Friday, July 20, 2007

Birthday Tribute to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, Prisoner of the Regime

Today is the 46th birthday of Dr. Biscet. I will not rehash the facts. You can read his story at Uncommon Sense, which does it much better than I could.
Rather, I'd like to pay tribute to a man of indomitable spirit and a true patriot. Cast in Castro's gulag and alarmed at the drift toward accepting the stabilization rather than the liberation of Cuba, he has the force of will to smuggle out a letter asking us all to accept nothing less than freedom for his beloved country:
Finally, to the leaders of the democratic states of the world, to the American people, and in particular to the President of the United States, George W. Bush, we ask only one simple commitment: do not support or promote any solution or accord regarding the future of the Cuban nation that you would not consider acceptable for your own country.
May God illuminate us in our path for the liberty of Cuba.

Who am I to differ from him? I originally found it through a link from Uncommon Sense, but you can read it in its entirety here.

The Mad Emailer and the Mattresses

Somewhat patronized and very dismissed, the mad emailer is nothing if not persistent. This morning an email went out to Senator Mel Martinez, who should have some inkling. (I won't post it, because I haven't mastered the art of hiding part of a post.) Why not? The Smithsonian relies on the government. Maybe Miamians should follow suit with their politicians.

Che in the Smithsonian: Why it Matters

I've devoted a lot of words to historical context, but the reason the the brouhaha over the Che recordings made available by the Smithsonian matters is consequence. Let's dismiss the question of our sensibilities. They do this automatically. Let's look at the notion of free and unfettered access to information and scholarly research, which is disingenuous at best. When there is free and unfettered access to only ONE point of view that is de facto propaganda.
When it occurs repeatedly throughout academia, researchers are subjected to a steady diet of propaganda, the results of which Cubans and Cuban Americans see daily as the truth recedes ever more from the current discourse.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mom's Maxim's Revisted, Translated, and Updated

By popular demand ( I've received email), here are very bad translations.

-Sarna con gana no pica y si pica no mortifica.
A rash with desire doesn't itch and if it itches, it won't irritate.
Basically, if it's something you want, you won't feel the discomfort.
-Hasta la ciruela pasa.
Even the date(as in date palm) passes.
The equivalent to "This, too shall pass." I might add that pasa also means raisin.
-Si la situacion no tiene remedio porque te preocupas y si tiene remedio porque te preocupas?
If the situation cannot be remedied why do you worry, and if it can why do you worry?
In essence, if it can't be fixed, there's nothing you can do. If it can be fixed, you can do it.
-No llores como mujer lo que no supistes defender como hombre.
Don't cry like a woman what you didn't know how to defend like a man.
Although horribly sexist, it speaks for itself.
-En el reino del ciego, el tuerto es rey.
Another politically incorrect entry. In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
-Un (fill in the blank) hala mas que una yunta de buey.
A female has more pull than a team of oxen.
-Ningun mono se ve su rabo.
No monkey sees his own tail, or we tend not to see our own flaws.

The Mad Emailer and the Museum

In response to this, I emailed the Smithsonian. You know I don't need much prodding to hit the keys. I was very nice. Really, I was. I've lost the email, but I touched on historical record etc... and really pretended to be reasonable.
Well apparently, everyone who emailed got the same response, the first part of which I have copied below. The complete response is available on Babalu .

Like books available in libraries, recordings of topical songs and speeches may espouse contrary opinions and points of view, but are part of the historical record and worthy of study. It is up to individual scholars and members of the public to determine their own interests and make their own evaluations of materials, which you have done. It is the Smithsonian's policy to offer the same access to all of our collections, even to those that some, even many people, might find objectionable for one reason or another....

I responded-
I fully understand the concept of the historical record and support open access. However, I reiterate my original objections. It is obvious that this is not a scholarly source, given the producer's biography and the name of the label. This would be acceptable were you to provide a historical context. Secondly, if you feel it is that important to the historical record, I question why there are no recordings listed of controversial major world leaders.

