This really just in from Cuba: (Updated)

Via Reuters:

13.07.2005 – 20:26
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuban dissidents scuffled with supporters of President Fidel Castro on Wednesday as the demonstrators commemorated the deadly 1994 sinking of a tugboat packed with people trying to flee the country.

The 19 demonstrators marched to Havana’s Malecon sea wall with posters of about 40 people, many of them children, who drowned when the stolen tug was rammed by Cuban coast guard gunboats.

The dissidents threw white flowers into the sea and chanted “Justice! Liberty!” but were quickly surrounded and outnumbered by angry supporters of Cuba’s Communist government. The Castro supporters pushed and kicked them, shouting “Fidel, Fidel, this street belongs to Fidel,” and forced the dissidents to disperse.

Two people, including the leader of the dissident group, Yusimi Jil Portal, were arrested on their way to the protest, dissident Emilio Leiva said.

Survivors of the 1994 tragedy said coast guard boats sprayed the tug with jets of water and rammed it several times until it sank seven miles offshore.

“They wanted to emigrate to the United States because of the extreme poverty that Castro has led the country to,” Leiva said.

Cuban authorities maintain the sinking was an accident and blame the United States for encouraging Cubans to leave the island illegally by offering almost automatic residence as political refugees.

One Old Havana resident, watching the demonstrators go by, said he supported their protest.

“I want to go to another country. If they sent a ship many would want to leave,” said Nestor, a janitor who earns $10 a month.

In a separate incident on Wednesday, a group of central Havana residents took to the street to complain about recent power outages that have left Cuban cities without electricity for hours, witnesses said.

The demonstrators shouted “Down with Fidel” and were soon surrounded by government supporters who beat them with sticks, a witness said.

Update: I just saw video on local TV of the scuffle. There were literally dozens of pro-castro “protestors” – many familiar faces among them – mostly from the few communist organizations the regime keeps close by and living well in Havana to quell any dissenting voices. They were rabid, fueled by hate and powered by willful ignorance. My heart goes out to the dissidents at that protest. If today’s events are an indication of what they are up against, then not only do they have their work cut out for them, but they have some major brass ones.

Ill try to get a link to the video or vidcaps as soon as they are available.

Update: More from the BBC and from SBS World News. (Hattip: RN)

Update: Telemundo 51 has photos here.

Update: Univision has a video link.

32 thoughts on “This really just in from Cuba: (Updated)”

  1. “This is the single most moral relativistic hogwash I have read in a while. Che guevara was a TERRORIST and a Murderer born with a silver spoon in his mouth.” (response to my analysis of the Motorcycle Diaries)
    ***Val, the point I was making was that I WAS NOT claiming he was this sanctified hero…I was not justifying OR excusing his behavior. I also said: “Many people love him, many people hate him…but he made an impact. He inspired people who had previously been without a voice to stand up and say “no”. NO to imperialism, NO to oppressive dictatorships (although his closest comrade would later become one)” I agree wholeheartedly that he was ruthless and helped a man take power who has desecrated the land and people of Cuba. ***Please note that since reading your blog on a daily basis that my ideals and perceptions about the whole situation in Cuba and beyond has changed a great deal. I can admit I am wrong in that I have idealized Che Guevara without having all the facts. I do however, believe that when it is necessary, people need to fight their government to secure their rights as human beings. Is that not what your belief is about Cuba? What if the person who overthrows Castro is a hero one minute and a terrorist the next? I don’t believe that his social privilege alone makes him unfit for a revolution. I do believe that when societies are in desperation, a lot of horrible things are done in the name of “freedom”…which can in turn be extremely oppressive to the very people they are trying to liberate.

  2. Tremenda,

    I understand your points exactly. However, any movie, such as Motorcycle Diaries, made to put a person like che guevara up on a moral pedestal without taking into account all facets of said man is flawed at best, propaganda at worst. Portaying che guevara as this romantic idealist is absurd given the absolute truth about the man.

