August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Relief (Updated)

UPDATE 9/1/05: Please see this post for more information on Katrina Relief fund raising. And yes, I am still not providing any new contents until we meet our quota of donations. Tshirts are still available for a donation of $20, two for a $30 donation until supplies last.

UPDATE: Please read the updates at the end of this post.

I have been trying to write about the massive devastation up North due to Hurricane Katrina but the words just arent coming. We just lived through a post Cat 1 Katrina world and no matter how bad we had it, how bad it felt, what has happened up in Louisiana and Mississsippi is exponentially worse.

I've seen quite a few news reports via news sites and blogs that just tear the heart out. Over 50 are confirmed dead with what are sure to be many many more people succumbing in the next few days.

Instapundit has suggested a blogathon beginning Thursday to gather aid for the vitims of Katrina up north. And I will offer my full support with that.

However, this is one time where we will not be on Cuban time. So, in following California Yankee, Babalú is now in full relief collection mode.

Below is a list of a few charities that are currently accepting Hurricane Katrina relief donations. For every donation of $20 dollars I will send you a Babalú tshirt. If you donate $30 you will get two Babalú tshirts. I know the tshirts arent much, but it is all I have to offer you guys for your help.

Catholic Charities USA (Catholic Charities is the same organization responsible for assistance to many thousands of Cuban refugees arriving to the US throughout the years and is the official Babalú charitable organization. Let's give a little back.)

1-800-919-9338, or online at Catholic Charities org.

The American Red Cross

You can make a secure online contribution by visiting the Red Cross Online Donation Page.

You can also donate by phone:


English speaking

Spanish Speaking

Salvation Army

1-800-SAL-ARMY, or online at Salvation Army USA.

There are a few more over at California Yankee. Any donation to any of these charities will have me sending you a tshirt.

I will be adding more organizations as well as soon as I can and this post will stay at the top of the blog as long as I have any tshirts left.

I have been criticized many times for being single minded and posting mostly on the one topic of Cuba. Yet those of you like me know we live life on the hyphen. And on the other side of that hyphen it reads "American."

Those up in Louisiana and Mississippi, those Americans, are our family, too.

Break out the wallets and credit cards and check books and get to work folks. The moment I recieve a confirmation of your donation I will send your Babalú eyes.

Y no sean tacaños, coño.

UPDATE: Running and maintaining the blog is a lot of work. It means waking up at the crack of dawn, reading hundreds of emails, news and rss feeds, editorializing, fact checking and verification, writing, posting, debating, arguing...etc... It is a hell of a lot of work and it takes up most if not all of my free time. There is no Paypal button here asking for money to help run the site. I do not do blegs asking readers to help pay for the maintenace of this blog like other bloggers do. In two years I have asked for donations to worthy causes only three times.

I am incredibly disappointed that out of a possible 1000 or so daily readers, I have only received a handful of emails supporting this more than necessary cause.

Tens of thousands of people are without homes, without necessities, without hope. Relief organizations are being pushed to their financial limits while working to help those folks in dire need.

Therefore, Babalú will not offer any new posts, any new entries, any new writing, any new content whatsoever until these relief organizations have received at least 100 donations from Babalú readers.

If you cant donate $20, then donate a sawbuck. If you cant donate the $10, then donate $5. Every little bit helps. Five dollars will buy a few gallons of water or a few cans of much needed food.

As much as I love blogging and writing and bringing you all news and commentary and stories, I will be forced to stop if mi gente dont support me in this more than worthwhile endeavor.

The ball is in your court now. All you lurkers out there that come by every day and never comment, now is the time to make your voices heard and all of you who come by and comment every day, now is the time to take the lead.

FEMA listed the following agencies as needing cash to assist hurricane victims:

-- Operation Blessing, 800-436-6348.

-- America's Second Harvest, 800-344-8070.

-- Adventist Community Services, 800-381-7171.

-- Catholic Charities, USA, 703-549-1390.

-- Christian Disaster Response, 941-956-5183 or 941-551-9554.

-- Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, 800-848-5818.

-- Church World Service, 800-297-1516.

-- Convoy of Hope, 417-823-8998.

-- Lutheran Disaster Response, 800-638-3522.

-- Mennonite Disaster Service, 717-859-2210.

-- Nazarene Disaster Response, 888-256-5886.

-- Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, 800-872-3283.

-- Southern Baptist Convention -- Disaster Relief, 800-462-8657, ext. 6440.

-- United Methodist Committee on Relief. 800-554-8583.

The Network for Good is also accepting donations for hurricane Katrina relief.

UPDATE: 1:00 PM; 8/31/05 There's a couple of faithful Babalu readers from the Louisiana area that I have not heard from, so, if you guys read this and are ok, please drop me a line. Also, Humberto Fontova calls New Orleans home as well. If anyone has heard from him please do drop me a line.

There has been a pretty good response from some of you out there with donations and support. To those that have emailed me with donation info and suggestions, mil gracias, you do us proud.

Unfortunately, we are still well short of our 100 donations goal with about 60 or so to go.

I know there are still many out there that frequent this blog and hopefully enjoy the content we offer, and while I dont want to sound like a PBS drive, we still need your help. Please take the time to visit the Catholic Charities website and drop a few dollars in the till. Or, donate to any of the charitable organization above.

Posted by Val Prieto at 03:51 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (58)

August 30, 2005

More Citgo corruption in Miami

There's more Citgo corruption around the real estate industry in Miami, according to Venezuela's English translation of El Universal, quoting German news service DPA, citing El Nuevo Herald of Miami. Two Citgo officials got some very large uhhhh commissions, for selling some Venezuelan state property in Miami. Very very very large commissions.

Uh huh.

Nice work if you can get it.

As we well know from this item here, the wealthy cronies of Hugo Chavez are more than a little fond of hanging out in what they consider the Tierra de los Escualidos. And unlike the escualidos they so disdain, they prefer the haunts and lairs of Flash-N-Trash Miami, not Calle Ocho. Val's wife has noted that they, and their voracious appetite for Miami real estate, are in at least some part the reason why Miami realtors named Hugo Chavez the realtor of the year.

El Universal reports:

At least two Venezuelan officials received in Miami "questionable payments" from a realtor in Florida to sell a building property of the Venezuelan state, a front-page article in "The New Herald" disclosed Tuesday, as quoted by DPA.

Recipients, according to the newspaper, were Fadel Muci, senior advisor to Citgo, the US-based subsidiary of oil-state holding Petróleos de Venezuela (Pdvsa), and William Grillet, then administrative executive office of the Bank for Economic and Social Development (Bandes.)

Building 11101, located in the Miami financial district, Brickel Avenue, was property of Bandes, the bank of the Venezuelan government.

During an affidavit taken at a Miami state court, Ray Barreth, the head of realtor Barreth Business Group (BBG), "acknowledged payment of about USD 1.4 million to Muci for lobbying in Venezuela and additional steps to make BBG be chosen in 2004 as middleman for the sale of the building," the newspaper stated.

The rest of the story is here.

My remaining question is: If these Chavista Communists hate the U.S. so much, why do they keep coming to Miami?

Posted by Mora at 03:50 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (1)

The Mafia reviews Havana Nights

I've written about the Havana Nights show in Vegas and its performers' mass defection from Cuba before but Ive yet to experience the show.

California Mafia has, however, and you can read all about it here.

Posted by Val Prieto at 02:05 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si, si-la-sol-fa-mi-re-do

A free Babalu tshirt to the first person that can tell us exactly how the musical scale shown on the title of this post relates to something Cuban.

When, exactly, does a Cuban hear that sound?

Update: Sheesh. Twenty or so minutes and not one person has chimed in? Parece mentira, caballeros....

Do you all need clues? And I know there has to be a lurker or two out there that knows the answer to this riddle. Come on, give it a shot.

Update II: Ok seems no one gets it. Perhaps it's time for some clues:

Clue 1: "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si, si-la-sol-fa-mi-re-do" would be heard in the streets of Cuba often, coming, usually, through a flauta (flute). If you sing it quickly a few times, you just might get it.

do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si, si-la-sol-fa-mi-re-do!!! Daniel hits the nail on the head! Whenever this ditty was heard by the average Cuban housewife, she would quickly run to the kitchen, gather up her favorite knives and scissors and head on outside where the afilador would be waiting.

Afiladores were usually on bicycles and had their grinding wheels mounted onto the front of the bike with a contraption that would spin the grinding wheel as they pumped a pedal up and down with their foot:


These afiladores were sharpening experts, honing everything from kitchen knives to scissors to machetes. They told everyone they were coming down their streets by playing "do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si, si-la-sol-fa-mi-re-do" through flutes.

There are still a few afiladores here in Miami. I had a couple knives sharpened to cutting perfection a couple weeks ago. However, this guy doesnt go around the city on bike. He has a nice big van with a small generator and the do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-si, si-la-sol-fa-mi-re-do playing through a cassette tape and a small speaker outside the van.

Still, tho, while I dont actually remember the afiladores from Cuba, back in the late sixties and early seventees there were plenty of them here in Miami, and in their traditional retro-fitted bicycles, playing their tune through their flutes.

Posted by Val Prieto at 09:35 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (11)


Any of you guys out there away from the tropics remember these:

Picture 001.jpg
Melicoccus bijugatus

My neighborhood viandero had some yesterday, so I bought a bunch. It may be hot here in Miami and we may get nailed by hurricanes every so often, but living in the tropics does have its perks.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:54 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (8)

Internet Hiccup

I've been unable to connect to a few of my morning blog reads today, A Small Victory, Instapundit, Steve... and a few others. Apparently, the internet is experiencing a hiccup.

The following is from Michele, whom I emailed early this morning when I couldnt enter her site:

>From Hosting Matters Emergency Forum:

. We are currently seeing issues at both AT&T and TWTelecom in traces from various locations. If your routes travel along those networks, you may experience high latency and/or complete failure to reach your site or other services. We've sent a note to the main NOC at P10, asking them for a status, since no doubt they are already aware of the issue, and we'll post whatever we get back from them.

Fox, Fark, a bunch of news sites - can't get to any of them right now. If you could post that and spread the word (especially that it is NOT Hosting Matters) that would be great.

I managed to get into Fox News, but Instapundit, Captain's Quarters, Hog On Ice and a few other daily reads are still unaccessible.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:15 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (1)

Ya No Mas!

It seems George's Ya No Mas! meme may be becoming a reality in Cuba sooner than we all thought. (Incidentally, George, who as of last night was still without power or phone courtesy of hurricane Katrina, may be doing a little Ya No mas! screaming of his own. Hope you get your A/C back soon George.)

The following is from Cubanet:

CAIBARIÉN, Cuba, August 29 (María de la Caridad Noa González, Villa Blanca Press / - A six-foot sign that read DOWN WITH FIDEL CASTRO! was put up on the wall of the food store La Vizcaína in the city of Sancti Spíritus.

Yusdrey Pérez Toledo, a passerby, reported that state security on Tuesday forced those who stopped to see the sign to move out of the area.

Posted by Val Prieto at 06:25 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

August 29, 2005

Boston Globe gets part, follows the script

Seems the Boston Globe is yet another major media outlet that picks up fidel castro's health care script and follows without much adlib.

Perhaps these reporters should take a quick trip down to Cuba for some of that high quality healthcare that average Cuban gets. You know, this kind.

Posted by Val Prieto at 06:05 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

Putting the IRON in IRONy

Aleida Guevara, Che Guevara's Cuban "daughter", is pissed that her father's image is being used so rampantly throughout the world and has begun filing lawsuits:

"The center intends to contain the uncontrolled use of Che's image. It will be costly and difficult because each country has different laws, but a limit has to be drawn," the legendary (sic) guerrilla's daughter, Aleida Guevara, told Reuters.

The "center" is the Che Guevara Studies Center which is opening in Havana later this year.

Perhaps the lawsuits will be used to fund the center. Or, perhaps, the money won from any lawsuits will be used to help pay back the 12.4 billion fidel castro's revolutionary government owes the numerous countries in the world stupid enough to do business with him. Sabe Dios.

There is one picture of che that I'm particularly fond of. It shows the true che, the perfect revolutionary, the perfect New Man, in all of his splendor:


The perfect revolutionary New Man, like che, is a dead one.

Posted by Val Prieto at 03:08 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (16)

Today in El Paso

Immigration Judge William Abbott, presiding over the Posada Carrilles case, will hear arguments from both sides and determine...get ready for this...whether the Bay of Pigs invasion was a "terrorist act."

CIA documents also show the spy agency trained Posada in 1961 to participate in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. Immigration Judge William Abbott last month asked lawyers in the case to prepare briefs on whether the invasion was a terrorist act.

And there you have it, folks. Another slap in the face to the Cuban-American community. Because that's just the way it is. An immigration Judge reviewing briefs and deciding whether or not the US backed and failed because of a President without balls invasion can be constituted a terrorist act under today's definition of terrorism.

Every single leftist, marxist, socialist and communist organization, group or party is frothing at the mouth today. Chomping at the bit. Waiting to denounce yet again the Cuban-American community while providing fidel castro more fodder for his propaganda to the point of orgasmic bliss.

I dont give a shit whether Posada Carriles blew up the Cubana Airliner. If he did and acted alone, then he should pay for his crime. If he did and acted as an agent of the CIA then he and the CIA should pay for their crime. If he didnt, then perhaps he should just fall on the sword for those Cuban-Americans who are THE example of what an immigrant group can accomplish in the United States of America. Fall on the sword to prevent the men who died and fought and were incarcerated in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion from losing the honor they so earned and they so deserve.

Perhaps Judge William Abbott should also ask to see briefs on the US involvement in Cuba and the Americas prior to the Bay of Pigs and fidel castro. Maybe he should also decide on Roosevelts Rough Riders at the turn of the last century and every subsequent involvement thereafter.

Maybe Judge William Abbott should also request briefs on the War on Terror, since we're setting precedent. Maybe he should also get to decide whether those brave men and women serving overseas right now, in Iraq and in Afghanistan, shedding their blood and giving their lives for their country are also terrorists.

Perhaps Judge William Abbott should also see to it that those who fight against this great terrorist nation be heralded and compensated. Perhaps even an homage, post mortem, to those brave men who hijacked planes and flew them into the World Trade Center. And then a strict reprimand to those that died on September 11th for being American terrorists.

Might as well, dont you think? I mean, if you're gonna fuck people up the ass for being good Americans, might as well shove that thing in deep and work it good.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:23 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (13)

Pray for those in Katrina's path

As I type this, Katrina is making her way onto land in New Orleans and I have this overwhelming feeling of dread. What we have been through the past few days here in Miami is absolutely nothing compared to what is happening in New Orleans and the surrounding areas now. Katrina basically knocked down trees and power for a few days here. Not much structural damage reported nor too much damage to the city's infrastucture.

What awaits New orleans is something completely different. Not only is the city below sea level, with basically two levees to protect it, but the building codes and standards up there are nothing like those here in Miami, where every single building has to be built with high hurricane winds in mind. A royal pain in the ass for those of us in the building industry, but a God send when a hurricane comes.

I also dont know how prudent it is to cram the SuperDome with people and use it as a shelter during the storm. Regardless of the fact that this building is structurally sound, sustained winds over 150 miles per hour wreak havoc on all structural elements of any building. The structural members spanning the vast space of the dome will be pushed to their structural limits. Not to mention the uplift forces acting upon said structural members and the predicted 28 foot storm surge. I pray to God that the SuperDome withstands, but cant help but think that it just cant. If there was ever a time for a miracle, I cant think of a better one.

Pray for all those in the storm's path. Katrina is strong and vicious and, unfortunately, a killer.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:12 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

August 28, 2005

Katrina gloom

This looks like a potential catastrophe ahead in the next few hours. Katrina's gotten so much worse - as if it wasn't extremely bad already - as it prepares to buzzsaw New Orleans.

The loss of that beautiful city is unthinkable. Are these the last hours of that city? They could be.

Here are some weather sources to death-watch I suppose before the City of New Orleans disappears into nothingness.

Thomas Lifson at American Thinker points out that evacuation for the poor and the tourists is absent, something that could lead to big casualties. He asks why there aren't trains and buses out of there? There aren't - there's just the Superdome and good luck.

Steve has an incredibly good essay here on the impact of this storm on the multibillion dollar deep sea platforms from which we get our oil. He even knows the names of these things and how much they pump or refine and where they are - he's got deep knowledge on this. And has some pointed commentary on the poor planning of officials in the New Orleans area who are going to lose some bridges from this disaster, critical bridges that are responsible for our oil.

Who is going to replace that oil? Ecuador? Hugo Chavez? The whole thing gives me the creeps. We are stuck. And oil has already rocketed past $70 a barrel.

Hard times are coming.

Posted by Mora at 08:38 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (11)

ManCamp Power RESTORED!!!

Power just came back on. Wait till I tell you guys the story. Right now we're closing up the house, slamming the a/c on to arctic freeze, going out for some breakfast and then returning to what will be a nice, cool home.

My thoughts and prayers go towrads those up in Katrina's path up north. A Cat 1 was pretty bad. I cant even begin to imagine what life would be like after a Cat 5.

Ward, if you read this, batten down man. Stay safe.

Posted by Val Prieto at 10:54 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (8)

Le ronca el merequetengue

It's pitch black outside. Your arms hurt, your elbows hurt and you have little painful cuts on all your fingers. Your feet are killing you and your legs feel like youve been doing squats for a weeks straight. It's hot. Unbearably hot. No breeze, not the slightest little wind coming in through the open windows. Generators are going all over the place 24/7. Your home feels like a sauna inside and even though your lying there in bed stark naked, youre still sweating. You try to find some kind of comfort, some kind of respite from the heat and balm but nothing works. So you resign yourself to trying to sleep. You turn to your side and when you place your face on the pillow, it's clammy from all the sweat.

I dont think I can spend another night trying to sleep without air conditioning.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:39 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

August 27, 2005

Does anyone know a good lawn service?!?!

Hey guys! Val asked me to drop by and let you all know that he is alright. They are still living off the generator (don't worry, I'm sure he hasn't run out of beer yet!), and he was trying to clean up ManCamp and the yard a bit.
Thanks to all of you for your well-wishes. I have a new respect for these "weak" Category 1 hurricanes. We drove around a bit to run some errands, and the scenes we witnessed were quite reminiscent of the Andrew aftermath: lines two blocks long at the few gas stations that are open, fallen branches, not to mention whole trees everywhere, most of the traffic lights out. I am surprised that when I went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon, it was quick and painless, and things were well-stocked.
Katrina is reportedly a Category 3 now, and could reach Category 4 by the time she reaches land again. My heart goes out to those in her path now.

I will be posting a few shots of the damage in our neighborhood over at Brandon's Puppy, so drop by and check them out!


Posted by Amanda at 07:28 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (4)

Marc Rich & Hugo Chavez

As cozy together as Chavez & castro.

Alek Boyd has the whispered dirt from the London oil traders here.


Posted by Mora at 03:45 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

U.S. Land Seized in Cuba

No, this is not a headline from the 1960s. And, no, it doesn't deal with Guantanamo. It appears that one U.S. company kept property in Cuba until only two years ago.

The company is Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide - owners of Sheraton Hotels - and they filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department for land seized by Cuba in 2003.

This article in the Miami Herald provides the details:

U.S. hotel firm's land seized only recently

It turns out that Fidel Castro's government didn't seize all foreign-owned property decades ago. Land owned by a U.S. firm was taken only recently.


Four decades after Fidel Castro's government had apparently seized all foreign-owned properties in Cuba, it now turns out that a U.S. telephone company retained some 400 acres of land in and around Havana until just two years ago.

News of the surprising landholdings came after Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide -- owners of the Sheraton hotel chain -- filed a complaint last week with the U.S. Justice Department for $63 million worth of land it said the Cuban government seized in 2003 from a Starwood subsidiary.

''The land belongs to us. They can't take it,'' said Ignacio Sánchez, a Washington lawyer who represents Starwood. ``The Cuban government basically said to go pound sand.''

The claim startled Cuba experts and some U.S. government officials, who were unaware that any American company still owned land in Cuba. Castro nationalized virtually all foreign-owned properties in 1960, from land to sugar mills to factories.

Starwood's land was owned by Radio Corporación Cubana (RCC), a company established in Cuba in 1922 as a subsidiary of the International Telephone and Telegraph Corp. In 1998, Starwood acquired ITT's ownership of RCC.

RCC used the land for a transmitting station, buildings and equipment needed for international telephone service until 1992, when Hurricane Andrew knocked out the Florida side of the phone service. The property remained largely unused until 2003, when both the land and RCC were seized.


The Cuban government probably didn't seize the land in the 1960s because it wanted the telephone service to continue, according to people close to the case. But why the Cubans didn't seize the properties after the phone service stopped in 1992 remains a mystery, they added.

By the time Castro's government got around to seizing the land -- citing ''hostile laws and policies of the U.S. government'' -- the U.S. commission that fielded complaints from U.S. citizens who had lost property in the 1960s had long closed its books.

The commission, which was created in 1967 and shut down in 1972, certified some 6,000 claims totaling $1.8 billion. With a 6 percent interest, that now stands as a $6 billion tab. Among the biggest claimants were North American Sugar and United Fruit Sugar Co.

''This is a policy of looking out for citizens when facing a government that is taking properties,'' said Mauricio J. Tamargo, chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. ``There will be a day when the U.S. and Cuba normalize relations and for that to occur, there has to be a settlement, and that has to be paid.''

To address Starwood's recent seizure, the commission has reopened, paving the way for a claim by the hotel chain and any other U.S. citizen or company whose properties have been taken.

''Cuba was not to be reasoned with,'' Sánchez said, 'so the company availed itself of its rights and went to the federal government, saying, `Here's another confiscation after 40 some-odd years.' ''


Experts in Cuba property issues said reopening the claims commission for the benefit of one company is unprecedented. The move was welcomed by attorneys and claimants, even if few recent claims are likely.

The rules for filing a claim against Cuba are strict. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or company at the time the property is taken. And it must have been seized after May 1967.

Attorney Robert Muse, an expert in Cuba trade issues, said applicants could include, for example, Cubans who arrived during the Mariel boat lift, became U.S. citizens, and then had family property seized after the death of a loved one.

''It is extraordinary that a program would be created for a single company,'' Muse said. ``They are potentially creating a very large Cuban-American program here. Did they know that when they created a special program for one company?''

Continue reading below for a list of assets seized from Starwood.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts says the Cuban government has seized the following:

• 1.2 million square meters in Cabañas, adjacent to Havana's José Martí International airport, worth $36 million

• 880,000 square meters in a lot called La Finca Margarita four miles south of Havana, $26.4 million

• 18,733 square meters in Guanabo 15 miles east of Havana, valued at $749,320

• Salvador Allende St. office space, $543,000

• Bank account, $30,000

• Office furniture and equipment, $10,000

Posted by Robert M at 12:39 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (5)

Hurricane Katrina heads out to the Gulf

While Val and George and Robert and Alan and Florida Cracker and Amanda and SWLiP and Steve mop up after Hurricane Katrina, having apparently gotten through it all right, the damn thing is heading for the Gulf Coast, and via Instapundit, we can see that weather watcher Brendan Loy is live-blogging it from New Orleans Indiana now.

And from this far distance in California, I marvel that the United States, again and again, gets the most humongous third-world-brand serieses - serieses! - of natural disasters, disasters that travel - hitting more than one city at a stretch, huge disasters no one can stop, over and over, disasters Europe rarely sees, and in our country, we get through it. Hurricane season is only about half over and a couple of big ones have already blown through. Last year, there were even more.

What awesome force they are! When I went to Fort Myers earlier this year, I was taken up the road to see the awful remains of Hurricane Charley - the stripped trees with all their tops ripped off, some of them whose huge trunks were snapped in half in the middle like matchsticks. Some were stripped bare like winter trees, all their leaves blown away. I saw the blue tarp roofs of houses still waiting in line for repairs, because there were so many roofs torn off. I saw the odd hovel that would be better off leveled that someone, somehow, wanted to save. Tear down and build up.

Every single year Floridians and other Gulf Coasters get through the horrendous, low-tech process of rebuilding.

But they rebuild as if they are high-tech, with efficiency, capital and urgency. This is the force of capitalism, enterprise and the American spirit in action.

How very different it is for my friends in Sumatra and Sri Lanka, still to this day devastated by the truly terrible tsunami. There, it's not all about rebuilding and getting on, going on as is done in the states the way Floridians and Gulf Coasters do, except in the marketplace where the High Priest Vulture Elite don't look too closely. Rebuild? No way.

Instead, international aid rackets have set up empires and fiefdoms already, entrenched throughly after a half year. That place will never be rebuilt. Billions and billions in aid, and somehow it will always remain a charity case.

Devastation everywhere, but such different responses.

Here's to the heroes of Florida and the Gulf Coast who win over the vast forces of nature every time. This is an American victory.

Thanks Baldi and Strange Women and Unpartisan for the links!

Posted by Mora at 12:02 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

August 26, 2005

Message from the "Dark" side...

Hey guys! First access to a PC I've had in 24 hours. I am at my work for a brief air conditioning and light fix. No lights at my house for over 24 hours now, and little hope for at least another day or two or three. Reading and eating by candlelight sucks. Sleeping without A/C REALLY sucks. Send some prayers down Miami way so we get our power back soon...

See ya for a while!

Posted by George Moneo at 08:55 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (12)

Post Katrina Dial-up blogging

We made it through ok. No major damage to the house. Trees and branches everywhere. Still no power. Pool is full of foliage. And it's hot. My kingdom for air conditioning.

ManCamp survived with minor damage.

No word as to when power will be back up. Luckily my neighbor has his generator so we're powering our refrigerator through that.

Apparently, Katrina pulled a southerly turn and I think the eye was relatively close to us but Im not sure as we've had no tv since last night.

It's pouring rain right now and windy. Been working my ass off since early this morning and Im beat, but, I still have cold beer.

Im told the whole city is strewn with fallen trees and debris.

i hope all you guys in South Florida came through this thing unscathed. Ill try to log on sometime later today if I havent melted.

Hurricanes suck ass.

Posted by Val Prieto at 12:47 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (17)

August 25, 2005

Katrina ManCamp Cam (Updated)

I could either place the webcam in front of the TV and you'd get the beach reportage complete with hooded yellow raincoat, or I could point the camera towards ManCamp.

I opted for the latter.

ManCamp™ franchises available.

Update: I know you really cant see much on the webcam, but I went ahead and turned it towards the south a bit, to show the Australian Pines at the other end of the backyard. Dont know how long Ill have power as the flickering has begun.

Here's another webcam from Ft Lauderdale from i-imagery.

UPDATE (8/29/05):If you arrived here via a Google search for "Katrina webcam," please keep those in her path in your thoughts and prayers. Miami survived Katrina while a Category 1 storm. A Category 5 storm is catastrophic and will most certainly lead to much loss of life. Pray for the victims while you continue your webcam search.

Posted by Val Prieto at 02:48 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (24)

Pre-Katrina blogging

Like staring at a car wreck, we have the local news on with their hurricane coverage. Lots of lipservice being given to the MTV Video Music Awards that are supposed to taking place this weekend.

Apparently, this year's theme is water and they had all these pre-event parties scheduled to be happening. All of them have been canceled. South Beach footage shows a desolate Ocean Drive.

My question is, how long before one of P Diddy's cohorts blames Bush for the storm?

Posted by Val Prieto at 01:36 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (10)

Deja vu all over again

Well folks, it looks like we are about to get some major rains and wind from what will most probably be a Category 1 hurricane by this afternoon so blogging from Miami may be intermittent at best.

I'll also be running around this morning, jobsite to jobsite, ensuring that all equipment and materials are secure and ready for high wind and rain. If you've dealt with contractors before, you'll know that you have to stay on top of them as they tend to slack and cut corners. The last thing you want is a bunch of hurricane projectiles flying around from a messy construction site in your neighborhood during a hurricane.

I've already been to my parents' house to make sure that they are all secure and ready. Mom and dad are fine and not so nervous which is a good thing. Their hurricane preparedness thingies are all set and laid out on the kitchen counter. Their prescription have all been filled. Frige stocked up. Candles and flashlights stand at the ready.

The weather has changed overnight. Winds are picking up slightly and some rain is already coming down in some areas. People on the street are driving like lunatics - not a stretch for Miami - but hurricane urgency just compounds the problem.

It's getting pretty ugly outside, dark, grey, and the stifling August heat is nowhere to be found. I dont know if we'll get to this with Katrina, but one of the things I remember most about Hurricane Andrew was the drop in pressure. You could feel it in your ears. Kinda like what happens sometimes when on an airplane.

