Wikipedia, freedom, and me

A guest post by Cuban writer Zoé Valdés

I was harvesting some luscious peaches from my garden when I received a text message from my editor saying she couldn’t believe what was being written about me in Wikipedia, things that Wikipedia wouldn’t let me change. Although I could imagine what she was referring to, I read incredulously the screen grab of the scandalous paragraph she sent, and that reads like this:

Political Position: Supported the United States’ invasion of Iraq in 2003. She also believed that torture was not practiced in the detention camp at the American military base in Guantanamo. (I suppose they are making reference here to concentration camps, a la Nazi, something that never existed at Guantanamo, although there were certainly harsh prisons there.) In her social networks she supports Spain’s political party VOX, generally classified of the extreme right. Supports Matteo Salvini, the leader of the Northern League (Lega Nord), and the American president, Donald Trump. In 2020 signed the appeal to combat the advancement of communism in the world, launched by Santiago Abascal, the leader of VOX. The appeal is considered the equivalent of the first step toward the creation of a radical, Right-wing international movement to wage “a cultural battle against the Left.” Has sometimes been criticized for her language, judged vulgar and aggressive, in her social network posts. Described the writer Gabriel Garcia Márquez as “a son of a bitch” and Rigoberta Menchú, activist for Human Rights, as a “pig” for having signed a manifesto opposing a possible future American aggression against Cuba. In response to the writer, Lucia Etxebarria, who had criticized Spain’s political party, VOX, she said: “Go and wash your dirty beaver.” Attacked the mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, whom she sees as “a dried-up piece of communist shit” and a “red turd” and questioned the intellectual capacity and motivations of the climate change activist, Greta Thunberg.”

This scurrilous paragraph is merely a compendium of deliberately manipulated phrases taken solely out of context from my responses to comments made about me in which I was both rudely and grotesquely attacked, so I simply responded in kind. But, of course, none of those attacks against me appear in the Wikipedia paragraph above.

In the past, I’ve never authorized Wikipedia to share my biography for two reasons: manipulations in regard to my private life and distortions of my political position. I’ve been trying to have it changed for years as evidenced HERE and HERE.

On those occasions I have always received an answer from Wikipedia, Italy, by a presumed Argentinian national (implied by the orthographic errors in the Wikipedia entry that reflect poor mastery of the French language) insisting that this information will never disappear. That is the state of things to date.

I’m well aware that I have a strong and forceful adversary, and that that opponent will always win, or almost always. However, what is truly worrisome is that the journalists and cultural advocates that rely on Wikipedia for their information, sometimes misinformation in the case of authors and individuals, who despite – in my case, I reiterate – a vast body of literary creation under my authorship whose content is, as is my life’s work, profoundly antifascist and anticommunist, because that is who I am and have always made it quite clear, that those information seekers believe this sack of manure of defamatory and distorted “facts”, that by being taken out of context only impels individuals of a certain ilk to take the law into their own hands as did Che Guevara in Cuba and ETA in Spain, and execute me with a bullet shot to the nape of the neck.

Very well, I’ll take the allegations one at a time, not intending to justify myself, just to clarify the facts:

  • In 2003, upon seeing the televised images of Iraqis tearing down a bronze monument of their dictator, I commented in an interview that I was happy for the people of Iraq, broadcast on TVE International, I added that “finally the Iraqis were able to get rid of a dictator in one fell swoop.” That is the extent of my support for that war. What is not said, in either TVE or Wikipedia, is that I have been against many wars waged by the United States in other parts of the world, like the bombings of Syria ordered by Barack Obama, and its previous aggressions in Afghanistan and other countries.
  • In regard to the issue of torture in Guantanamo, on numerous occasions the Obama administration denied it being practiced there. But of course, taking my answer out of context makes it seem – as is implied in the Wikipedia entry above – that I am denying the issue of torture regardless of what a president of the Democratic Party of the US has said about it. Even more so, that comment was made within the context of noting that on the other side of the fence from the US territory which is  Guantanamo, Cuba, that within my own country, the populace of the rest of the island lives in a veritable concentration camp that exterminates all liberties, and that within its prisons, people are tortured to their deaths, a fact verified by the testimony of surviving political prisoners during the more than 63-year history of the dreadful communist tyranny of the brothers Castro.
  • VOX: Let’s be clear that I’ve never belonged to any political party, not even in Cuba, where these days, many former party members are denying their past and claiming to be anti-Castro leftists, and who not only belonged to the Communist party while denouncing innocent people, but followed the orders of Commander Barbarroja (Red Beard), carried out terrorist activities all throughout the world.

VOX is a political party whose members, the majority of which, including Santiago Abascal, come from the ranks of Spain’s Peoples Party, a central-right party, traditionally known as Spain’s party on the Right, today more like a Left-central party, thus letting VOX take charge of the demands of the Spanish people, and that Mariano Rajoy’s right wing party didn’t meet. VOX is a party created and founded by José Antonio Ortega Lara, a man for whom I have much respect as well as do the majority of Spaniards, and for whom, contrary to myself, Wikipedia has treated decently.

