No basta decir pa’lante, hay que saber pa’dónde.

I came across this slide show entitled “La Vida Diaria en Cuba” on AOL tonight that accompanied an article about last month’s 56th anniversary of el Dia de la Rebeldía Nacional in Cuba and the lousy economy and broken promises of today and whether life for Cubans has changed.  It seems that with all the misery on the island that the Cubans endure, all the civial rights violations, the poverty, the never-ending crisis, the solution remains:  put up or shut up, that is, leave or deal with it.  

For the past fifty years the revolution has boasted about its success in sports, health and education but these days it doesn’t have the tools to to sustain any of them- they have champions but no stopwatches, doctors but no medicine, and teacher but no books. Yep.  That’s success for you.

You can read the article here and check out the slide show on the same page. (I’d link to it but I can’t seem to link directly to it, just to the article.) I’m impressed that it’s not the usual assortment of happy, go-lucky Cuban people photos and captions full of spin. 

The article is in Spanish.

Oh, Sister!

Wonder if Mr. Obama has been informed of this ongoing situation as he gets all chummy with raulito?

The Washington Post today featured an article by retired Army Lieutenant Colonel and counterintelligence expert, Chris Simmons, about the Sister City Program that Cuban spies are using to go beyond the 25 mile travel limit in the US to target candidates for espionage.  The program was brought about by President Eisenhower in order to foster understanding among people of other countries and cultures.  However, the Cuban DI has been using it to worm its way into US cities to recruit.

One of the cities is my hometown of Philly.  The other cities are Tahoma, Mobile, Pittsburgh, Richmond, (CA), Oakland, and Tacoma.

Read Chris’s piece here.

En Cuba No Falta Nada

Last year I put together this video comparing Cuba de ayer con Cuba de hoy for the blog.  I just watched again it today and thought I would share it with those of you who may not have seen it when I first posted it.   The comments section has an interesting exchange between some pro-Castro viewers and well, those with a brain.


Alberto de la Cruz on Pajamas Media

Our very own perfervid master of reporting, Alberto de la Cruz, was asked by Pajamas Media to opine on the MSM’s (non) treatment of the alleged referendum fraud planned by Zelaya in Honduras.   It appears today and I hope you will all give it a read- it’s fantastic!

Click HERE to read “MSM Silent on Discovery of Planned Honduras Vote Fraud.”

Bravo Alberto!

The Senator Doesn’t Have No ‘Splainin’ to Do!



Does anyone else find this not offensive to Latinos?  I realize that not being Hispanic I  may be missing something here so I thought I’d ask you all.

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) today responded to Sonia Sotomayor’s hypothetical question about what he would do if she attacked him by answering “You’ll have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.” This phrase of course was made popular by Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo in “I Love Lucy.”  This got some laughs but some think his inflection and choice of words may have been inappropriate since he was speaking to the potential first Latina Supreme Court Justice (who by the way is Puerto Rican, not Cuban). 

I have used this expression, accent and all, and have heard many people use it, to Latinos and to Anglos. I’ve never seen anyone get their feathers ruffled by it, but after all, Coburn is a Republican so I’m sure he will be put under the microscope as a closet racist.  

 There’s some more on it HERE.

Sarah Palin Resigns as Alaska’s Governor



Alaskan Governor and 2008 Republican Vice-Presidental Candidate, Sarah Palin, has resigned, effective the end of this month.  She did not give a specific reason for her resignation but did say that she would better serve the people outside of government.  Many are speculating that she wants to concentrate on a 2012 presidental bid and others are speculating that her resignation has something to do with ethics inquiries against her and/or her staff.  Lt. Governor Sean Parnell will take over for her when she leaves office.

Fox News reports:

“She wants to concentrate on doing the things for Alaska and the country” that she is passionate about and can not do as governor with the limitation and constant opposition she deals with within the state.”

I don’t know if I buy the idea of her quitting in order to focus on a presidental run. I don’t think I’m on board with the ethics complaint scare, either.  I never pegged her for a quitter so my guess is that there is something really major behind her decision, but we’ll have to wait to find out in the coming days, if that information is revealed.

At any rate, I wish Governor Palin well.  She’s classy, she’s a lady and she withstood a lot of heat during the campaign that would have caused a lesser woman to crumble.  I’m sure whatever her next step is, she’ll come out on top.