The Prieto household is all set with our little hurricane packs. All the provisions are there: beer, Spaghetti-Os and more beer. We're pretty much south of the projected path of the storm, so we should fare relatively well. Of course, power seems to go out at our house with heavy sneezing, so we may be candle powered for the next day or so. Igual que en Cuba!

Im off to complete my pre-hurricane chores. Those of you in South Florida, stay safe and stay dry. Those of you outside of the storms path, wish us luck and if you havent heard from me in a day or so, send beer.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:45 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (12)


Thirty one lives. With all their complexities. All their dreams. All their talents. All their drives. All their loves and hates. All their circumstances. All their names. Thirty one lives from Cuba who were going to do something in America.

Gone. To a watery grave at the bottom of the sea.

All we know is that some waited in the open ocean for help, outside their capsized boat, in dark and light, dark and light, dark and light in the open sea of nothing but empty horizons on all sides for at least FIVE days.

No one came.

One by one, they died. None were saved. The Coast Guard has called off its search after rescuing three battered sunburned Cuban survivors who made it through five days at sea with just life jackets. Alone at sea, they too wondered for days whether death too would come for them as it did for the others.

Who were they? What were their names? Thirty one human beings with thirty one stories of life and thirty one ways to enrich the lives of others. They are now known only to eternity. Thirty one members of our human family.

Thirty one souls who wanted only to breathe freedom.

God damn you, fidel castro.

Posted by Mora at 02:36 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (35)

Latest from Ladronia....

Where the stealing doesn't stop.

MIAMI - (KRT) - Four decades after Fidel Castro's government had apparently seized all foreign-owned properties in Cuba, it now turns out that a U.S. telephone company retained some 400 acres of land in and around Havana until just two years ago.

News of the surprising landholdings came after Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide - owners of the Sheraton hotel chain - filed a complaint last week with the U.S. Justice Department for $63 million worth of land it said the Cuban government seized in 2003 from a Starwood subsidiary.

``The land belongs to us. They can't take it,'' said Ignacio Sanchez, a Washington lawyer who represents Starwood. ``The Cuban government basically said to go pound sand.''


Read it here.

Posted by Mora at 02:21 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (4)

August 24, 2005

Hello, Katrina!

A hurricane warning was issued for southeast Florida tonight at 11 PM. Right now, the storm is right on the 26th parallel, heading due west. Hmmm. The 26th parallel, eh? That... sounds... very familiar... I don't know why...

Posted by George Moneo at 11:09 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (8)

Today's MUST Read

The title of the post says it all:

The Indoctrination of the American Negro - Cuban Style.

Please drop by the Black Informant read this excellent essay and and lend him your support. I had told Duane some time ago just how much I appreciate his support and understanding of the Cuban issues and am a firm believer in the fact that if there is one culture or race that should stand in solidarity with the plight of the Cuban people, it is the African-American.

Gracias, Duane. You made my day, man.

Posted by Val Prieto at 03:46 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

Your gas worries are over!!!!

Fret not, dear readers, about the high price of gas! A magnanimous savior has come to rid us of our gasoline burden! Hop on into your SUV's and trucks and take a drive over to your nearest Citgo station. Cheap gas will be available to all those Americans feeling a financial pinch.

Hugo Chavez promised:

We want to sell gasoline and heating fuel directly to poor communities in the United States," the populist leader told reporters at the end of a visit to Communist-run Cuba.

Chavez did not say how Venezuela would go about providing gasoline to poor communities. Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA owns Citgo, which has 14,000 gas stations in the United States.

And once you've had your capitalist imperialist gas guzzling vehicles topped off at your local Citgo, make sure to drive on over to your local airport and book a flight to Venezuela or Cuba, where you will be given free, universal health care by none other than the magnanimous Chavez and his esteemed colleague fidel castro. Get those breast implants while their hot, and free!!!

To wit:

Chavez and Castro offered to give poor Americans free health care and train doctors free of charge.

Our problems have been solved!!! Oh glorious day!!!

Posted by Val Prieto at 12:44 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (17)

Welcome to Sunny South Florida!!! (UPDATED)


Can you say PLYWOOD?

There. I knew you could.

UPDATE (By George Moneo): As of 11 AM EDT a hurricane watch is in effect for Florida City in the south to Vero Beach in the north. I can only assume a warning will be issued tonight or tomorrow.

Fun, fun, fun! -- NOT!

Posted by Val Prieto at 09:22 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (24)

No llores mas, Huguito

As a Cuban, I cant even begin to describe what it feels like to bare witness to the Cubanization of Venezuela. It is like reliving the mistake. Watching a once beautiful country and culture in its final death throws. All of what is held sacred by the Venezuelan people will undoubtedly soon be gone. Made history that will not be allowed to be spoken about. History will be re-written to suit a political agenda.

So, with that in mind, Id like to offer my two cents on Pat Robertson's comments regarding the killing of Hugo Chavez:

Good riddance! I'll gladly buy the bullets.

Ive never been a fan nor a follower of Robertson. And he may very well be a beer or two short of a six pack, but for months now Hugo Chavez has been stating the US wants to kill him with much hyperbole and fanfare. So it seems to me Robertson was just calling his bluff.

And I'm sure there would be many many people glad to see mini-fidel gone from the face of this earth.

The MSM, unfortunately, will harp on this, ad infintum, until we are all just sick of hearing about it. And Chavez and fidel, along with their MSM coconspirators, will use this to their advantage.

Here's proof.

Still, though, the only good dictator is a dead dictator. And until both of these revolutionary thugs are dead, the world wont be a better place.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:50 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (21)

Dialogue. At the end of a stick.

The following is how castro, who, as author Laura Restrepo puts it, "is the best thing to ever happen to the Americas," treats those with differing opinions:

1) Home of independent union leader raided by security agents

HAVANA, August 23 (Ariel Delgado Covarrubias / - State security agents on Saturday raided the apartment of Maybell Padilla, assistant secretary general of the dissident Unitarian Council of Cuban Workers.

Two agents seized a fax machine, documents, foreign newspapers and some money from the apartment.

Padilla was taken to the police station where she was warned that charges could be leveled against her in the future.

Padilla has been running the union since the arrest in 2003 of Pedro Pablo Álvarez Ramos, currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.

2) Human rights activist says young communist leader beat him up

HAVANA, August 23 (José Antonio Fornaris, Cuba Verdad / - René Montes de Oca, president of the Pro Human Rights Party of Cuba, says Hassán Pérez Casabón, second secretary of the Union of Young Communists, kicked him in the head as he lay defenseless on the ground.

Montes de Oca has been held in custody since July 13 as a result of arrests carried out of those who were commemorating the sinking of the tugboat "13 de Marzo." The incident with Communist leader occurred when a pro-government crowd attacked Montes de Oca and others who were at the ceremony.

Montes de Oca is among dissidents being held pending charges of public disorder.

3) Santa Clara dissident beaten and detained

SANTA CLARA, Cuba, August 23 (Guillermo Fariñas, Cubanacán Press / - Dissident pacifist Freddy Martín Fraga was beaten in his home in front of his 11-year-old son last week.

Martín Fraga said he was about to take his son to a nearby swimming pool when some 20 men came to his home and attacked for what he said was his opposition to President Fidel Castro.

Martín Fraga is vice coordinator of the Christian Democratic Movement in Cuba, and the father of three minor children. He is being held in a cell at police headquarters.

Posted by Val Prieto at 04:47 AM | Permanent Link to this Post

August 23, 2005

A question...

If there's any reader out there that has any knowledge or is familiar with Cuban Law, could you please drop me an email?

I need some help with something Im working on and have some questions.

Posted by Val Prieto at 03:43 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)

Promoting castroites

The U.S. publishing industry is growing bolder and bolder in its promotion of castro-worship. Today, it's invited a bona-fide castro-lover to the Miami book fair to shove right in Cuban-Americans' faces. Don't think it's not intentional. The vile creature is named Laura Restrepo who is quoted as saying the Beast:

"is the best thing that ever happened to the Americas."

And she's there to be the star of the show.

What's going on here? The publishing industry is rewarding more and more leftwing fanatics with book contracts to "represent" the Cuban-American community. By doing this, they shut out real Cubans. They'll publish fake Cubans, half-Cubans, non-Spanish-speaking gringofied anti-Catholic "Cubans" - and give them all book deals. So long as you're leftwing, and can say you are, somehow, Cuban, it doesn't matter how little talent you have, you'll have the publishing industry at your door. They'll even take Colombians to represent Cubanismo, provided they say good things about the Monster At Our Door. Anything but provide a voice to REAL CUBANS.

They give book deals to these talentless but politically correct fakes to say they are 'sensitive' to the 'Hispanic' community but in reality, they are using these placebos who share their Hollywood attitudes to deny and silence the literary voices of all the real Cubans.

Take a look at our editor here at Babalu - Val. Have you ever seen a deeper literary talent? A more brilliant chronicler of the Cuban American experience? A more studious wit of human nature? I haven't. He's a blogger while this Colombian lowlife, Laura Restrepo, who worships castro from the wealthy spa-world of rich-in-exile Mexico City gets book deals to 'represent' what the publishing industry wants outsiders to see as the 'Latino' or 'Cuban point of view.'


And they are doing it right in Miami's face where everyone knows the deal! Be on watch for this - the publishers are rewarding ONLY Latino leftwingers who love castro while shutting out the real literary talents from Cuba. This is going on and it's accelerating. The publishing industry is trying to censor Cuban American voices while telling all their Park Avenue friends that of course they are 'sensitive' to the 'growing' Hispanic book market.

We all know what their real game is and they need to be called on it.

Who is this Restrepo creature who so admires fidel? I don't know, but I think I know all I want to know with a quote like that above.

For some reason she lives in Mexico City, not Colombia -- and little wonder why. castro, who finances FARC terrorists and whose first murderous adventurism abroad was in Colombia, is not popular in Colombia.

Here is the EFE writeup:

Invitation of pro-Castro writer to Miami fair sparks debate

Miami, Aug 23 (EFE).- Organizers of Miami's upcoming book fair defended the event as a universal and tolerant forum, rebutting criticism from some conservative Cuban-exile sectors of the invitation of a Colombian writer who admires Fidel Castro.

"The Book Fair is under the umbrella of a U.S. university, which means that it deeply respects freedom of expression. Here, prohibitions are prohibited," said Alejandro Rios, a spokesman for event sponsor Miami Dade College.

Rios, who is Cuban-born, says criticisms of the invitation extended Colombian novelist Laura Restrepo come from "only a group within the Cuban exile community, which coexists more and more with numerous immigrant communities, such as Colombians." More than 60 percent of Miami-Dade County's 2.3 million residents are of Hispanic origin, with Cubans and their children a plurality but not a majority. Other large Latino communities here include Central Americans, Puerto Ricans, Argentines, Venezuelans and Colombians.

Some 200,000 Colombians are estimated to live in Miami.

According to Rios, the best thing about the Book Fair taking place Nov. 13-20 this year is that it reflects "the crucible of diversity that is Miami and the quality of culture that its residents demand." The controversy arose following the comments of poet Angel Cuadra, president of the Cuban Writers in Exile PEN Centre, an affiliate of London-based International PEN, an international association of writers whose mission includes defending free expression.

Cuadra called Restrepo one author "who should never have been invited to Miami." "She is a superb writer, but inviting her is an act of disrespect for the Cuban exile community," Cuadra was quoted as saying in Miami's Spanish-language Diario Las Americas.

Cuadra says he won't forgive the Colombian author for allegedly saying in 2004, when she introduced her award-winning novel "Delirio" in Miami, that Castro, who has ruled Cuba with an iron hand since 1959, "is the best thing that ever happened to the Americas." Restrepo, who lives in Mexico, has so far made no comment on the controversy.

Book Fair organizers say they believe the controversy will not prompt a boycott or protests by Cuban exile groups.

In the past, hard-line Cuban exile organizations have conducted protests, sometimes rowdy, in response to visits by Cuban artists close to the Castro regime.

November's fair, expected to draw more than 200 authors from around the world, will include a special tribute to Cuban novelist and essayist Guillermo Cabrera Infante, who died in London in February after many years in exile there. EFE cer/mp

Posted by Mora at 03:42 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (28)


The word above means groupers in Cuban but it is also widely used in another way. It is a derrogatory term for homosexuals. The equivalent, I would say, of using the "f" word. I write this not because I am attacking the homosexual community but because I just read a great piece by Zoe Valdez (hat tip daniel) at La Nueva Cuba that depicts such a delicious irony.

It seems Ms. Valdez lives in this little French bohemian neighborhood that has been transformed into a small homosexual community with shops and lofts and art spaces and boutiques. And the most popular image displayed in said neighborhood, at all the boutiques and shops, on tshirts and backpacks and keychains, in every color of the rainbow, is the image of Korda's Che Guevara.

So, just savor the irony folks. Gay men parading around with the image of el Che on their clothes, completely oblivious to the fact that Che hated homosexuals and that El Che himself was responsible for the incarceration and murder of men, simply because they prefered other men.


Posted by Val Prieto at 03:32 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (14)

Press release from La Asamblea

Just received the following from the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba, vis a vis the castro regime's usurption of the land used for the May 20th meeting:


Miami, Florida – 23 de agosto de 2005 – El Secretariado Nacional de la Asamblea para Promover la Sociedad Civil en Cuba, nos ha enviado copia de la Resolución y demás documentos relacionados con la confiscación por parte del régimen castrista del terreno de la suegra de Bonne Carcassés en Río Verde, Municipio Boyeros, donde se llevó a cabo la histórica Reunión General de la APSC el 20 de mayo de 2005, con el ruego de su publicación.



Ángel de Fana Sylvia G. Iriondo Mario Martínez

305-269-1812 305-361-6800 1-954-547-8472

Ive uploaded scans of the documents mentioned above and they can be seen here, here, and here.

More: Take a look at the very end of the second document, right below the date. It states:

"El Año de la Alternativa Bolivariana para las Americas."

"The year of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas."

It pretty much speaks for itself, doesnt it?

Posted by Val Prieto at 12:37 PM | Permanent Link to this Post

A spade aint a spade if it's Cuban

Has anyone else noticed how a bunch of antiwar organizations meet in, say, Crawford, Texas and the media calls them all "protesters" while a bunch of Cubans meet in front of a house to protest a kid being deported back to fidel and the media calls them "militant hardliners?"

Im just sayin'...

Posted by Val Prieto at 11:39 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (17)

For Madeline Baro Diaz

Madeline, please forgive me for being forward, but I have to know, who are you? Where are you from? What qualifications make you an expert on Cuban and Cuban-American issues?

Do you simply sit at your desk and make a few phone calls here and there when you are writing your tripe? Certainly seems so.

Your latest "article" in the Sun Sentinel surely proves this. I challenge you to Google the recent appeals ruling of the Cuban Five and find one article, JUST ONE, that isnt exactly like yours. Parroting the very same overused and ubiquitous talking points. I'd take the time to list them here, every single story written by some other illinformed and, dare I say, biased "reporter" mimicking the same verbal diarheah, ad nauseum, but I shouldnt do your job for you.

Do you actually get paid for recycling the news? Because that's all youve done with your recent "column." There's no new news there.

You gave us this "story" following the usual useful idiot guidelines:

1. Mention the overturning of the legal ruling.
2. Mention the outrage of the Cuban-American coommunity in Miami.
3. Toss in a mention or two of events that occured decades ago and imply that they are still standard operating procedure.
4. Quote some professor at a University that wouldnt know a Cuban if he or she wasnt cleaning his kitchen.
5. Mention Elian.
6. Quote some official from the Clinton administration.
7. Remind everyone of the outrage mentioned above.
8. Toss in Posada.

And voila! There you have it. The Cuban diaspora in two hundred words or less.

Id like to know, exactly, what it is about the Cuban-American community that you dislike so much? Is it a deep seeded envy? Is it Freudian? Some Cubano break your heart? Some guy with a Cuba Libre bumper sticker cut you off in traffic?

Or were you just hired to libel the Cuban-American, extreme right wing militant Miami Mafioso community?

Le ronca los cojones. Not only do we have fidel castro and his minions preaching the Miami mafia line twenty-four seven, but we have useful idiots on this side of the pond with their cantakerous Amens!

I certainly wont wait for a response from you, Madeline Baro Diaz. This here is just a lowly blog, and you sit atop the almighty perch that is journalism today. Staring down at all us little people that look like ants from that high up.

But be careful up there on that holier than thou journalistic perch. It's crumbling. It lacks its base. The foundation is missing. You know what that foundation is, right? They taught you that way back when in Journalism 101.

It's called integrity.

Posted by Val Prieto at 09:09 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (13)

From the Ridiculous Revolution department:

Presented without commentary:

RANCHUELO, Cuba August 22 (Félix Reyes, Cubanacán Press / - The post office in the town of Ranchuelo has been without envelopes for nearly two weeks, preventing residents from mailing their correspondence.

Postal workers said the envelopes were on order from the postal services central stores.

Oscar Mario González Pérez, a local resident who wanted an envelope to enclose a letter to relatives, said, "It's unusual in this country when someone can't communicate with family members because of the lack of a piece of paper."

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:18 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

Hugo go bye-bye? (UPDATED)

Pat Robertson has the balls to publicly call for what is needed. Pat, may we add another name to your list?

UPDATE: Check out the variety of articles on Drudge: lots of people running for cover in this one...

Lawmaker calls Robertson 'fascist'...

Bush admin swiftly, unequivocally distances itself...

Venezuela: 'Terrorist Statements'...

I wonder if the lawmaker calling Robertson a "fascist" would call Hugo Chavez a "communist" -- which is what he is.

Oh well...

Posted by George Moneo at 07:08 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (15)

August 22, 2005

A visionary has left us

Sad news from the UK Daily Telegraph:

Robert Moog, father of the synthesizer, dies aged 71 (Filed: 22/08/2005)

Robert Moog, whose self-named synthesizers turned electric currents into sound and helped develop the music that became electronica, has died at the age of 71.

Mr Moog, who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, died yesterday at his home in Asheville, North Carolina.

A childhood interest in theremins, one of the first electronic musical instruments, led him to a create a business that made his name inseparable from synthesizers.

As a PhD student in engineering physics at Cornell University, Mr Moog developed his first voltage-controlled synthesizer modules in 1964 with composer Herbert Deutsch. By the end of that year, he marketed the first commercial modular synthesizer.

The light and versatile instrument allowed musicians to generate a range of otherwordly sounds by flipping a switch or twisting a dial.

I am saddened by the news of Mr. Moog's passing. I own an original LP copy of Switched On Bach, where Walter (now Wendy) Carlos used Moog Synthesizers to such marvelous effect playing the works by J. S. Bach. That album is three decades old now, and it still sounds unique and fresh. The wide array of digital musical instruments available today exist thanks, in large part, to this man's ingenuity, fascination, and persistence.

Robert Moog, requiescat in pacem.

Posted by George Moneo at 04:34 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (5)

Cuba, Panama Restore Full Diplomatic Relations

More legitimacy for the monster. Wires
Monday, Aug. 22, 2005

Cuba and Panama have restored diplomatic ties, one year after they were severed due to Panama's decision to pardon four Cubans accused of trying to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque and his Panamanian counterpart, Ricardo Duran, Saturday signed documents in Havana to officially declare normal relations.

Havana cut off relations with Panama on August 26, 2004, after then-President Mireya Moscoso pardoned the Cuban exiles. Her successor, Martin Torrijos, had vowed to re-establish ties after his inauguration last year.

Mr. Torrijos arrived Saturday in Cuba, where he attended a graduation ceremony at the Latin American School of Medicine along with Mr. Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

(VOA News)

Posted by George Moneo at 02:55 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (1)

Cuban ship in distress

There is an overturned speedboat in distress and the Coast Guard is hunting for survivors on the high seas now. It had been full of Cubans fleeing to freedom. Pray that there are survivors.

The EFE News report is here:

U.S. authorities search for 31 shipwrecked Cubans

Miami, Aug 22 (EFE).- The U.S. Coast Guard was looking for 31 Cuban shipwreck victims Monday in the waters of the Straits of Florida, after three survivors informed authorities that their vessel had capsized.

Luis Diaz, a Coast Guard spokesman in Miami, told EFE that authorities were notified that a cargo ship on Sunday rescued three Cubans from waters some 48 kilometers (30 miles) north of Matanzas, Cuba.

The would-be emigrants said they were among 34 people who had set off from Cuba in an eight-meter (26-foot), Florida-registered speedboat.

"Upon being informed of the situation, we began a search at four in the morning (Monday) and we found a boat, but we didn't find anyone underneath," not even supplies, Diaz said.

The Coast Guard officials do not know the details of what happened because the people who have the information are in Cuba.

"There are many questions, but the people who could give us the answers were taken to Cuba," the spokesman said.

Three Coast Guard vessels, a Coast Guard helicopter and a Navy aircraft were being used to search for the Cubans.

"We are hoping to find survivors because the water is warm and the weather is good. But if not, it would be a tragedy," Diaz told EFE.

Under the U.S. "wet foot, dry foot" policy, a Cuban immigrant intercepted at sea, even just meters from the shore, must be repatriated.

But one who manages to reach U.S. soil can remain in the country and become a resident at the end of one year.

The United States has detained 2,366 Cubans in the Straits of Florida since Oct. 1 of last year, the most during that period of time since the so-called 1994 "rafter crisis." EFE so/mc

Posted by Mora at 02:54 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)


Here. Knock yourself out.

Posted by Val Prieto at 01:36 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

Una lasquita de vida, por favor

I received an email last week from the editor of the Miami Sun Post asking about possibly publishing a photo from Babalú. After contacting the editor I learned that they had opted not to publish the photo but that the blog was still going to be mentioned in an upcoming piece.

Now, I was a bit nervous about this, as I had not been interviewed nor contacted by the reporter and this blog, like most others, not only serves as a means for disseminating information, but takes the Mainstream Media to task for their somewhat slanted approach to journalism at times. We slam the MSM here every single time we find their coverage of certain events to be biased and contextually farcical.

But on Friday, when I picked up a copy of last week's Sun Post, I was surprisingly surprised.

Editorial columnist Rebecca Wakefield took on the local major print media outlet - as well as local TV reporting - and notes:

This is partially because the decision-makers at most print media companies have figured out that it is far cheaper to send their reporters to endless meetings, where reliable copy can be generated, than to have them mucking around in the uncertain depths, where great stories are born only after much time and effort. Wait long enough and anything that’s really untoward will usually bubble out onto the surface.

This is the theory that seems to govern (with some notable exceptions) a lot of the special reports churned out in the last few years by our local daily paper – which has tended to “discover” problems at the Public Health Trust, the school district, the airport and the city of Miami only after a given situation is far enough along to warrant prize-winning headlines. (See the fairly recent flip of Herald coverage of the condo boom from boosterism to skepticism. You know the end of a trend is near when the Herald finally gets it.)

Meanwhile, most television reporters get sent to car crashes and other useless spectacles, while real news is squeezed into sound bites between the weather and sports.

Ouch. Sometimes the truth hurts, and the folks at the Miami Herald and local TV stations should be slapping on some Band-aids right about now.

Wakefield then honors this humble blogger with the following:

My hopes for Miami’s atrophied media landscape rest in cyberspace, where, as in our gloriously cantankerous radioscape, debate can get deliciously vicious. It is a premature sentiment at this point, since Miami lags far behind most sizeable cities in terms of a vibrant online community, but a prenatal awareness is stirring. Some folks, like Valentin Prieto, have Web logs devoted mostly to Cuban and local Cuban-American news, politics and commentary. Prieto describes his Babalú blog,, as “an island on the net without a bearded dictator.”

She goes on to quote my post about my wife's encounter at the Che Guevara post card selling head shop and states:

"That’s great slice-o-life stuff, no matter where you come down on the political spectrum."

And therein lies the beauty of blogs. We aren't out here in cyberspace just to opine ad infinitum and we arent out here just as media watchdogs. Bloggers write about events or subjects that the MSM doesnt. Whether by design or by a lack of understanding, the mainstream media just refuses to shed light on certain things.

And that's why circulation numbers are dropping for most major news media outlets throughout the country. Because bloggers are out there giving first hand accounts of real life. Unedited.

Posted by Val Prieto at 09:10 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (12)

En La Madre Patria

Babalú reader Fernando Z sent me the following photo from San Sebastian, Spain:


Which just goes to prove that you can take the Cuban out of Cuba, but you can't take Cuba out of the Cuban.

Gracias, Fernando.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:44 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (9)

Hentoff keeps spotlight on castro

His column in today's Washington Times condemning castro's thuggery against libraries and librarians is similar to others he has published but worth another read - Nat is not turning the heat down in this vile dictator in his essay about castro and his enablers.

Read it here.

Hat tip: Real Clear Politics

Posted by Mora at 07:43 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (1)

August 21, 2005

Clown show

It doesn't get worse than this:

Chavez gave a new vote of confidence to (c)astro's communist government Sunday, calling it a "revolutionary democracy" in which the Cuban people rule.

People "have asked me how I can support (f)idel if he's a dictator," (Chavez) said. "But Cuba doesn't have a dictatorship — it's a revolutionary democracy."

Television footage showed Chavez and (c)astro together in the streets of Pinar del Rio earlier in the day, standing on the back of a jeep wearing olive green military uniforms and saluting hundreds of shouting residents waving Cuban and Venezuelan flags.

The two thugs in Havana today are happy together, announcing their new love relationship on Chavez's special 'Alo Presidente' radio show, a broadcast that makes the average Venezuelan woof. Daniel Ortega and Schafik Handal, two Central American killers plotting their illegal comebacks were in the adoring audience clapping like idiots. And so was an Ecuadorean minister who's been in bed with this crowd for a long time as his country goes down the tubes.

America, these dirtbag comedians control one-sixth of your oil. Add Ecuador and it's a fifth.

Speaking of which, I need a stiff drink.




Boli-Nica has more of the gross-out here.

UPDATE: Our friend Isaac Schrodinger is appropriately disgusted here and our friend Chas has even more here.

Hat tip to our friend Harry Hutton for the icky open-with-caution 'Alo Presidente' link above.

Posted by Mora at 11:18 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (5)

Only a matter of time

Back in May, when the many dissidents groups held their unprecedented meeting, it was said it would only be a matter of time before the castro regime would seek their reprisals. fidel would bide his time while international attention to the dissidents waned.

The past couple of weeks have shown how castro's goon squads work. Violence, oppression, threats.

In a display of just how intolerant the castro regime is, of just how ridiculously petty fidel castro is, the regime has now confiscated the land where said unprecedented meeting was held, citing that the land was "not being used sufficiently."

HAVANA - The Cuban government has confiscated the land where an unprecedented gathering of Cuban dissidents took place earlier this year, an activist said Friday.

Felix Bonne and his wife, who hosted the gathering on a lot next to their home, received a letter Thursday signed by an official from the agriculture ministry, said Martha Beatriz Roque, who also helped organize the gathering. The letter said the land was not being used sufficiently, Roque said.

"We feel even more repressed, more crushed, than usual," Roque told The Associated Press. "But we are not going to back off, not one millimeter."

According to Roque, Bonne's family will be allowed to continue living in their house next to the lot.

Bonne, who does not have a telephone, was not immediately available for comment, nor were government officials.

Many were surprised that the communist government had allowed the gathering to take place, and activists predicted punishment would come later, when there was less global attention on the event.

"With (this latest action) they want to show that everything belongs to the state, to Fidel Castro," Roque said. "I have no doubt that this is about May 20. It's an act of repression, at a time when the government is being very repressive."

In a speech on July 26 marking the anniversary of the start of his revolution, the Cuban president called the dissidents "traitors" and "mercenaries," and defended the recent detentions of dozens of activists and counter-protests by government supporters.

Last month, 33 dissidents planning a protest outside the French Embassy in Havana were detained in a police roundup.

In March 2003, the Cuban government arrested 75 independent journalists, opposition politicians, rights activists and others, accusing them of receiving U.S. aid to overthrow Castro's government and sentencing them to long prison terms.

U.S. authorities have repeatedly rejected charges that it pays dissidents to help undermine Castro's rule.

In case anyone has forgotten, here's a couple of photos of the meeting on May 20th of this year:



And let us not forget this brave soul:


Posted by Val Prieto at 11:56 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (4)

No DSL for you

Spent all day yesterday without DSL connection. Apparently, there was an outage overnight and when the problem was corrected, all my account information was gone. What a nightmare.

But the folks at Bellsouth finally got it figured all out and I was back up and online by 9 PM.

I have to finish painting the doors and baseboards today, thus crossing out yet another item in my Honey-Do list.

Then Ill I'll sit down and hopefully find a football game on, have a few beers, and lament the fact that my Dolphins suck ass, having lost to the Steelers last night 17-3.

It's gonna be a long and apparently painful football season.