As it stands you are not offering a contrary point of view and are in essence aligning your institution with the viewpoint espoused.It is your prerogative. I wrote in the hope that it was an oversight.

I just love it when when someone feels the need to instruct me on "the historical record" and "open access." My only regret is that I was interrupted replying and dashed off a hurried response, although it's obvious he didn't read the first one. Shame on him.
Guess where Mr. Daniel Sheehy is going.

Los Cubanitos

When I was a child I wanted to join little league. My father had a different idea. "You can play for 'Los Cubanitos' kids team in Union City" he said.
"But Dad? We don't even live in Union City."
"Don't worry about it. You are going to be great because you can hit with the left and the right."
Little did he know that my being ambidextrous really meant that I couldn't hit either way. Well I never played for the Cubanitos or pro ball for that matter. I must have shattered my Cuban father's dreams.

Absolution and the Press

As I contemplate just how or when the pigs became human, I cannot avoid the role of the press. I have always believed and still do believe in the importance of a free press. From childhood, I regularly read the newspapers, watched Huntley and Brinkley et al. In those days, perhaps in my innocence, I had a great respect for the media. Today, the press is one of my greatest sources of despair.

I'm watching the news and hear that they are going to be reporting about Cuba. Inwardly, I cringe. I don't have to watch it, although I do. I know what is coming- a glossy rendition of Castroite propaganda based on the assumption that the natives are poor but happy and a heck of a lot better than they used to be. The exiles in this country are just a bunch of angry, rapacious lunatics who, my God, have the nerve to wave Cuban flags. They are not to be taken seriously. Invariably, the report will feature some portion of that script.

Why, I wonder. I suspect that there are many causes, but the one that burns me is that they don't do their homework. What happened to factual reporting? What happened to investigative journalism? Is it limited to the private lives of Republicans? Why don't they apply the same skepticism to the assertions of the Castro regime that they apply to those of the Bush Administration? All it would take is a trip to the internet. Investigate Moore's claims about Cuban healthcare. Look at the pictures on The Real Cuba. Then contact them. Find out their sources. Visit a pharmacy in Miami. Ask them how much medicine they send to Cuba? Ask them why.

Could it be that these journalists didn't start out sweeping the pressroom floors and work their way up? That they are for the most part pretty talking heads, products of our journalism schools with all their attendant political leanings? Don't believe me. Do an experiment. Just watch all three major cable news networks, as I used to. I no longer regularly watch MSNBC, as they veered into MoveOn territory. Any network that allows and vaunts the ugliness of Olbermann's rants against Bush and loads its panels with liberals is not for me. Gee, can it be that I like my news with at least the pretense of objectivity? Fox is often too opinionated for me, but it does counter MSNBC. Anyway, forget Cuba. Just listen to the reports. You will find, just on the basis of your watching all three, inaccuracies from network to network. You will hear errors unworthy of any college graduate. Often, I find myself correcting the anchor at home, and I'm just a viewer.

So what happens when your average viewer who doesn't have the time, inclination, or knowledge to question the company line ingests this tripe. You've got it. Let's see, the embargo is the cause of the disastrous state of the Cuban economy, no mention of open trade with the rest of the world or that we are one of their largest food suppliers or the nearly one billion dollars of American property seized by the same government or the unpaid millions they owe other governments. Cuba is a hot tourist spot that Americans are not allowed to enjoy because of that nasty Bush administration and those crazy Cuban Americans, not an enslaved society where the people are nearly forced to prostitute themselves to the Europeans et al in order to lessen their deprivation.. Che is a mythic revolutionary hero, a freedom fighter, not a butcher who died trying to foment revolution in someone else's country, one that apparently didn't want it.

The state of the media these days is truly depressing. It is still our last best hope to combat totalitarianism, but one that is increasingly tenuous. And I haven't even touched on the Paris factor. Ouch!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

While we have EBAY on the Run......