    Please do forgive my curt answer in your blog. I meant no offense.

  3. Tremenda, castro and che were not acting in the name of freedom. It was done for their own personal ruthless power hungry gratification. They deliberately lied to the Cuban populace. They weren’t gallant “freedom” fighters who later strayed from their righteous path. Their bloodthirsy commitment to violent totalitarian communism predates the so-called revolution and is well documented.

  4. I’ll tell you what Val…I cried in that movie. I cried for the broken dreams of the Latin American people who were abused, tortured, and killed by their governments. In the romantic sense, before he took power (which is when the movie took place as you know) Che represented someone who could inspire them to fight back. I know he committed umpteen atrocities. I know he had no idea what he was getting into and really didn’t need to since his privilege was not at risk. It is for that reason that I will not join the millions of Americans who run around with their Che t-shirts or wallets for that matter. It’s offensive on so many levels…but it’s the spirit of freedom that I believe in. Che has been elevated (as Castro’s poster boy) to represent not himself, but the spirit he supposedly represented. It’s a tough one, but the truth needs to come out and oppressed people all over need a new hero, not one that Castro and Hollywood is feeding them through a baby bottle…

  5. Tremenda,

    Im sure if Hollywood were to make a major motion picture of those poor abused, tortured and killed by men like che guevara your tears shed would be tenfold. What you witnessed in Motorcylcle diairries is an idealized account seen through the prism of someone that never met guevara and that never had to succumb to his sadistic whims. You saw a work of fiction.

  6. Tremenda-You?ve been had by the left. The fact that the movie made you cry is exactly why Hollywood commies like Redford should be tried for crimes against humanity along with castro and his henchmen. This film manipulated the viewing audience?s romantic notions of freedom fighters, thereby perpetuating the myth. This is not the first pro-communist propaganda film from Redford.

  7. Do you think his travels through Latin America were falsely reported? It was told to whoever made it by the best friend who traveled with him. That man still lives in Cuba I believe. And yes, you are absolutely right. I would be torn apart by those images…but I wasn’t crying for Che. I was crying for the people represented in the film. As I said above “the truth needs to come out and oppressed people all over need a new hero, not one that Castro and Hollywood is feeding them through a baby bottle…” So I do realize it was a Hollywood creation…

  8. Ah…Kathleen…I have in the past been “had” but it was through reading accounts of his life in a million (or what seemed like it) page biography. That movie was not the first count of his life I have ever seen…I do read! As I noted above, my views have changed quite a bit since reading this blog on a daily basis. I have NEVER however, been a supporter of Castro a single day in my life and have had several arguments with people out here, including a friend I grew up with who went to Cuba. She came back with the same “at least they take care of their own” rhetoric I hear from everyone else. Trust me, I am ready and willing to admit (and have) that I have romanticized Che. No reprimands needed here!

  9. Tremenda-I’m glad that Babalu is changing your thinking about Cuba. If you’re serious about standing up Cuba, you could start by retracting your post on The Motorcycle Diaries. Giving the film any positive spin encourages others to see it. I agree oppressed people need a hero but in truth, che is a hero only to evil.

  10. Sad to see Cubans fighting against each other but that has been castro’s strategy from the very beginning. Those dissidents are extremely courageous and fed up with the abuses of the regime.
    More will join them as they lose their fear slowly but surely.

  11. Reading Tremenda’s comments makes me realize how important Val’s efforts here really are. Tremenda is obviously a smart and honest person who can learn from new information and change her opinion when appropriate. We all need to keep an open mind as none of us will ever know everything about everything.

    fidel will eventually fall, sooner rather than later, and when he does we will all have TREMENDA FIESTA!!!