Posted by Val Prieto at 09:07 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (4)

August 20, 2005

Where Are the Rice Cookers?

Remember the rice cookers that fidel promised to make available to the entire island? Well, it looks like the regime is having some difficulties in distributing the items, according to an article published in Friday's El Nuevo Herald.

The problem? Money, of course. Apparently, Cuba has failed to put in a letter of credit for the goods as requested by China, the original provider of the rice cookers. Not even Cuba's buddy China is blind enough to fall for the old castro trick.

Now Cuba is looking to other sources, including tourists and gusanos (!), to help deliver on what's been a failed promise (no surprise there).

Here is the complete article by Wilfredo Cancio Isla, translated by yours truly, with the original Spanish article below the fold.

Cuba Launches International Search for Rice Cookers

The “rice cooker revolution”, announced at the beginning of this year by Fidel Castro, is desperately appealing to potential international suppliers to try to deliver on the promises given to the Cuban people.

According to a recent message by an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Trade (MINCEX), Cuba is making arrangements with distributors in Latin America, Canada and even the United States in search of obtaining the necessary lots for the domestic utensil. “We are soliciting the immediate purchase of 30,000 rice cookers with a capacity of 1.5 liters, and 110 volts. Quotation CIF (cost, insurance, and transport ), with equality of conditions'', indicates the communication sent by Carlos Hernandez, member of the promotional group of investments of MINCEX.

A copy of the message was obtained by El Nuevo Herald. In his request, the employee suggests “offering technical data, cable length, flat pins, warranty, included spare parts, delivery program, time for the first delivery...", and advises that “we will ask for a sample in case the lots are accepted".

The Cuban urgency to acquire the rice cookers and other utensils such as fans and electrical burners takes place only three months after Castro launched a national campaign to modernize household electric equipment as a way of taking advantage of electrical energy in the country. In a speech with party leaders and government employees this past March, Castro promised rice cookers at subsidized prizes -- 150 Cuban Pesos, about $6 -- for the entire population.

Weeks later, Castro said that 250,000 rice cookers had already been distributed, and projected 3 million of the rice cookers, preferentially traded with China, would be distributed in the coming months.

But reality has departed from Castro's projections.

The deliveries have only benefited some towns in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Camagüey and Oriente, as well as in the Havana municipality of Cotorro. In the city of Manzanillo, they were distributed to people who did not have liquefied gas service.

"This has been a myth", said Mariela Hernandez, a housewife from Manzanillo. "I have not seen any cookers around, not even in pictures".

Sources tied to MINCEX revealed to El Nuevo Herald that the deliveries of household electrical equipment from China have not flowed as anticipated, because many Chinese companies are demanding that the shipments are guaranteed in time by letters of credit.

In another part of the message, Hernandez indicates that "we wish to close the deal quickly and not wait for shipments from Asia", and that the equipment be "nearby".

Apparently the message was sent to concealed buyers of Cuba in Dominican Republic, Mexico, Canada and the U.S.A., after the Chinese supplies failed to arrive in the expected time.

In addition, Hernandez offers technical data and payment options for the purchase of 500,000 table fans in Jamaica, as well as 500,000 electrical burners, both of these which have been praised by Castro in his interventions against the waste of energy.

"We have confirmation that the first 250,000 cookers that were distributed to the people were held in the port of Havana, because the Cuban government had not put in the letter of credit and the contract was with private companies that demanded it'', informed Havana independent journalist Carlos Rios.

In March of this year, the General Customs of Cuba lifted a prohibition which had been in place since 1997, and ratified in 2003, which prevented the importing of rice cookers into the country.

"The cases related to the seizure of the rice cookers, although they are in the process of being claimed when the Resolution (no. 14, 2005) goes into effect, will be admitted and authorized for importation'', said the document which appeared in the Official Gazetteer.

The official permissibility for the admittance of cookers into Cuba in the luggage of tourists or by means of family visits, appears to have already caused an impact in Miami

"Lots of people were coming in to buy cookers to take to Cuba and I tried to use them as a draw to attract sales", expressed Serafín Blanco, owner of the popular "¡Ño, que barato!" store in Hialeah.

Blanco is promoting a TV commercial in which he offers Chinese rice cookers for $9.99 with each $100 purchase.

La ''revolución de las ollas arroceras'' anunciada a comienzos de este año por el gobernante Fidel Castro está apelando desesperadamente a potenciales proveedores internacionales para tratar de cumplir las promesas hechas a la población de la isla.

De acuerdo con un reciente mensaje de un funcionario del Ministerio de Comercio Exterior (MINCEX), Cuba está haciendo gestiones con distribuidores en América Latina, Canadá e incluso Estados Unidos en busca de obtener los lotes necesarios de ese utensilio doméstico.

''Se solicita comprar de inmediato ollas arroceras, de 1.5 litros de capacidad, 110 voltios, cantidad de 30,000 unidades. La cotización CIF [costo, seguro y transporte], con igualdad de condiciones'', señala la comunicación enviada por Carlos Hernández, miembro del grupo promotor de inversiones del MINCEX.

Una copia del mensaje fue obtenido por El Nuevo Herald.

En su petición, el funcionario sugiere ''ofrecer datos técnicos, longitud de cable, espiga plana, garantía, repuesto incluido, programa de entregas, tiempo para la primera entrega...'', y advierte que ``se solicitará una muestra en caso de aceptación de la cotización''.

La urgencia cubana por adquirir las ollas y otros utensilios como ventiladores y hornillas eléctricas se produce apenas tres meses después de que Castro lanzara una campaña nacional para modernizar los equipos electrodomésticos como una vía para aprovechar la energía eléctrica en el país.

En un discurso con dirigentes partidistas y funcionarios de gobierno, el pasado marzo, Castro prometió ollas arroceras a precios subvencionados --150 pesos cubanos, es decir, unos $6-- para toda la población.

Semanas después, el mandatario dijo que se habían repartido ya unas 250,000 ollas arroceras en todo el país, y adelantó que para los meses próximos se repartirían unos 3 millones de estos equipos, preferencialmente comercializados con China.

Pero la realidad se ha desmarcado de los pronósticos del gobernante.

Las entregas apenas han beneficiado a algunas poblaciones en las provincias de Pinar del Río, Camagüey y Oriente, así como en el habanero municipio del Cotorro. En la ciudad de Manzanillo se repartieron a personas que no poseían servicio de gas licuado.

''Esto ha sido un mito'', dijo Mariela Hernández, una ama de casa del municipio Centro Habana. ``No he visto una olla por mis alrededores ni en pintura''.

Fuentes vinculadas al MINCEX manifestaron a El Nuevo Herald que las entregas de equipos electrodomésticos desde China no han fluido del modo previsto, debido a que muchas empresas de ese país están exigiendo que los envíos estén avalados en tiempo por cartas de crédito.

En otra parte de su comunicación, Hernández señala que ''se desea cerrar este contrato rápido y no esperar por cargamentos de Asia'', y que los equipos estén ``en área cercana''.

Al parecer el mensaje fue enviado a compradores encubiertos de Cuba en República Dominicana, México, Canadá y EEUU, luego que los abastecimientos chinos no arribaron en el tiempo esperado.

Hernández ofrece, además, datos técnicos y opciones de pago para la compra de 500,000 ventiladores de mesa en Jamaica, así como de 500,000 hornillas eléctricas, ambos equipos elogiados también por Castro en sus intervenciones contra el despilfarro energético.

''Tenemos confirmación de que las primeras 250,000 que se repartieron a la población estuvieron retenidas por larga estadía en el puerto de La Habana, pues el gobierno cubano no había puesto la carta de crédito y el contrato era con empresas privadas que lo exigían'', informó desde La Habana el periodista independiente Carlos Ríos.

En marzo de este año, la Aduana General de Cuba levantó la prohibición existente desde 1997, y ratificada en el 2003, la cual impedía la entrada de ollas arroceras al país.

''Los casos relacionados con el decomiso de ollas arroceras, aunque se encuentren en proceso de reclamación a partir de la entrada en vigor de esta Resolución [No. 14, 2005], serán admitidos y autorizada su importación'', dijo el documento aparecido en la Gaceta Oficial.

La permisibilidad oficial para la entrada de ollas a Cuba en los equipajes de turistas o mediante visitas familiares, parece haber causado ya efectos en Miami.

''La gente estaba viniendo mucho a comprar ollas para llevar a Cuba y yo traté de usarlas como un atractivo para las ventas'', expresó Serafín Blanco, dueño de la popular tienda ¡Ñó, que barato!, en Hialeah.

Blanco está promoviendo un comercial por televisión en el que ofrece una olla arrocera de fabricación china, a $9.99, por cada compra de $100.

Posted by Robert M at 06:16 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (8)

Cuban Cooking on TV!

From the DSL challenged Val comes this message:

Three Guys from Miami Cook Cuban on Public Television: Saturday, August 20.

WPBT in Miami will repeat our cooking show, "Three Guys From Miami Cook Cuban," on Saturday, August 20 at 3:00 PM. We originally performed the show live as part of the Pledge Drive at Miami Channel 2. We did three hours of cooking -- unrehearsed and unscripted!

This is the first step in our plan to create a one-hour cooking show that will be produced at WPBT and run nationally on public television. If you didn't get a chance to see us live, now is your chance to see our repeat performance. Look for us in the documentary, "La Cocina Cubana -- Secretos de mi Abuela" (The Cuban Kitchen -- Secrets from my Grandmother), which airs immediately following our program.

Posted by George Moneo at 01:09 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)

August 19, 2005

"Cuba, an island of despair"

Even though it is heartbreaking to read, this piece from the Dallas Morning News is old news to readers of Babalu Blog:

Cuba: an island of despair

Castro regime professes hope, but basic services are abysmal, many say

12:18 AM CDT on Friday, August 19, 2005

By TRACEY EATON / The Dallas Morning News

HAVANA, Cuba At the risk of being devoured by sharks, Juan Carlos is secretly preparing to escape Cuba by boat.

"I've had enough," said the 32-year-old cook, who earns less than $15 a month. "When I get home from work, there's no electricity, no water and no gas. I swat mosquitoes all night, then get up at 6 to go to work again. If you were in my shoes, I guarantee you'd leave, too, even if you had to climb into a bedpan and paddle to Florida."

The socialist government that Washington has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to topple is on the brink again. Not because of a lack of human rights or democracy, but because of something as simple as keeping the lights on and providing basic services, according to an August report by the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.

"Deteriorating economic, health and living conditions" in Cuba, the report warns, are "dangerously similar" to the circumstances that sparked the 1994 rafters crisis, when 30,790 Cubans fled to the United States.

There are no signs of an exodus, the report said, but unhappiness with Fidel Castro's socialist government is growing.

Tensions are mounting, Cuban dissidents agree.

"There is total discontent," said Alain Gomez Ramos, 27, an independent journalist who is part of the opposition.

During the first half of the year, the U.S. Coast Guard picked up more than 1,500 Cubans at sea, the highest number in 10 years.

A Cuban Foreign Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, conceded that some Cubans are frustrated and want to leave. But he contended support for the revolutionary government is not unraveling. Most people, he said, still back Mr. Castro, whose government has endured the most severe and longest-lasting U.S. economic sanctions ever imposed.
"If your father promises to take you to Disneyland, then tells you later you can't go, sure you'll complain about it," the official said. "But you still love your father."

What's certain, many Cubans say, is that there's a widening gap between the gloomy mood on Havana's streets and the government's upbeat official line, which predicts that the economy this year will grow at an astonishing 9 percent, thanks in a large part to Venezuela, Cuba's newest and most important ally.

"I've stopped trying to understand this country," said a veteran former Cuban intelligence official, sitting down for a hearty meal of roast pork, black beans and fried plantains. "In April, the government said our energy problems were over. Then we had the worst blackouts ever. Still, Fidel gives the impression this is the best country in the world."

Billboards showing a smiling Mr. Castro and the words "Vamos Bien" ("We're Doing Well") appear throughout Havana, belying Cuba's brutal summer of 2005.

Hurricane Dennis plowed across the island in July, causing $1.4 million in damage and wrecking the country's already decaying power grid. Rolling power outages of six to 12 hours became common. And an estimated 2.5 million of the country's 11.3 million residents were left with no running water, according to the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies.

The storm added to devastation from Cuba's worst drought ever, which has caused an estimated $1.2 billion in crop and livestock losses since 2003.

Despite such setbacks, Castro supporters forge ahead, voicing optimism that their economic and political alliance with Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil producer, will help them weather hard times ahead.

"Cuban officials are convinced that Venezuela will save them. It's the last card the Cuban government is playing," said Edgar Lopez Moreno, 28, a member of the dissident movement.

Among dozens of agreements reached this year: Venezuela sells Cuba 90,000 barrels of oil per day at cut-rate prices while Cuban doctors treat tens of thousands of Venezuelan patients for free or at a low cost.

Cuban officials say the oil-for-doctors swap and other treaties along with trade pacts with China and Vietnam will turn around the country's tough economic straits within one year.

But many Cubans can't wait, Mr. Lopez said.

"Young people aren't interested in political discourse," he said. "Ninety percent of them want to abandon the country."

Those staying behind, meantime, try to find humor in their difficult straits.

Jose Fuster, a famous Cuban artist dubbed the "Picasso of the Caribbean," managed to incorporate the country's energy woes into a piece of his artwork, a seven-foot tiled crocodile with an energy-saving light bulb mounted on its head.

"Look here," he said, pulling a switch, "no electricity."

Others tells jokes.

"Pepito, who's to blame for all these blackouts?" one joke begins.

"I have no idea," another man says. "But when I find him, I'm going to grab him by the beard, throw him on the ground and break his other kneecap."

Mr. Castro fell after a speech in October 2004, shattering his left knee. But he made a quick recovery and was making frequent appearances on Cuban television this spring, telling the people that better times were ahead.

The Cuban government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade its antiquated power plants, he said in a July 26 speech.

Already, blackouts have begun to diminish, the Foreign Ministry official said.

"This country continues recovering and advancing despite all the difficulties," he said. "And claims that Cuba isn't progressing are wishful thinking."

He contends that Bush administration officials, U.S.-financed dissidents and the media deliberately exaggerate the extent of Cuba's problems anything to give the U.S. a pretext to invade.

President Bush hasn't been subtle about his wish for regime change.

In late July, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice named a "Cuba transition coordinator," Caleb McCarry, a former staffer for the House Committee on International Relations.

"Liberty and freedom ... are not America's gifts, but gifts from the Creator," and that is why the U.S. promotes democracy around the world, she said in announcing the appointment.

Cuban officials criticize what they call Washington's interventionist approach and mockingly call Mr. McCarry the wanna-be "governor" of Cuba.

"Surely he will receive a juicy salary in his new job, but Caleb McCarry, I assure you, will retire without setting foot in Cuba," Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque told reporters.


(H/T Daniel)

Posted by George Moneo at 04:17 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (7)

Friday Dorado Blogging (UPDATED)

Give a man a fish and you will ease his hunger...

Teach a man to fish and he takes the day off from work, takes his boat out and generally makes your life miserable bragging about how many Dolphins he's caught...


UPDATE: For all you envious naysayers who would even contemplate saying I would post a photoshopped picture of a fish - one that I didnt even catch - on my site to make you all suffer, click here.

Oh, and to add a little insult to injury, that fish was caught last Friday. As I type this, Pat is out there again, CATCHING MORE. Man I hate having to work when my pals go out fishing...

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:32 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (27)

La revolucion - the best thing since sliced bread...

Supporters and cultists of fidel castro try to make us believe that the revolution is the best thing since the advent of oxygen.

My question to them is, since la revolucion is so incredibly great, so incredibly strong and so incredibly moral, how come its supporters have to resort to violence? Surely, winning the battle of ideas shouldnt require physical intimidation if, in fact, said ideas are enlightened?

Dissidents say government supporters are taking repressive measures against them

SANTA CLARA, Cuba - August 18 (Niurvys Díaz Redmond, Cubanacán Press / - Members of the Democratic Christian Movement of Cuba in Santa Clara say supporters of the government have been taking repressive actions against them.

Roberto Carlos Pérez García, national coordinator of the organization, and Fidel Rodríguez García, a neighbor, were surrounded by government supporters who shouted "Terrorists!" and "Mercenaries!" at them.

Member Freddy Martín Fraga said he was shoved by a member of Power Power when he took his infant daughter to a day-care center. "The man told me that I was forbidden to leave my home," Fraga said.

A member of the Revolutionary Armed Forces told his wife to stop caring for the daughter of independent journalist Karel Castillo.

Julio Marrero, a movement member, said some 30 members of the Communist Party congregated outside his house and shouted, "Fatty, come out of your house! We're going to kill you!"

An advisor to the movement, Guillermo Fariñas Hernández, was shoved by a member of the Communist Party while he was talking to a neighbor in front of his house.

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba, August 17 (Rosa María Montoya, APLO / - Dissident Reinier Rodríguez Salgado, a member of the Cuban Orthodox Renovation Party, has been threatened with eviction from his home, which the government says he has been occupying illegally.

Rodríguez Salgado bought the house for US$7,000 in 1998 from Guillermo R. Casero Roselló, recognized at the time as the legal owner of the property at Maceo No. 129 in the district of Dos Caminos de San Luis.

The Housing Department on August 12 told Rodríguez Salgado that he did not have ownership of the house because sales between private citizens is illegal and the property has passed to the hands of the government.

The department said Casero Roselló could recover the house if he repaid the sales price to Rodríguez Salgado.

Rodríguez Rodríguez said he is a self-employed barber and uses the house for business purposes as well as a family residence.

SANTA CLARA, Cuba - August 16 (Guillermo Fariñas, Cubanacán Press / - Independent journalist Niurvys Díaz Remond says her father insisted she and her husband leave the family home where they lived because authorities planned to arrest her.

Blas Díaz Aguilar, a leader in Cuba's food industry, went to his mother's home, where Díaz and her husband were staying, and told her to leave.

"My father told me that I was going to be sentenced to 30 years in prison," she said.

Diaz's husband, Roberto Carlos Pérez García, is national coordinator of the National Christian Democratic Movement in Cuba.

Díaz, a former economics student, is an editor at Cubanacán Press and belongs to the dissident Guillermo Cabrera Infante Union of Independent Writers and Journalists.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:26 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

August 18, 2005

castro's agent at the New York Times (UPDATED)

The Herbert Matthews spirits is alive and well at the New York Times.

Witness this execrable news "analysis" put out by a supposedly objective news analyst who writes like castro's agent at The New York Times. His effort is designed to weaken the resolve of Latin American nations battling castro. He swung right into action. These NYT scum have a total conflict of interest. David S. McCloud isn't writing this as a disinterested analyst. He is writing it as castro's helpmate, determined to distort what is going on in South America and couldn't make castro happier.

His headline, a mocking 'Like Old Times: U.S. Warns Latin Americans Against Leftists.'
No, as a matter of fact it's NOT like old times, jerks! In the past, the U.S. dealt with fascist, right-leaning tinpot leaders in Latin America. There was no need to warn them about communism. Now castro and his mini-me are ascendent and aggressive against moderate but fragile democracies like Peru and Paraguay as never before. castro is desperate to cling to power and willing to do anything he can to take over the hemisphere.

Got that, bucko? Well, we know you got that - we also know you are lying, with the purpose of spreading disinformation. As your Masters in Havana ask.

It gets worse. McCloud spins:

During stops in Paraguay and Peru, Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides warned of what they consider to be troublemaking by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Washington's old cold war foe, Fidel Castro.

What's that mocking 'what they consider,' creep? Why the bringing up of the old cold war? The danger is live. The NYT wants to put us to sleep and make us think it's dead and guys like Rummy just live in the past.


Here is more tripe from the new Herbert Matthews:

Mr. Rumsfeld's goal in Peru and in Paraguay earlier was to stitch together support for isolating Mr. Chávez, who has become bitterly anti-Washington since the United States tacitly supported a coup that briefly ousted him in 2002. But in some ways the visit has served as a reminder of how resistant Latin America is to pressure from Washington.

What's this 'who has become bitterly anti-Washington' garbage? Chavez was anti-US from Day One. His hatred of the states goes to the bone. He stiffens with anger when he meets Americans. All the Americans did when he was briefly overthrown was say he had it coming - which he did. That is a fact. Quit blaming America first for Chavez's bone-deep hatred of the U.S. The bastard started it, we didn't.

Then, the mocking 'a reminder of how resistant Latin America is to pressure from Washington' - who could such a line please but castro? It's like the Sadr City crowd, insisting the U.S. is losing the war. It's like the Tet offensive, with Jane Fonda and the Cong insisting the U.S. was losing the war. In fact it wasn't. But castro knows this tactic that dates from the 1960s. Convince the world the U.S. is losing and see if the whole world doesn't start to believe it - particularly Latin America.

Here is the fact: That Rummy was warmly received by all those presidents, and with great concern, underlines just how worried they are by prowling castro who is stalking the region. Just see the nervous remarks of President Toledo of Peru further down the story. Sorry, castro agents, your propaganda effort just failed.

Now take a look at this crap:

After ignoring the fiery Mr. Chávez for much of 2004, the Bush administration has been trying since earlier this year to find ways to isolate him. Mr. Chávez says his country poses no threat to the region and has accused the United States of trying to isolate Venezuela.

B-b-b-ut wait. I thought you just said the U.S. was the one that alienated and provoked Chavez. It's a common chavista refrain. Supposedly he would have loved us otherwise. Now the U.S. is ignoring the dictator? Make up your mind, chump. And spare us the 'fiery,' Chavez the buffoon is not 'fiery.' He is more like flatulence than fire.

Meanwhile, note that the Times takes Chavez's propaganda claims of being 'no threat' at face value and curiously has nothing to analyze about that in this analysis.

OK, now we have a little dig here about Rummy not visiting the two presidents of Paraguay and Peru in the past:

That explains why Mr. Rumsfeld chose to go to Paraguay and Peru, neither of which had been visited by an American defense secretary before. A senior Defense Department official said both countries shared the Bush administration's view of Mr. Chávez.

Why SHOULD he have visited the two countries in the past when castro and Chavez were not on the march? Why? Once again, a curious lack of analysis. Then we have the official saying that Peru and Paraguay could not stand Chavez and castro. They "shared the Bush administration's view."

What's that again?

I thought this jerk just said Latin Americans were impossible to influence and reason with. The deja vu thing, see above. It's the cold war, remember? I guess this inconvenient fact just shoots that castro propaganda down right there. What a lie.

Meanwhile, here is a nice piece of authentic news that reflects sentiment in the region:

President Nicanor Duarte Frutos of Paraguay, who met with Mr. Rumsfeld on Tuesday, recently ordered 700 Cuban doctors to leave his country after indications that they were involved in antigovernment activities, a senior American official said.

So castro's "doctors" and 'all that free healthcare' were thrown out of Paraguay for subversion and spying the other day.

But gee, according the Times, Rummy is the problem, making up cold wars like the old days. This is bee ess! Look at that detail! Cuban spies were thrown out of Paraguay for attempting to overthrow the government. Face facts, the President of Paraguay is terrified of what is going on down there with castro's thugs. They are going after Paraguay. The Times is trying to obscure this fact.

Here is how:

But close dealings with the American military remain controversial in much of the region. ...

In a stop at the Pantheon of Heroes, Paraguay's shrine to its military leaders, Mr. Rumsfeld was met by a small but vocal band of 50 young protesters holding a sign that read "No to the Yankee troops" and displaying photos of American prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Behind a line of police officers in riot gear, the protesters chanted, "Murderer, murderer" as Mr. Rumsfeld stood at attention while a military band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."

You can just hear the gloating at the booing through the newsprint, can't you? Who was booing Rumsfeld, considering him 'controversial'? Why the castro subversives in Paraguay themselves! Who, like castro (taking advice from Wayne Smith here) just happened to use the same Abu Ghraib pictures! They are the people Rummy came to Paraguay to discuss getting rid of. The castro men. The very castro men.

As is this McCloud creep.

Let me repeat: castro's men at the United Nations, free to walk around New York, try to recruit people from the New York Times. It's their first order of business. With McCloud it looks like they have succeeded. Watch this McCloud along with some of the other gamier denizens of that once great paper (pre-Matthews.)

And I will put out a warning to these NYT traitors: castro will not last forever. When he dies, he cannot take his communist spy files with him. They all will become known, McCloud. And if you're one of them, I will be the first to step up and publish your castro file. Hopefully, you will see the public evidence of your disgrace well before the FBI squad comes to haul your sorry ass away, traitor.

UPDATE: The Conductor at Cuban American Pundits gives us more, a lot more, on the NYT's complicity in the destruction of the Cuban culture.

Posted by Mora at 11:20 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (15)

Ray Bradbury condemns castro on book burning

Via the irreplaceable Tim Blair comes the following absolute must read article by Cuban Independent Library supporter Nat Hentoff:

I was recently talking with one of my heroes, Ray Bradbury, a persistent, lively defender of the essential individual rights of conscience, free speech and, most famously, in his novel "Fahrenheit 451" the right to read — especially in a country whose government burns dissenting books.

We were talking about Fidel Castro's recurring crackdowns on those remarkably courageous Cubans who keep working to bring democracy to that grim island where dissenters, including independent librarians, are locked in cages, often for 20 or more years. Bradbury knew about the crackdowns, but until I told him, was not aware of Castro's kangaroo courts (while sentencing the "subversives") often ordering the burning of the independent libraries they raid, just like in "451."

For example, on April 5, 2003, after Julio Antonio Valdes Guevara was sent away, the judge ruled: "As to the disposition of the photographic negatives, the audio cassette, medicines, books, magazines, pamphlets and the rest of the documents, they are to be destroyed by means of incineration because they lack usefulness." Hearing about this, Bradbury authorized me to convey this message from him to Fidel Castro: "I stand against any library or any librarian anywhere in the world being imprisoned or punished in any way for the books they circulate.

"I plead with Castro and his government to immediately take their hands off the independent librarians and release all those librarians in prison, and to send them back into Cuban culture to inform the people."

Among the books destroyed through the years by Fidel's arsonists have been volumes on Martin Luther King Jr., the U.S. Constitution, and even a book by the late Jose Marti, who organized, and was killed in, the Cuban people's struggle for independence.

Whether or not the Cuban dictator ever heard of Bradbury's message to him, Castro is resolute in his repression of his people. As Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) reports: "In a renewed government crackdown on dissidents in Cuba, authorities arrested at least 57 peaceful democracy and human rights advocates," between July 13 and July 22. Three of those still imprisoned will be prosecuted under Castro's notorious Law 88, which mandates up to 20 years in prison and possible confiscation of property.

Meanwhile, Nebraska Gov. David Heineman conducted a trade mission to Havana in August that, as the Aug. 10 New York Sun reported, "is to negotiate the purchase of Nebraska-grown dry beans — one of the state's largest exports — by the Cuban government."

Republican members of Congress Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen wrote Gov. Heineman, telling him his mission would be "sending the appalling signal that the cash of tyrants is more important than the lives of pro-democracy leaders." These members of Congress asked the governor to at least meet with leaders of the pro-democracy movement, as well as some of the political prisoners.

Heineman's spokesman Aaron Sanderford told Meghan Clyne of The New York Sun — one of the few American newspapers keeping tabs on the story of this heroic resistance to Castro — that the governor would not meet with any dissidents, and would "certainly not engage in the politics of the day."

Replied Lincoln Diaz-Balart: "It's like saying politics is not part of a trip to Hitler's Germany in the 1930s. It's not a question of politics — it's a question of elemental human decency."

Now that China has become a strong supporter of Robert Mugabe, the tyrant of Zimbabwe, and is bolstering the economy that Mugabe shattered, maybe Heineman can lead a trade mission to that brutalized nation, and sell more Nebraska-brown dry beans. How about a side trip to the Sudan government in Khartoum?

The governor could take a world tour, boosting sales to Iran, North Korea and other totalitarian countries whose politics are of no concern to him.

Not all Nebraskans share their governor's views. There is one librarian who is very concerned with Castro's crackdowns of conscience, free speech and the freedom to read. Robert Boyce at the reference department in Lincoln City Libraries in Lincoln, Neb., tells me that he hopes to adopt a suggestion I made in previous writings on Castro: Every fall, libraries across America display — during Banned Books Week — actual volumes that have been banned. Why not include books banned by Castro?

Boyce writes: "We are going to be putting together a very small display of banned books for the fall of 2005 Nebraska Library Association Conference in late September," and he wants to include some titles forbidden in official Cuba libraries.

This will be a significant reaching out to Cuba's imprisoned librarians by an individual American library state association — the first time it's happened. Yet, the national Governing Council of the American Library Association continues to refuse to ask Castro to release the independent librarians in his prisons. Admirers of Castro on that governing body have blocked that clear support of the freedom to read — the very credo of the ALA.