Interesting item.........? Spread your butter with this ! It would seem that EBAY has an open door policy on mass murderer memorabilia....although I didn't find the Hitler finger puppets for children....darn!!

Botanica on the Blogosphere

Now I've seen it all! There is no limit to the enterprising Cuban spirit, no pun intended. I'm following links, trolling the blogs, and I see one of those Google ads for a botanica. For our American readers, a botanica is a store that sells the oils, powders, candles and assorted paraphernalia for the santeria religion. Although only a percentage of Cubans owns up to following it, most have at least a healthy respect for it. Anyway, the juxtaposition is amazing. Here is this very old religion with African tribal roots propagating itself on the net. Maybe I'm the last one to find out about it, and I can't find the word to describe it. It's not quite irony, but...

Someday, I fantasize, when we land on Mars, some Cuban entrepreneur will be there to greet us with a pan con lechon and un cortadito for a nominal fee, of course.

The Cuban Spirit

Although I was tickled by the botanica ad on the blog, further reflection saddened me. This is the spirit, the ingenuity, that the Castro regime has tamped. Fortunately he has not been able to completely erase it. According to my mother, since soap is scarce in Cuba, some budding capitalists will rent the soap they've managed to acquire. You are limited to one bath, stringently enforced.

It's going to go in the pantheon with bistec empanizado, country fried steak, made out of grapefruit rinds, since steak is a thing virtually unknown and shoe soles refashioned from old tires, since a matching right AND left shoe are hard to find. Absurdity.

My Mother's Cuban Proverbs

I'm in the mood for a little lightness. Val Prieto's post on Babalu about a health cubanism the other day got me to thinking.
So I asked Mom who always seems to have a proverb to match the occasion to write some of these down. I'd hate for them to be lost to us with her generation. Here are some I remember. They always lose much in the translation, so I won't attempt it at the moment. More to come.
  • Sarna con gana no pica y si pica no mortifica.
  • Hasta la ciruela pasa.

  • Si la cosa no tiene remedio porque te preocupas, y si tiene remedio porque te preocupas...

  • No llores como mujer lo que no supiste defender como hombre

  • En el reino de los ciegos, el tuerto es rey.

  • Un (deleted) hala mas que una yunta de buey.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

La Empanada

I was remembering when my grandparents used to make empanadas at home. MMMMMMM...There are two things that are mixed in with the ground beef. I used to throw one of them away but eat the other. Only a Cubiche would know what they are. With the leftover dough he would make chiviritos with sugar. Jokingly, my wife and I always kid around about naming our boat "La Empanada." That would be funny.

History Has Absolved least for now

I've been wrestling with the question of how we've gotten to this point. When I was young, the American public might have been prejudiced against Hispanics, but they all knew that the Castro regime was bad. Actually, the ignorance I occasionally dealt with had to do with strangers finding out I was Cuban and saying, "Oh, so you like Fidel." Yes, dope, that's why I live in the United States, I would think.

But somewhere along the way, Fidel got absolved, his victims vilified, and historical fact and context forgotten. Read any comment section under an article dedicated to Cuba, and you will see just how ignorant much of the American public has become. How has it happened?I'd like to propose one reason is that historians have let us down. It is these scholars who write the history books, these history books that educate the generations of Americans. Ask any Cuban American who's sat in a college history class where the subject matter has even the most tangential connection to Cuba what that experience is like. There is nothing like being told that the world is flat and having to sit there in silence, or worse yet, being labeled crazy, stupid, or immoral for insisting it is round.

It would be easy enough to say, "Oh, it's because they are all commie pinkos." And that may well be, but in my experience scholars are well-intentioned, attempting to convey what they see as the truth. Unfortunately historical truth has a context. It is that context that has been lost.

