Last month, I began posting about Antonio Rafael De la Cova, assistant professor at Indiana University, Bloomington, criticizing his academic irresponsibility, his personal attacks on the radio, his factual errors on the internet, and recently his misinterpretations of history.
On August 16, Mr. De la Cova publicly challenged me on my blog:
"If I do not get a direct e-mail and phone response from Mambi Watch and they wish to remain anonymous, it will be obvious that they are monitoring the Cuban exile community on behalf of Fidel Castro’s intelligence service."
For the record, I have met BOTH challenges.
That same day (the 16th), Mr. De la Cova sent an e-mail demanding I give him my phone number so that he can call me. I refused to give my number to a stranger, and so Mr. De la Cova gave me his. Before calling him, I had confessed my personal history to Mr. De la Cova within a series of e-mail exchanges (titled by Mr. De la Cova as "Are you courageous enough to identify yourself?", a confession of which he has now publicly posted on his website. This action alone violates several ethical standards that should already be familiar in our civil society. Furthermore, according to a recent paper in the Kansas Law Review, Mr. De la Cova (by copying my private e-mail response for his personal use) has committed a violation of common law that protects every citizen's privacy rights under the US Constitution. In essence, Mr. De la Cova has violated my privacy rights, despite my arguing on the phone with him that I preferred my name not be publicized.
Needless to say, our phone conversation was quite meaningless as it neither confirmed or falsified Mr. De la Cova's controversial accusations against me, and was an apparent move to further engage in personal attacks. And clearly, a strategy that Mr. De la Cova, and others, desperately engage in.
The internet and Blogosphere [photo above] is certainly new terrain in our civil society with many horror stories and people who seek to preserve what little remains of civility in this new Wild West. I am one who supports such civility, respectable argumentation, and fair debate.
My criticisms of Mr. De la Cova, or anyone else, have been built upon these principles. I have never engaged in a personal attack upon Mr. De la Cova, and have always focused on arguments and evidence presented by the assistant history professor of Indiana University, Bloomington. For Mr. De la Cova to denigrate my personal history and at the same time make several transgressions upon the ethics of our civil society is surely unacceptable.
I condemn the acts of Antonio Rafael de la Cova, Ph.D of History, and hope that he will respect the privacy rights of American citizens, and undue the error he has committed.
Nevertheless, Mr. De la Cova and others have challenged my anonymity, and this is fair. If anyone wishes to know MORE about my personal history they can just e-mail and ask me (hopefully before making any calumnious charges, or taking advantage of my sincerity). I defend my anonymity because of the actions of people like Mr. De la Cova who wish to focus on making personal attacks and obviate from important political issues. While it is important to debate the double standards of esoteric ethics in our society, concentration on personal histories can also lead to a dangerous path of unwarranted surveillance and the collapse of a civil society.
Mambi Watch seeks to avoid the collapse of our public forum of free expression, and will continue to make critical examinations of Miami's hard-line rhetoric along ethical standards. I focus on evidence and arguments, not personal histories and attacks.
These declarations shall always apply on this blog. Now, back to the mission of Mambi Watch.
-----Update: March 2008-----
Looking back on this incident it is clear whose image has been tarnished. Later I found out that Mr. De la Cova already had a long history of illicit behavior, that had I known beforehand I would have ignored his malicious accusations. Mr. De la Cova's tarnished history is long and sorrowful, and he seems willing to drag anyone down to his level. But I won't allow myself to do that.
Mr. De la Cova engages in hypocrisy so often that anything he says is meaningless. In my case, while he insinuated that I was a spy, Mr. De la Cova himself has already engaged in espionage himself. Back in 1976, after his arrest, it was revealed that Mr. De la Cova assumed a left-wing persona in order to infiltrate himself into certain groups. His mission was to infiltrate Areito, a magazine that supported the normalization of US-Cuba relations.
A Herald article by Edna Buchanan showed that he assumed the figure of a pro-Palestine militant. At the time, the Cuban government was supporting the pro-Palestinian movement. The Herald provided a photo of Mr. De la Cova in disguise. In a Miami News article, it was revealed that Mr. De la Cova had admitted to an FBI agent (Joseph S. Dawson) that he was trying to infiltrate Areito.
"The [FBI] memo related how De la Cova explained that some students at Florida Atlantic University favored the Castro regime. To penetrate the magazine hierarchy and learn more, De la Cova told Dawson, he had become friendly with some of Areito's leaders."*
So, there's nothing honest about what Mr. De la Cova says. He attempted to defame me by publishing my private e-mail responses to him, and manipulating my words, but its useless. Mr. De la Cova hardly has any credibility.
To make my point, below is part of my e-mail response to Mr. De la Cova that he conveniently left out. It basically summarizes my deep respect for a community that provided love and friendship in difficult times, and whose image I hold up when I envision Miami, unlike the image of hard-liners who support violence, force and intolerance.
"That's why I will never forget those who opened their arms to my family when we first arrived here in . It's those Cuban families that we shared our lives with that still have impact in our lives today.
"And, that's why I have a fascination with the Cuban community. I have faith that they wish for peace between the US and their homeland, and that they want it peacefully, not by force or violence. That's why I criticize hard-liners that want the opposite. Those who support violence should be the ones who should be most criticized. They are demanding that people make big sacrifices, and that should be strongly examined and critiqued.
"That's the purpose of Mambi Watch. And, since I have been writing about the Miami hard-liners, I've noticed that some argue for irrational objectives for a 'free Cuba' and also outright reject various alternatives for peaceful solutions.
"That's unacceptable, and that will be the work of Mambi Watch to point out."