Perhaps, in tribute to free trade if not free ideas, Gov. Heineman will send a supply of Nebraska-grown dry beans to the governing council of the ALA.

Hat Tip FL Mom.

Posted by Val Prieto at 03:31 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (10)


Pop star Madonna, recovering after suffering several broken bones in a riding accident, was sued today by her horse for unspecified damages. The spokesman for the horse, which was a birthday gift from husband Guy Ritchie, said that the horse had suffered unspecified mental anguish, along with pain and suffering caused when the "riding" got a little out of hand.

No word as to whether the "anguish" was caused by listening to the last four Madonna albums.

Posted by George Moneo at 02:57 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (7)


This just in via the wire:

P Diddy has dropped the "P" in P Diddy! P Diddy, I mean Diddy, when reached for comment stated:

"It's the era of Diddy."

In a not so related item, che guevara adulator Carlos Santana is being sued for the firing of an employee claiming he was fired after his consciousness was calibrated and determined to be too low.

Bruce Kuhlman, 59, charges that Santana's wife, Deborah, brought in a man known as "Dr. Dan" so employees could grow closer to God and become better workers.

"In Deborah's view, the higher a person calibrated with Dr. Dan, the better employee they were because they were more 'spiritually evolved,' " the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit, filed in Marin Superior Court, alleges that "spiritual calibration" allowed a person to develop a deeper level of consciousness.

Kuhlman is seeking monetary damages for lost wages, emotional distress and unpaid overtime, among other demands.

A spokesman for the 58-year-old guitarist, whose albums include "Supernatural," and his wife said the couple wouldn't comment on the lawsuit but will fight the case.

Kuhlman had signed an employee manual agreeing to arbitrate disputes, but Superior Court Judge John Sutro said the case could proceed regardless. An October 12 court date has been set.

No word as to whether Diddy's name change came after spiritual calibration....

Posted by Val Prieto at 02:56 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (10)

The Real Cuba

Each dot represents not a tourist attraction, but a prison:


Via the Real Cuba:

During the Batista dictatorship, there were 11 prisons in Cuba. Now, as can be seen on the above map, there are over 300! The entire island is surrounded by prisons!

The questions are: Why so many prisons in a country where everyone is supposed to be equal?

Why so many prisons in a country where the people are in charge?

Why so many prisons in a country that for 46 and a half years has been 'educating' the 'new man' that is supposed to be like Che?

Why so many prisons in a country where 99.9999% of the people 'vote' in favor of the dictator for life?

Posted by Val Prieto at 02:10 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (7)

Is New London east or west of Havana?

First the government takes ownership of your land for "the good of the people."

Then the government makes you pay rent for the time you lived in said home while they were nationalizing it.

Before, of course, they toss your ass out onto the streets.

When did fidel castro take over Connecticut?

Posted by Val Prieto at 12:42 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

Mil palabras

Posted by Val Prieto at 10:09 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (16)

That's my blogson!

Because after reading a post like this from Robert at the 26th Parallel, I feel like a proud blog papa.

Perfectly put, Robert. And yes, you can borrow the car this weekend.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:38 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (10)

Proof of the existence of God

Eminem ends career. Film at 11.

Posted by George Moneo at 08:37 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (7)

More MSM Noticing Dissident Arrests

I was just checking my e-mail via Yahoo when I saw this headline in the main news section: "50 Cuban Dissidents Arrested in Crackdown".

I opened it, and it was a link to a story in yesterday's Chicago Tribune. The article describes the latest string of arrests which began last month, as well as the harrassment of dissidents by the government mobs, described as "militants" by the Tribune writer.

Nothing really new to report here, but it's a good sign that a major newspaper such as the Tribune ran a story on Cuba without the usual "free healthcare" and "embargo is bad" caveats that we've grown accustomed to with the MSM.

Below is the article in full which can also be accessed by clicking here.

Cuban Crackdown Brings Arrests of 50 Dissidents

By Gary Marx Tribune foreign correspondent Wed Aug 17, 9:40 AM ET

In the harshest crackdown on dissent in two years, Cuban authorities have temporarily detained more than 50 opposition figures in recent weeks and encouraged government militants to disrupt opposition activities.

At least 15 dissidents arrested in July remain in custody, and several of them face up to 20 years in prison for threatening to undermine Cuba's communist government, according to Amnesty International and other organizations.

On Friday, more than 60 pro-government militants gathered outside the home of Vladimiro Roca, a prominent dissident leader, shouting "worm," "traitor" and "terrorist" as they prevented Roca from holding an opposition gathering.

The same day, government supporters surrounded the homes of two other dissidents, one of whom planned to attend the meeting at Roca's house.

Roca said the demonstration outside his home was organized by Cuban state security, which had warned him the night before that his meeting would not be allowed to take place.

"They wanted to stop it," Roca said. "The problem is that [Cuban President] Fidel Castro is very afraid and when he is afraid he doesn't want to show it, so he does these acts of terror against the population."

Biggest crackdown since '03

The arrests and other actions represent the most serious attack against dissidents in Cuba since 2003, when 75 opposition leaders, labor activists and others were given long prison sentences. Sixty-one of the 75 dissidents remain jailed.

The latest crackdown, like the one in 2003, has sparked criticism from human-rights groups, the 25-member European Union and other organizations.

Holly Ackerman, Caribbean coordinator for Amnesty International, said Cuban officials designed the crackdown to intimidate and silence internal critics.

"If you harass and arrest people, it terrifies the general population," Ackerman said. "It prevents them from expressing themselves politically."

Wayne Smith, a former leading U.S. diplomat in Havana, said Cuban authorities are concerned about growing unrest on the island triggered by power outages and other problems.

"They are worried about the grumbling--the fact that people are really upset," Smith said. "The crackdown is to indicate that there is a limit on how far you can express discontent."

In his July 26 speech commemorating the birth of his revolutionary movement in 1953, Castro derided the dissidents as a miniscule group manipulated and bankrolled by an aggressive U.S. government. U.S. officials and dissident leaders deny those charges.

Castro warned that the Cuban people would continue defending the revolution.

"This is what will happen whenever traitors and mercenaries go a millimeter beyond the point that our revolutionary people ... [are] willing to accept," Castro said.

Not intimidated

But Martha Beatriz Roque, a well-known dissident leader, said she is not intimidated by Castro's words or the crackdown.

"We have a commitment to the country, and we can't stop," said Beatriz Roque. "We will continue on with our work."

U.S.-Cuba relations with Castro, who recently turned 79, have sunk to their lowest point in several years.

In late July, President Bush angered Cuban officials by appointing a "transition coordinator" responsible for accelerating the demise of the Castro government and providing assistance to what Bush describes as a subsequent democratic Cuba.

Yet Cuba's dissidents remain split by personal and strategic differences, and they are largely ignored by island residents, who know little about their activities because dissidents have no access to state-run media.

Still, more than 150 Cuban opposition activists gathered in Havana on May 20 in an unprecedented event to demand democratic reforms and the release of all political prisoners.

"This might have made the government a bit nervous, and they thought it's time to teach them a lesson and nip this in the bud," said Joanne Mariner, deputy director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch.

"The last thing the government wants is to let the dissident activity get out of hand," she said.

One of the organizers of the May 20 gathering, Rene Gomez Manzano, is among nine dissidents who remain in custody after being arrested July 22--the same day an opposition demonstration was planned in front of the French Embassy in Havana.

The activists were protesting France's decision to ease European sanctions against Havana by inviting Cuban government officials to its Bastille Day celebration, a rapprochement that angered some dissidents.

Six other dissidents remain in custody after being arrested a week earlier for marking the anniversary of the sinking of a tugboat in Havana Bay 11 years ago that killed 35 people trying to flee the island, according to human-rights groups.

Jorge Gomez Manzano, the dissident leader's brother, said Rene has been charged with violating the Law for the Protection of the National Independence and Economy of Cuba.

Cuban authorities used the same law to prosecute most of the 75 opposition activists in 2003.

"He could get 13 years in prison. He could get a fine. Or he could be freed," said Gomez Manzano. "We don't know what will happen."


Posted by Robert M at 01:23 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

August 17, 2005

One lump, or none? (Updated)

Once the world's foremost supplier of sugar, and the country's number one source of income, Cuba continues to close down sugar mills. As usual, fidel castro refuses to accept his responsibility in the once thriving sugar industry's decline by denigrating said industry. The very same industry that once made cuba and economic power in the hemisphere:

Cuba will never live off sugar again. That belongs to the era of slavery," Cuban (President) (f)idel (c)astro said earlier this year.

Yes, let's equate it to slavery. Forget the fact that it was once every revolutionary's duty to submit to compulsory work on those very same sugar fields.

Interestingly, the sugar industry's downfall has left the island with basically only two major suppliers of hard currency.

The first is tourism. Which, while still coveted by the regime, can be a thorn at it's side.

And the second provider of hard currency to the island is a direct result of fidel castro's machinations: family remittances. Separate the families, money will come.

Story link via En La Yuma.

Update:Our esteemed colleague Killcastro has more. Much more.

Posted by Val Prieto at 12:15 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (15)

Watching you, watching me.

You, too, could look like this:


With your very own Babalú tshirt. Just ten bucks, shipping's on me. Just follow the link on the sidebar.

A big thanks to AnalogKid at Random Nuclear Strikes for the new promotional photo!

Posted by Val Prieto at 10:06 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (14)

castro's organ debunked

The great Carlos Alberto Montaner takes on castro's puny organ, Granma, for all its lies against him. He tells a terrible personal story of escaping from castro's dungeon in order to live to tell the truth about the monster. And his telling of the truth is precisely why the beast is lashing out with his campaign of slander. Montaner's story:

In December 1960, three other students and I were arrested in Cuba for ''conspiring against the powers of the state'' and sentenced to the then-benign term of 20 years' imprisonment. If the authorities had accused us of terrorism or of killing someone, they would have lined us up before the firing squad, which was the custom at the time.

Actually, they couldn't even accuse us of a specific act, because we were arrested almost at the moment we started to help the peasant guerrillas in the Escambray mountains, who fought heroically to prevent the consolidation of communist dictatorship in Cuba.

I managed to escape from prison a few weeks after I was sentenced and found asylum in a Latin American embassy, but my brave companions -- Jorge Víctor Fernández, Néstor Piñango and Alfredo Carrión -- went through a horrendous prison experience that destroyed their lives. Carrión was murdered by a guard.

Read the whole riveting thing here.

Posted by Mora at 07:40 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (7)

Rumsfeld targets the beast UPDATED

You would think this, this, or this would have taught castro to keep his dirty, filthy, communist paws off Bolivia. But noooooooo. The dirtbag is back, and active with "a big plan" against poor beat-up helpless Bolivia. The passage of CAFTA, which saved Central America's life, drove the roaches to scurry away from the hemisphere's western flank and regroup further south.

Mister Rumsfeld is wise to this. He knows there is a growing urgent problem of castro contamination and he is talking with Paraguay's leaders about taking out the trash. Paraguay, next door to Bolivia, is another nation that's been kicked around by the castro-Chavez axis here, here and here.

castro is a pendejo who's been lurking quietly for 40 years around Bolivia. In his bad intentions, he sent che there in 1967 in his first bid to take Bolivia over. The peasants wouldn't stand for it. Now with his new moneyed fool, Hugo Chavez, he's after Bolivia again. But this time Mister Rumsfeld is onto his old and dirty game. He's beefing up Paraguay with U.S. troops for the coming onslaught. And he intends to destroy castro from Paraguay (what a great way for him to go) as Bolivians destroyed che, putting him in the same Bolivian graveyard.

Remember fidel - Mister Rumsfeld doesn't care for your kind. He also doesn't like it when worthless pendejos, like you, make him come over there. He's just back from toppling other tyrants. Victoriously. And he is looking at your sorry hide as it slavers over Bolivia and thinking to himself that this is one more mess he's gonna have to mop up after once he finishes you off. But Mister Rumsfeld always finishes.

He's coming for you.

UPDATE: And from Bolivia, you can just imagine how pleased Bolivians are to learn that Mister Rumsfeld is discussing taking care of business against the beast. Boli-Nica has linked Babalu and provides lots of superb analysis not so obvious to us here in the states - it's a must-read - thanks, Boli!

Posted by Mora at 06:33 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)

August 16, 2005

Moral zero

Eeeeuw. Eeeeuuuuuuuuuw.

Read the whole sordid story of how that happened here.

Posted by Mora at 07:45 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (13)

Moved beyond words

I read about ten to fifteen blogs per day, and a myriad of news sources (most of which are relentlessly negative -- about Bush, the war, gas prices, you name it. Nothing but negativity).

Today I happened across a blog that was linked in a National Review Online Corner posting. I had never come across it before today. I think every American should read it. I have never read a more moving defense of what our nation is doing nor a more moving explanation about what makes our nation so great than this post.

Go to Villanous Company and marvel at what makes this such a great country.

Posted by George Moneo at 03:56 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)

La Niña Del Escambray

Yesterday morning my wife went to a little shop down the street from our home looking for a birthday card for a good friend of ours. The place is a head shop, but they have some unique gifts and some pretty cool cards for all occasions.

As she was eyeing through the card rack, one of those that spin on an axis, she turned the thing to get to the next bunch of cards and was stunned at what she saw. Right there in front of her, just blocks from our home in a little shop that she has always liked, in Miami no less, was a postcard with the image of Che Guevara.

My wife didnt lose it. She calmly walked through the store and began picking up items to "purchase." Once she figured she had enough stuff, she calmly walked over to the register, layed the items on the counter and asked:

"Where do you guys keep the Hitler postcards?"

The store clerk was completely taken aback. "The Hitler what?" he asked.

"The Nazi stuff. Where do you keep it?" She gave the room another once over. "And are the Stalin cards next to the Hitler stuff?"

The clerk then told her that they didnt carry any Nazi stuff. Or any Stalin stuff. "We dont carry that kind of merchandise," he stated.

"Well," my wife said. "I figured you guys would carry the Hitler and Stalin stuff being as you are already carrying mass murderer merchandise. I mean, if youre gonna do something, might as well go all the way."

The clerk looked perplexed. My wife pointed to the Che cards and said "Dont you know who Che Guevara is?"

"Some Argentinian guy," replied the clerk.

I feel bad for the clerk because this is where he got a impromtu history lesson and then, at the end of that lesson my wife looked down at all the merchandise she had picked up throughout the store - hundreds of dollars of stuff - and said "You know, it's a shame. I really really like this store. You guys always have nice gifts and great cards. And I come here all the time. But I just cant stomach buying anything from you anymore."

Then she turned around and walked out of the store.


I don't know what bothers me more, the fact that there's Che merchandise being sold, or the fact that it's being sold as a novelty without even an iota of understanding or knowledge about the man and his ruthlessness. And most of this merchandise being bought and worn and used by a bunch of silver spooned college kids with either an axe to grind or looking to be the cool guy or gal in a Che tshirt.

Humberto Fontova has a new write up all these kids need to read.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:21 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (74)

Granma defends Jim DeFede

Isn't it great when your opinion -- reviled, excoriated, criticized, ridiculed -- is validated by the most unlikely of sources? Read this below and the highlighted passages. Ever hear those talking points among the left and the dialogo crowd right here in Miami? Granma, that organ of fair and balanced journalistic integrity, published an article entitled, "Jim DeFede: A victim of the Miami mafia?" by a party hack by the name of Gabriel Molina. Here are some excerpts:

The newspaper fired DeFede on July 27, alleging a violation of ethics. In their open letter, his colleagues refer to the columnist’s fine journalism and describe the firing as a disproportionate sanction for the gravity of the error. They attribute the firing as being more likely due to his “willingness in the past to offend powerful figures in Miami...” Many note that after recently returning from Havana, DeFede wrote articles in which he criticized the complacency of the group that monopolizes political power and supports Luis Posada Carriles, the self-confessed mastermind of acts of terrorism.

. . .

Perhaps Teele had been caught up in corruption. Perhaps not. Because it is quite strange that under a federal administration that is characterized by corruption, the media should attack Teele so ferociously. It could be that he was a scapegoat or that it’s a way of weakening the Black electorate.

Regardless, Miami does not believe in freedom of the press. The Miami mafia’s roots in the Batista dictatorship are the underlying factor in the intolerance that reigns in Florida. They cannot forgive DeFede for the opinion he expressed in the Miami Herald regarding that group’s favorite son[.]

. . .

Nice job, Jim! You must be proud as a peacock! What's next for you? Editor of the Al-Qaeda newsletter? A stint as a staff writer on The People's Daily? Roving opinion journalist for Granma?

Posted by George Moneo at 08:20 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)


The following is from yesterday's Cubanet newswire:

Cubans on the brink of a panic attack

Rafael Ferro Salas, Abdala Press

PINAR DEL RÍO, Cuba - July ( - Six o'clock in the morning, Cuba. Felipe, 77 years old, leaves his house. He arrives at the corner cafeteria and waits for his first customer to arrive. A 20-year old mulato man approaches him. Felipe puts his hand in his pocket and takes out two cigarettes. The mulato pays him.

By the end of a half hour a dozen persons have bought cigarettes sold by the elderly Felipe. Everything seems normal, but it's not; the old man sells the cigarettes secretly. This kind of selling is forbidden in Cuba. At mid-morning, the old man goes home after buying the newspaper. "Today was good," he says to me. "There were no police, nor inspectors with their fines, but I never stop being nervous."

At the other end of the city lives Miriam, 32 years old. She's a black woman who has a two-year old boy. She's single. She works at the place where kerosene is sold for household stoves (abundant in Cuba). Miriam's salary doesn't provide her enough to live on and maintain her son, so she seeks alternatives amid high risks.

Near the end of her work shift a sixty-year old woman visits her. She hands over a big can and Miriam fills it with kerosene. The woman pays and leaves satisfied. She was sold her share of kerosene a week ago using her ration card. But it didn't last. So she comes to Miriam and she sells her the extra under the table.

"If we aren't lucky and an inspector catches us, they'll fire me and impose a fine on her," Miriam tells me. "I do everything for my son, the money they pay me doesn't even allow me to clothe him. I get very nervous when I do this. I live alone with my son, and if they fire me from my job or jail me, I don't know what I'd do."

Orlando Zamora is a young man who graduated in computer science two years ago. He is self-employed and works at home writing graduate theses for which he is well paid. Since his graduation he hasn't found work, so writing theses allows him to survive.

I found him one afternoon in the park and he told me he hadn't done any work the whole day. I asked him if his clientele had slackened and he answered me: "There's never a lack of clients, there's always someone who's going to graduate. What happens is I'm afraid to start writing and have a power outage break my computer. Then I'll have to throw it in and die of hunger."

"The power outages make you nervous, don't they?" I asked him in jest. He responded very seriously.

"They have everyone nervous, pal. I think we Cubans will have blackouts for the rest of our lives. It seems the one we'll have after we die isn't enough."

Thinking of what he just told me makes me nervous, too. I realize I've also been attacked today by the syndrome Cubans are dragging behind for some time: the panic attack.

Walking the city is like walking in the 1960s, although I was too young then to do it alone. My mother was at my side. I remember she walked nervously. It seemed we all walked nervously. It was the month of October and we were on the brink of an explosion. Later it became known as the October Missile Crisis.

We Cubans have never stopped being nervous after January 1959. The 1960s arrived and we enlisted in obligatory foreign wars. The 1980s came with collapses and firing squads in high circles. The 1990s left us without any kind of hopes. The new millenium opened its doors but things continue to cling to an enforced stagnation. Cubans debate amidst uncertainty with something in common: we all live on the brink of a panic attack.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:32 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

Carlos Santana praises che, abuses Cubans

I tried. I tried hard to think of some reasonable excuse for Carlos Santana wearing that big ugly che tee shirt at the Academy Awards. I tried to write it off as a one-time mistake. I tried to dismiss him as ignorant. I tried to dismiss him as not thinking. I tried to come up with all sorts of explanations. They were wasted brain waves. Carlos Santana is completely in bed with his boytoy che. It's gross.

And I despise them both.

Charlie Bravo at KillCastro has the whole sordid story of Santana and how he stuck up for his che tee shirt, despite the impact on his intelligence. Despite the dressing down he got from Cuban American greats on the music scene. He just sucked up harder to che. Making matters worse, he BADMOUTHED the Cuban-American community sin verguenza.

Carlos Santana, you are vile. I will buy no more Santana records. Not ever. Read the whole miserable thing here.

Posted by Mora at 01:20 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (20)

August 15, 2005

Cuba Facing Epidemics

Cuba continues to send its doctors and medical professionals to Venezuela and other countries, while Cubans face shortages of medical supplies, doctors, and now, as a result, various epidemics.

As further evidence of this travesty, I have translated an article in today El Nuevo Herald which uncovers the true details of the health crisis Cuba is currently undergoing.

For the sake of brevity, I only translated the key parts, the entire Spanish article can be found here.

Remember, at least "the healthcare is free".

Health Crisis in Cuba

The recent deaths of children and adults as a result of an epidemic breakout in Cuba are barely the tip of the iceberg in a battered public health system that for decades proclaimed itself as a model of excellence and a great achievement of Fidel Castro' revolution.

Although the Cuban government on July 25th did inform of the deaths of eight minors, recognizing the "affected water supply, domestic fuel availability, and electrical service to the population" as possible factors tied to the hygienic-epidemic situation, independent sources and testimonies point at deeper causes, related to the galloping deterioration of health conditions and medical care in the country.

A four-page report by the Center of Health and Human Rights "Juan Bruno Zayas" questions the assertions published in a release by the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP), and also questions the number of deaths confirmed by Cuban authorities.

"In internal meetings with doctors, a total of 31 deaths involving children and adults have been handled in Havana alone, but there must be even more", indicated Dr. Darsi Ferre, director of Juan Bruno Zayas. "We are continuing to compile all the data to alert the population and international public opinion of the dangers that we currently face in Cuba and the immorality of the authorities who don't properly inform its citizens."

"Several factors appear to have a decisive influence in these breakouts'', affirms the document. "They are: the lack of attention given to epidemic control programs of transmitted diseases due primarily to the lack of qualified personnel, the lack of motivation of the part of professionals in those fields and the lack of resources required to accomplish the tasks; and the deplorable hygienic-sanitary state, characterized by the presence of garbage dumps in every city block".

The four-page text, that even manages to track down opinions of MINSAP employees, observes that the provision of water is irregular throughout the country and the pipes are seriously damaged, resulting in the contamination of the water drains.

In addition to the virosis, the report points to an increase of epidemics of dengue, hepatitis, leptospirosis and meningoencefalitis. "The situation is very serious", confessed a pediatrician of a clinic in Havana. And many people think that all this is because of the lack of qualified personnel due to the large number of doctors who have been sent to Venezuela and other missions outside the country."

In order to erase these black marks, the Cuban government is promoting short-duration courses for nurses and health technicians.

This year, 29,000 students are expected to enroll in the medical science fields, the largest number of students in Cuba's history. Conscious of displeasure in this professional sector, Fidel Castro announced in June the increase in wages for all health workers, with a maximum of 573 pesos (about $21) as basic wage for specialized doctors.

But the wage increase is not providing enough stimulus for doctors and stomachologists, who see foreign missions as an alternative in order to make money in dollars and to remove themselves from the tense national reality.

Arco Progresista, a moderate dissident organization, has already alerted on the exodus of health professionals to Venezuela and the humiliating reorientation of medical services to foreigners.

"The government of Venezuela worries and takes care of the health of Venezuelans. The Cuban government does as well. Who then worries and takes care of the health of Cubans?", questioned dissident Manuel Cuesta Morúa. "Entire communities in this country have seen their doctors sent to other countries, and how they themselves have been neglected by a badly- understood solidarity, strictly for the political benefits of the authorities of Cuba".

Posted by Robert M at 05:19 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (5)

Luis Moro in the news

Check out this story on the Miami NBC affiliate's website. It seems that filmmaker Luis Moro was on a cruise and happened to captured the rescue of balseros fleeing Cuba. What I want you to focus on, though, is the tone and spin in the highlighted sentences: Filmmaker On Cruise Captures Rescue Of Cuban Refugees

11 Refugees Get On Cruise Ship After Boat Sinks

POSTED: 11:19 am EDT August 15, 2005
UPDATED: 11:30 am EDT August 15, 2005

MIAMI -- A filmmaker vacationing on a Royal Caribbean cruise captured footage of Cuban refugees being rescued as they tried to get to the United States Friday.

Luis Moro was filming as passengers aboard the ship saw the Cubans' boat sinking.

"No one ever expected that to happen on a cruise," Moro said. "Even though you are going around the island of Cuba, no one expects to see a boat with Cubans trying to get to the U.S."

Moro's video shows 11 Cuban refugees being placed onto one of the cruise ship's life rafts and taken to the ship.

"When they got on, the first group of Cubans got on the life raft, they were brought back and everybody started cheering. It was great," Moro said.

But in that moment of rejoicing came sorrow for Moro, who is a Cuban-American. He said he knew the quest for freedom would possibly end in vain, and he blames the events on politics and a U.S. embargo that he believes should be lifted.

"This has to stop," Moro said. "I bet my life they (refugees) have family that is not in Cuba and I bet they are financially well-off here."

Moro was right. A mother in South Florida spotted her son's failed attempts at freedom.

"At least I know he's alive. That calms me down a little but now we have to wait and see what happens," Miriam Perez said in Spanish.

"I can't imagine what it's like to do what they do," Moro said. "I would be shocked if many people have the courage to get on a raft and take off."

A representative from the U.S. Coast Guard said the Cuban refugees were still being processed.

There's no official word on whether they will have to return to Cuba.

Luis, maybe you should ask your political soulmate, fidel castro, about why people are willing to risk becoming lunch for sharks rather than staying in Cuba. Common sense and unobstructed thinking would lead a normal person to deduce that fidel takes all of the blame for this and not the "well-off" Cubans here in Miami, all of us rich, sugar-plantation owning, Batista stooges.

Here are some folks who took to sea, risking their lives to reach the freedom in the US and instead of blaming fidel and his communist regime, for creating the conditions that have led to this, your first instinct is to blame us here in Miami. And, of course, you trot out the ever popular argument of the intellectually challenged, "end the embargo."

Your statements are so self-serving, so repugnant and so ill-informed that I don't know whether to get pissed off at you or to pity your stupidity.

(H/T to Daniel for alerting me this morning on this story.)

Posted by George Moneo at 12:52 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (29)

"Point the Bow Towards Hope" - Part 5: Despair

For previous parts, click on the links: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

The authorities at the camp asked us if we attempted leaving the island by sea before the last attempt, and from where. He also noted that we were professionals and placed me on the sick-list. I was able to move around there because they had a wheelchair; unfortunately I was not able to keep it and take it to the new camp when the interview was over. Once again we were placed on a bus and taken somewhere closer to the central town.

As it happened we were taken to another camp near Guantanamo’s golf course, situated in a valley surrounded by mountains. The main difference here was that the ground here was less sandy and dusty -- the dust problem was almost non-existent here! -- and there were areas that had lawns. There were many more families here, better people overall. The delinquents and criminals – I’m convinced that they were infiltrated Cuban agents -- were already here and would turn this camp into hell in the future.

We arrived at the camp at around 8 in the evening after waiting almost three hours while everybody was placed in their respective tents. Dad and I were able to get placed in a tent with several families and some single men.

I had not been feeling well all day. Since the morning I had had a terrible headache, my bones ached all over, and I felt feverish. Due all of the activity relocating to the new camp, I had not been able to go to the doctors. Sitting in a chair in the tent that evening, I felt my fever rising and had a tremendous need to urinate.

I relate all this because it was under those difficult conditions that I met Wilfredo (the one who called Mickey, who called you that we had arrived in camp safely). When he saw me – gaunt, skinny, dirty, barefoot (I had thrown the wet socks overboard on the cutter), with my feet bandaged, sitting in a chair, and with a high fever – he burst out crying. I guess seeing anyone in those conditions will make you cry. Wilfredo worked for the US Department of Justice helping the Cubans that had arrived here. We spoke for a while and when we spoke about Key West we realized that we both knew Mickey! He knew him in Key West and me on the island. He promised to call him the next day to briefly relate our story. That is why I think you finally heard news about us on September 2nd or 3rd. A few days later Wilfredo told me that Mickey had called you, although I did not know when. You can’t imagine how much better I felt knowing that you knew we were safe; dad and I thought of little else in those early days.

The new camp was called “Papa” and was one of four or five they had built in the valley where the golf course was. We were about a kilometer from the port. Each camp held about 2,000 people with a total capacity of about 10,000. The razor wire fences, the latrines, the tents and the conditions were pretty much the same as in Camp Lima. They had not yet built the tent structures so several people in my group had to sleep out in the open that night. I slept uneasily with a high fever in another tent structure in what passed for a hallway with dad. If I were to have slept outside that night I would have gotten pneumonia for certain; as it was I had a fever of 102 with severe chills.

