Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Menendez Aftermath (Part 2)

Five days later, Alberto Muller, former Cuban political prisoner, wrote in Diario Las Americas, that Ana Menendez had defamed the Cuban exile community. On the 25th, Mercedes Soler, a Miami Herald colleague, also added the same allegation.

But, I think its important to note that Menendez never directly referred to the entire Cuban exile community in her column, but instead spoke of the "rabble-rousers" who, for example, protested the book Vamos a Cuba or Cuban artists Los Van Van. This is not the actions of the entire Cuban exile community. In fact, as I pointed out recently, the Cuban exile community is quite divided on several political issues, and the FIU Cuba Poll since 1997 has shown this. Even one of its principle authors, Guillermo Grenier, has recently suggested, through his many years of research, that he has "doubts as to whether a completely politically homogenous Cuban-American community ever existed."

By accusing Ana Menendez of defaming or offending the Cuban exile community because of her general references, Soler and Muller have based their respective replies on false premises. This dishonest condemnation against Menendez was also seen against Tom Fiedler last year in the "chichuahua" scandal. Friedler was obviously referring to a few individuals in the community, but soon he was apologizing to the entire Cuban exile community.

Nevertheless, Soler and Muller make good points about the defamatory word used by Menendez. Despite its obvious negative origins, both Soler and Muller argue that the use of "mafia" is offensive because the Cuban government uses it often to refer to some of the organized anti-Castro groups and its leadership. Another important point made by both Soler and Muller is the implication that such a word also "trivializes the suffering, sacrifice and struggle represented by our 48 years in exile"[Soler] and defames "la memoria de tantos cubanos que han sudado sangre y dolor en un exilio prolongado y triste" (the memory of many Cubans who have suffered blood and pain in a prolonged and tragic exile) [Muller].

In these cases, where the accuser provides no names and speaks about certain groups, it seems that a clarification is due. And, that's what Ana Menendez did on the 27th.

[Part 3]

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