It has been lost because whole generations of scholars and citizens see Cuba with a distorted and, sorry to say, biased frame of reference. They start out with the presupposition that Cuba was an undeveloped and impoverished country. In that context, they see marvelous literacy, health care, etc... What they do not see and what Cuban Exiles and those born in the United States have to work tirelessly to convey is that by almost any quality of life measure, preCastro Cuba had one of the highest literacy rates, lowest child mortality rates, etc., certainly in Latin America. It was not called the "Pearl of the Antilles" for nothing. But beyond that many comparisons have to be made to Europe rather than the developing world.

I do not intend to maintain that it was a perfect society, but what I do intend to propose is that Castroite propaganda aside, any analysis that does not take into account statistics both before and after the Castro dictatorship in context is fatally flawed. And once both sets of statistics are analyzed, the regime is incontrovertibly a failed one.

I look forward to the day when the regime collapses and the truth circulates freely. Then history will vindicate me and the thousands like me out here in the wilderness.

Monday, July 16, 2007

One Crazy Cuban Story

Wow, Lou's last post reminded my of something I was writing this morning. It was the story of my grandparents. The beginning of the story deals with the Great Depression poverty, etc...

About the time of my grandparents' marriage, the brother who was a
printer was in _________ where a new ________ was going up. He sent
for my grandfather and literally gave him the print shop. “Antolin, this
town is going to grow. You will be here to grow with the town.” And
so he did. The single street that ran parallel to _________ where they
settled eventually became the main street of a thriving small town. My
grandparents became solidly middle class.

.... My grandfather had a car, a big, black Pontiac, which he
kept in immaculate condition. He also had the print shop, which was more
of a print shop/office supply/Kodak distributor, and at Christmas, a toy
store. He and my grandmother were creatures of habit. Every day, my
grandfather would close the shop, take a bath, change into his afternoon clothes
and eat dinner. After dinner, they would invariably sit in the big rockers
on the front porch until their early bedtime. Small towns being what they
are, everyone knew this. Well, as the “democratic” revolution became
progressively less “democratic,” the revolution seized his car. And every
evening, the milicianos in their beards and green fatigues would pile into
the car and drive erratically up and down the street in front of my grandparents
on the front porch. My grandfather could only watch as his beloved vehicle
was run into the ground. It didn’t last long.

I think, the final straw for my grandfather came the morning he went to open the
shop and found out that the shop was no longer his. He was working for the
revolution now. He would not even be the manager. There was a woman
who knew nothing about the business who would henceforth be his boss in the
business he had worked his whole life to build. Shortly thereafter he put
in to leave. It was not that simple. By doing that he was opening
himself to all sorts of repercussions. He and my grandmother were now
Gusanos,” or worms. A woman came to inventory every last one of their
possessions, an inventory which was repeated the morning they
left __________ on the way to the United States. When I met my
grandmother and grandfather, they had only the clothes on their backs to their

Crazy Cubans

There was a time when the term "crazy Cubans from Miami" or "Miami Mafia" didn't phase me, maybe since I am not from Miami. Contrary to the beliefs of some, not all Cubans live in Miami. Anyway, I challenge any home owner in the United States to have his HOME and BANK ACCOUNT taken away at GUN POINT and NOT go crazy. I will give you a cigar!

Secondly, I would argue, that unless you have undergone the above (such as the Jews in Germany), you have absoulutely NO AUTHORITY to question any feelings that the exile community may feel.


Crazy= affected with madness or insanity; "a man who had gone mad"

Thief= a criminal who takes property belonging to someone else with the intention of keeping it or selling it.

Okay, so recap, you take away Glover's home and money; then ask him how happy he is!


