Saturday, September 29, 2007


Read all about Perez Roque's attack on Bush's legitimacy. Still smarting from the tongue lashing he couldn't face at the UN, the following day he questioned Bush's legitimacy.

Felipe Perez Roque told world leaders that Bush "came into office through fraud and deceit" and has "no moral authority or credibility to judge anyone."

So, it was Bush who lied his way into office, huh? Now Roque knows his American Politics, particularly the talking points. Try this one.

Perez Roque accused Bush of winning his office through fraud. "We would have been spared his presence yesterday, and we would have listened to President Al Gore talking about climate change and the risks to our species."

Poor guy, there's almost something wistful about the sentiment. And here's my personal favorite.

"He has been the most selfish and reckless politician that we have ever seen," he said. "President Bush has no moral authority or credibility to judge anyone."

Wait, he must be confused. Surely, it's his boss Fidel he's describing. Here is another prime example of how propaganda works. Not a single report provided context. Read it here.

Literary Interlude: Women's Work

I make rice- white, fluffy, each discrete grain
visible, coated and gleaming-
like my mother did,
and her mother did before me,
Sacramental in the latin liturgy,
not night after night as they did
culinary offerings of every culture
bedecked with mounds of steaming comfort
My late father, beloved, ate his with spaghetti.

No, I make it as Americans do-
bloodless carbohydrate complement-
yet as I make it, I am linked
down the years, mothers and
grandmothers, even to those
forebears, grand and native,
the tall, proud, and dark, as
well as the little frizzle headed men from the sea.
conquerers and unvanquished

Daughter of Hatuey who gave up heaven
to avoid the hated presence of the Spaniard
And of the dread Spaniard who thought gold
led the way there.

Eh tu, Mengele

Sorry, I understand the scientific point made, but there's something creepy about the article.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Cienfuegos, Cuba and Loyola University had a unique opportunity to observe the impact of population-wide weight loss due to sustained reductions in caloric intake and an increase in energy output.
This situation occurred during the economic crisis of Cuba in 1989-2000. As a result, obesity declined, as did deaths attributed to diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke.

One researcher tries to soften it. See highlighted text.

"This is the first, and probably the only, natural experiment, born of unfortunate circumstances, where large effects on diabetes, cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality have been related to sustained population-wide weight loss as a result of increased physical activity and reduced caloric intake," said Manuel Franco, MD, a PhD candidate in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Epidemiology.

I'm used to Cubans being depersonalized, relegated to cute brown natives in the mindset of European tourists, but this is weird. Apparently, a perpetually starved population makes for good research. If that's the case, right now there are thousands of potential subjects in huge swaths of Africa. But why stop there? We can replicate the conditions in the United States. We don't even need to ask for volunteers. And by the way, there was nothing natural about the Castroite experiment.

Anyone else creeped out? Read the whole thing here.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Adieu, Jules

Two days ago I learned my friend had died. Julie had been my friend, contemporary, and coworker in the circulation department at a library. We both worked part time in a job well below our abilities but that satisfied the urge to do something, to move, and to earn play money without giving away our lives. And we were part of a very good crew. By the time we left every evening, it was as if the elves had come and cleaned up. Julie, in particular, was a dynamo. So hard as it was to believe that so much good-natured energy resided in that little body, it is harder still to believe it is gone.

We hit it off right away when we met. I was a Cuban from New York and she, an American from Miami, Cuban by association. Many an evening, she tortured me with descriptions of Cuban food we did not have. We spoke the same language of street smarts; we shared the same wicked humor. Unlike me, Julie was ever pleasant, ever helpful, and beloved by the patrons. In fact, the only time I ever witnessed her in a disagreement was with some gentlemen I won't mention, because I don't want to go to jail.

One day, the chronic condition that caused a tumor on her leg was causing her so much pain that she had the growth removed. Then came the news. At age 44 or so, she was told it was malignant and her leg would have to be amputated. So beautiful, vivacious Julie lost her leg. It had also spread. Her husband at the time was pulled aside and told she would not last the year.

But the doctors did not know the Julie we did. She faced the cancer, the way she had faced life. She braved the pain caused by the lost limb, writhing on her floor. She overcame the new disability, lavishing attention on the guide dog she acquired. Somehow, she made it through the death in a motorcycle accident of her only son. In the middle of a divorce when she was diagnosed, she met and married a young man. That, too, turned sour under the weight of her illness. Yet, she was irrepressible.

I want to say that we were close, but I only visited her home once. It was after she became ill. Yet we were close in the way women who've lived hard times are, those that belong to that secret sorority. Somehow, we recognize each other. Julie did not have an easy life, but you would never have guessed.

For four or five years, she held off the inevitable. So when I heard she was in the hospital, other than sending her a card, I did nothing. Julie couldn't, wouldn't die. Then she did.