Update (Val): Lots of pundits chiming in that her decision to resign before her term is over has basically ended her political career. And that may be so. But perhaps her resignation is predicated upon the fact that she has a great deal of respect for the office she holds, and believed it better to relinquish same than have her constituents ill-served.

I may be wrong, of course, and this decision may be based on less than noble issues. But one thing is for sure: Andrew Sullivan is frantically scavenging heaven and earth for Viagra.

“Shocking News!” Update: Rick Sanchez, fellow American of Cuban descent, es una lengua’e trapo. Rick, dude, you’re embarrassing the rest of us.

Guilty of Indoctrination?

Well, school is out here in PA as of a few days ago and I had an awesome year.  I taught some really great students this year in all levels.

But the reason I am reflecting is because at some point in each level, I get the chance to teach at least a little about Cuba.   In my level 4 class, which is an honors course, I have students who are Ivy League college-bound, so they are very apt to share their opinions and engage in debate, in Spanish.  This was the first year that I had so many questions about the situation in Cuba. Usually, kids don’t care.  

It’s hard for me not to get on my soapbox but I have to restrain myself because one year a parent emailed me that I was “indoctrinating” her child by discussing anti-communism in my class.  I recall responding that if by anti-communism indoctrination I was telling the students about how little Cubans are “given” to eat and describing the lack of freedoms Cubans have due to the government, then I was, indeed, guilty.  I offered for her to have her son excuse himself from any further discussion that he thought was indoctrination.  

But I digress.  I tried not to put my emotions into what I told them about Cuba and its suffering.  I tried not to color their decision about whether Castro has been “good” (gag) for the people or not. I just gave them the facts, including the literacy rate (and also informed them that they could only read what was not forbidden).  I explained the difference between an exile and an immigrant and how Cubans were and are perceived here in the states.  I even taught them a few Cuban words like San Guibin and picó. I did what I could within the confines of the curriculum.  

And you know what?  In spite of me just sticking to just statistics and facts I could back up and not being subjective, these kids got it.  They nodded in agreement and expressed shock at certain things. Nobody, like last year, chimed in that in the US we, too, have been opressed and “denied rights like privacy thanks to the Patriot Act.” It was genuine disbelief that people could be so oppressed just 90 miles away.  I showed them photos from and I showed them Dr. Biscet’s photo. I explained to them why he was considered a dangerous man.  And I described his jail cell. Mouths dropped open.  The freshmen in one class peppered me with questions about Dr. Biscet.   I told them I did not have all the answers.   One of my freshmen asked me “When will Cubans be free?”  “Soon, I hope.” I told her.  “But when?” her friend asked.  “I don’t know exactly,” was all I could say.

So, in terms of my contribution to “indoctrinating” 123 teenagers this year about the evils of Castro, Inc, I guess some pinkos might say that I did exactly what I was saying that Castro does to his pioneers.  But as I see it, I gave my students something to think about, a reality check that not far from Florida, there is an entire population that cannot get internet in their houses, let alone their IPhones, that cannot afford a basic cell phone, that don’t have a closet full of Abercrombie and Fitch clothes.  I asked them to think about how lucky they are to live here and have the freedom to do things they take for granted. 

So, if what I did means I will be tried for indoctrination, get me a lawyer and make me a deal. I’m guilty as charged.

Below- my Freedom bulletin board with pictures of Marti, Biscet and as well as my Cambio poster. libertad

Remember Old Glory Today


Today is Flag Day. The day that we are asked to remember the meaning of our American flag and everything for which it stands. I was raised by children of Italian immigrants who were tremendously proud to be American, especially my father the vet, who placed small flags around a larger flag on our lawn every flag day. He would “tsk, tsk” about the houses that did not display their flags and was sure to not leave the flags out overnight. As children of immigrants they knew what it meant to be grateful for a prosperous, free country—the land of opportunity that afforded their parents and grandparents a life that they did not know in Italy.

I grew up with a great respect for not just the cloth that hangs on the pole, but for the men and women who died for it, for the liberties we have here that it represents and also for the people who defend it on a daily basis. I try to instill this same respect for Old Glory in my children as my father did in me.