The Internet and Castro's Demise

How is it possible that Fidel Castro has maintained a communist regime with flagrant violations of human rights NINETY MILES AWAY from the US. I will tell you that Fidel is one of the ultimate spin-meisters known to man. Obviously there are other champions of this technique usually related to the communist party (and slowly affecting the US democratic part as well).
There is something diferent now: the internet! I would love to put Fidel through Mussolini's last minutes, However, I see that ending as highly unlikely. As stated before on this blog in other words: " The Pen is mightier than the sword!" Until now Fidel has spun webs of lies around the stupid, gullible, and those wanting to be fooled. One thing is different now and that is blogging! Although some would disagree, Our best defense against this cretin is our freedom of speech, and I will continue until we take him down. Now his fables cannot go unchecked!

Health Care Utopia

I vaguely remember reading an article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal a few years back, where they interviewed a Cuban surgeon who used to drive a cab on the side in order to suplement his income. Now that is service. Not only does he do surgery on you, but he'll also drive you home in his cab. You do need to bring your own GAUZE to the surgery. I just hope the autoclave is working!



You have to admit that the Castro regime does not get tired of spining propaganda. However, eventually it is just so unbelievable that I can not understand who falls for this stuff. Health care which is so good that FC chose to turn to Spain when he really needed something. The embargo is choking the island, but we also have milion dollar hotels available for tourists. The education system is so good that professionals defect at any chance they can get.The most striking comment in this article is the blatant admission of the use of Cuba's 'human capital." Well straight from the ass' mouth, who can argue that Cuba does not have slavery.And finally don't forget the writer of this article for Reuters is Marc Frank. He is a former writer for the People's Daily World, a Communist Party USA publication.

Posted by Lourod at 12:54 AM

Facts, Facts, Facts! How to prove the "truth"

The current controversy over CNN's factcheck and Michael Moore's Sicko, while gratifying, does little in the way of addressing the horrendous misrepresentation of the Cuban Health Care System in the movie. A member of the Moore entourage has been quoted as saying that she asked the government for the same facilities as ordinary Cubans. Fat chance!

Yesterday, I finished reading The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. I've omitted the subtitle because it is very long. Suffice it to say that the book was about the Cholera outbreaks in 19th century London, including the infamous Broad Street pump. When these took place, the establishment had not idea how the disease spread. Well, actually, they thought they knew. It was spread by a miasma of bad smells. They approached the issue from this perspective, using facts to bolster their position. They were real statistics; they were not however the truth. Unfortunately, the one man who, correctly, came to the conclusion that it was a waterborne illness, had no direct way to prove it. He had no way of identifying the bacterium which causes Cholera. He had to prove it indirectly. The book centers on his battle to do just this and on the effect it had on sciences, cities, etc... It is not a scintillating read unless you enjoy nonfiction, epidemic books, etc... I thought it was interesting enough to be worth the time.

The parallel is here. Since the Castro regime prevents access to its facilities for ordinary Cubans and intimidates its subjects so that they fear uttering anything but the party line, how do we who know more of the reality prove what conditions are? We don't have statistics about the availability of medications, diagnostic tests, modern equipments, sanitary conditions. We are relegated to anecdotal evidence, the occasional graphic image smuggled out. What we need is a way to parlay what we know into what can be substantiated. A tough nut. Oh, and forget the pictures unless we can provide a context. As far as the American public knows, the facilities were always that bad.
Isn't is something, sometimes facts get in the way of the truth.

CNN and Michael Moore

Yes, isn't it delicious! The controversy and the skirmishes between Moore and CNN continue. It seems Moore took exception to Dr. Sanjay Gupta's report on Anderson Cooper's 360. I wrote when it first aired that although Gupta skirted the Cuba issue, it was the first serious look at Moore's assertions. Moore took exception, and the two had an on-air duel. Apparently, Moore was not pleased with his performance, because he used his web site to trash CNN. Well, CNN wasn't pleased, and they have published a response on their website:
I love it when they fight. I just hope that CNN holds steady. Who would have known that the lying gordo de mierda (I'm sorry...couldn't resist... have been holding it in) would be so touchy when his strongest info is questioned? Stay tuned.