Signs of Hope:

Sometimes, like after yesterday's news, it is easy to be overwhelmed. Our stance is that nothing has changed in Cuba. We know this intellectually. Yet, there lingers that teeny hope inside that maybe, just maybe.... Then the roundup of dissidents yesterday reminds us that there is no quarter. These are not men; these are beasts who starve their brother citizens in order to amass wealth for themselves and their broods, who practice a twisted version of the capitalism they deny everyone else, who wield power at the expense of the freedom and dignity of their fellow man. What hope, then?

It is easy to become discouraged in this instance, and yet there are glimmers. Most of those rounded up yesterday were released. Why? Then take a look at the only English language article I've been able to find, this one from Reuters and found through Castro Death Watch. Last night the only articles were in Spanish from island sources.

The demonstrators, led by prominent dissident leader Martha Beatriz Roque, were pushed and yelled at by a group of 100 government supporters sent to quell the protest, and then put on a bus and driven home, Roque said.

Notice the words sent to. There was a time that this would be framed as " a group of 100 citizens, outraged at the demonstration....." Here we have Reuters admitting it was a goon squad. The rest of the article presents the viewpoints, shockingly, of dissidents.

We are demanding that the political prisoners be treated with dignity, because they are human beings, and besides, they are innocent," Roque, an economist who has twice been jailed for several years for criticizing Cuba's one-party state.


Most prisoners lack hygienic cells, clean water, adequate food and medical attention, he said, and many are ill.

The government point of view is almost an afterthought in the last few lines as they deny they hold political prisoners calling them "mercenaries." True, it would have been better if Reuters itself had highlighted the plight of political prisoners. But this article, as it stands, presents progress.

The recent John Stossel report on 20/20 was breakthrough in that it was broadcast on a major network. Would it have been possible, would it even have been considered, without the presence of the Cuban/Cuban American blogosphere, particularly The Real Cuba? Cuban citizens are not allowed to tell the truth. MSM operations on the island face expulsion if their stories are deemed too negative.

So the regime is right to ban the internet, for in the internet, whether the blogs, or YouTube, or the news releases and blogs coming directly from the island that escape their iron curtain, lie the seeds of their destruction.

There is a psychological principle that what is brought into the light loses its power. In mythology, naming someone saps his or her power. That is what the Cuban/Cuban American blogs and their readers do. And I believe wholeheartedly that it is having an effect, as yet infinitesimal, but an effect nonetheless. Every time some stooge, useful idoit, well-intentioned dogooder or media outlet perpetuates the lies of the regime, and we respond en masse, we are witnesses to the truth, helping to frame the discussion because we know the name of the beast. And the name of the beast is Repression.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Let's See

The gentler, kinder regime flexes its muscles, rounds up 21 dissidents, and releases some, if not most. Apparently, they feel the need for greater intimidation of the citizenry without upsetting their PR plans unduly.

The American news reports every day include some tinpot dictator trumpeting solidarity with or expressing gratitude for some beneficence bestowed by Cuba, which might be better served by feeding its own people. Havana is on the Iranian President's intinerary.

All the usual useful idiots are alborotado. Lawrence Wilkerson, a man one would think would have an intellect substantially bigger than that of a Ring Ding, spouts the Castro Regime talking points on the newly established The Havana Note. Suddenly Havana is so important that it needs a counterpart to The Washington Note.

Kevin Spacey decides he absolutely must see Caracas and Havana. Kinda reminds me of the movie stars who showed up at the Gotti trial.

I cannot even attempt to fathom the byzantine workings of the regime in Cuba, but I know they are up to something.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thursday Shorts

Doin' an Imus? Media Matters again leads the charge and the MSM picks it up in accusing Bill O'Reilly of racist comments. I bring it up because tonight he was complaining about how the MSM media doesn't tell the truth and is corrupt. Last night, he was complaining the MSM doesn't do its research and picks up its material from liberal websites. Welcome to our world, Mr. O'Reilly. The original "Talking Points Memo" here.

Pinhead! Yup, he was last night's "pinhead" on The Factor. Yesterday's news was the Kevin Spacey/Chavez tete a tete. Tonight, the report was that he had questioned Chavez about the proposed changes to the Venezuelan Constitution. Oh, I'm sure that made the red-bereted one squirm. Spacey's next port of call? You guessed it. Cuba

What is up with this guy? Lawrence Wilkerson, promoted as ex-chief of staff to Colin Powell, has me nonplussed. First it was the post on the Cuban healthcare system. Now it's a defense of the Cuban Five. You see, they were just defending their country against those evil exiles who were killing Cubans. Did this guy get the official regime talking points or what? He does say, if what he heard was true. I say, let them do a Nathan Hale. You gotta see this and tell me this guy is for real. Just go to The Havana Note. Add a .com 'cause I ain't linking to it.

Author Antics! After being fed all this tripe, you need a little lift. MSNBC has an interesting article from Mental Floss about the lives of famous authors. Read it here.