The next day they built our tent structure and dad and I went to it. It was well situated, in front of the command area. We had the most delicious breeze, pure air form the sea. There were two families with us, one from Alamar and the other from Old Havana. Good people. There were other families know to us from town. They were all very helpful to me.

Two days after we arrived at the Camp, the doctors came by for the first time. They had been so busy placing the refugees in the camp that they had not had the time to bring the doctors around. The doctors diagnosed me with acute bronchitis and prescribed erythromycin and lots of fluids. They also removed the old bandages from my feet, treated them and gave me fresh dressings. With God’s help I felt much better after a few days; between my feet and my fever, I was feeling terrible.

The wheelchair problem was no closer to being resolved. We spoke to whomever we thought had influence or had command contact, but no matter how hard we pleaded, all they did was promise to bring one.

Around that time diplomatic negotiations were taking place in New York between the US and Cuba. All of us were hopeful of a positive outcome. But on September 10, Alarcón stated that the Cubans in Guantanamo were not included in any negotiations. The US diplomats also announced that those of us in Guantanamo who wanted to obtain a visa into the US would have to return to Cuba. Well, you can imagine the reaction here: all hell broke loose! A lot of the refugees called for hunger strikes, some broke the fence down and went into the town. The riot police – equipped with helmets, clubs, shields, leg protectors, you name it – couldn’t stop the rioting. A large group of about 5,000 tried to get into the town church, some tried to escape, and others even braved the mine fields.

These were very difficult moments for all of us.

End of Part 5

(Copyright © 2005 The Universal Spectator in trust for an anonymous author. All rights reserved. The material contained in this story on the website is protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of The Universal Spectator™. English translation Copyright © 2005 The Universal Spectator. All rights reserved.)

Posted by George Moneo at 07:00 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (27)

Why I didnt blog this weekend...

Three different Home Depots, 6 trips in all. New ceiling fan. New closet shelving. new closet power and lighting. And paint. Lots of freaken paint.

Ever been up and down a step ladder about a zillion times?

Posted by Val Prieto at 06:43 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (5)

August 14, 2005

A beast and his Sugar Daddy

It's despicable. Read it here.

Hat tip: Alek Boyd

Posted by Mora at 09:36 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (8)

castro scraps eurotrash cruises

Once again, castro is on a confiscating jag. This time, it's not Canadians, it's his good pals the Europeans. He's banned their cruise ships, wadding up and throwing out millions of dollars of hard currency earnings. He says they leave too much trash and it never occurs to him to hire garbagemen. He's also confiscated the assets of the Cuban company that serviced these ships and 'reverted' them back to the state.

Tourists? He doesn't need them - they are probably too dangerous to his island GULag; some of them might bring ideas about prosperity and democracy. Can't allow that. The Beast has other priorities - like clinging to power. The Beast also has other money, from his Houseboy Hugo Chavez, and is living large. He doesn't need Europe. He needs to keep Cuba in the dark. Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Mora at 09:17 PM | Permanent Link to this Post

August 13, 2005

Celebrating fidel's Birthday

Today - August 13th - is fidel's 79th birthday.

Don't get me wrong, today is not a day to celebrate the day of the tyrant's birth. Instead, as Vicente Echerri points out in an article in today's El Nuevo Herald, it should be a day to celebrate the inevitable death of el maximo lider. An advanced celebration, if you will.

Below is my translation of Echerri's article, with the original Spanish version below.

Advanced Jubliation
With cold champagne and a cheesy birthday cake -- which all birthday cakes tend to be -- the 79th birthday of Fidel Castro will be celebrated today in Havana (not in the entire city, of course, but in some exclusive circle of power, with the inevitable presence of timid and obsequious sycophants).

Although the birthday is not a round number (for example, the 80 that he will perhaps get to turn next year) which is more commonly associated with magnanimous feasts, there will be no lacking of reiterated choirs of intimate adulations of well wishes for health and perpetual governance to the maximum leader. What those close to power in Cuba, that failed project, wish for is that the man which has tyrannized Cuba for 46 years waits a bit longer before dying. At least long enough for the transition to consolidate, so that the inevitable vacuum of power which will be brought on by his death does not occur in the midst of chaos, instead - and wishing does not cost anything - under a more prosperous and stable situation which would allow for a trauma-less transition of power, within the same oligarchy.

The remainder of Cubans observe this with different degrees of hope and skepticism on both sides of the Straits of Florida, for that this date serves to remind not only the perverse and crapulous life of the capo maximo, but also of his death, which would potentially bring the most change and benefits to those of us who were born in Cuba.

In a tyranny that heads toward a half-century, the hopes -- and fears -- of the tyrant's death have a certain tradition, and unfortunately many are the people who have died waiting for this event. I know more than a dozen individuals -- writers and artists, industralists and professionals -- who always had a bottle of champagne in reserve ready to uncork the day Castro dies (violently or by natural causes), who have passed away before getting the chance to celebrate. It is true that some were already old, but others passed away ahead of el comandante of accidental causes, or to one of those macabre pranks of nature.

In order the avoid this frustration - which I believe is a Cuban exile's biggest one -- you can move up the celebration of the tyrant's disappearance from Cuba, even though he's alive and in power. And what better occasion to do this than on the date of his birth?

If you have waited many years for Castro's funeral in order to throw a party, wait no more. You can practice today. Buy yourself a good bottle of champagne (although other less-glamorous beverages will also do just fine), prepare a cocktail, and if possible, a dinner. Invite friends and acquaintances - and if you know a crypto-castrist, nostalgic apologist of the violent revolution, invite him too - and toast to the sound of the son of traditional Cuban music, for the death, the forgetfulness, and extinction from history of the criminal who seized our country by force and fraud and sank it to desperation and misery like no other before him. Toast, on his very day, that his death arrive irascibly and atrociously, morosely and cruel, and that you will live to celebrate it with even greater joy. Don't deprive yourself of this advanced jubilation.

Con champaña frío y algún ridículo pastel de cumpleaños --todas las tortas de cumpleaños suelen serlo-- habrá de celebrarse hoy en La Habana (no en la ciudad entera, desde luego, sino en algún exclusivo círculo de poder, con la inevitable presencia de sicofantes tímidos y obsequiosos) los setenta y nueve años de Fidel Castro.

Aunque no se trata de una cifra redonda (por ejemplo, los 80 que acaso llegue a cumplir el año próximo) más a propósito para festejos magnos, no ha de faltar el coro de íntimos adulones que le reiteren al líder máximo sus buenos deseos de salud y perpetuo gobierno. Lo que más desean los arracimados al poder en Cuba, ese proyecto de nación fracasado, es que el hombre que la tiraniza hace cuarenta y siete años tarde aún en morirse, al menos lo bastante para consolidar más la transición; para que el inevitable vacío de poder que traerá su muerte no suceda en medio del caos actual, sino tal vez --desear no cuesta nada-- en una situación más próspera y estable que permita un cambio de poderes, dentro de la misma oligarquía, sin ningún trauma.

El resto de los cubanos observa con diversos grados de esperanza y escepticismo a ambos lados del Estrecho de la Florida, por lo que la fecha sirve para recordar no sólo la vida, perversa y crapulosa, del capo máximo, sino también su muerte, la que más cambios y beneficios podría reportar --al menos potencialmente-- a los que nacimos en Cuba.

En una tiranía que tiende al medio siglo, las esperanzas --y los miedos-- en la muerte del tirano tienen ya una cierta solera, e infortunadamente son muchas las personas que han muerto a la espera de este acontecimiento. Conozco más de una docena de individuos --escritores y artistas, empresarios y profesionales -- que siempre tenían en reserva una botella de champaña para descorcharla el día en que Castro muriera (violenta o naturalmente) y ellos se han ido antes. Es verdad que algunos eran viejos, pero otros se le adelantaron al comandante por causas accidentales o por una de esas travesuras macabras que natura nos juega.

Para evitar esa frustración --la mayor, creo yo, de un cubano exiliado-- usted puede adelantar ese festejo y celebrar anticipadamente la desaparición del tirano de Cuba, pese a que él siga vivo y en el poder. ¿Y qué mejor ocasión para hacerlo que en este día, en la propia fecha de su nacimiento?

Si ha esperado durante mucho tiempo el funeral de Castro para hacer una fiesta, no espere más. Ensaye hoy mismo. Cómprense un buen champaña (aunque otras bebidas menos glamorosas también pueden entrar en la receta), prepare un cóctel y, si puede, una cena. Invite a sus amigos y conocidos --y si conoce a algún criptocastrista, apologista nostálgico de la violencia revolucionaria, invítelo también-- y, al son de música tradicional cubana, brinde una y otra vez por la muerte, el olvido y la extinción histórica del facineroso que se apoderó por fuerza y dolo de nuestro país y lo hundió, como nadie antes, en la desesperación y la miseria. Brinde, en su propio día, por que la muerte le llegue colérica y atroz, morosa y cruel y que usted viva para saberlo y para celebrarlo con júbilo aún mayor. No se prive de este adelantado regocijo.

© Echerri 2005

Posted by Robert M at 02:42 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (20)

Fresh and different

By sheerest chance, I came upon this young Afro-Latina author (I think she's Puerto Rican) from Chicago who writes well-reviewed love stories that the publishing industry dubs 'Latina Christian Chick-Lit.'

Huh? Obviously, she's unique.

I like her because she seems to take on the marginal sleaze culture that Hollywood and Madison Avenue have imposed on Latin Americans - particularly Puerto Ricans - as definitive of "their culture." As a matter of fact the trash that Hollywood puts out on Latinos is not "their culture," it's something unrecognizable. How would you like to be defined in terms of gangsta rap, unwed motherhood, big gold dollar bill clips, cheap sex, drugs, gangsta-ism, ho's, the 'hood and all the other crap Hollywood puts out, dutifully ticking off the box 'Puerto Rican' (or 'Dominican') as its contribution to 'cultural diversity'? Do they understand 'marginal'? They don't. That is why that's all who gets to define the culture over in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue.

This young author is very different - and she writes stories that affirm universal cultural values in an interesting and realistic Latina context.

Her name is Xenia Ruiz, and on her blog, here, you can see she's quite a pretty girl. I have not read her books - I just learned about them now - but I've seen her random comments around on Internet bulletin boards and think she knows the right values. And she's got a lot of spark.

She sounds like someone who's got something to say. And I'm really pleased to see such new authors making publishing debuts. They're needed. I'm gonna buy her new book, Choose Me, today.

Posted by Mora at 01:11 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (13)

August 12, 2005

"The Mozart of the Congas" (UPDATE)

A wonderful article in The Miami Herald -- surprise! -- about Cándido Camero, conga virtuoso. Here's a taste:

The Mozart of the congas is a legend and a gentleman

His might not be a household name, but Cuban artist Cándido Camero long ago took conga playing to a new level. Tonight, he brings his show to Miami.


NEW YORK - Conga legend Cándido Camero inches around his tidy Upper West Side apartment, cane in hand, in search of this memento and that.

He speaks like he walks. Cautiously. Unhurriedly.

But put him behind his three glossy white congas and suddenly, he's not 84 anymore. Suddenly, he's not hunched over anymore. Suddenly, he's on fire.

People talk about drummers making their congas sing. Camero invented the concept. In the early 1950s, he was the first to play two, then three congas at the same time. Before him, cats played just one. He tuned them differently and coaxed melody out of them, fingers dancing on skins like a piano. In a famed 1950s recording with pianist Joe Loco, he made three congas and a bongo sing Tea for Two.

Read the whole article here.

UPDATE 8/13/2005: From a reader, here is a picture of the great Cándido Camero.

Posted by George Moneo at 04:32 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (5)

Jamo, Jamas, Jamamos

Suffer, suckers!!!

I just got back from my parent's house where I went to pegarle la gorra for lunch. I'd thought I'd make you all suffer a bit and tell you that I just had a huge, teeming and steaming bowl of potaje de frijoles colorados. Large red beans, potatoes, malanga, calabaza....Oh man oh man.

You havent lived until you try my mom's potaje de frijoles colorados.

Fortunately, I get to live twice today as she gave me a big ole tupperware full of the stuff to take home.

Posted by Val Prieto at 01:19 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (20)


Perhaps because the Czechs lived through the tyranny of communism, they have first hand knowledge of oppression and they stand in solidarity with the Cuban people who struggle for freedom.

Via Net For Cuba, please take a few minutes to view a video, titled "Message from the Czech people to the Cuban People," from Mayda Argüelles y Liuver Saborit, of the Cuban-Czech Association. It's in Spanish, but it is definitely a must see.

My admiration for the people of the Czech Republic has grown tenfold after viewing this short film.

Here's a message, in Spanish, from the video's producers:

“Somos un matrimonio cubano exiliados en la República Checa. Mayda Argüelles y Liuver Saborit, cuyos hijos pequeños quedaron retenidos por la dictadura castrista durante 18 meses en Cuba, hasta que hicimos una protesta frente a la embajada en diciembre pasado, y solo entonces obtuvimos la liberación de nuestros niños.

Desde nuestra llegada a este país no cesamos de dar información de lo que sucede en Cuba a través de todos los medios de difusión, también trabajamos en conjunto con amigos checos con los cuales hemos conformado una asociación cubano-checa.

Este material de video lo realizamos con la idea de que nuestro pueblo, tanto los de adentro de Cuba como los de afuera conozcan la opinión del pueblo checo que sufrió en carne propia los desmanes de una dictadura comunista. También lo realizamos con la esperanza de que los cubanos nos unamos cada día mas. Es un recordatorio de que somos un mismo pueblo, los de adentro y los que estamos en la diáspora, es un homenaje al sacrificio de los que arriesgan sus vidas en nuestra sufrida isla en aras de una patria libre para todos los cubanos y a los que cada día desde el exilio luchamos por cumplir el sueño del retorno a una Cuba sin represión, a una patria para nuestros hijos, es una exhortación a todos a luchar sin descanso desde un único frente para poder tener una Cuba para los cubanos, como lo soñó Martí.”

La Asociación Cubano-Checa puede ser contactada a través de la siguiente dirección electrónica:

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:49 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (9)

Ahhh yes. The Worker's Paradise.

Presented without commentary:

HAVANA, August 11 (José Antonio Fornaris, Cuba Verdad / - Ileana Pérez Ramírez, who was returned to Cuba June 21 after being seized at sea by the U.S. Coast Guards, has lost her job as a helper in a restaurant.

Lázaro Jorge García, a civil rights advocate in the municipality of Alquízar, said restaurant management arbitrarily changed her job and sent her into the streets with a push cart to sell food. After that, she was fired.

Under an agreement with the United States, rafters caught at sea and returned to Cuba by the Coast Guard have to be returned to their former jobs.

García said the action was taken against Pérez to discourage others from trying to leave the country, since many in Alquízar have already left.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:26 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (16)

August 11, 2005

Canadian sucker replies

In the interest of fairness, our 'Canadian sucker' has sent his take on castro's ripoff of his $100,000 dream home.

From: Dariusz
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2005 4:51 PM

Subject: Expoitaition of "poor" Cubans

What kind of exploitation are you talking about moron? I have been with the same woman for 7 years and if anybody exploits anybody that would be her . She got all the money to rebuild the house and I have been supporting her for all those years with or without a house now. Now to tell you the truth it is Cubans on the island that exploit foreigners, tourists every minute on every corner, in every office or restaurant. Should you want some examples I can provide plenty of them . I'm pretty sure that you are one of those who never went to Cuba and doesn't realize that most of Cubans on the island are not so nice and they despise of foreigners but love their money very much. So don't you tell me about exploitation because if anybody I would be the one who willingly let others exploit him. One more thing that characterises Cubans " envidia, envidia and pura envidia". That sums it up.

Dariusz "The Canadian Sucker"

My view: I do not doubt that he meets vicious and angry and theft-prone people. Tyranny does that to people - what does he think tyranny did for Russian manners? But I cannot understand how he didn't know better!

Posted by Mora at 08:24 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (43)

Lift the travel restrictions?

Pa' que? Pa' que se llene Cuba de mas comemierdas? (WARNING!!! GRAPHIC AND EXPLICIT IMAGES.)

Make sure to read through the entire three pages of comments for a better understanding of the dregs of humanity that travel to Cuba to get laid.

Hat tip to reader George.

Posted by Val Prieto at 03:16 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (24)

CIA's Bay Of Pigs history shows betrayal

A secret CIA history of the Bay of Pigs has come to light, showing a slew of incompetence, stupidity, betrayal and unseriousness. It's very damning. Worst of all, JFK knew very well that the operation would fail and went ahead and did it anyway. The documents are here and the Miami Herald writeup is here.

UPDATE: Thank you for the link, Chad. We love your fierce - and recommended - blog.
UPDATE: Thanks also to KillCastro, whose excellent war blog is must-reading.

Posted by Mora at 10:16 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (22)

A special treat for Jim DeFede fans!

Dr. Antonio de la Cova, a professor in the Latino Studies Department at Indiana University, Bloomington, wrote several letters to our favorite mild-mannered reporter working for a great metropolitan newspaper. I present his letters, in full, with Dr. de la Cova's kind permission. (Thanks to my buddy Mike Pancier for sending me the first letter.)

The first deals with DeFede's inflammatory column several weeks ago that implied that our elected representatives condoned terrorism:

Mr. DeFede:


Your Miami Herald article "Terror is terror, whether its in London or Cuba," was reprinted in Granma International, the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba.

You must be very proud that the Cuban Communists appreciate your journalistic skills. Your biased and slanted perspective could make you a candidate for one of their official awards. It will certainly merit you another trip to Cuba.

You once again used selective and erroneous information by saying that Guillermo Novo "a member of the violent anti-Castro group Omega 7, was convicted in the 1976 bombing murder of Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier. The verdict was overturned on appeal." You apparently plagiarized that quote from a Herald article by Jim McGee on December 20, 1983, page 8. That would certainly merit you an F grade in my class. Had you done further research into the subsequent trial of Omega 7 leader Eduardo Arocena, you would have discovered that Novo never belonged to that group. You also omitted the fact that Novo was retried in the Letelier case and declared not guilty by a jury in Washington, D.C.

While your article accuses Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen of hypocrisy, it is your writings that are stamped with this trait. You must be aware that Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement seized power after a six-year terrorist campaign of indiscriminate bombings in public places that killed and wounded innocent people, kidnaped scores of U.S. military personnel, did assassinations, and airline highjackings.

Members of Castro's organization carried out the first international airline hijacking during a flight between Miami and Cuba in November 1958. The plane crash-landed in Nipe Bay, killing most of those aboard, including women and children. The Herald interviewed a female survivor who actually resides in Miami. All of these events were widely reported in the news media, yet you have never mentioned it in any of your articles nor have shown any interest in interviewing any of the victims of Castro's long terrorist campaign.

Jack Kofoed would have been proud of you. He disparaged Cuban exiles in his Herald column for more than a decade, yet the Cuban press never reprinted any of his ravings.

Dr. Antonio de la Cova
Latino Studies
Indiana University, Bloomington

The second letter is about the recent unpleasantness regarding Arthur Teele and alledgedly illegal tape recordings:

Mr. DeFede:

Today’s Herald reported that you were fired as a reporter for breaking the law by secretly tape recording a telephone conversation with your friend Arthur Teele, who shortly thereafter committed suicide in the Herald lobby. It reveals a lack of ethics and scruples on your part and leaves me wondering how many times you have done this before, especially against your political enemies. Your previous favorable articles on behalf of the convicted and corrupt Mr. Teele and favoring the Cuban government now have me convinced that you were probably on their payroll. You apparently thought that your journalistic license gave you carte blanche to be above the law.

Do you recall when reporters like yourself denounced Linda Tripp when she secretly tape recorded Monica Lewinsky’s confessions about her affair with President Clinton? You have been hypocritically preaching morality in your underwear.

Although you probably will never again be hired by a major newspaper firm in the United States, your talents may be appreciated by the sensationalist tabloid journals found on supermarket checkout counters. You could continue defending O.J. Simpson there. If not, I am sure that the Cuban government will hire you as a reporter. Granma newspaper has previously reprinted your articles and they highly value your style of slanted and biased journalism. The Cuban Communists will certainly miss your Herald column.

Dr. Antonio de la Cova
Latino Studies
Indiana University, Bloomington

The third deals with the Carlos Lazo affair. It is brilliant.

Mr. DeFede:

Your article "Congress blocks vet's attempts to see children" in today's Miami Herald is yet another example of your selective reporting that omits criticism of the Cuban government. While you put all the blame of the U.S.- Cuba travel restrictions on the U.S. government, you fail to mention the draconian migration policies enforced by the Castro regime.

If Elian Gonzalez's parents and grandmothers were allowed to visit Elian in the U.S., why does the Cuban government not allow Carlos Lazo's family to visit him here? This is a question that you should have addressed to Cuba's Foreign Minister Ricardo Alarcon when you interviewed him last month.

That interview was an example of "soft-ball" journalism. I found it interesting that while questioning Mr. Alarcon on Cuba's support for international terrorists, you omitted mentioning William Guillermo Morales. He is the Puerto Rican FALN member who blew off his hands and an eye while making a bomb in New York City in 1978. Morales, who escaped from prison after receiving an 89 year sentence, received asylum in Cuba in 1988 and has openly lived there since.

You also forgot to ask Mr. Alarcon about Victor Manuel Gerena, a member of the Puerto Rican Macheteros terrorist group, who fled to Cuba in 1983 with $2.4 million from a $7 million Wells Fargo robbery. He is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list and has lived in Cuba for more than two decades.

While you advocate Luis Posada's extradition from the U.S., you fall short of requesting the same from the Cuban government regarding these two terrorist fugitives.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the Miami Herald had a looney columnist named Jack Kofoed, who repeatedly offended Cuban exiles with boorish comments. He once complained in his column that Cuban exiles apparently responded by mailing his articles to him covered with excrement. Kofoed's articles ceased after he met a tragic death. It appears to me that your columns make you the Herald's inheritor of Kofoed's biased style.

Dr. Antonio de la Cova
Latino Studies
Indiana University, Bloomington

Mr. DeFede, since you have a lot of time on your hands now, maybe you'll honor this humble public forum with a reply. (P.S., Dr. de la Cova's comparison of you with Jack Kofoed in spot on.)

Posted by George Moneo at 07:00 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (9)

August 10, 2005

I just want coconut ice cream melting down my arm.

While strolling through St. Georges Street in St. Augustine my wife and I were hypnotized by this incredibly delicious aroma wafting through the air on a certain street corner. I'm not sure if I can adequately describe the scent, but it was something of a mixture of chocolate and fudge and sugar wafers and all that is sweet and scrumptuous.

There was a line of people waiting to enter this little shop in the corner, and folks coming out of the store with smiles from ear to ear. Little kids walking around nursing their fudge covered apples. Teenagers rolling their eyes to the delicious decadence of their chunks of fudge. Old and young alike licking away at their double scoops on sugar cones. The August heat and little kids with ice cream melting down their arms.

The August heat and little kids with ice cream melting down their arms.

The minute I saw the first little kid with a huge ball of ice cream sitting atop a cone in his hand and the ice cream succumbing to the heat and dripping and oozing ever so slowly down his little hand and arm I got this incredible craving for coconut ice cream. On a sugar cone. During the first week in August. While away from home.

So, if I may, let me tell you a little coconut ice cream story....

From the time I was 8 the first week in August meant summer vacation at the beach with the whole family. Every year family would fly down from all over and we would all stay one or two weeks at the Hilyard Manor Motel and Apartments. Needless to say, around this time of year I always start to reminisce about the time when all I had to worry about was whether my feet were sandy and I wasnt dripping wet before coming in for lunch at Abuela's motel room and then waiting an hour or so after eating before going back to the pool or the beach. And I think about and I remember and I crave coconut ice cream. On a sugar cone. During the first week in August. While away from home.

And I think about and remember my grandmother.

The first week in August takes me back to the days where dad and I would load my grandmother's Cuban rocking chair onto dad's truck and drive it down to Surfside in Miami Beach. We would unload it along with the rest of my grandparent's things, help with the check in and finally set the rocker in its proper place by the window in my grandparents first floor rental.

Abuela had thrombophlebitis in her right leg and knee and was unable to bend her leg and walk properly. She was a bit overweight which also compounded to her condition. There were very few chairs she could sit properly on, one being her rocker and the other, during the first weeks in August, were the captain's chairs that served as table chairs in some rooms at the Hilyard Motel. So it was our job to get her rocker to the beach and then scour the motel in search of a captain's chair that we'd place just outside her door so that she could sit and enjoy la playa.

Once we had set up the rocker and chair and helped put away my grandparents stuff, it was off to what my grandmother called "Calle Ocho", the two block strip on Harding avenue full of shops and boutiques and tourist tshirt and shell places and our primary destination, the Pantry Pride supermarket. We would stock up on our provisions for the week, me being in charge of abuela's special list that she'd hand me along with a couple of tightly folded dollars as we headed out the door.

Abuela's list was never long and was always simple. Helado de coco, a six pack of Matervas (her own stash), a pack of lady fingers, a box of sugar cones, maybe a specific kind of butter, a box of Kleenex. She always gave me a few dollars more for some chocolate or gum or a watergun.

We'd bring back all the groceries and put them away in the kitchenette. Abuela's secret stash would always be hidden in a spot where only her and I and el Primo, my grandfather, supposedly knew about. Of course, everyone knew exactly where her stash was, but no one ever raided it but me.

The one thing that was always on her list and that they never had at the supermarket was coconut ice cream. In all the years we stayed at the Hilyard not once was I ever able to buy coconut ice cream for my grandmother at the supermarket. Yet every year, in her beautiful handwriting, coconut ice cream was at the top of her little supermarket list.

Fortunately for her, just across Collins Avenue and around the corner at Harding and 96th was Mozart's Cafe, an old style ice cream parlor. It was a small place, decorated like any old time ice cream parlor with deep wood counters and marble tops and polished brass everywhere. There were old sepia toned photographs all over the walls. The ice cream menu written in old fashioned lettering. I can still hear the little bell hung above the door that rang evertime you came in.

Mozarts had every flavor ice cream imaginable. From the standard vanilla chocolate strawberries to the rocky road pistachios chocolate chips to the tropical mameys guanabanas and yes, coconut.

The first couple of years, after all of the first day at the beach chores were done, Abuela sent el Primo and I off on our trek for coconut ice cream. My grandfather and I would stroll over to Mozart's, I would order a cup of mamey for him and a cone of coconut for me in English and we'd sit at the only table in the shop. In those few minutes there with my grandfather, both of us calmy and patiently enjoying our frozen treats, we'd plan the next morning's activities: Breakfast then feeding the pidgeons; A quick stroll down to the Americana looking for shells and then a long swim in the Atlantic.

And just when I was getting down to the last bite, the bottom of the cone, El Primo would slip me some money and say "por poco se nos olvida la Prima." Saying, basically, dont forget the half gallon of your grandmother's coconut ice cream. We hurried back to the hotel not so much because the ice cream would melt, but because by then my grandmother was waiting cone in hand for her coconut ice cream.

Then one year Mozart's stopped selling coconut ice cream by half gallons and my grandfather and I were forced to return to the motel with a double scoop cup. This wouldnt do, of course, for my grandmother. She had very few luxuries in her life and coconut ice cream on a sugar cone was one of them. So the next day, she came up with a plan that set the precedent for every other beach year thereafter.

I'd been swimming all morning in the ocean and had been called in for lunch. Now, being Cuban, this only means one thing: It'll be hours before you can get back in the water. If you eat, you have to wait for la digestion. There's just no way around that wait one hour after eating thing.

As I sat there waiting for la digestion with my grandfather, in the cool shade just outside their motel room, Abuela worked her way outside and sat down next to me on her captain's chair. She looked over at me with this grin, a grin Id never been fortunate enough to receive. One of those grins that were reserved for adults only. One of those grins that conveys some kind of understanding the kids arent privy to.

"Me comiera un helado de coco," she said. She could sure use a coconut ice cream. "Y tu?"

"Si, Abuela," I replied. "Me too."

"Id give you money to buy me a coconut ice cream cone," she said. "But it's too hot. You'd never make it back without it melting."

Without it melting? I thought. Of ourse I could make it back without it melting! Im eleven years old! Much faster than last year! Of course I could make it back! Besides, it's not really that hot.

"I think I can do it, Abuela," I told her.

"No creo," she said. "Besides, you're way too young to go there by yourself. And it's so hot that it would melt half way back here."

"I can do it, Abuela," I said. "I'm much faster than last year. And you yourself said Ive grown this past year."