  12. Of course, in Havana the only news are the ones carried on the rumor mill (Radio Bemba) there’s no official comment as per what happened this afternoon. The fact that is was caught on video is very telling: the group was infiltrated.
    This also tells that the government looks at the anniversary of their own crimes in total fear. They express their fear as only a terrorist beast can, with abuses and more crimes.
    Tremenda Trigue?a, che huevara DIDN’T ride a motorcycle, he was not even man enough to dare how to ride one. He did ride a bycicle with a lawnmower engine.
    Please refer to this historic document that debunks the romantic myth of the left:
    Take into account that this is a procommunist website that also idolizes that assassin, but the truth is there to be seen.
    Sorry to break the news!

  13. Tremenda, I am just to reiterate something I mentioned in your blog:

    Let us not forget that Hitler?s incipient steps into politics were full of idealism and desire for a better Germany.
    Do we forgive the outcome of his savagery because he held benign and patriotic views as a youth?

    As I also mentioned there is not an IOTA of proof that the movie represents the thoughts of a young Ernesto Guevara. All Cubans have to go by is the remembrance of his disdain for Cubans in general (Called us IN PUBLIC “Cubaniches”- that is a contraction of Cubano-Niche, and niche is the equivalent of “nigger” in Cuba)

    Che’s call to “justice” in the 1950s for the oppressed in Latin America bears the same agenda that Lenin’s during the October Revolution , or Chavez now in Venezuela. It is called “POPULIST POLITICS”. Promise the poor of the world EVERYTHING but feel compelled to deliver NOTHING.

    Take from the rich 90% keep 85% for your own special interests (in the case of KaSStro & “Che? … the destruction of the USA) and whatever filters through goes to the people AND they MUST be THANKFUL they get THAT MUCH!

    Where there, are there inequalities, misery and abuses in Latin America? YES! But look at Costa Rica; look at Chile where the government and the leaders FULL aim was to stamp out extreme inequality and the results are two countries with TREMENDOUS growth. In that environment EVERYONE flourishes. The goal was not to set fire to the world with 1,000 Vietnams; the goal was to cure the ills of THEIR country.
    Civilization has a way of correcting itself through history, especially in democratic countries. A voice like Martin Luther King?s achieved in the USA, what a MILLION Guevaras could not in Latin America.
    It is VERY easy to romanticize the live of a mercenary, an assassin a despot, especially when the truth of his life is buried in the mud of communist propaganda. Think of Billy the Kid and Al Capone, hell , John Gotti is a hero in MY neighborhood (Howard Beach, NY).
    Fortunately Guevara?s boot on the neck of the Cuban people is still fresh enough that we can can demystify the utter lie he’s life has become.

  14. Tremenda,

    There is no doubt that the plight of many people in Latin America when Che made his journey (and even today) sucked. But the point is what did he do to make it better? He chose the path of violence, which he personally relished in. He chose the path of the supremacy of the state, which crushes liberty.

    I’m sure he was moved by what he saw. But in trying to remedy it, he became worse than that which he despised.

    I swear I could make a movie about an Austrian corporal who went to war for Germany in WWI. He was moved by the destruction and havoc the war caused in his adoptive country. He was an artist. He loved dogs and actually fell in love with a movie star. He created a movement, unified a people and made a real difference in the world. It’s a true story and it would be a very pretty movie if I only left out one important detail…he was Adolph Hitler. Nobody should be taking history lessons from Hollywood.

  15. the pictures of those dissidents in Cuba reminded me of how Fidel used to make us kids go to Malecon every year and throw white flowers in the sea to remember Camilo Cienfuegos!!
    The triguena writing about Che Guevara needs to read that post,the terrorist that Ernesto Guevara was and thank GOD HE IS SO DEAD!!

  16. I am struck by Val’s able to recognize the same faces of the same thugs over and over. There must not be many of them, that they have to keep recycling the same ones over and over. How fun it will be for them at war-crimes trial time.

