Saturday, August 4, 2007

Slaves of the Caribbean

I was avoiding the story of the two boxers who attempted to defect being sent back to Cuba by BRAZIL. Let's not forget that. God only knows what hellhole awaits them. Anyway, I came across a post on La Contra Revolucion via Babalu that touched my desensitized heart. Here's some.
Whether it’s a balsero “repatriated” back to Cuba, or a Doctor
indentured to work in Bolivia, or a ship worker forced to work in Curacao or
Elian Gonzalez abducted the day before Easter or Yuliet Rodriguez, married to an
American, abducted in Venezuela and sent back to Cuba or Guillermo Rigondeaux,
two-time bantamweight Olympic champion, or welterweight world champion Erislandy Lara it doesn’t matter. If you’re a Cuban you’re Castro’s property.

Let's Give Them an Olive Branch in Return

I just had a marvelous thought. Why doesn't the United States respond to the perceived (although I missed it) olive branch, supposedly extended by Raul? I can see it now. We would be delighted to enter into negotiations (just negotiations) on an equal footing, ascribing to the Cuban government all the dignity it requires. Unfortunately by law, the United States cannot have any dealings with Raul, so in order to better the lot of his countrymen and to further the interests of his country, Raul needs to remove himself permanently. Venezuela sounds about right.

Cuba News

A couple of interesting articles yesterday and today:

Venezuelan Oil Subsidies to Cuba Top $3 Billion, Report Says The money quote-
"Cuba is probably not paying for imports of crude oil and refined products with hard currency, representing a significant loss of revenue for Venezuela, according to the report.

Venezuela plans oil search off Cuba Effort may start new debate over U.S. sanctions
Sen Craig of Idaho puts in his two cents via a spokesman:
"It's one thing when it's Canada and China, another when Hugo Chavez comes knocking," Whiting said. "This might push folks over the edge" to supporting changes in the sanctions.
Here we go again. It may be time to revise strategy.

Cuban-American group proposes fund to help private enterprise in Cuba
It would be a government fund like those used to help Eastern European countries. At first I was really excited. I said, "finally, here are Cuban American businessmen willing to give to the mother country." No such luck.
It occurs to me that in the Cuban American and Exile community, we have so much in talent, in expertise, and in resources that we could be a force of good in a new Cuba. I've fantasized about forming some sort of 'Cuba 'Corps' to help Cubans on the island join the 21st century, an all volunteer army of sorts. This would be a NONprofit organization made up solely to ASSIST people who have endured the regime in finding their bearings, not to take over or pillage the potential resources of the country. To insure efficacy and limit corruption, it could be run by one of the current or retired Cuban CEO's of major American corporations with all sorts of failsafes.
Contrary to mythology, most in this country are quite content with their lives here and have little or no designs on the property seized by the regime. Many of the lost homes are inhabited by people who were placed there through no fault of their own. On the other hand, if my family had owned a sugar refinery or a beach house in Varadero where Melia has built a hotel, that would be a different story.
But I put the cart before the horse. I don't really see great change coming. Still, I can dream, can't I?

Friday, August 3, 2007

Bridge Collapse Provides Cafferty w/ Ammo to Blast Iraq War

Bush Bashing: An Exercise in Mass Hysteria

I knew it. I knew it would happen. First, the bridge collapse has taken up the 24hr news cycle for THREE days. I realize it is dramatic and tragic, but three days? It's the summer of the shark all over again. The path of coverage was predictable. The first day was the actual news, although there were already inklings of what was to come. Then came the survey of other bridges around the country and the beginnings of the blame game. By today, it was all Bush's fault. Take today's Cafferty File. Next thing you know, they're going to say Bush and his Neocon cabal blew up the World Trade Center. But, oh, they've already done that, haven't they?


So, let me see if I understand this. He would sit down with our sworn enemies and talk, but he would attack in Pakistan. That's it. Musharaff's mistake, one that has led to attempts on his life, is that he's provided support for our Afghanistan operations. He should have been at the United Nations in a Che T-shirt calling Bush a devil.