"Se derrite el helado, mijo." It'll melt.

"Abuela, it wont melt. Im sure of it."

"You really think you can make it back without the ice cream melting? I don't think you can."

"I bet I can," I replied. I was sure I could make it.

"I'm sure you cant make it back," she said. "But I'll take you up on that bet." She reached into the pocket of her bata de casa and pulled our her little lime green change purse. She opened it, took out a couple of folded up dollars and handed them to me. "If you make it back before the ice cream melts, then you win and you get a free ice cream cone."

"And if I dont?" I was almost afraid to ask.

"I thought you said you were sure you could make it?" There came that grin again. "OK. If the ice cream melts before you get cant go swimming until your parents get here this afternoon."

Now the stakes had increased. My parents werent getting to the hotel until late afternoon as they were working, and not being able to swim in the afternoon was a major bummer. But I wanted coconut ice cream. Moreover, I wanted to prove to Abuela that I was, in fact, old enough to get ice cream by myself and that I was, in fact, fast enough to make it back to the motel without the ice cream melting.

So I took the money and sped off to Mozart's. I ran all the way and when I got there I could barely speak. I had to ask for the ice cream in between heavy breaths. Two...single...scoop...coconut ice...creams...on...sugar cones. They served my cones, set them down on the cone holding thingie. I paid, picked the cones up and darted out the door.

I made it from the ice cream parlor to the corner of Harding and 96th without a hitch. I turned the corner and ran along the storefront of the shoe store and onto the parking lot that was at the northwest of corner of Collins and 96th. Both ice creams had begun to melt but I was undaunted. I kept licking at mine as I ran through the parking lot, trying to keep the ice cream from dripping down the cone and onto my hand. My grandmother's ice cream, however, had not only begun to melt, but the cone was almost completely covered by melting ice cream.

I made it to Collins Avenue but just as I got there, the crosswalk signal changed from walk to stop. So I stood there for what seemed an eternity waiting for the traffic to subside, all the while practically gulping my coconut ice cream down and with Abuela's ice cream dripping down my hands and unto my wrist. I nervously paced up and down the one flag of the sidewalk where the crosswalk was.

When the traffic finally stopped and the signal changed, I bolted across the street and continued running full speed past the two motels on the way to the Hilyard. Coconut ice cream dripped all over my shorts and tshirt and chancletas and the street and the sidewalk.

I finally made it to the motel, passed its parking lot, passed the front office, passed the front stairwell and came to a screetching halt where my grandmother and grandfather waited for me, both grinning from ear to ear. One cone almost all licked away and the other whithered down by the August sun and heat. Coconut ice cream dripping all over my hand and down my forearm, and onto my elbow, where it gathered and dripped onto the concrete deck. A trail of ice cream drops lay behind me.

I handed Abuela her half melted cone, she grinned again, raised her eyebrows as if to say Hey you did it but it melted anyway both at the same time.
She licked the ice cream that had dripped over the cone, wrapped a paper towel around it and gave the remaining ice cream a lick all the way around at the top edge of the cone to keep it from dripping further. Then she looked me right in the eyes, smiled, and said "Como me gusta el helado de coco."

This melting of the coconut ice cream became almost a daily ritual. For years I ran the coconut ice cone gauntlet for my grandmother. Every year she would bet me I couldnt get back without the ice cream melting, every year I swore I could make it and every year I dashed back and forth between motel and ice cream parlor. Every year coconut ice cream ran down my hands and arms. And it wasnt until I was much older that I realized that she knew absolutely that first year and every subsequent year thereafter that the ice cream would undoubtedly melt on the way. But that first time, that first time she had duped me into the coconut ice cream relay.

What she never got to know, however, is that now I would gladly make that coconut ice cream run every single day of my life.

And this past weekend, as I stood in the sun and heat in St. Augustine, this first week in August, away from home, with a double scoop coconut ice cream cone in my hand, I was tempted to let it melt and drip down my hand and passed my arm and onto my elbow. Just to let that coconut ice cream drip into a little puddle at my feet. Just to feel like a kid again. Just to have my grandmother a little closer. Just to feel that freedom of childhood with nary any worries about responsibilities and news and events and life in general.

But I didnt, of course, 'cause I love coconut ice cream on a sugar cone.

Como me gusta el helado de coco.

Posted by Val Prieto at 03:05 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (23)

Canadian sucker

A Canadian naivo, someone who probably fancied himself a little too smart to be taken in by a thief, kind of ignored his tingling antennae in the case of castro. So, he obtained a house in Cuba and all the permits to repair it, probably happily thinking to himself that while those gringos have their trade embargo, he had no such problem. Silly gringos, didn't they understand that Cuba is a normal place, just like Canada? A place where you get permits and those permits mean what they say? Maybe it was better that they didn't. With the absence of a gringo buying market to drive up real estate prices, he had it made. What never occurred to him is that the embargo was enacted to protect Americans, not to punish castro. The naive Canadian had no idea he had no such protections.

So, he got TOOK for $100,000 in repairs he made to the house he "bought" in Cuba. It was something he intended to live in, and he vaguely says it was all legal, but the fact remains it was possibly obtained at the expense of some Cuban family castro confiscated it from earlier. If it wasn't, trust me, there were houses in that area that were. And in his naivete, the Canadian somehow thought it couldn't happen to him.

castro took one look at the Canadian's sumptious restoration and lovingly done repairs, and promptly ... confiscated it .... without compensation and without explanation. He handed it to some crony Cuban colonel.

Who's now turning his unearned spoil of socialist redistribution back into a hovel.

That's life, sucker. Go see if the Canadian embassy in all its clout will help you. Go see if castro trembles. You dealt with the devil. You got what he gives. You were castro's chump. Cry me a river. Pardon me while I scoop up a mouthful of schadenfreude.

Read the whole schmuck's account here.

Posted by Mora at 03:05 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (13)

Vergüenza venezolana

The great Venezuelan essayist Gustavo Coronel warns that those Venezuelan military officers who willingly elected fidel castro as their class sponsor face history's opprobrium. It's a cautionary note to all those who would sidle up to the hemisphere's vilest dictator. Coronel writes:

This is an embarrassing, submissive and cringing text, gentlemen. What, I ask you, is Fidel Castro's contribution to peace, freedom and democracy? Did you know that Fidel Castro wrote a letter to Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban missile crisis, asking him to launch a nuclear attack against the United States, and that it was this irresponsible and suicidal request by Castro that made Khrushchev decide not to continue this tragic adventure? Did you know that Cuban prisons today are full of citizens imprisoned for daring to think differently from Castro? Are you simply ignorant or are you shameless admirers of the dictator? In either case, you are clearly unworthy of choosing to lead our armed forces and to be called to defend our sovereignty and our liberties. A country that depends on you to preserve its democracy and its ability to live in peace and freedom is condemned to failure in advance. With "classes" such as yours, Castro and Chávez are preparing the consolidation of a long-term tyranny in our countries.

I do not envy you. Entering into the history as admirers of a dictatorship, as vehicles for the consolidation of a tyranny, is a sad and humiliating role. And it is also a role condemned to failure.

Read the rest here.

Posted by Mora at 03:04 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

iBienvenidos, nuestro hermano!

castro just lost another ballerina. Maybe he didn't like the 'free' health care.

Cuban ballet dancer to seek asylum in U.S.

Miami, Aug 10 (EFE).- Rolando Sarabia, the star of Cuba's Ballet Nacional, is in the United States and plans to request political asylum, people close to the dancer said Wednesday.

"He only spent a few hours with relatives in Miami before traveling yesterday, Tuesday, to Boston," Pedro Pablo Peña, director of the Miami International Ballet Festival, said.

The Boston Ballet, according to media reports, offered Sarabia a contract two years ago, but the Cuban government prevented him from accepting the deal, and the ballet has confirmed that it was still interested in hiring the dancer.

His brother, Daniel Sarabia, 20, who is also a dancer, sought political asylum in the United States three months ago and was recently hailed by critics.

"Rolando waited a long time for the opportunity to escape," Daniel Sarabia said.
Rolando Sarabia, 24, went to Mexico to perform and took advantage of the opportunity to travel to the United States.

Peña said Sarabia planned to return to Miami, home to a large Cuban exile community, to dance in the 10th Miami International Ballet Festival, which runs Aug. 26-Sept. 18. EFE cer/hv

Read it here.

Posted by Mora at 03:02 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (5)

Mob Strikes Again in Cuba

And the broken record continues, courtesy of Net For Cuba and translated by yours truly:

August 9, 2005
Leaders of the Assembly To Promote Civil Society, Martha Beatriz Roque and Antonio Bonne Carcassés were mistreated by a crowd directed by officials of the Cuban political police when they tried to arrive at the residence of Humberto Guerra Perruguría (Benny), in the Párraga district in the outskirts of Havana, to participate in a working meeting of the APSC. The crowd was made up of 50 people, the majority consisting of elderly people and black women, which were dressed as to appear as locals. Not a single young person participated, according to Martha Beatriz via telephone.

Upon arriving at Benny's house, the participants of the mob placed themselves two-deep and held hands to prevent that Martha, Felix and Niurka Pena, who accompanied the two, enter the house. They had already reached the door, in addition to Benny, Miguel Valdés Tamayo and Jacqueline Montes de Oca who were also to participate in the meeting. The crowd shouted "you will not pass" and other slogans, while shoving and scratching Martha Beatriz and her companions whenever they insisted on breaking the barrier to be able to pass. An official of the State Security was heard shouting to the mob, "Don't hit them". At each corner of the place there were others who were did appear to be locals, who did not participate in the acts of aggression. In one of the corners was a yellow bus which apparently had transported the mob.

Carlos Raul Jiménez arrived later at the house and was also attacked by the mob to prevent him from entering Benny's house.

Similar mobs had been placed in front of the houses of other members of the APSC that were going to participate in the meeting, as in the cases of Ana Veitía and Angel Polanco. Last night, the delegate of the Circumscription of Popular Power visited Ana Rosa Veitía, Angel Polanco, Ernesto Roque and Carlos Raul Jiménez and threatened to attack them if they tried to leave their homes to take part in the meeting scheduled for this morning.

Martha Beatriz said after this abominable action by the Castro regime, that "regardless of threats, regardless of the mobs, we we are going to go out to do what we must do; we are going to have the meetings that have to be made, and if they don't let us meet, then fine, it will be at a high political cost". She added that they did not call the international press this time around, but that "from now on we will call the international press so that they be witnesses, so that they can see how they hit us, and how, on top of that, prevent us from having a small meeting of ten people".

Read the official Spanish release here.

Posted by Robert M at 03:00 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

Guantanamo files show fights between detainees

From The Taipei Times:

Guantanamo files show fights between detainees

Monday, Aug 08, 2005,Page 7

Detainees at the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have clashed at least 16 times, including one man who claims he has been beaten by fellow prisoners because he practices a different form of Islam from the majority at the camp.

None of the incidents resulted in life-threatening injuries to the detainees at the center for US terror suspects, according to the documents, which were obtained by the Associated Press Freedom under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.

In one incident, two detainees fought after one accused the other of lying to military interrogators about him.

In another, detainees threw water and feces at each other repeatedly in a dispute that began when one sang during the evening Muslim prayer call.

In a third, a fight broke out between two men after one accused the other of insulting his family.

The accounts come from 51 pages of documents that include reports by guards of incidents from November 2003 to this May in which detainees attacked other detainees at the high-security base in eastern Cuba. Military censors have blacked out names and other identifying details of detainees, US troops or other witnesses and some of the accounts are vague.

It is not clear from the documents whether the detainees were disciplined, but officials at Guantanamo have previously said that inmates who break rules can be segregated, placed in more restrictive settings or lose access to such comforts as chess boards provided by the military.

In a case that prompted an investigation, one detainee told military authorities that he was beaten by inmates and had urine thrown at him because he is a Shiite Muslim and most of the approximately 500 other prisoners are Sunni Muslims.

Authorities at Guantanamo found that he had been in a fight -- in which he had injuries to his lip, front teeth, cheek and ribs -- but they concluded there was no evidence to support his allegation that he has been repeatedly targeted because he is a Shiite, according to the documents.

Posted by George Moneo at 11:46 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)

Killing dogs for Allah

Here's another heart-warming, feel-good story from the Middle East:

Despite a common prejudice in the Muslim world against dogs, which are considered unclean, even the most virulent clerical opponents of the U.S. presence in Iraq have decried the use of canines as proxies in the war.

Abdel Salam Kubaisi, a spokesman for the Muslim Scholars Assn., a hard-line Sunni Arab clerical organization sympathetic to insurgents, called the practice un-Islamic. "Our religion does not permit us to hurt animals," he said, "neither by using them as explosive devices nor in any other manner."

Read the story in The Los Angeles Times here.

Posted by George Moneo at 10:12 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (9)

Have you ever...

..gotten back from a few days rest and relaxation and been barraged with work and news and other crap that made you wish you were still away?

Yeah. Me too.

It sucks.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:31 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (1)

An intimate moment


They look like they'd like some privacy now -Murel Bailey

Posted by Mora at 08:26 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (9)

che guevara, apostle of violence

It's in Spanish and it's five articles from a group of Venezuelan writers in Paris led by Luis de Lion. But it's well worth reading if you know Spanish. These articles articulate the bloodthirstiness of castro's punk and decry the eurotrash's unconscionable adulation of this thug. I will try to translate as many as I can soon. Lots of ugly pictures of che, too. It's here.

Posted by Mora at 08:17 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (4)

castro's first Venezuelan invasion

The monster who took Cuba brought war to Venezuela's shores in early June 1962, invading and killing 300 brave Venezuelan soldiers who defended their nation. Venezuela's nightmare is the oldest dream of the dictator. Since the 1950s, fidel castro has always had his gunsights aimed at Venezuela and Colombia. It's the heart of his longtime masterplan for a takeover of the continent in the name of communism - and his cyclopian desire for absolute power. He is the most dangerous pirate, ever, of the Caribbean.

Colombia knows the Beast's intentions all too well, and fights him as they can. But Venezuela is defenseless now. The nation that fought castro in 1962 now has only a che-worshipping buffoon at its helm, a fool who believes castro's imperial designs are a good thing, something castro must laugh in glee at. To have this sucker fortuitously dropped into his lap after 40 years of subversion and murder is astonishing luck for a brigand.

So you can see why there is so much outrage in Venezuela over castro's second invasion of Venezuela, including his literal military takeover. He is Venezuela's historic enemy. And among good Cubans, too. Venezuela is a country that has expended blood and treasure to fight and keep castro out of their country. Now, their country is being given away. Imagine the impact on Venezuelans of the warmongering castro's second invasion!

I have a letter from a correspondent in Venezuela which is in Spanish only, describing what really happened in that early summer of 1962, which I will post that here.

Update: Here is another article in Spanish on castro's marauding invasions of Venezuela. The people of Venezuela apparently are rising up to reclaim their history, which includes the monstrous presence of castro. It's here.

Meanwhile, a view of the photographs showing what castro brought to Venezuela the first time he invaded is worth looking at and remembering.

The second invasion of Venezuela is in full swing, as Venezuelans well know. In the end, the result will be the same. Here are photos of the war castro brought to Venezuela in 1962 - this is what he did to them:


That was 1962. Today, it's different. With Chavez handing over his army to castro's generalissimo 'leadership,' the monster who brought war and death to Venezuela's streets has now emerged victorious his 43-year war of conquest against Venezuela. The result for Venezuelans is here:


Posted by Mora at 01:14 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (13)

August 09, 2005

An outrage!

I just heard on the radio that the convictions of the five Cuban spies were overturned in Federal Appeals Court because they did not receive a fair trial. The reason: bias in the community! I'll post more as I come across it.

UPDATE: Here's the whole story.

Ah yes, from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the very same court that voted to end Terry Schiavo's life.

More:The Miami Herald weighs in, as usual, a dollar short.

The decision came from Judge James L. Oakes (Nixon), Judge Phyllis Kravitch (Carter) and Judge Stanley Birch (George H. W. Bush). Here is a relevant paragraph from pages 2-3 of the decision:

The defendant-appellants, Ruben Campa, Rene Gonzalez, Gerardo Hernandez, Luis Medina and Antonio Guerrero, were convicted and sentenced for various offenses charging each of them with acting as unregistered Cuban intelligence agents working within the United States. Hernandez was also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder by supporting and implementing a plan to shoot down United States civilian aircraft outside of Cuban and United States airspace. They appeal their convictions, sentences, and the denial of their motion for new trial arguing, inter alia, that the pervasive community prejudice against Fidel Castro and the Cuban government and its agents and the publicity surrounding the trial and other community events combined to create a situation where they were unable to obtain a fair and impartial trial. We agree, and REVERSE their convictions and REMAND for a retrial.

Terrorists. Every last fucking one of them.

Posted by George Moneo at 01:07 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (89)

Havana journo plagiarists? Update

Compare and contrast:

A.M. Mora y Leon:

In Cooder's movie, Ferrer was extremely humble, questioning, open, and exuberant. He was passionate about Cuban music - and dancing, too. He played checkers on the patio. He loved Cuban traditional religion, and in his shabby apartment, he showed his statues of Santa Barbara and other santos to the filmmakers.

Vanessa Bauza, after reading Babalu blog:

Friends and relatives on Sunday described Ferrer as a generous and humble man who loved playing dominoes, dancing and was a devout follower of San Lazaro, one of the most venerated deities in the Afro Cuban pantheon.

Gee what a coincidence. What are the odds that 'HUMBLE', BOARD GAMES, DANCING. 'LOVED' AND SANTERIA would be used to describe Ferrer, in one paragraph just as I had written in the first hours after Ferrer's death??? As if that was all to be said about Ferrer? As if my impressions from a movie I saw six years ago, would be curiously the same as her impressions from the same movie, except that now they were what 'friends and relatives described'? Which ones? While no other obit writer has had the SAME impressions, just her and me? What are the odds of that? iSinverguenza!

I swear to Chango, she needs to do her own work! Not copy off other journalists' papers! She needs to be fired!

UPDATE: Our good friend Paxety, another journalist, was plagiarized by a different Vanessa in Havana - less than a week earlier! This is getting out of hand. Read it here.

Posted by Mora at 01:06 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

I'm back...

... and I'm swamped. Missing a few work days will do that. Hopefully all will be back to normal this afternoon or early tomorrow morning.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:02 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (13)

August 9, 1945

Sixty years ago today, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. A few days after the Nagasaki blast, on August 14, Emperor Hirohito accepted the Yalta ultimatum and President Harry S. Truman announced the unconditional surrender of all Japanese forces ending the war:

This is the day we have been waiting for since Pearl Harbor. This is the day when Fascism finally dies, as we always knew it would."
Posted by George Moneo at 06:00 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (26)

August 08, 2005

Secret Documents Inspire New IFLA Action on Cuba

A message from Robert Kent, Co-chair, The Friends of Cuban Libraries (via Val):

Dear bloggers:

You are welcome to distribute this information to the library blogosphere, and it is especially important that this message be read by delegates attending the upcoming IFLA 2005 conference. Growing public awareness of the secret documents on the trials of the Cuban librarians sentenced to 20+ year prison terms in 2003 is finally having an impact within IFLA.

Open Letter to the International Library Community

Below is a message sent to the IFLA-L listserv in response to an assertion that IFLA's 2001 report on Cuba was able to provide undisputed facts regarding the situation in that country. Sadly, it is becoming ever more apparent that Cuban government officials have engaged in a systematic effort to deceive the international library community with regard to the intense repression and censorship in Cuba.

It is often difficult and painful to realize that we have been deceived, but respect for newly revealed facts can require us to revise our conclusions and take appropriate action. In the words of the Castro government itself, as revealed in secret court documents leaked to the outside world (see below for details), there can no longer be any doubt that the Cuban government is seizing and/or BURNING thousands of library books, including many titles which were shown to IFLA/FAIFE researchers in 2001 in a deceitful effort to conceal Cuba's fierce repression and censorship.

This unpleasant truth can no longer be denied, and IFLA's credibility will be severely damaged unless we in the international library community take principled action in defense of Cuba's persecuted independent librarians and their historic challenge to censorship. A new resolution on Cuba will be introduced by a number of library associations at the Oslo conference, and passage of this resolution will be a key test of IFLA's principled and unbiased commitment to intellectual freedom as a universal human right.


Robert Kent
Co-chair, The Friends of Cuban Libraries

In a message dated 7/20/05 11:30:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time, writes:

They [i.e., IFLA researchers who visited Cuba in 2001] conducted a very thorough investigation among print associations and government officials...

It appears that Mr. Marvin may be unaware of the facts with regard to the persecution of Cuba's independent librarians and the growing support within IFLA for a resolution on this subject at the Oslo conference. The groundswell of support within IFLA for a resolution on Cuba was strengthened by Ray Bradbury's June 27 statement condemning the repression of Cuban librarians and demanding the liberation of those now serving long prison terms; the imprisoned Cuban librarians have been adopted as prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International. ( As more members of IFLA are beginning to realize, the IFLA research team sent to Havana in 2001 was systematically deceived by government officials in an effort to cover up Cuba's pervasive censorship and repression. This reality, unpleasant as it may be, will be addressed by a number of library associations which will introduce a resolution on Cuba at the Oslo conference .

When discussing the issue of banned books with key figures of the Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC), it was indicated that for copyright reasons Infante, Manach and Areñas do not want their works published in Cuba.

Cuba's official library system is modeled on the system of the former Soviet Union. Cuban citizens, as were the Russian people in the old Soviet Union, are routinely denied access to books which criticize the regime. Access to forbidden books, kept locked away in special closed areas of the official libraries, is restricted to a few "trustworthy" readers such as reporters for the government-run press.

As awareness grows of the secret court documents detailing the 2003 trials of Cuban librarians, which were smuggled off the island and published on the Internet, it is becoming generally known that books which Cuban officials claim are freely available to the public are actually being confiscated from the independent libraries and burned by court order. To read just some of these shocking Cuban court documents ordering the burning of thousands of library books, see the following URLs of the librarians' trials: ( and ( .

They [i.e., Cuba's official librarians] also said that the alleged unavailability of Orwell's works is a myth; on the contrary, the National Library is preparing an Orwell exhibition this year.

What totalitarian regime would allow its citizens to read the works of Orwell? This absurd claim is just another example of the systematic deception carried out by Cuba's official librarians during interviews with IFLA researchers in 2001. In actual fact, Orwell's classic books, as revealed by the leaked court documents detailing the 2003 trial of librarian Omar Pernet Hernandez, are regarded as "subversive" by the Cuban regime. In the words of the Cuban government, as stated during the trial of Omar Pernet Hernandez, the secret police "carried out a search of his house and confiscated a great quantity of subversive materials... [T]o list all of them would make this sentence interminable..." One of the "subversive" book titles listed in this court document is Orwell's "Animal Farm." So much for the Cuban government's mendacious claim that Orwell's books are available to the public in Havana's National Library, or anywhere else in Cuba for that matter.

Defenders of the Cuban government would like to forget the fact that in 1999 IFLA issued a report which confirmed and vigorously condemned the persecution of Cuba's independent librarians ( For reasons which remain unclear, this report has never been the subject of a resolution by an IFLA conference, and further confusion was caused by the Cuban regime's temporarily successful effort to deceive the IFLA researchers who visited Havana in 2001. Now that the truth of Cuba's grim reality is becoming better known, a number of national library associations attending the 2005 IFLA conference intend to correct this injustice by introducing a resolution to condemn the Castro regime's systematic persecution of Cuba's independent librarians.


Robert Kent
Co-chair, the Friends of Cuban Libraries

Posted by George Moneo at 07:27 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

More on castro el generalissimo

From the great Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner, describing castro's latest outrage. Montaner knows the score, and his eloquent essay below is a must-read which can also be seen here:


Venezuela: Twenty-first century socialism

By Carlos Alberto Montaner | Firmas Press

07.08.05 | Chávez is in labor. He has said that his country is giving birth to twenty-first century socialism. What is that, exactly? Permit me to explain.

Cuban international TV recently showed a group of cheerful Venezuelan military officers. They were led by brigadier general Eduardo Centeno, director of the Venezuelan army's military academy, the Escuela Superior del Ejército de Venezuela.

Apparently, they were in Cuba to observe the maneuvers of some old Soviet tanks ready to vanquish Yankee imperialism and to entertain and be entertained by Fidel Castro during a military ceremony at which they exchanged gifts and revolutionary slogans. At one point, the Venezuelan soldiers, deeply moved, sang the anthem.

It is hard to believe that the Venezuelan soldiers were really impressed by the exercises of their Cuban comrades, but there is another lesson that was surely more profitable for these officers: they understood exactly of what the Cuban model consists, this twenty-first century socialism that lieutenant-colonel Chávez is drawing from his bowels.

They noticed that in Cuba, the power structure is made up of a dictator at the top, surrounded by military personnel who hold political power, who control the forces of repression and who direct and manage the large productive enterprises.

In Cuba, the military is the head, the heart, and the stomach of the system, whereas society is nothing but a cheap, docile labor force at the service of the military's whims and fancies.

I suppose that many Venezuelan military staff liked what they saw in Cuba. They found a way of putting themselves at the top of the social pyramid, and, in addition, to feel that they are the heroes and lead characters of a glorious historical exploit. Chávez will lead them on the path to privilege, wealth, and social supremacy.

When the system is consolidated, they will be the dominant caste, they will lead lives in splendor, better than the rest of the Venezuelans, they will be feared and respected as is the case with high-ranking Cuban officers. Nobody will be able to criticize them in public, and anybody who does so in private can be accused of disrespect before tribunals where other harsh military officers will pronounce judgment. The military officers will be immune and will go unpunished.

This is twenty-first century socialism: a mixture of an autocratic dictatorship, collectivism and militarization of the power structures. Little by little, the tongs of authoritarianism will continue squeezing Venezuelan society until they have crushed the press, squashed the free unions, controlled the centers of learning and silenced the church and the other forces of civil society.

Where will this Cuban-Venezuelan axis lead us? Given the constructivist rage of Chávez, who never stops reorganizing the world according to his creative outbursts, it is very likely that at some point he will try to launch a confederation between the two countries, but only as a first step towards this idiotic, multinational Bolivarian scheme that has been growing beneath his beret like a tumor.

The confederation could then go on cloning itself sweetly with the incorporation of other gang members of the hopeful revolutionary strain: Evo Morales in Bolivia, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua or any other adventurer who appears in Ecuador or Peru. The issue is quite simple: they already have the model and the discourse. Once in power, the soldiers will build the prison cells and everyone will sail towards the sea of happiness, as Chávez once defined the Cuban experience. This is twenty-first century socialism.

[Written by Carlo Alberto Montaner, Posted by Alek Boyd, Translated by John E.]

UPDATE: Muchas gracias para su linkaso, Luis. Everyone else, check out what Luis has done with it on his elegant blog, Desde Exilio that's well worth reading any time.

Posted by Mora at 01:52 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (7)

August 07, 2005


(Cross-posted at Brandon's Puppy)

Here are a few good reasons why our beloved #13 is the greatest quarterback ever.

Thanks, Dan, for your 17 years with the Dolphins. No matter what the score, with you there was always hope. Today, at 1:00 PM, you join all the other greats in the Hall of Fame.

Dan Marino.jpg

Congratulations on this much-deserved achievement.

1:32PM Wow, when Marino got up on that stage and looked out at the could see the emotion in his face. He looked so overwhelmed, that THAT MANY fans and followers would be there for him.
Val, I hope you're watching this...(if not, don't worry, I'm recording it.)

UPDATE:I missed the live ceremony, but I just now came online to post a small tribute to Marino, only to find my niece Amanda had already done it for me. Gracias, Amanda, you brought tears to my eyes.

ESPN is carrying the ceremony right now and Im about to see Dan give his speech. I've got a box of Kleenex handy.

Posted by Amanda at 10:52 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (9)

August 06, 2005

Ibrahim Ferrer, R.I.P.

Sad news - the great Cuban sonero, Ibrahim Ferrer, a man whose voice was as distinctive and stirring as Celia Cruz's, has died in Havana. He was 78.

He was my favorite singer.

His lashing voice, striking son and bolero songs, and individualistic humor came to life in Ry Cooder's 1999 Buena Vista Social Club film, which while avoiding direct politics, was unintentionally the most damning large-scale film against castro ever made.

Ferrer was a real Cuban who lived and suffered through the castro regime, same as everyone, and for many years was driven from pre-castro-era stardom to obscurity by castro's state planners, the blotting-paper-faced communist bureaucrats who wouldn't know a great singer if he was right in front of them. castro's gray mediocrities consigned the great talent of Ibrahim Ferrer to shining shoes. That's right, castro forced him to give up his golden singing and instead made him a shoe-shine boy. It tells you just about all you need to know about the nature of the castro regime.