  17. Guau….I come home from work to find all this! So I went out and bought “Cuba Confidential-Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana” by Ann Louise Bardach. It claims to be a balanced account of the tensions between Cuban-American exiles and Castro…we’ll see! I really appreciate you all taking the time to respond to me. As you can probably tell, I am not Cubana or from Miami, so the information many of you have heard all your lives is not common knowledge in my neck of the woods. Remember I am living outside Portland, of the most liberal, brainwashed, in-a-bubble states in the Union. I voted for Bush, I have never supported Castro, and I have many Cuban friends, most of whom have arrived here in the last 10 years. Their point of view is quite a bit more apathetic than the views primarily reflected in this blog. They usually say “No soy pro ni soy contra”…they are just here…I understand that no one is going to risk their life in a maldita balsa because they love Fidel. I will continue to learn, to reflect, and to ask questions. My intent is not to be “brainwashed by the left” I am quite aware of their abundant fallacies. I will not take what anyone says automatically as gospel truth until I look into it myself, so please understand that as well. You all have been great, and I look forward to more of our meeting of the minds…Buenas noches, que la pasen en paz.

  18. Tremenda: That book you bought by Bardach is the one I put down – it’s just boring recycled news accounts along with Bardach’s decidedly east coast liberal opinion. You might be more interested in This Is Cuba by Ben Corbett. I went out and bought that after I shelved the boring Bardach book and found it much better. Corbett actually travelled around the island and talked to people. It was a much better, more real, experience. But like you, I started with Bardach. I just wanted to let you know I didn’t like it, and if you feel the same way, you are not the only one. Here is the other, better book:

    Also, check out ‘Waiting for Snow in Havana’ – my sister gave me that and I really liked it. The guy who wrote it is a liberal but he is a truthful one, so unlike the New York-salon-party chick Bardach, a fraud if there ever was one.

  19. Mora,

    i would hardly call Carlos Eire, author of waiting for Snow, a “liberal”. He’s a Pedro Pan kid, professor of Theology at Yale and Waiting for Snow is nowhere near to promoting the liberal agenda.

  20. Being frugal, I don’t have cable, so I had not seen the video until Val linked to it. Go take a look – it’s very interesting.

    Second, for Tremenda and others wanting to know about fidel’s revolution, prowl ebay and used book outlets for the book “The Losers” by Paul Bethel. He was press officer with the U.S. Embassy in Havana until the US broke off relations in 1961. There’s great detail there that I have not seen elsewhere.

    It’s also amazing to compare US policy in 1959 and following to now – weakness led to disaster. And the New York Times played a prominent role.

    Where is there any proof that Che wrote a single word of The Motorcycle Diaries? Then, we ALL know how Hollywood employs its’ own writers to rewrite and rewrite (and Redford is just as capable of doing it himself) history or any story until it has no relation at all to reality? Am I calling Redford a LIAR? Well, until he proves to us otherwise, I am.
    If Che did write it, it could well be his own fictionalized memories, but I would attribute most of the fiction to Redford and his ilk. We’ve been up to our ears in Liberal clap-trap for too many years now, just as we’re up to our ears in Liberal reporting of the daily news events.
    Portland? Sure it is a hotbed of Liberalism, mostly because it is a College town. Val, when you change minds, it is often done on a one-by-one basis, and the above letter is a testament to this, but hey, Christ himself began by getting 12 men to believe in Him.
    Today our group of Veterans met for lunch, about a dozen of us and some of their wives, and every one of them said the same thing, the kids today know so little about our history. Jack Olson’s own son told him that all that he has learned about WWII, the learned from his father! Imagine? We’ll all over 80 now, but boy, you should have heard the voices today! We’d like to go to a school and be together on stage; we’d give them a piss and vinegar lesson in American history, believe me, every single one of us.
    Cuba? Yesterday my TV talk was called Lollypops. Yep, how tots and children in Cuba do not even have candy, a Lollypop.
    Let’s all PRAY that fidelito suffers the same fate as the dictator of Roumania did when he was deposed. Remember?
    And, once again, send a Link for this Blogsite to ten friends, just ten. Or print it out on Business Cards and pin them to 10 supermarket bulletin boards. Make it your religion to let people know about all the work that Val and George are doing. Be missionaries!

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