But that was too easy. I sympathize with Obama's desire to get Osama and crew, but even a neophyte should know that a raid in Pakistan is much more palatable when accomplished under cover of "OOPS! The Darned GPS is broken." Threatening military action which violates the territorial sovereignty of a nominal ally is not quite the thing to do. The Pakistanis are already riled.

There is no one scarier than a politician who feels he has to prove himself.

Lighter Fare from Camaguey

Camaguey figures in so much these days- the infamous Kilo 8 prison, the site of Raul's July 26 speech- that I felt the need to find a pleasant image of the city. Nothing is as typical of the city as the tinajons.
This is just one image on Teresa Bevin's website, well worth a visit, for more from 2006.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Osama: The Musical

I kid you not. Okay, okay, so it's really Jihad: The Musical. Anyway, get a Load of this

Fontova: A Self-Defense Kit for Cuban Americans

I've been engaged in something of a difference of opinion with one of those relativists who maintain that Cuba was a third world country, comparable to those countries with starving children, BC, so it's not so bad now. I corrected him. He wouldn't believe me, so I ran for statistics. Armed for bear, I get to the website to find three people have already made mincemeat of him. I'm reading the responses, and they seem familiar. Yes, those are stats Humberto Fontova has assembled. So I thought I would post a link to his article on the reviewers of The Lost City. There are a few paragraphs in there that would make a good "re-education" kit for those who live in ignoramia. Here's a teaser-

... a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) report on Cuba circa 1957 : "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class," it starts. "Cuban workers are more unionized (proportional to the population) than U.S. workers. The average wage for an 8 hour day in Cuba in 1957 is higher than for workers in Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany. Cuban labor receives 66.6 per cent of gross national income. In the U.S. the figure is 70 per cent, in Switzerland 64 per cent. 44 per cent of Cubans are covered by Social legislation, a higher percentage then in the U.S."

We are blessed to have Mr. Fontova. Buy the new book Exposing the Real Che: And the Useful Idiots who Idolize Him

Fifo and Mumia

This is a list of the people who support convicted cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal. It is a list of winners- that's for sure- full of our favorite people. Interestingly enough, some of these folks are the same people that support Fidel/Chavez/Che etc.... I'm not sure if Michael Moore is a fan. I wonder How many cops did Fifo kill?

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the NAACP, A prominent group of U.K. Lawyers; and the National Lawyers Guild; the Japanese Diet and the European Parliament; as well as several national U.S. trade union federations (ILWU, AFSCME, SEIU, the national postal union) and the 1.8 million member California Labor Federation AFL-CIO; bands Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, Anti-Flag, KRS-One, Propagandhi, Tupac Shakur (before he died), Immortal Technique, Bad Religion, Rollins Band, Snoop Dogg,Ras Kass, Talib Kweli; celebrities such as Jello Biafra, Danny Glover, Ossie Davis, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Asner; world leaders like Nelson Mandela, Danielle Mitterrand (former First Lady of France), and Fidel Castro; the Episcopal Church of the United States of America; and City Governments such as those of San Francisco, Santa Cruz, California, and Detroit.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

E-Bay and the Double Standard

As if we needed further proof that Cuban Americans are the one minority group whose sensibilities may be trampled with impunity, it's official. Ebay has responded to Cubanazos which has been taking the lead in the fight against Che novelty items. Here's the money quote:

After a thorough review of the information you sent, it was determined that Che Guevara items will continue to be permitted on the site, and will not be added to our Offensive Material Policy at this time.

In actuality, the Che novelty items- stuffed dolls, finger puppets, refrigerator magnets, etc...- would seem to fall under their stated policy automatically. But, heck, I guess some animals are more equal than others.
To the Hall of Shame with Ebay!

New Nightclub Concept

I'm working on opening up a new club in NYC. It is going to be called Fascista!! Do you think anyone will mind if we put a picture of Hitler over the bar? No, wait maybe we can call it Sovietskies!! , and we can adorn the bar with a photo of Stalin. Do you think we'll have a good turnout? I wonder if people will come? I just need to come up with a signature drink. Maybe it will be called Comemierdas!