Ortega Lara was a prison administrator who was captured and kidnapped by the terrorist group, ETA. He is the person who ETA has sequestered for the longest time (532 days) and under subhuman conditions. ETA, that currently participates in Spain’s mis-government alongside the social-communist government of Pedro Sánchez, under the house-hold name, Euskal Herria Bildu (Basque Country Unite), not only kidnapped, but also barbarously assassinated children (Silvia Marínez Santiago, to name one, who was killed in an explosion in Santa Pola) as well as young and old adults, and politicians of both the Left and the Right; I call your attention to the horrid assassination that I publicly condemned because that night I found myself near the site of the crime, in Barcelona, in 2000, of Ernesto Lluch (of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party[PSOE]), and the horrible demise of the young Miguel Ángel Blanco (People’s Party) whose kidnapping and assassination united all of Spain in a clamorous cry against terrorism. VOX has never assassinated anyone, yet is classified as a party of the extreme right, while BILDU-ETA has killed 853 Spaniards, and since it is of the extreme Left, governs side by side with PSOE (socialist) and PODEMOS (communist).

  • I hadn’t the slightest idea until I read the Wikipedia entry yesterday who Mateo Salvini was. But what I can tell you is that I found one of my commentaries linked to a post in a social network in which someone had placed this man’s comments accusing refugee traffickers, and where I commented that human trafficking is inhuman. We Cubans are quite familiar with this, because during the past 63 years we have had people escaping our country on rafts and more recently by land, leaving them killed and assassinated in Central and South American forests, victims of traffickers who ask huge sums of money to facilitate Cubans attaining their longed-for desire of freedom in the United States. In summary my position against human trafficking is very clear.
  • Donald Trump. In my blog: one can find numerous criticisms of president Trump from before he was elected president and after. I’ve always said from the very beginning that I didn’t like Donald Trump. After elected, he seemed a capable president, one of the better ones of the US, who was elected democratically by the American people. In regard to his position toward Cuba, despite the fact that he made some very important decisions in regard to the Cuban people, I feel he should have done more to assist the freedom they deserve since history shows that his country played a critical role in placing Fidel Castro in power. I’ve harshly criticized his position on Cuba. So why hasn’t that fact appeared in Wikipedia? Because quite intentionally whoever keeps rewriting this paragraph, despite anyone’s intention to have the truth be told, repeats the whole paragraph from the beginning and erases the truth, with the sole intention to hurt me, truly hating me with the full force of its editorial communist/fascist soul. For me, the two adjectives are the same. And furthermore, isn’t it anyone’s right to have an opinion about a politician, whether it’s positive or negative? In this case, I’ve commented in both ways, although only the favorable comments are mentioned.
  • My signing the Madrid Charter. My signature was one of the first to appear on the Madrid Charter (Iberosphere Charter) announced through the Disenso Foundation. I was the first writer to sign it and I would sign it a hundred times more, because I sign anything that is in favor of Hispanic culture and against communism and fascism. It’s curious that other, antifascist manifestoes that I have signed haven’t been mentioned in this mal-intentioned Wikipedia paragraph. The author of this snippet refers to a so-called “Internationale of a radical Right.” I’ve never coined that term, nor has anyone else as far as I know. And excuse me, but the “cultural battle” referred to is something the Left has always waged against anyone who thinks differently than they. I was a victim of that in Cuba and continue as such in Europe since my exile. This maligning paragraph in Wikipedia is stark evidence of that. What the leaders of VOX have been tirelessly declaring is that they are not a party of the extreme Right, rather a party of “extreme necessity.”
  • About my “vulgar” language. Evidently, the author of the you-know-which paragraph suffers from the Illiteracy common to those on the extreme Left. They’ve never read the fierce attacks Don Francisco de Quevedo made against Don Luis de Góngora, nor the “indecent” poems of Cato in ancient Greece. Although I really wish I were a Quevedo to have a Góngora like that, or turn into Cato to go back in time to the age undoubtedly better suited to me, even as a woman, much better than the one in which I find myself, an age in which the arm-chair militants of porcelain teacups abound when it concerns them, but when it comes time to slander, they turn into branding irons. In the social networks my language is much more cultured than coarse or vulgar, but as before, here what is selectively taken out of context is used to be highlighted in a deplorable manner and obscure the rest. It’s simply a means to debase me with cruelty and hatred.