It is fitting that his granddaughter, my thirteen year-old daughter, would be chosen as winner of an essay contest for the city Flag Association on “What the American Flag Means to Me.” She has won other awards and earned accolades this year but this one means the most to me because it means I have done my job in this regard- my oldest child, who is herself the daughter of an immigrant, understands what it means to be American and respect the flag and our country.An excerpt:

“Commemorating those who have risked and lost their lives for our country is also represented through the American flag. As it flows in the wind it takes the strength of our people with it. The flag has cried our country’s tears and has faced the war along with the men and women of our country. It has also been an inspiration for things such as poems, artwork, holidays, and more. It has faced many things throughout the years- showing that our country has survived two world wars and over two hundred years. It shows how we as a nation have survived throughout the years to fight for our freedom- and how we have been victoriously rewarded. The history of the American flag practically tells the story of America itself.”

As I watched the veterans’ color guard march with the flag at this ceremony today, proud as can be in their seventies and eighties, I thought about all the immigrants who comprise this country and I wonder if those who have recently arrived realize, what the United States flag represents. It’s fine to be proud of where you were born or where your blood originates, but we must also be proud of the country that welcomed us, our parents, grandparents or those before them. So many Cubans are seen in images waving both the flag of their beloved Cuba and the flag of their adopted country- that is a beautiful sight. There should be more groups like this who appreciate and value our flag while holding their own close to their hearts.

The land of opportunity, home of the free and the brave are what Old Glory represents, and today we should all give it a salute.

God Bless America

Padre Alberto Leaves the Church


Padre Alberto Cutié has left the Catholic Church and will become a member of the Episcopal church. He made this announcement with his girlfriend at his side at a press conference today. He asked for his privacy to be respected and said that his personal struggle should not taint the committment that so many priests have made to the Church.

He said he wanted to have a family and that his decision was not made over the past few weeks, but rather, over a lot of time, and he knew he could serve God and have a family as well.

He was removed from his parish after pictures of him kissing his girlfriend surfaced, after which he told Teresa Rodríguez of Aquí and Ahora, ”I can say, with sincerity, that she’s a woman I love.” He plans to marry Ruhama Buni Canellis, whom he has known for ten years and has been romantically involved with for two.

The former Padre Alberto is not yet an Episcopal priest, as he has to attend classes to go from lay ministry to priest over the course of a year. His new church is located at Griffin Boulevard in Biscayne Park in Miami.



Today is the birthday of one of Babalu’s contributors. He’s a photo-taking, case-trying, constitution-defending, liberal-loathing, infidel-calling, cigar-smoking, say-what-he’s thinking, guitar-playing, helpful guy and today he is one year older. Happy Birthday to Cigar Mike. Qué lo pases bien, chico.

Hey Now, He’s a Rock Star?

After watching the past three days of pre-inaugural coverage, today I couldn’t bring myself to watch Obama get sworn in. I was full. I watched all the interviews with the men and women on the street, listened to how historic an occasion this was, and caught all the sound bites. But when the time came to watch it over lunch today, I was Obama’ed out. Jaded already. So I skipped it. “Don’t you want to be a part of history?” I was asked. As if me not watching it would exclude me from the history of being alive during this Inauguration.
To be fair, I never really watched the past inaugurations, either, except for President Reagan’s. But after a local special on all things Obama last night here in Philly- the Obama Super Store in DC, the bobbleheads, the flags, the shirts, the mugs, the plates, the candles, the soaps, the plush dolls, the sneakers, the interviews… I just simply had my fill.
It’s not that I want Obama to fail. I am not narrow-minded enough to wish that for our country. I just was hoping that he would have proven himself in some way before he was elevated to rock star status. We are not that shallow a country that we have shot him into the stratosphere of celebrity simply because of the color of his skin, are we? Should we not wait and see what this man does for the United States before all this added pressure is heaped on him? Entering his term and all the issues that come with it, it truly seems as if the weight of the world has been placed squarely on his shoulders. I,for one, cannot imagine why he, or anyone else, would want this job, but I surely do hope he does a fantastic job for all Americans, regardless of race, or religion or political affiliation.
If he manages to bridge the divide that we have experienced in the past 8 years, then that will be a surprise for those of us who have our doubts. It will be a pleasant surprise, of course, but for now, how about we start treating him like a man who has a monumentally important and difficult job to do, not a magical wizard who we wear emblazoned on our shirts because he can wave a magic wand and fix all that ails our great nation. That’s right. For all that ails the USA, we are a great nation. Presidents change, but our greatness does not.
God Bless America and the new President.