A Sad Note. World famous mime, Marcel Marceau was buried today. Just another sign of the passage of time.

"I'm Not About War."

May I remind our readers who this is in the picture with the U.S. hostages.

Que Pasa, Cane?

Well, Cane debuted last night. It didn't take more than 45 minutes to turn Jimmy Smits, as the scion of a rum-making Cuban American family, into a murderer. The coming attractions seem to herald his transformation into serial murderer. All of which is not as much of a smear as it would seem, once you take into account the present moral compass of our society. Nor does Jimmy Smit's appearance bother me. Although to me the Cuban type, the white variety, consists of almost black hair and very fair skin, we come in all shapes and sizes. And face it, after Al Pacino's barrio accent, I can tolerate almost anything. Problem is that it was just plain bad: poor man's Godfather with a more than healthy serving of Dynasty mixed in. This one doesn't make it through the season.

A suggestion for TV studios, if you ever want to make a real series about Cuban Americans, dust off the old Que Pasa, Usa? and update it. Nah, if you don't have murder, treachery, sex, drugs, etc... no one will watch it.

I was reminded of the show by Frances Martel in a pretty interesting article in which she interviews Paul Bouche of A Oscuras Pero Encendidos fame, if that is the right word. While I am no fan of Spanish language TV, she raises an interesting point about the use of the double entendre. Read it here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Cuba: The View from Sarasota

As promised, I made it to the Ringling Museum on Monday. The photos were amazing. The landscapes and the photography are lush. The clouds brood over the the black and white panoramas. One photo in particular hearkens back to the prototypical western backdrops with a lonely butte in front. Here, however, the iconic image is decidedly tropical. Before I wax too eloquent, there are only twelve large giclees. They will be on display until some time in January. This exhibit will overlap with one of modern Cuban artists, both on and off the island, as I understand it, coming on October 6. So unless you live in Sarasota, you may want to wait.

For those outside of the area, the museum itself is well worth the trip and the adult admission of $19.00. I hadn't been there since their Surrealist exhibit a few years ago. In the interim it became part of the Florida State University which has made remarkable improvements, particularly in restoring the grounds. The art museum itself is on a par with those to be found in the more cosmopolitan cities such as New York and Boston. Added in as a bonus is the circus museum and the first floor of Ringling's Ca D'Zan, modeled on the Doge's Palace in Venice. All of this is footsteps from the bay. Enough said.

commemorative video?

This supposedly commerative video starts off with Fontova's book! Obviously who ever put it together had no idea.

Dean Martin Show - Guest Stars

Classic Dino and Reagan.I believe it was ad libbed, are there any politicians like this left?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Estefan and Her Cuban Roots: Quick Turnaround

Update: There's an odd article about the new album in Catch this

Two songs, the title track and "Esperando," capture the displaced nationalism of Miami Cubans as few others do. "Esperando," driven by hard rumba rhythms, is a call for a celebration of Cuba's impending "freedom," a passion stoked late last month when Perez Hilton's Web site posted a rumor of Castro's impending death and it made the front page of The Wall Street Journal. Estefan's call for unity between island and Miami Cubans is hopeful, but its reality remains to be seen.

Gee, was that all part of the plan to invite Che-loving, synapse-fried Santana to play? Nah, but it's fun to think it. Now to the truly odd part.

On the title track, Estefan pays tribute to Yoruban deity Eleguá, asking him to deliver liberation, although his role as the guardian of the crossroads may not dispose him to take sides. "Me Odio," features a singing style apparently influenced by the rap group Orishas, and "Morenita" and "Caridad" praise Cuba's patron saint Caridad de la Cobre. Could it be that this Estefan-style revelation of Cuba's African spirituality might be more important than the politics of left and right?

Our reviewer here seems awfully familiar with Eleguá, which is a first. And is it a prediction?
And the end? Odd. Read it.

Is Gloria trying to counter the recent controversy by reestablishing her bona fides? She apparently gave an interview to Readers Digest that is quoted in The Detroit Free Press.

When the family immigrated to the United States, she tells RD, her father mysteriously disappeared in the night. "He was part of the Cuban exile forces being trained by the U.S. government for the Bay of Pigs invasion. When the infamous attempt to reclaim Cuba failed, in April 1961, my dad was again taken as a political prisoner by Castro's forces."

I don't have the Readers Digest, but here is a link to the DFP.

Castro Video, So What!

I don't care if they wheel out that carcass for a dog and pony show. He is dead. He is gone. He is not involved in the goverment anymore, absent from meetings etc.... The Cuban gov't isn't going to tell anyone when he dies, they stand too much to lose. They are going to try and ride the wave as long as possible.

It's Alive!

Barely, it would seem. See the report at the Sun Sentinel here. His first meeting with a head of state in a while. There's a picture, too.