My alleged attack on Gabriel García Márquez (Gabo) occurred in 2003 during a press conference in Frac (the large French retail chain known for sponsoring literary events, conferences and concerts) when a reporter asked me to comment on an article Gabo had written about Elián González, the 4 year old boy who survived shark-infested waters to arrive safely on the USA shore after being rescued by fisherman from his floating, truck-tire-raft in the open sea. His mother, however, did not survive the ordeal. In the article under discussion, entitled “The Shipwrecked Boy”, that can’t be found in Google (strange, no?) García Márquez ends a paragraph by noting his utmost sympathy for the Cuban regime and revealing his contempt for a child’s life by affirming that it would have been better for the child to die at sea rather than be reunited with the rest of his family, his grandfather and uncles, in the United States. I couldn’t restrain myself in my response to the journalist, I burst out with that phrase, that seemed to me quite appropriate at the time to describe any “son of a bitch” like Gabo. Several Spanish newspapers echoed my story, I remember the first: La Razón. I met García Márquez in Cuba, I can say that we were friends, and I have evidence of that in my possession, until I left Cuba and he used his literary agency to wage a brutal war against me, even preventing me from publishing in various world marketplaces, such as Italy and the Netherlands, (where my works had been available previously, with excellent sales.) I’m very familiar with what Gabo was up to there, in Cuba, I’ve never spoken publicly about it, perhaps some day I will… He married his wife, Mercedes, when she was 14 years old, and many years later wrote the book entitled “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” in which an old man reminisces about his pedophilic adventures with adolescent girls, an absolute, mediocre imitation of Yasunari Kawabata’s “The House of the Sleeping Beauties”. I admit that I let myself get carried away with my outburst, but why doesn’t Wikipedia highlight the fact that I have also participated in tributes specific to this author’s work accompanied by, for example, the great Paula Jacques, that took place in the prestigious, Parisienne Odeon Theater?

I didn’t call Rigoberta Menchú a pig (puerca), but rather a swine (cochina), in Cuban slang there’s a difference, I called her that not only on that occasion, but also when it was discovered that in her book, or more properly, the book written by Elizabeth Burgos, and that received the Cuban “Casa de las Americas Award”, she had lied through her teeth about herself, recounting details of a life that were far from true, including lying about being abused. However, Wikipedia’s failed attempt at an accurate paragraph doesn’t mention the numerous times I’ve shown my solidarity with Guatemala and its people, rather it benefits those false leaders that have done so much damage to the cause of Human Rights.

My answer to Lucía Etxebarría was not in defense of the VOX Party, I was defending my Cuban friend, Rocío Monasterio, a member of VOX, when the former, with her customary trailer-trash style that is so characteristic of her, claimed that Monasterio was neither a Cuban nor a Spaniard. I responded to this, and Lucía Etxebarría who is famous for getting into a cat fight with women authors who sell more books than she, for picking her nose in front of a Spanish president, for abusing reporters, for approaching the King of Spain with dirty feet and her shoes in her hands, for clipping her toenails out in the open and appropriating texts of others and claiming they are her own, responded inappropriately, so I answered in kind. Ah, but this important detail doesn’t appear in Wikipedia.

Bill de Blasio declared that he had spent a marvelous honeymoon in Cuba and likewise, subsequently, he shamefully hid the real statistics of deaths during the Covid (aka Chinese virus) pandemic … what I said before I repeat. I only regret that I said it in the electronic social network, in response to a politician who’s not even worth my attention. But of course, in the Wikipedia paragraph there is no mention of what motivates my remarks.

In regard to Greta, the poor girl, I’ve many sorts of comments. I’m very sorry that her troubled soul has been burdened with so much responsibility and that they’ve foisted on her a cause that fills the pockets of incredibly rich people, like Al Gore and company, whose mansions stay illuminated day and night by innumerable, elegant lights and have private jets to transport them to weekend retreats and climate conferences. Let those who surround her be responsible for turning this girl into the broken toy that she will soon become. If she repels me it’s because of which she symbolizes, that is, the ideas and conduct of the most backward and immoral leftist, a force prevalent in this world of illusions and propaganda that is today’s world, and claim a moral and doctrinal superiority to the rest of us, while profiting financially from their schemes. Yet, there’s no mention in the “Political Position” paragraph of the numerous times in which I have defended this girl who has been used over and over again for political purposes, nor is there the slightest mention of the same defense I’ve made on behalf of many other similarly used girls.

Nowhere in my “Political Position” section of Wikipedia do they mention that I have repeatedly declared myself as being antifascist and anticommunist. Nor do they highlight my recognized works in defense of human rights in Cuba and throughout the world, for example, the right of Pakistani girls to be formally educated, nor my support of the Haitian people against their corrupt presidents, nor do they mention my participation in the creation of “Ojectives for the Millennium’s Development,” whose purpose is to help humanity to achieve a better life, nor is there any mention of my participation in the “Comité de Soutien” to promote the candidacy of socialist, Anne Hidalgo, for mayor of Paris, since at that time she expressed her support for the Cuban activist movement, “Ladies in White”, and the efforts for freedom of Cubans in general. My support for her ended when she rolled out the red carpet for Raul Castro and his clan, and sat with him to discuss “cultural collaboration.”

Once again, I declare that my private political opinions belong to me, and that I am, as I have said so many times and furthermore proven through my literary, journalistic work, that I am profoundly against communism and fascism (the two being one in the same); no one will every alter my position nor should anyone doubt my struggle, which is the struggle for Freedom. Because the only political part that I belong to, as a woman, mother, writer and Cuban exile is the one called Freedom.

Translated by Rolando Morelli and Kurt Findeisen.

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