In Cooder's movie, Ferrer was extremely humble, questioning, open, and exuberant. He was passionate about Cuban music - and dancing, too. He played checkers on the patio. He loved Cuban traditional religion, and in his shabby apartment, he showed his statues of Santa Barbara and other santos to the filmmakers. Of course he was a threat. But after Cooder's movie, even they could no longer ignore him.

I have his albums and every single off other musicians' records I can get my hands on, and I notice his work improves in succession. It's vibrant, spirited, and highly disciplined. You can tell that this is a great talent even if you do not know much about Cuban music. His talent is that obvious.

He was incredibly good in so many ways.

I love the sexy rhythms and lilting low undertow of Guaguanco Callejero from his Buenos Hermanos album, exuberantly extolling the beauty of his black woman. We all love that black woman he's hailing like a goddess - 'iave maria, morena!'

In No Tiene Teleranya, we hear the song of scorn of a spider caught in its own web, with Ferrer's voice sharply moving against the amazingly rhythmic slack-key guitar that really draws you in. It sounds like surfer music - something that reminds you that Cuba was a major influence on the Southern California surf music of the 1960s.

But I especially love the subtle undercurrents of cutting political putdowns in some of Ferrer's songs, things I hear in his voice and read through his lyrics.

In his Oye el consejo from his Buenos Hermanos album, he, at age 76, manages to convincingly portray the spirit of a 16-year-old boy who's being nagged by his oppressive mother as he longs to be free and experience Havana. She yells that he never listens to her. And he doesn't. Sound political? Maybe it was.

The 1940s-era song, Buenos Hermanos, from his Buenos Hermanos album, is mysterious and stirring and evocative even if you cannot understand a word. But when you read those lyrics, those biting sarcastic lyrics about how 'big brother takes care of me, giving me crumbs and bones and gristle and fat' then you know that, even though there is the political cover of the 1940s, this is a true anthem of the real Cuba under castro. And sung with such heart.

He was taken too young. I hope to god it wasn't the air-conditioning, the castroite power outages suffocating Cuba as I write this. I hope not that.

iQue lastima!


Rest in peace, son of Cuba.

Posted by Mora at 11:15 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (49)

August 6, 1945

This is the text of President Harry Truman's "rain of ruin" speech where he announced the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Sixty years on, it remains the single most controversial military action of the Second World War. For a superb analysis -- that I agree wholeheartedly with -- I urge you read "60 Years Later: Considering Hiroshima" on National Review Online, by military historian Victor Davis Hanson.

Address to the Nation, August 6, 1945

Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than 2,000 times the blast power of the British "Grand Slam," which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.

The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid manyfold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form these bombs are now in production, and even more powerful forms are in development.

It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.

Before 1939, it was the accepted belief of scientists that it was theoretically possible to release atomic energy. But no one knew any practical method of doing it. By 1942, however, we knew that the Germans were working feverishly to find a way to add atomic energy to the other engines of war with which they hoped to enslave the world. But they failed. We may be grateful to Providence that the Germans got the V-1's and V-2's late and in limited quantities and even more grateful that they did not get the atomic bomb at all.

The battle of the laboratories held fateful risks for us as well as the battles of the air, land, and sea, and we have now won the battle of the laboratories as we have won the other battles

Beginning in 1940, before Pearl Harbor, scientific knowledge useful in war was pooled between the United States and Great Britain, and many priceless helps to our victories have come from that arrangement. Under that general policy the research on the atomic bomb was begun. With American and British scientists working together we entered the race of discovery against the Germans

The United States had available the large number of scientists of distinction in the many needed areas of knowledge. It had the tremendous industrial and financial resources necessary for the project, and they could be devoted to it without undue impairment of other vital war work. In the United States the laboratory work and the production plants, on which a substantial start had already been made, would be out of reach of enemy bombing, while at that time Britain was exposed to constant air attack and was still threatened with the possibility of invasion. For these reasons Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt agreed that it was wise to carry on the project here

We now have two great plants and many lesser works devoted to the production of atomic power. Employment during peak construction numbered 125,000 and over 65,000 individuals are even now engaged in operating the plants. Many have worked there for two and a half years. Few know what they have been producing. They see great quantities of material going in and they see nothing coming out of these plants, for the physical size of the explosive charge is exceedingly small. We have spent $2 billion on the greatest scientific gamble in history--and won

But the greatest marvel is not the size of the enterprise, its secrecy, nor its cost, but the achievement of scientific brains in putting together infinitely complex pieces of knowledge held by many men in different fields of science into a workable plan. And hardly less marvelous has been the capacity of industry to design, and of labor to operate, the machines and methods to do things never done before so that the brainchild of many minds came forth in physical shape and performed as it was supposed to do. Both science and industry worked under the direction of the United States Army, which achieved a unique success in managing so diverse a problem in the advancement of knowledge in an amazingly short time. It is doubtful if such another combination could be got together in the world. What has been done is the greatest achievement of organized science in history. It was done under high pressure and without failure

We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war

It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth. Behind this air attack will follow sea and land forces in such numbers and power as they have not yet seen and with the fighting skill of which they are already well aware.

The secretary of war, who has kept in personal touch with all phases of the project, will immediately make public a statement giving further details

His statement will give facts concerning the sites at Oak Ridge near Knoxville, Tennessee, and at Richland near Pasco, Washington, and an installation near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Although the workers at the sites have been making materials to be used in producing the greatest destructive force in history, they have not themselves been in danger beyond that of many other occupations, for the utmost care has been taken of their safety

The fact that we can release atomic energy ushers in a new era in man's understanding of nature's forces. Atomic energy may in the future supplement the power that now comes from coal, oil, and falling water, but at present it cannot be produced on a basis to compete with them commercially. Before that comes there must be a long period of intensive research

It has never been the habit of the scientists of this country or the policy of this government to withhold from the world scientific knowledge. Normally, therefore, everything about the work with atomic energy would be made public

But under present circumstances it is not intended to divulge the technical processes of production or all the military applications, pending further examination of possible methods of protecting us and the rest of the world from the danger of sudden destruction.

I shall recommend that the Congress of the United States consider promptly the establishment of an appropriate commission to control the production and use of atomic power within the United States. I shall give further consideration and make further recommendations to the Congress as to how atomic power can become a powerful and forceful influence towards the maintenance of world peace.

Posted by George Moneo at 06:00 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (58)

From castro's colony...

...a cartoon that appeared in a Venezuelan newspaper ahead of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's castro-style stacked election tomorrow. The face in the figure is a map of Venezuela, with that striped section representing the part of Guyana's territory that Venezuela still claims. I take it you can tell what it says.

The cartoon is courtesy of Alek Boyd:

Source: Tal Cual

Posted by Mora at 02:04 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (13)

fidel Goons Stifle Dissidents Again

Looks like castro's "rapid response" goons are at it again...this time disrupting a media gathering outside the European mission in Havana where dissidents were making statements. The EU, of course, cowered to the goons and cancelled a scheduled meeting with family members of dissidents.

Only in Cuba's Communism can a government goon get paid for a nice day's work.

AP's Anita Snow reports on the latest out of Havana, published in today's Miami Herald:

HAVANA - Government supporters commandeered a news media gathering called by dissidents Friday morning, using impassioned speeches and shouts of ''Viva Fidel Castro!'' to draw journalists' attention away from their opponents.

The rapid, nonviolent breakup of the morning gathering outside the European Union's mission in Havana marked a new strategy in the government's recent handling of the international media's coverage of public appearances by dissidents.

While three pro-Castro militants loudly complained on camera to international reporters about the dissidents, referring to them as mercenaries and worms, the opposition leaders who called the media out quietly slipped away.

The whole event lasted less than a half-hour.

''Well, we believe in democracy and that people can think differently,'' well-known dissident leader Martha Beatriz Roque told reporters before she and two other opposition leaders left the area while cameras and microphones focused increasingly on the government supporters who showed up to complain.

''We are really tired of these sellouts supported by the United States,'' said Lázaro Enrique Suarez, who described himself as a civilian government worker who happened to be in the area when the crowd formed outside the

Suarez and two other men formed the core of the pro-Castro militants, who were later joined by five or six others, including several who displayed a red, white and blue Cuban flag.

Roque called international journalists late Thursday about the Friday morning event, described as a meeting between European Commission representatives and relatives of dissidents imprisoned in a recent pair of public protests.

The majority of the prisoners' relatives, as well as Roque and fellow dissident leaders Felix Bonne and Angel Polanco, were not allowed inside the mission. Roque said just five relatives of two of the prisoners were let in.

The EU mission released a declaration later in the day saying the meeting with relatives of political prisoners was not of a political nature, and was canceled once officials saw what was taking place outside.

Cuban authorities were enraged by the two earlier public protests and the news coverage of them. In both cases, they were broken up by government supporters in much more aggressive ways, with shouting, shoving, the surrounding of dissidents' homes and some arrests. Nevertheless, no injuries were reported in either event. (ed. I beg to differ).

President Castro referred to the protests during his Rebellion Day speech last week, defending counter-protests. Castro said supporters will respond likewise "as long as traitors and mercenaries go one millimeter beyond what the revolutionary people . . . are willing to permit.''

Posted by Robert M at 10:35 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (11)

Mil Gracias!

I am typing this while sitting on the second floor veranda you see in the house pictured here. The Mrs. and I decided to take a few days off and visit the oldest city in the US, St. Augustine. An anniversary weekend getaway.

It's beautiful here. St. Augustine is wonderful. Quiet, slow paced and friendly. Even the mosquitos say Good Morning! before the ask if they can bite you. And our bed and breakfast is absolutely incredible. I'll tell you all more about it soon.

We came with noparticular agenda or schedule, so today we'll basically just have our breakfast in bed and then head out to enjoy the sites and sounds of the Oldest City.

Maggie and I thank all of you who congratulated us and wished us well yesterday for our anniversary. We were both very moved by your thoughts and your kind sentiments. Gracias, gracias. Mil gracias a todos.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:25 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)

August 05, 2005

August 5, 2000

Months of preparations. Hundreds of decisions. Thousands of phone calls. Endless running around. Hours upon hours of planning. Trips to churches and banquet halls. Caterers knocking down our doors. Flowershops, flowershops and more flowershops. Cakes, cakes and more cakes. Hours of early morning setup in the hot Miami August sun and a last minute trip to the shoe store on the way to the ceremony to pick up the shoes I was wearing that were coming in FedEx.

I was a wreck when my wife began her walk down the aisle:


And somehow, as I stood in front of all our family and friends, all the nervousness, all the jitters, all the anxiety and stress and what ifs just faded away. A serenity came over me where all I could hear was the thumping in my chest and all I could think was "How could I be this lucky?"


Five years ago today I married the woman of my dreams. The most profoundly beautiful human being I have ever been blessed to come into my life.


So today, being our fifth anniversary as husband and wife, I want to take this opportunity to say WOOHOO!!!! Five years later and I'm still the luckiest guy in the world!!!


I love you Mrs. Prieto. You're my inspiration, my strength and my future.

Happy Anniversary, mi Reina. You are my every word.

Posted by Val Prieto at 07:00 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (54)

When the Val's away...

...the mice will play! Amanda, Mora, Robert, Fausta, Dean, et al, we're it for a few days. Post away! Here's my current contribution, via Val, from Humberto Fontova writing in Human Events:

Castro Bashes John Bolton as 'Gangster'

Aug 4, 2005 -- "They’d better watch him! This Mr Bolton is a Liar! A Cynic!--a Gangster!"

Then Castro turned from the New York Times to Newsweek and the Washington Post. And who could blame him? Why put Cuba's propaganda ministers to work fashioning anti-Yankee diatribes and puff pieces on himself when he can simply pick up America's Mainstream media? For almost half a century now they've served him handily. During the Elian circus, in particular, they merited honors.

Much better to put my captive propagandists to cutting sugar cane, rather than duplicating the work of the Yankee media, he reasons.

When fidel calls you a "gangster" or a member of the Mafia de Miami you know you're doing something right...

Posted by George Moneo at 06:55 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

August 04, 2005

yanomassmall.jpg (UPDATED)

I have been thinking and thinking about this post for about two or three weeks now. I hadn't posted it because I wanted to consult with a group of folks whose opinions I respect, and pick their brains on how best to start this meme* that may help the struggle in Cuba. (The Spanish version is below.)

This all began after the beatings of the demonstrators who were commemorating the 13 de marzo tugboat ramming. We heard (and saw) these demonstrators bravely confront the goons, we have read about people fighting back when their television sets are to be confiscated. (Mora wrote, in a previous post, that the Cuban people are saying, “¡ya basta!”) Yesterday, Val relayed news of an attack on an EU Commissioner and how the towns-people came to their aid.

I spoke to Val after those 13 de marzo demonstrations and told him that I thought the time seemed right for the people in Cuba to begin to think differently about their situation. After hearing my idea, he pointed me to Jerome DuBois and Catherine King's online novel, La Pionera and The New Mango, which describes the fictional events leading up to the failure of the castro government by the unleashing of a simple idea -- a meme* -- that takes root in the minds and hearts of the Cuban people. After devouring the parts of the novel that had been published, I knew that the synchronicity of my idea, coupled with Val's recommendation of this novel with the same theme, was not a coincidence.

I feel very strongly that this idea – this meme* -- can begin to infect the Cuban people with the strength and will to overcome what they are going through. Overcome the fear of the military, the fear of the CDRs, the fear of the filthy chivatos in the neighborhoods, all of it. Since armed insurrection is not possible at this point, my modest proposal to the people of Cuba is simple. Whenever it gets to the point that the situation seems hopeless, all of you have to say are three words written in Spanish: ¡Ya no mas!"I've had enough!"

To the folks on the island, I want you to say these three simple words: repeat them, believe them. Don't just say them. All of you on the island have to understand that despite the CDRs, despite the lack of electricity, despite the lack of fresh milk for your babies, despite the all of these things, you are still human beings, you have dignity and worth, you are God’s children like the rest of us. And when the frustration is too much, you have to rise up and yell, ¡Ya no mas! -- "I've had enough!"

Everything around us, that is created by man, was once just a thought. The power of the mind to create reality is beyond dispute. These words can empower the people of Cuba with the spirit of liberty. Despite all that the government can do to them, they can still say them and they can still think them. I hope they pass the meme along, paint the words on buildings, write them on the sidewalk, write them in their ration books. All they have to do is to believe them.

“I’ve had enough.”

Un Mensaje para el pueblo de Cuba

En las últimas semanas hemos visto el pueblo de Cuba despertarse del sueño malévolo de fidel castro y conmemorar el 13 de marzo, protestar los policías cuando querían confiscar los televisores (en Calle San Eugenio en Güira de Melena). Estas protestas en Cuba nos afectan mucho en el exilio. Cuando los chivatos y los lacayos de fidel maltratan a los que estan ejercitando sus derechos, como seres humanos dignos, de protestar un gobierno injusto y malévolo, nos dan una gran esperanza para el futuro del pueblo cubano.

Sigo creyendo que tiene que haber una idea, simple y poderosa, que pueda infectar al pueblo cubano con el deseo y la voluntad para sobrepasar lo peor que les puedan dar las fuerzas policíacas de fidel. Una simple idea que ni los militares, ni los comités por la defensa de la revolución, ni los chivatos, ni nadie, pueda quitarle de las cabezas. Al pueblo de Cuba le hago esta modesta propuesta: Cuando lleguen al punto donde ya no pueden más con la situación en Cuba, tienen que decir, tienen que gritar


Tres palabritas. ¡Desahóguense, repítanlas, créenlas! No solamente decirlas, no. Tienen que creer en lo que están diciendo. Que ¡Ya no mas! con los apagones, que ¡Ya no mas! con las esas arroceras tontas, que ¡Ya no mas! con la falta de comida, que ¡Ya no mas! con la falta de leche, que ¡Ya no mas! con la falta de todo que nos permitirían vivir como seres humanos dignos.


Tres palabritas. Escríbanlas en sus libretitas, en las paredes, en el piso, en las calles, en todos los lugares donde puedan. Creen esas palabritas, y cuando en sus mentes ya tengan la seguridad de que ¡Ya no mas! entonces tomen acción.

Note for Spanish readers: if anyone needs to correct my Spanish, feel free to do so in the comments. Any improvement would be appreciated.

*Meme: noun; inflected form: -s; etymology: alteration of mimeme, from mim- (as in mimesis) + -eme: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture. (Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. Merriam-Webster, 2002.

UPDATE:Ed. It's important to point out that similar feelings and thoughts are already being expressed in the island prison as this report from Cubanet shows:

CIENFUEGOS, Cuba - August 2 (Alejandro Tur Valladares, Cubanacán Press / - Colored strips of cardboard with caricatures and anti-government slogans were placed on benches in the Plaza de la Revolución.

According to Roberto Pérez, who saw the strips, one of them depicted a man with a gag over his mouth an the number 46, an apparent allusion to the number of years that Fidel Castro has been in power.

The park is well visited, especially by young people.

Update II: A big thank you to Dean Esmay, who is always first to say "Presente!"

Update III: In addition to Dean Esmay (Thank you, Dean - you are a mensch!) I would like to acknowledge other blogs who linked to the ¡Ya no mas! post (in alphabetical order):

A big THANK YOU to all of you!

Posted by George Moneo at 08:31 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (24)

Che Guevara's Failings

Reader and commenter Daniel sent an e-mail today with a link to an interesting article publised in the Argentine daily La Nacion. The article, written by author, journalist, and lawyer Marcelo Gioffré, deals with the failings of the mighty Che, and are translated into English here for your reading pleasure.

The original Spanish article is also included in the link at the bottom of the post.

A big hat tip to Daniel, thanks.

Che Guevara’s Failings

A Buenos Aires legislator has proposed the renaming of Cantilo Avenue to "Che Guevara Avenue, which leads one to meditate over the merits of the person whose name is being postulated.

Son of an Argentine aristocratic family, Guevara apostatized his origin and his country. He received the title of doctor and also declined the exercise of the profession. As a student, he tried to make gamexane with talcum powder, of Vendaval brand, but things didn’t work out in the company. In 1952, he left his friend Alberto Granado in a Venezuelan leprosarium with the promise of returning, which he never did. In Guatemala in 1954, he failed in vain the defense of Jacobo Arbenz from a coup d’etat. As provisional intendant of Sancti Spiritus, he prohibited alcohol and gambling, a rule that had to revoked the following day. He failed in his marriage to Hilda Gadea. For being so vain, he committed the error of publishing his book “War of Guerrillas”, which was very useful to the Pentagon for disclosing the secrets of armed subversion. He failed in underestimating the blockade. He was unsuccessful in his diplomatic mission in the Conference of Punta Del Este in 1961, where he should have reached an agreement with the United States. He failed in his plan of accelerated industrialization, and with it caused a debacle of the sugar harvest. He lost with Russian economists the controversy over the stimuli (that he tried morals - the "new man" - and the Soviet technicians, material). He failed in his valuation of China and could not convince Mao Tse-tung, in 1965, to wage another guerilla war in Latin America. He contributed in creating a monster in Cuba, then had to resign and leave. He failed as a son (at least in the famous moral dichotomy which Jean-Paul Sartre raises in Existentialism is humanism), since he could not be at his mother’s side when she died of cancer, and in a final letter, that would arrive late, wrote: "I have loved you all very much, just that I haven’t known how to express my affection”. He committed the error of confiding in Fidel by giving him a letter which was to be read after his death, which Castro read prematurely, thereby betraying him. He went to fight in the Congo and, beyond the picturesqueness of savoring butterfly soup, had to abandon the mission. He was armed with an unbelievable guerrilla in Bolivia and it also failed. He was not able to engage the communist Monje nor the farmers to join him for that guerrilla warfare. He was father of five children and, objectively, he let them go at their own risk to undertake a wild trip towards badly calculated utopias. His life as a whole could be seen as an impeccable aesthetic of failure, that concluded, posthumously, with a generation decimated in his name.

Which is his true merit, putting aside the fact of being a fetish of the rebels of the seventies, printed in infinite rowers made according to capitalist canons?

It is true that he achieved the difficult category of myth status, but to it contributed random circumstances that have nothing to do with his virtues. The military triumph in Cuba had much more to do with the prudence of Castro than to the irresponsible heroism of Che. The death and disappearance of his body helped to forge the legend. The necessity of the Cuban regime to have eminence also contributed. His fundamentalism of purity, that he shares with Hitler. But none of these aspects is genuine merit. His anti-Peronism also cannot be seen as the “vedette” of his beliefs, but rather like the typical intellectual leftist criticism of a reformist party.

There’s more: two years ago, having lunch in a bar on Salguero Street with Humberto Vázquez Viaña, a Bolivian who took part in the squadrons of guerrilla support that Guevara mentions in his diaries, I was the object of a frightening confession. This man conjectured that the true reason for which Guevara had fought was not ideological nor idealistic, but therapeutic. As is known, Guevara suffered of asthma but never experienced an attack in the middle of a battle - perhaps due to the additional adrenalin generated -, possibly explaining the hidden reasons for his campaigns, of his uncontrollable desire to continue fighting and to separate himself from tasks, which would not have been for any other reason than to avoid those bronchial spasms. A frankly spurious reason,
of which an eventual confirmation would mute so many demonstrators who hoist his photo with the pierced beret.

But there is a second subject: What is the limit to changes in cities? In New York, there is debate over the extension of the Whitney Museum of American Art, which is located at Madison Avenue and 75th Street. In agreement with the original project of Italian architect Renzo Piano, the extension requires the demolition of two old and arquetipical facades of brown stone, with its cast iron stairs on the outside, which in principle is prohibited by the local legislation.

But this impossibility could yield in the face of an express decision by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, whose task consists exactly of establishing permissible exceptions to the norm. When the subject was raised to the commission, it decided on an alternative, much more modest project, by which only one of the facades would be torn down, therby forcing a narrowing of the access door to the new museum, and following the original plans behind the façade which would remain intact, on the outside, over Madison Avenue.

Renzo Piano maintained his optimism, perhaps for personal rather than architectural reasons, and maintained that the small entrance will help to create an oblique element of surprise, acceding to a great flooded lobby of light, like in the gardens of Eden. The New York Times, however, criticized the decision in an article titled "Commission Preserves the Past at Cost to the Future", indicating that that commission must by agreement study when the rules should be broken and to establish, thus, a correct balance between historical preservation and the blossoming of new architectural efforts which, in return, has adopted a timid attitude which leaves to chance that of a "Potemkin facade", that paradoxically and symbolically seems to define the functions of the organism: to limit itself to the defense of the superficial.

The issue is that neither New York nor Buenos Aires live, as in the 60s and 70s, with the destructive threat of modernism. For that reason, it calls to attention certain reactionary voices that cling to the mere name of a street, as if that was the soul of the city, and its possible change could hurt it to death.

A few days ago, in a letter from readers, a gentleman lamented that his father’s doctor's office had been in an avenue that today has another name. The old struggle of traditionalists and modernists is already obsolete. It is the sum of different historical times, each one contributing its own values and visions of the world, that grants wealth and sense to things: cities are articulated and reinvented only in such a creative and dialectic dynamic, by which dogmatic intransigence in the face of change becomes unacceptable.

But between that tense and rich connection, the idea of paying homage to all-night dreamers, no matter how romantic a trail they have left, sits between a distance that can’t be saved without recklessness.

Un legislador de la ciudad de Buenos Aires ha propuesto la denominación de "Che Guevara" para la avenida Cantilo, lo que lleva a meditar sobre los eventuales méritos del personaje postulado.

Hijo de una familia aristocrática argentina, Guevara renegó de su origen y de su tierra. Recibió el título de médico y también declinó el ejercicio de la profesión. De estudiante, intentó fabricar gamexane con talco, marca Vendaval, pero le fue mal en la empresa. En 1952, abandonó en un leprosario de Venezuela a su amigo Alberto Granado, con la promesa de que volvería, cosa que nunca hizo. En Guatemala, en el 54, intentó en vano la defensa de Jacobo Arbenz frente a un golpe de Estado. Como intendente provisional de Sancti Spiritus, prohibió la bebida y el juego, regla que debió revocar al día siguiente. Fracasó en su matrimonio con Hilda Gadea. Por vanidoso, cometió el error de publicar su libro Guerra de guerrillas, que fue muy útil para el Pentágono, al poner en evidencia los secretos de la subversión armada. Fracasó al subestimar el bloqueo. No tuvo ningún éxito en su misión diplomática en la Conferencia de Punta del Este de 1961, donde debía llegar a un acuerdo con los norteamericanos. Fracasó en su plan de industrialización acelerada y con ello provocó una debacle de la zafra azucarera. Perdió con los economistas rusos la controversia sobre los estímulos (que él pretendía morales -el "hombre nuevo"- y los técnicos soviéticos, materiales). Fracasó en su valoración de China y no pudo convencer a Mao Tse-tung, en 1965, de hacer otra guerra de guerrillas en América latina. Contribuyó en Cuba a crear un monstruo y debió renunciar e irse. Fracasó como hijo (al menos en la famosa dicotomía moral que Jean-Paul Sartre plantea en El existencialismo es un humanismo), ya que cuando la madre murió de cáncer no pudo estar a su lado, y en una carta final, que llegaría tarde, escribió: "Los he querido mucho; sólo que no he sabido expresar mi cariño". Cometió el error de confiar a Fidel Castro una carta para ser leída después de su muerte y Castro la leyó prematuramente, traicionándolo. Fue a luchar al Congo y, más allá del pintoresquismo de saborear sopa de mariposas, debió abandonar la misión. Le armaron una guerrilla inverosímil en Bolivia y también fracasó. No fue hábil para captar al comunista Monje ni a los campesinos para esa lucha guerrillera. Fue padre de cinco hijos y, objetivamente, los dejó librados a su suerte para emprender un viaje disparatado hacia utopías mal calculadas. El conjunto de su vida podría verse como una impecable estética del fracaso, que concluyó, póstumamente, con toda una generación diezmada en su nombre.

¿Cuál es su mérito real, dejando de lado el hecho de ser un fetiche de la rebeldía setentista, estampado en infinitas remeras fabricadas según cánones capitalistas?

Es verdad que accedió a la difícil categoría de mito, pero a ello contribuyeron circunstancias aleatorias que nada tienen que ver con sus virtudes. El triunfo militar en Cuba se debió mucho más a la prudencia de Castro que al heroísmo irresponsable del Che. La muerte y la desaparición del cuerpo ayudaron a forjar la leyenda. La necesidad del régimen cubano de tener próceres, también. Su condición de fundamentalista de la pureza, que comparte con Hitler, también. Pero ninguno de estos aspectos son méritos genuinos. Su antiperonismo tampoco puede ser visto como la vedette de su pensamiento, sino más bien como la típica crítica del intelectual de izquierda a un partido reformista.

Es más: hace dos años, almorzando en un bar de la calle Salguero con Humberto Vázquez Viaña, un boliviano que integró los cuadros de apoyo guerrillero a quien Guevara menciona en su diario, fui objeto de una confesión estremecedora. Este hombre conjeturaba que el verdadero motivo por el cual Guevara había luchado no era ideológico ni idealista, sino terapéutico. Como se sabe, Guevara sufría de asma y nunca experimentó un ataque en medio de una batalla -quizá por la generación de adrenalina adicional-, razón por la cual el propósito oculto de sus campañas, de su irrefrenable deseo de seguir luchando y apartarse de las tareas de escritorio, no habría sido otro que evitar esos espasmos bronquiales. Un motivo francamente espurio, cuya eventual confirmación dejaría mudos a tantos manifestantes que enarbolan su foto con la boina calada.

Pero hay un segundo tema: ¿cuál es el límite a los cambios en las ciudades? En Nueva York se está dando un debate sobre la ampliación del Whitney Museum of American Art, que está emplazado en Madison Avenue y la calle 75. De acuerdo con el proyecto original del arquitecto italiano Renzo Piano, la ampliación requería la demolición de dos fachadas antiguas y arquetípicas, de piedra marrón, con sus escaleras de hierro colado por fuera, lo que en principio está prohibido por la legislación local.

Pero dicha imposibilidad podía ceder frente a una decisión expresa de la Landmarks Preservation Commission, cuya tarea consiste, justamente, en establecer cuáles son las excepciones admisibles a la norma. Planteada la cuestión a la comisión, ésta optó por un proyecto alternativo, mucho más modesto, según el cual se tirará abajo sólo una de las fachadas, lo que obligará a achicar la puerta de acceso del nuevo museo y seguir el ámbito previsto por detrás de la fachada que se mantendrá intacta, en su parte exterior, sobre Madison Avenue.