One Picture Says it All

For those of you unfamiliar with this photo, look at Che's left wrist. He is wearing a Rolex Submariner (todays cost $5,500) . Expensive taste for a 'revolutionary' who only smoked the cheapest cigars, and cared so much for the proletariat. It's ok for him to have one, but not you!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Modest Proposal al Cubanazo

Growing up in a particularly volatile home, I heard the word cubanazo flung around often. The word is difficult to define and has a variety of meanings depending on the context. It is most often used to describe someone who is loutish, dramatic, rough, and even backwoodsy, but in my home it denoted a certain kind of behavior. For instance, my mother and father might be arguing over whether she peeled the potatoes for Bacalao a la Viscaina and he would suddenly decide not to eat dinner at all. She would say, "Ya! El Cubanazo."

In this context, it referred to someone making a sweeping gesture as a result of offense and refusing to be reasonable. I confess there was an element of machismo involved. Now, Dad could feel the brunt also, as when he waxed poetic about the papas rellenas they used to make in his hometown. It would be years before he ate another papa rellena made by my mother, even though she used to make them often. She would feed them to us before he came home. So we feminized the word to encompass her behavior, la cubanaza. Over time, it became something of a family joke and the offender of the moment was mocked. It eventually morphed into "getting your Cuban up."

Well, I've been sitting here and pondering the comments being made after any Cuba-related article. I've been mulling over our policies and realities, taking into account the barbarians at the gate and all. So with my Cuban quite firmly up, I have come up with two ideas for the Cuban question.

The cattlemen, the farmers, all want trade restrictions eased (read that they wish to extend credit to the Regime), at least that is the way the media is presenting it. Sounds fine with me. I propose that we allow these fine businessmen to do just that. After all the last time Cuba essentially defaulted on its debt was 1986, which was a long time ago . It currently owes major amounts to countries like Russia, Mexico, India, China and even Venezuela. Obviously, all these countries are getting rich from trade with Cuba; there is no reason our noble farmers and ranchers should miss out.

Then there are the wouldbe tourists: I mean it's absolutely shameful that Americans can't participate in the tourist apartheid. They've seen all those pictures. What a quaint country! Just look at the old cars and the decaying infrastructure, all the cool people who go there. And the natives are happy. They play music all day, while the government provides them food and free healthcare. Think, too, of the good that it could do. Think of all that money going into the coffers of the military types that run the tourist industry. For sure, it will convince them to relinquish power.

So I propose that we lift the travel ban- in fact, we should provide tax incentives for tourist travel to Cuba. Of course, everyone would have to travel in the same period of time, say a month. Can you just imagine the effect of a hundred thousand Americans descending on the island? That'll show the Europeans how enlightened we are. The only down side would be that it would be difficult for the machinery of repression keep up with it all. Imagine an American youth demanding his rights when hauled off to jail for attending an impromptu, unsanctioned rock concert. It makes me giddy.

Of course, if the regime ever changes, the natives might be a little peeved at us. But, heck, we lent them money, pumped money into their economy, helped their government. What else did they want, that we should support their liberation, that we should draw back from our God-given right to make money, regardless of who gets hurt, that we should deny ourselves the joy of visiting the only country in the northern hemisphere that boasts a nationwide freak show to stand on the principle of freedom. That would be terribly unreasonable of them.

In sum, I have made these two propositions out of the noblest of motives, as I was born in the United States, have no intention of doing business with the regime, or taking a Cuban vacation, and thus have nothing to gain.

What's Wrong with this Picture?

At the risk of taking out my soapbox, I have to share this. Pace student Samuel Shmulevich faces FELONY hate crime charges for dunking the Koran into a toilet twice. Not in the article is the context of the whole affair. From the little I've gathered, his actions were sparked by a controversy over Muslim students' objections to the airing of the film, Obsession, which had resulted in the painting of swastikas, etc.

