because the catch-all category "latino" has such a negative connotation. "Latino" in this country has come to mean "down-and-out-and-brown." Have you ever noticed how pundits on TV always talk about "latinos and blacks" in one breath. It's always, "Latinos and blacks" this and that. "Latino and black" drop-out rates, "Latino and black" incarceration rates, "Latino and black" gangs, "Latino and black" welfare rates, "Latino and black" democratic party affiliation.

    Recently, I was talking to a lady and she telling me what a disappointment Obama is and then as if pointing a finger, she said, OH, BUT YOU'RE CUBAN. YOU MUST HAVE VOTED FOR OBAMA. I HEARD THAT LATINOS AND BLACKS ALL VOTED FOR HIM!

    This is very frustrating, because our real nature [hard working, law-abiding people], our successes, even our political affiliations [overwhelmingly conservative] is not understood by the majority of folks out there.

  • drillanwr

    Rayarena -

    Exactly. What I was trying to get at.

    First [they] insinuate the collective ... then the 'grouping' so that groups can be pited against each other.

    My Grandparents both had Mongolian blood in them from their ancestry (their wedding picture looked as if they were from Cambodia) ... but that didn't make then "Asian".

    Don't forget, the "individual" is not important and must be obliterated. Only the collective should exist. Within that collective are set groups and everyone inside those groups is to remain catagorized.

    Have you ever read Ayn Rand's "Anthem"? I read it in just a few hours ... Quick read, short novel ... but very important. Most cite "Atlas Shrugged" ... but "Anthem" is just as important and relevant to where this current influence within our government wants to 'design' our society ... and as you stated, the media is more than willing to help out with that.

    The whole Gates/Crowley/racist cops bullshit of the last couple weeks should be a huge wake-up call to the game these people play.

  • Honey

    drillanwr,
    When I saw Lost City, what I got was that there were Cubans who wanted freedom and were unhappy with the way Batista had hijacked the country and they wanted to throw him out and get a real democracy installed. When Castro came and got Batista out some of those that had originally been anti Batista joined Castro considering him their new hope. It didn't take them long to figure out their mistake. In the movie, as I recall, one killed himself out of despair that he had committed himself to the very tyrants that came to bring ruin to his country. Garcia's character chose to go to the U.S.
    It strikes me funny that no matter how this movie or Professor Eire's book or anyone else emphasizes how much they were not happy with Batista and hope Castro would mean salvation from him, just as some of you are describing the lumping together of all Hispanics to suit people's prejudices, readers will make all of that anti Batista stuff irrelevant. They much prefer the comfort of their assumptions. They give no one credit for protesting that they hated Batista. If you left Castro's Cuba, it was for some "selfish" reason. That's it.
    And what kills me is so much of this comes from Jews who escaped tyrannies. You'd think they would understand. Only the politically conservative ones do.
    If I bring up things like this, I am complained to because I always bring up politics. As if that wasn't what they were doing.

  • drillanwr

    Honey -

    After 50 yrs (and the losses at The Bay of Pigs) evident that Cuba's hope ARE those who left (and are on the outside) ... to fight another day and take back the country.

    But you understand ... the 'left' in any 'group', Cubans, Jews, etc. believe in appeasement and surrender over defiance and resistance.

    All one needs do is look at France in WWII and the Nazis parading easily down their main street in Paris. Hey, we're actually witnessing it here in our own country right now.

    http://tinyurl.com/mdk6g8

  • Honey

    drillanwr,
    Try to tell that to them. The left thinks it is the font of all wisdom and moral greatness. If I sound any alarm, I am paranoid, to be avoided.

  • drillanwr

    Honey -

    I hear ya. A year ago I was telling everyone exactly what Obama meant by "change", and was told I was 'paranoid' too.

    Now I have many of the same shaking their heads in disappointment at this admin. and what's going on.

    I have never been a person to toss about "I told you so" ... but I do so now without hesitation.

  • Honey

    drillanwr,
    So far I still don't have liberal friends who see the light. It is most disconcerting.
    What is it going to take?

  • drillanwr

    Honey -

    Can't take credit for "liberals" ... These are lifelong democrats who went in and voted party. Were they to take a quiz they would come out atleast moderate-conservatives. And I'm talking family members too.

    Where I live it's an eternal democrat/union stranglehold ... mostly because of industry/factory ... But those industries/factories are closed or in danger of closing. I'm seeing For Sale signs on lots of homes in my neighborhood and around my town.

    My older daughter is an RN in the ER of our local Catholic non-union hospital. Last year those who planned on voting Obama strutted around boldly voicing such. Those who were voting McCain mumbled it under their breath so as not to cause heated debates. Now, with the threat of ObamaCare being passed, and what it will do to their job(s) the mood around the ER social gatherings (Drs. and nurses) is doom.

    She says, "I told you so" alot these days too ... and without hesitation.

  • CountNomis

    In Texas, they can't understand why I don't like to eat tacos and refried beans and why I throw up when I even see barbacoa. Americans are, as a rule, culturally ignorant. Their exposure to Hispanics has always been primarily with mexicans, so they think that Cubans, Argentinians, Spaniards, etc., are also short, brown, illiterate taco-eaters. [sigh]

  • CountNomis

    drillan

    The attack on Batista at the presidential palace is a historical fact and was carried out by the Directorio, one of the many groups of student terrorists. Even though they were not communists, they were part of a culture at the time that was left over from when the dictator Machado was overthrown (there was also the ABC movement, Autentico, etc. etc.). Many of the participants in the various movements were certifiably psychotic. For about two decades after Machado's overthrow, the political situation in Cuba was chaotic and violent. The various groups would routinely carry out assassinations, kidnappings, bombings, etc., while the in the background the various leaders gave hysterical speeches. One of them even shot himself on the radio after one of his long harangues. The Castro bastards (literally) emerged and thrived from this environment. Hemingway in his To Have and Have Not has some of these characters in his novel. Also, Desi Arnaz's book, A Book, details some of the events upon Machado's overthrow. However, the most detailed history is Argote-Freyre's Batista (an excellent biography, incidentally, devoid of stereotypes). Hope this helps.

    By the way, at times you may run across some of these psychotics in political discussion groups; they're usually in their 70s and 80s and even though they may have to use Depends, they are still as vocal as ever. If you don't agree with them in EVERYTHING, they will act like pit bulls towards you. That whole generation was rotten, rotten, rotten to the core.

  • CountNomis

    Honey

    You say that, "So far I still don't have liberal friends who see the light. It is most disconcerting. What is it going to take?"

    I had an experience two days ago that really shook me up. I was wearing a Che t-shirt with the words "Murdering Communist Bastard" that I got at che-mart.com. A woman passed me by and said, "Che Guevara never killed anybody."
    !!!!!
    Have you ever come across somebody that says something so psychotic that it short-circuits your brain? I stuttered, "Where did you get your historical facts?" "From Noam Chomsky." It was then when I burst out laughing, then said, "He's a totalitarian-worshipping-"
    "Oh, THIS is a totalitarian country!"
    !!!!!
    "If this is a totalitarian country, why hasn't the govt. executed you?" "Oh, it hasn't found out about me yet," and she scurried off.
    Now, I know that such people like Ward churchill are around, but it's still a shock when you come face to face with such a psychotic---especially in a conservative state like Texas. What must it be like in California or New York? And what are we going to do with all these crazies running around?