Renzo Piano mantuvo el optimismo, quizá por razones más crematísticas que arquitectónicas, y sostuvo que la pequeña entrada ayudará a crear un elemento oblicuo de sorpresa, al acceder a un gran lobby inundado de luz, como en los jardines edénicos. El New York Times, en cambio, criticó la decisión en un artículo titulado "La comisión preserva el pasado al costo del futuro", indicando que esa comisión tiene por cometido estudiar cuándo las reglas deben ser rotas y establecer, así, un correcto balance entre la preservación histórica y el florecimiento de los nuevos emprendimientos arquitectónicos y que, en cambio, ha adoptado una actitud timorata que lleva a una suerte de "fachada Potemkin", que paradójica y simbólicamente parece definir las funciones que cumple en la práctica el organismo: limitarse a la defensa de lo superficial.

La cuestión es que ni Nueva York ni Buenos Aires viven ya, como sí quizá pasaba en los años 60 y 70, con la amenaza arrasadora del modernismo. Llaman la atención, por eso mismo, ciertas voces reaccionarias que se aferran al mero nombre de una calle, como si eso fuera el alma de la ciudad y su eventual cambio pudiera herirla de muerte.

Hace unos días, en una carta de lectores, un señor se lamentaba de que el consultorio de su padre hubiera estado en una avenida que hoy tiene otro nombre. La vieja puja de tradicionalistas y modernistas es ya obsoleta. Es la suma de diferentes épocas históricas, cada una aportando sus propios valores y visiones del mundo, la que otorga riqueza y sentido a las cosas: sólo en esa dinámica creativa y dialéctica se van articulando y reinventando las ciudades, lo que torna inaceptable la intransigencia dogmática frente al cambio.

Pero entre ese ensamble tenso y rico y la idea de homenajear a soñadores trasnochados, por más romántica que sea la estela que hayan dejado, media una distancia que no puede ser salvada sin temeridad.

Posted by Robert M at 08:24 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (9)

Una mentirita, por favor.

I've yet to see a study on how the revolution has affected one of the more fromidable aspects of the Cuban culture: Cuban Cuisine. A quick Google of the term Cuban Cuisine yields some 600, 000 results ranging from online recipes to restaurants all over the world. This isnt necessarily a bad thing, of course, the fact that this one aspect of the Cuban culture is so widespread throughout the world tells us that this little island in the Caribbean does indeed have a strong cultural identity.

The problem is that the Cuban diet has been changed drastically by the revolution. Food rationing will do that. As will haphazard and ill-conceived agrarian reforms. I'm pretty sure palomilla steaks are hard to come by in Cuba. As are most viandas, vegetables, that were staples to the ordinary Cuban diet.

Compounding this problem is a general lack of knowledge and understanding of the Cuban situation by those with only a peripheral view of the culture.

We Cubans in exile know the difference, of course. Every time we sit down at our dinner tables to a nice steaming plate of arroz con pollo or carne con papas we know that we are lucky. That Cubans on the island rarely, if at all, get to partake of these everyday Cuban meals. Some still on the island might never have even had a serving of an authentic Cuban carne con papas.

The drink made rum and coke, for example, is another staple of the Cuban culture. It's known in most circles as a Cuba Libre. A Free Cuba. That's not what we call it in the diaspora, however. We have a completely different name for it. We call it a Mentirita. A little lie.

Because we know.

Which is why, when I see or read about someone who has no idea what the Cuban culture is using it as a party theme because it is oh so cool and oh so quaint...well... you can imagine how it makes me feel.

Case in point:

Via Juan, from yesterday's CBS Early Show:

In life, we always want what we can't have. These days, Cuba is the forbidden fruit, which of course makes it taste all that much better. If you can't go to Cuba, why not bring Cuba to you?

(Early Show resident event planner Colin) Cowie shows how even a two-hour cocktail gathering will be more pulled together by recreating a fun and lively atmosphere with a Cuba Libre party."

A Cuba Libre party! In more ways than one, una Mentirita.


Juan's take down of Cowie and CBS is a thing of beauty.

And don't miss Fausta's ass kicking take on this. Another must read.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:20 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (8)

Apagonazo continues broiling summer. While castro cools himself at any of his selection of spa-like palaces. Wherever he wants. He and his cronies. Jingling his $550 million.

Ya No Mas.

Power plant breakdown increases blackouts in Cuba

Havana, Aug 4 (EFE).- Hard-pressed Cubans already suffering through frequent and long interruptions in the flow of electricity saw the problem worsen Thursday when Antonio Guiteras, one of the nation's largest plants, broke down.

In a communique, state-owned Union Electrica explained that the pipeline feeding fuel into the plant's boiler experienced damage.

Repairing and sychronizing the structure, which stopped generating electricity Thursday morning, should take at least until Friday, the note added.

The plant's breakdown has "noticeably impaired electric service," said Union Electrica, as it called on all government agencies to cut back on non-essential activities during peak hours and implement relevant emergency measures.

The plant's collapse is aggravating the power crisis the country has been struggling with in recent months, the result of both breakdowns at several facilities and heightened summer demand.

Problems in the power network are prompting blackouts of up to 10 hours a day in Havana and other cities around the country.

The Cuban government has started an energy-savings plan to reduce consumption and outages that relies in part on replacing traditional incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient ones. EFE mar/mp

Posted by Mora at 08:19 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

August 03, 2005

Democracy in Latin America

This is my first time guest-blogging at Babalu and it's my distinct pleasure, and an honor, to have been invited.

This morning I was posting at my blog about the gaping hole of reality in Fidelugo's Bolivarian revolution, and came across this article, Latin America’s dysfunctional democracy, by Denise Dresser, Professor of Political Science, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México.

In the article, Ms Dresser explains,

Governments that are built on clientelism don’t need to respond. They produce skin-deep democracies in which people have a vote but don’t really have a stake, in which wealth is increasingly concentrated and income disparities are harder to breach. Worse still, such governments turn their citizens into recipients instead of participants.
. . .
Democracy may be working well enough in terms of free and fair elections. But something else is malfunctioning, and it transcends particular presidents, whether the president is Venezuela’s populist Chávez, Mexico’s conservative Fox, or Brazil’s left-leaning Lula. It has to do with a deep, historic, structural reality.

Latin America’s dysfunctional democracy is the result of a pattern of political and economic behaviour that condemns Latin America to stagnation, independently of who governs. It stems from a pattern of postponed or partial structural reforms, of privatisations that benefit elites but hurt consumers.

This has sustained a model that places more value on the extraction of resources than on the education and empowerment of people. Bountiful resources such as oil are a bane for democracy in developing countries, because when a government gets the revenues it needs by selling oil, it doesn’t need to collect taxes. Governments that don’t need to broaden their tax base have few incentives to respond to the needs of their people.

Earlier this year I attended a lecture at the Princeton Public library by José Ignacio García Hamilton (website in Spanish), who describes
La cultura de la democracia se asienta en la autonomía de la voluntad. En las sociedades autoritarias, en cambio, la esfera de la autonomía se aleja del individuo ingresando en otra dimensión: la del padre, el jefe, el general, el dictador.

The culture of democracy is based on autonomy of the will. In authoritarian societies, however, the sphere of autonomy moves away of the individual entering in another dimension: the one of the father, the head, the general, the dictator.

Dr. García Hamilton explored how the authoritarian society can develop into a clientilism culture.

Alvaro Vargas Llosa, who Mora has previously quoted, has published a must-read book, LIBERTY FOR LATIN AMERICA How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression. In his book, AVL looks at clientilism and statism.

Hernando de Soto, in his book The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else explains how the process of establishing propert rights and the rule of law as a normalized component of a society is more a political--or attitude-changing--challenge than anything else.

As we contemplate the possibility of a democratic Cuba, it's worth examining how democracy has developed in Latin America, and how to reform institutions and the underlying culture for the benefit of the public.
And how to avoid more Cubazuelas.

Posted by Fausta at 12:30 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)

castro the Venezuelan generalissimo

Imagine you are a citizen of the U.S., or Mexico, or Colombia, or Peru, or Brazil, or any self-respecting country in the Americas. Imagine how you would feel if your president just couldn't keep hugging the filthy unkempt castro, a man despised by his own people and rapidly headed for the dumpster of history. You could write it off as his foible, and maybe try to ignore it. It would be unpleasant, but you could live with it. Somehow.

But now he's gone further and turned your country's army over to the bearded Beast, the whole damn army, and now made castro the generalissimo. This is the same army that fought castro and his invasions as late as the 1980s.

I trust your blood pressure would hit the top of the measure. And worse.

That's just what Hugo Chavez has done with Venezuela's once-respected military - today, he's turned the military over to castro, flying the whole graduating class over to Havana, Cuba, for him to inspect as their new generalissimo. Oh gee I hope they passed castro's muster.

I think I'd die.

Given the wretched state of the Cuban military, an organization left in ruins by the Monster, its leadership shot dead, its citizens unwilling cannon fodder, it's not surprising that castro's been looking for a new Hessian guard to protect him from the growing rage of the Cuban people. castro knows he's on his last legs, and unable to inspire Cubans, needs fresh blood for a new military to guard his rotting 'revolution' in Havana. Well, now he's got one from his Mini Me in Caracas. Will Venezuelans fight and die against the angry Cuban people for the sake of a dead castro? Incredible as it seems, they might. And this has got to be demoralizing to Cuba's civil society democrats. In fact, sickening.

Alek Boyd's got an appropriately angry essay about what's going on and the vast scale of treason against Venezuela that this Hugo Chavez military 'gift' to Generalissimo castro amounts to.

Read it here.

Posted by Mora at 12:29 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (6)

Dissident sent back to Cuba by INS (UPDATED)

From our friend Stefania in Italy:

Cuban dissident sent back to Cuba (in Spanish). He'll be prosecuted in Castro's infamous "popular tribunals." Just one question to the US immigration authorities: Why????

Robert of 26th Parallel translated the article. Thank you!

Escaped Prisoner Repratriated to Cuba


The surprise repatriation of a Cuban prisoner who escaped from a jail in the south of Havana to seek refuge in the United States, unleashed strong criticism between community activists and lawyers who requested substancial changes in the processing of immigrants intercepted in the high seas.

Jose Manuel García Oliva, 47, and his son, Jose Manuel García Báez, 24, were returned to the island Sunday after being interviewed three times by employees of the Refugee Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS). The authorities considered that neither person demonstrated a "credible fear of persecution" to obtain refuge in the United States.

No exception was made, even for García Oliva, who had escaped from a prison camp in San Jose de las Lajas this past May 8th. García Oliva was serving a 29 year sentence for supposed economic crimes and for attempting to subvert the powers of the state.

"The family is was our turn to lose," declared Rodobaldo García, brother of the repatriated, last night between sobs. "Now he (Jose Manuel) will be condemned for escaping jail and will have to fulfill his sentence until the situation in our country is solved."

He added that relatives in the town of Güines were able to see Jose Manuel after his return to the island through the port of Cabañas.

"They immediately locked him up in a prison called Melena Dos," related Rodobaldo. "My nephew (García Báez) remained free and they took him to his house around 7 PM."

His mother, Dora Isabel Oliva, who has been visiting in Miami since mid-June, has initiated proceedings to return to the island.

The U.S. Coast Guard said yesterday in an official release that 134 Cubans were repatriated during the last seven days and that the determination of each case was done by government authorities in coordination with employees of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

In July alone, the number of Cubans repatriated has risen to 264.
"I cannot explain how a person who escapes a jail in Cuba cannot demonstrate his fear of being return to his captors," lawyer Luis Fernández declared yesterday. Fernández led the efforts of a team of lawyers Wednesday that interposed an emergency resource before a federal court in Miami to avoid the return of the Cubans.

"Using baseball terminoloy, this was a very drastic changeup pitch, with little credibility," expressed the lawyer. "It's time for an investigation to be opened regarding the immigration procedures that take place on Coast Guard cutters.''
According to statistics, 97 percent of people interviewed on the high seas are denied refuge, whereas 50 percent are approved when the interview process occurs on land.

The Democracy Movement described the repratriation of both Cubans as "incomprehensible and inhumane." "We are pleading so that those retained on the high seas have at least the right to legal counsel via telephone, indicated last night Ramón Saúl Sánchez, president of the organization. "What are the magic words that can describe the fear from coming from a culture of fear that prevails in Cuba?"

Posted by George Moneo at 11:10 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (9)

Out of Baghdad

Our compay Yoan - Cubano, capitalista radical, soldado americano, exterminador de islamofascistas y comunistoides - is now out of Baghdad and with his unit serving near Syria. He's safe for the moment, especially from the IED's.

A few readers had emailed inquiring about Yoan, worried that he had not posted or responded to emails for a while.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Yoan. And, once again, thank you for your service. The care package I mentioned will be on its way this week.

Update: Locations corrected. Thanks CB.

Posted by Val Prieto at 08:51 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (8)

Yes but, does it float???

Via Cubanet:

SANTA CLARA, Cuba - August 2 (Ramón González Abreu Cubanacán Press / - At the close of carnival celebrations last week, local residents dismantled and carted off some of the temporary sanitary facilities the municipality had installed for use of celebrants.

Residents theorized that some of the facilities were taken to replace those damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Dennis last month.

Three men were seen transporting one of the facilities in a horse-drawn cart.

Although temporary, the facilities were well built of wood and concrete.

Posted by Val Prieto at 06:13 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (2)

August 02, 2005

From Cuba:

Via Net For Cuba:

It's time to free the streets from tyranny! Alert #1

Santa Clara, Cuba. August 2, 2005

Sylvia Benamur, a diplomat with the EU's Human Rights Commission, who traveled today (August 2, 2005) to Santa Clara province to meet with Guillermo Sardiña Fariña, the province representative of the Assembly to Promote Civil Society in Cuba, was violently attacked, together with her host and twelve others that were accompanying her.

While walking on Aleman Street between Hospital and Misionero, Ms. Benamur, Mr. Fariña and the other dissidents, were attacked by government agents in plain clothes, with sticks and clubs in their hands, and organized anti-dissent mobs. Ms. Benamur and the the twelve remaining dissidents managed to escape the melee, thankfully since the pro-government forces were estimated by some eyewitnesses to be a crowd of 400.

The people in the town, upon seeing what was happening to the group, came to the aid of the twelve and the EU Representative, some going so far as to offer their homes as sanctuary from the government goons and mob. The crowd aided her and the others through back streets through which they were able to make their escape to safety.

En español:




Santa Clara, Cuba. Agosto 2 de 2005

Diplomática de los Derechos Humanos de la Unión Europea (Sylvia Benamur) quien viajo hoy martes 2 de agosto a Santa Clara para reunirse con Guillermo Sardiña Fariña representante en esa provincia de la Asamblea para Promover la Sociedad Civil en Cuba, fue violentamente atacada junto a su anfitrión y otros doce opositores que los acompañaban.

Mientras dicha funcionaria de la Unión Europea caminaban por la calle Alemán entre Hospital y Misionero junto a Sardiñas Fariñas y los otros opositores, agentes de la policía política de la tiranía disfrazados de civiles con palos y cabillas en sus manos, junto a turbas entrenadas para reprimir, atacaron violentamente al grupo, por lo que la funcionaria europea junto a los opositor tuvieron que huir ya que ellos eran solo doce, mientras los esbirros y agentes de la tiranía eran unos 400 según testigos.

El pueblo indignado al percatarse de lo que ocurría se solidarizaron con los opositores perseguidos y la representante europea Benamur, y muchos abrieron sus puertas para que se refugiaran en sus casas. Además, le proporcionaron la logística para que pudieran escapar por callejones y calles, guiándolos así hasta sitio seguro.

Luis Alberto Ramírez

Coordinador General

Fundación Cuba Nación

“El Camino es la Calle y Vamos a Utilizar la Calle en Toda la Nación”

Posted by Val Prieto at 09:57 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (8)

The worst thing outta Brooklyn

I am a former New Yorker, and I adore the bright winter sun and hazy summer heat alike in the speckled spangled urban landscape that is Brooklyn. I love the green of the parks and the cool of the harborview near the Brooklyn Bridge. I love Howard Beach, Bayview, Bensonhurst, Coney Island. It's an acquired taste but I find it energizing - but let's see, for the flip side, what are the grossest things I have ever seen outta Brooklyn?

The fat sewer rats under the bridge at Red Hook? The vomit on the subway platform at Atlantic Avenue? How about the shattered glass by the burnt out house in Bed-Stuy? The degraded bottle bums at Nostrand? No, no, none of those. HERE is the grossest thing I have ever seen outta Brooklyn, right in your face from blogger Da Man, at GOP In The City:

Cop-Hating, Military-bashing, former Black Panther-turned NY City Councilman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) has turned his attention to normalizing relations with Communist Cuba. Barron plans to introduce legislation later this month that would call for the lifting of the embargo on the island.

The NY Sun also reports that Barron praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as a better leader than President Bush, "There is no question in my mind that Castro is a better leader than Bush" Barron said. On America's Cuban policy, Barron stated: "It's the racist arrogance of this country to tell a country of color what kind of government to have.

Oh gawd and it only gets worse. Read the whole thing here.

UPDATE: The "dignified" castro movie clip he has posted will make you feel better.

Posted by Mora at 02:59 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (17)

Another must read on Osvaldo Paya

I forgot this one from Juan Paxety. Very important reading, folks.

Oswaldo Paya Surfaces - Updated

Oswaldo Paya has finally shown up again. A number of folks have wondered where this critic of fidel's regime has been during the Assembly For A Civil Society meetings and during the recent harrassment and arrests of dissidents. He's finally spoken up - in opposition to the U.S. appointment of Caleb McCarry as the State Department's transition co-ordinator.

I wonder why?

Posted by George Moneo at 12:09 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (31)

Must reads for today

I expect a lively debate!

  • The ever-excellent Juan Paxety has an excellent piece on CARICOM and Cuba and on Net for Cuba's report on "Deteriorating Living Conditions" on the island (sobering article).

  • Conductor of Cuban-American Pundits has a piece titled, "Cuba initiates plan change from incandescent light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs". His analysis is spot-on.

  • I know I am going to sound like an out-of-touch-old-fart-fuddy-duddy for asking this, but what exactly is regueton?

  • Ah, Hollywood! Where oh where would we be without the common sense and searing intellect of the The League of Extraordinarily Useful Idiots (a/k/a The Hollywood Leftards). Read this and cry. (Link fixed.)

  • Finally, FrontPage Magazine interviews WorldNetDaily publisher Joseph Farah today. Very edifying -- and very scary. Three weeks ago, I heard reporter and former FBI consultant Paul Williams state categorically that he had solid information that Al-Qaeda has suitcase nukes already here in the US. Some of his findings report were published in Joseph Farah's subscriber-only G2 Bulletin. I hope to God they are both wrong...

Posted by George Moneo at 10:22 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (23)


We interrrupt my official hiatus to bring you this special PSA.

I just received an email stating that my words and blog are full of hate.

My official stance:

Yes. Absolutely full of hate. If you do not abhor fidel castro, his ideals and what he has done to the country, the culture and the people of Cuba, then there is something wrong with you and you are, quite simply, morally abject.

Posted by Val Prieto at 06:44 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (68)

August 01, 2005

La Pionera and The New Mango (continued)

Jerome du Bois and Catherine King have posted new chapters of their superb online novel, La Pionera and The New Mango. This is wonderful writing that should be savored slowly like fine bourbon. Enjoy.

Posted by George Moneo at 08:04 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (3)

John Bolton appointed UN Ambassador

Here is my favorite reaction to President Bush's recess appointment of the fervently anti-castro (!!!) John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations:

The abuse of power and the cloak of secrecy from the White House continues. ... It's a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton's credibility at the U.N." — Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment.

Posted by George Moneo at 04:05 PM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (35)

Herald Takes on Chavez

(Cross posted from 26th Parallel)

Last week, on July 26th, the Miami Herald published an excellent editorial blasting fidel and his regime. Today, the Herald editorial board takes Chavez to task for its charges against the group Súmate, a pro-democracy group that helped organize the recall election last year.

You remember, the election that Jimmy Carter approved and deemed to be fair?

Here's the editorial in its entirety:

A vengeful prosecution


When does democracy building and voter education land you in legal trouble? When you are a civic group trying to check government abuses in Venezuela. The case in point involves María Corina Machado and three other leaders of Súmate, a pro-democracy group that helped organize the recall election that ultimately failed to unseat President Hugo Chávez. The four now are charged with ''conspiracy to destroy the nation's republican form of government.'' They face trial and possible prison terms of up to 16 years.

As evidence of the crime, government prosecutors cite a $31,000 grant that Súmate accepted from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a foundation funded by the U.S. Congress. They argue that Súmate leaders took U.S. government money to dislodge Mr. Chávez from power. What Súmate actually did with the money was teach Venezuelans about their constitutional, voting and other legal rights.

Admittedly, Súmate encouraged people to participate in the recall election. The group would have done the same with any other government in power. This is exactly what groups, such as the League of Women Voters, do in a democracy. Prosecuting Súmate's leaders now smacks of vengeance.

Accepting money from foundations such as the NED, and similar institutions funded by Canadian, European, Japanese and other governments, also is routine for civic groups worldwide. Groups like Súmate form the backbone of civil society; they check and balance governments, a vital role in weak democracies.

Mr. Chávez has accumulated sweeping powers, blurring the boundaries between government branches. A ''content'' law already exists to intimidate the press. Now the target is civil society. By eliminating all checks on government, Mr. Chávez may yet achieve absolute power.

Posted by Robert M at 11:15 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (4)

What god do you worship, Pastors?

The castro-worshipping Pastors for Peace paid homage to none other than the bloodsoaked psychopathic killer, che guevara, as they merrily pushed along on their castro propaganda tour inside Cuba.


What purpose these frauds could have by paying tribute to a cold blooded killer like che is well beyond what I can fathom. Perhaps they are being trotted around by castro to confuse Cuban people who are long deprived of any knowledge of God or religion. These pastors are here to tell Cubans that their god is che and that this is how to be religious. There's something utterly repulsive about this near-satanic spectacle. People of God may forgive brutal killers; they may turn the other cheek; they may sacrifice to make up for the killers' deeds. But they sure as heck don't pay tribute - TRIBUTE! - to monsters who hated God. And who, as che did, made a special venomous effort to murder those who kept their faith in God as authentic Christian martyrs.

This is like worshipping Baal or the Minotaur, with a creepy, eerie, empty pagan echo in it.

The strange religious echoes continue in neighboring Venezuela by the way. In a curious coincidence, today Venezuela's leading Cardinal, Rosalio Castillo Lara, who really is a man of God, warned that castro's catachumen, Hugo Chavez, was in need not of a blessing (or homage, or tribute), but an exorcism.

The Cardinal warned that Chavez had grown into a despotic paranoiac and acted possessed of evil. He also said that the Venezuelan dictator was sheltering Colombian narcoterrorists - another monstrous bloodsoaked group whose inspiration is ... che.

It has the feel of coming full circle. More information is here and here, here.

Posted by Mora at 01:27 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (7)

"Point the Bow Towards Hope" - Part 4: Arrival at Camp Lima

For previous parts, click on the links: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

I saw Javi’s brother in the crowd gathered along the fence of the camp. The bus went through the gate, leaving behind what we perceived as the more “civilized” place in Guantanamo, and entering the main camp where the dust was everywhere, in clouds it seemed. We saw hundreds of tents, all lined up next to each other, in lines almost to the sea. All along the perimeter of the camp, the razor-wire fence loomed, with military guards posted at various points along it length. Hundreds of balseros were thrown against the fence and each other, trying to see who was coming in on the buses.

They were in terrible shape, barely clothed and barefoot. I was terribly affected by seeing this spectacle, probably the worst moment I’ve lived through since my accident. Imagine how these people felt: they risk it all by getting on a flotation device, they think at some point that they are doomed and, miraculously, are rescued. And then, the very people who rescue them, who they thought of as friends, treat them cruelly and stick them in a camp with horrible living conditions. What a betrayal!

They took us off the bus in groups of 30, the exact capacity of each tent. They gave each of us a pack that contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, a bucket, a towel, and a plastic bottle with a top. They left me for last and took me to a medical unit near the tents. It was a wooden structure we had passed on the way in. They took me in straightaway to the medicals office, passing a long line of people waiting there. I saw Pane waiting there in line.

I was examined by an American doctor who spoke fluent Spanish. I explained to him that I needed a wheelchair and possibly a transfer to a camp with better conditions for a paraplegic, considering the dirt and dust and lack of solid ground for chair. He explained that there were no wheelchairs available and that he would keep me in my mind if one became available. He told me he did not have the authority to transfer me to another camp. I was disillusioned, to say the least.

He uncovered my wounds. They were all infected. He asked me whether I was allergic to penicillin and I told him I wasn’t. They gave me a shot of a penicillin derivative called Recephin, cleaned my wounds, and bandaged them. A few minutes later, I started feeling an itch all over and my faced flushed and got very hot. I told the doctor and he determined that I had had a negative reaction to the shot. They gave me another shot on the arm (I don’t know of what) and told me to wait. I was getting worse, getting hives all over, and an accelerated tachycardia. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of me. Several doctors ran and grabbed my arms and placed an IV in each arm, one of dextrose, and the other was hydrocortisone. The also gave me the antidote to penicillin that the doctor said would give me contractions and chills (it did). I was short of breath and they gave me oxygen to breathe. I had just arrived in this place and I was already like this! I was feeling very low. After about 20 minutes I started feeling better. They removed the IVs and the mask and left me on the cot for observation.

After a while they called the guards and they took me to the camp I had seen on the way in, Camp Lima, possibly the worst of the 21 camps at Guantanamo. Everybody there was already set up by the time I arrived. In this camp there were about 100 tents, each with a capacity of 30 persons. There were only two tents empty in the camp. Dad and I were placed in the one of these tents, all alone. I was thinking of you and Felipe, but I didn’t want to think of anything. I was so damn frustrated and upset; I knew this situation was going to be very difficult for us.

I spent the day sleeping. Dad made acquaintance with several people in neighboring tents. We were given these yellow boxes with food, humanitarian ration boxes we learned, that contained crackers, sweets, bread, two bags of cooked lentils, and rice and beans. They were pretty much inedible. I would eat the crackers and the bread and sometimes the sweets. They gave us sandals, shorts, t-shirts, and fed us some of the same rice and beans we had had on the ship, although in larger portions. The camp had 15 plastic “latrines” that were used for both bathing and going to the bathroom; 15 to serve 300 people! You cannot imagine the long lines, the stench, and how unsanitary it was.

The dust was so thick in camp you could write your name with your finger. Even after the meager bath, you still felt unclean, that fine layer of dust was everywhere like talcum powder. The heat in the tents was unbearable, especially at noon when it felt like an oven. At night it was very cold and we had only one blanket to sleep with. Dad and I were shaking in our cots, even after we had placed them close together to gather some warmth from each other.

The camp had its share of what we thought were criminals: drug addicts, gamblers, homosexuals, even some we suspected of being murderers.

We thought we were in hell.

The camp was in chaos, again everybody pushing and shoving and asking if they had seen relatives, yelling out their names, and some were showing papers and yelling out the names of relatives in the USA.

We were very nervous in our tent since it was just dad and I in this large structure. We heard from of one dad’s friends in the next tent that he had had to get tough with some folks that were trying to steal the meager belongings they had. Our tent was special, though; people would defecate and urinate outside our tent while we slept. We decided to move to another tent where with men only, “regular folks” who gave us sincere friendship. We were assured that our stuff would be safe during our visits to the medical tent.

The next day I went to get treatment for my wounds. The doctor had given me a pass so I could leave the tent. The lifted my cot to take me to the medical area of the camp. Some of the good-hearted guards helped me whenever they could. I was even given a large plastic bottle with a top so I could urinate in.

Dad and I (and the others) were waiting to be processed. We were to be given a black wristband of some kind containing all of our personal data that could be scanned. We were in that camp from 27 August to 1 September. On that afternoon, they started taking people out of the camp on buses, grouped by family, to be processed and relocated in other camps – camps that we were told had better living conditions. We were among the first to leave that day since dad had spoken to one of the chiefs. Thankfully we were in the first line.

We finally arrived at the processing center, a wooden barracks behind the medical barracks, that had several tables and computers. They placed the wristbands on our arms, took photographs and took our fingerprints. They sent us to a table where a very nice young lady took our information. She promised us that we would leave Guantanamo, and gave us her address so we would call her when we finally set foot in the States. I felt a little hopeful at that moment.

End of Part 4

(Copyright © 2005 The Universal Spectator in trust for an anonymous author. All rights reserved. The material contained in this story on the website is protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of The Universal Spectator™. English translation Copyright © 2005 The Universal Spectator. All rights reserved.)

Posted by George Moneo at 12:38 AM | Permanent Link to this Post | Habla (4)

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