In the end, I have to ask myself one question: would he be facing four years in jail, if he had dunked a Bible? Legally, I suspect he could, but would he? Michelle Malkin made a good point on O'Reilly that hate crime is essentially code for thought crime. She's got some interesting stuff on the whole situation here.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Mad Emailer Threatens to Rise Again: CBS This Time

The mad emailer had already taken exception to the AP coverage of the Americans graduating from a Cuban medical school, when El Cafe Cubano posted on a CBS paen to the same. Too tired from posting, the mad emailer will have to take a pass for the moment until the article can be examined carefully.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Losing the PR War: Cuban Americans as the Enemy

When I linked to the article on the farm bill the other day, I made the mistake of reading the comments. I say mistake because it was a traumatizing experience.

There were the comments obviously fueled by the resentment that the rest of the world can get a cheap vacation, regardless of the morality of the same. You know the "Why can't we go to Cuba and be cool like Sting?" type of question. Then there were the comments based on the less than solid assumption that trade would somehow ease the lot of ordinary Cubans, or somehow bring down the Castro regime. What I was not prepared for was the absolute vitriol hurled at Cuban Americans who are seemingly insignificant, money grubbing residents of Coral Gables or bayfront mansions, scheming to install their own Batista or Pinochet.

To all those people who want to go down and hobnob with the communist oppressors and their citizen slaves, lie on the beaches forbidden to Cubans and drink mojitos at bars forbidden to Cubans, sell their cattle or their chickens or their corn on credit to a government whose debt is rated junk, talk nice to a murdering bastard, I ask what have Cubans done that they should be dismissed and reviled, that the very people who have the most knowledge of the regime should be ignored or slandered?

What have Cubans in the United States done except come to this country with only the shirts on their backs, wash dishes, people factories, save up capital, start little businesses, get educations, send their children to medical schools, make the greatest economic advances of any immigrant group, reinvigorate a moribund city(Miami), send money home to near starving relatives, and demand that we not kowtow to a sworn enemy of the United States who once had missiles pointed at American cities? Oh, is that it? Can it possibly be that we didn't buy into the victomology of some, that we cannot be looked down upon as a poor little minority that can be patronized and assuaged with government programs? Contrary to Castroite propaganda, most exiles were not rich Batistianos who fled the country with their money safely ensconced in Switzerland. No, Cuban Americans for the most part are embodiments of the American Dream and that seems to rankle some.

The sad thing here is that there might very well be rationales for lifting the embargo or other changes in policy, although I'm not saying there is. Frankly, it is something I struggle with as of late. But these are changes that I cannot even contemplate, because the people who propose them are fueled by naivete, ignorance, greed, anger, hatred, resentment, or envy. And inevitably my kneejerk reaction when being attacked by people who hate me is to fight back.

More on the "Debate"

An article by Ken Connor on pretty much coincides with my feelings about the CNN/YouTube debate. He asks-

George Washington. Abraham Lincoln. Franklin Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy. Ronald Reagan. Who among these men would answer, with a straight face, a question posed by a snowman?

His objections run from the format-

When questions are posed by animated snowmen, men holding automatic weapons, and lesbian couples playing "gotcha" do we somehow trivialize the process and, perhaps, the
office of President itself?

to the substance-

One popular sentiment was that candidates will be forced to take real people's problems more seriously when confronted by the widow of a fallen soldier, or a homosexual couple, or a person dying of cancer. While it is undoubtedly true that these human encounters do change the feel of a debate, that's not necessarily always a good thing. Sometimes mature and strong leadership needs to step back from the immediacy of an individual's suffering and see their problem in the context of the larger whole, with a mind toward the common good.

Read the whole article here.

A Post Castro Cuba

Ran into an interesting article by Jaime Suchlicki in the Harvard International Review, notable as much for its analysis of present conditions as it is for zeroing in on the challenges that would face a post Castro Cuba. I warn you his prognosis is grim.

By the way, that much vaunted Cuban healthcare system-

Sanitary and medical facilities have deteriorated so badly that contagious diseases of epidemic proportions constitute a real menace to the population. Cuba’s health system, once the showcase of the regime, has deteriorated significantly, especially after the end of Soviet subsidies.

So where exactly did Michael Moore go? Was it a virtual tour?