Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Ironies of Miami (Part 2)

In the lawsuit [PDF], Rafael Del Pino names leading members of Brigade 2506 (Pres. Felix Rodriguez and Sec. Esteban Bovo), Martha Flores (host from Radio Mambi), Oscar Haza (host of A Mano Limpia) and Miguel Cossio (producer of A Mano Limpia) as defendants. Del Pino alleges:

1) "Defendants had a retaliatory motive and intent in curbing Del Pino's speech."

2)"Defendants agreed to harass, intimidate, and threaten plaintiff and his family for the purpose of retaliating against Plaintiff for exercising his First Amendment Rights under the US Constitution."

3)"At the explicit direction of Brigade 2506, defendant engaged in acts amounting to assault against Del Pino."

4)"Defendants through their entire conduct, intentionally and/or recklessly inflicted emotional distress on Del Pino so that his rights under the First Amendment to the [US] Constitution would be "chilled."


On September 12th, Rafael Del Pino was invited to the local Spanish TV show called A Mano Limpia, hosted by Oscar Haza, to discuss his recent articles advocating negotiations between Cuba and the US. On the show, Del Pino was confronted by two guests (reporters Enrique Patterson and Andres Reynaldo from El Nuevo Herald), along with Haza, with many questions regarding his negotiation proposals. The show was nothing but a modern day inquisition, where Del Pino was basically confronted with familiar questions like: how can you negotiate with a criminal? (Haza even argues that an overthrow of the Cuban government is legitimate under the defintions of "tyrannicide.") You can watch the show on YouTube and see for yourself (in 5 parts, and in Spanish), courtesy of Baracutey Cubano.


In the days after the show, growing frustration by hard-liners in Miami began to show on the Spanish radio airwaves. According to the lawsuit, Del Pino's appearance was immediately condemned by Martha Flores on her evening show called "La Noche y Usted" that begins at 9pm on Radio Mambi (WAQI 710 AM). Del Pino alleges that Flores said Del Pino should be "executed" for his appearance on A Mano Limpia. Flores denies this allegation and has told the Miami Herald: "The only thing I can say at the moment is that this is not the kind of comment I would make." I agree with Flores, but Flores is also an adamant hard-liner who has publicly stated that a violent overthrow of the Cuban government is justified. Furthermore, her regular listeners are well-aware of her hard-line attitude that many callers usually favor violent actions towards opponents. Just recently on her show (Nov. 14th), a caller confidently stated that the only way to solve the "problem" in Venezuela is by assassinating Hugo Chavez. Flores did not deplore what the caller had said, but instead immediately told her that she is not allowed to air such comments on the radio.

Not mentioned in the lawsuit, one of the most extreme examples against Rafael Del Pino came the following Saturday on Radio Mambi. Beginning at 8pm on Saturdays, Radio Mambi has a series of shows running till midnight that provide a platform for the most extreme hard-liners against the Cuban government. These voices provide adamant support for a violent overthrow of the Cuban government, support for "heroes" like Luis Posada Carriles and Santiago Alvarez, and advocate a world view of perpetual violent conflict. One host (Luis Crespo of "Trinchera De Ideas" at 11pm) usually ends his show with the saying: "Communists are your eternal enemies, don't forget, and don't forgive." It was on one of these shows (September 15th, "Puntos De Vista"at 8pm, hosted by Tito Rodriguez Oltmans), that the host excoriated and directed malicious calumnies against Rafael Del Pino that shocked me enough to describe it as "hate speech" on this blog.

Some of the most upset were also the members of Brigade 2506. Despite already spending plenty of radio time condemning Del Pino since the 12th, leading members of Brigade 2506 (Felix Rodriguez, Esteban Bovo, Arturo Cobo), were eventually allowed television time to rebut Del Pino's articles for negotiations on A Mano Limpia with Oscar Haza. This appearance is also available online courtesy of Baracutey Cubano in five parts (in Spanish).

On the program, Rodriguez, Bovo and Cobo were first given the opportunity to voice their opinions about unrelated international news and then later about Del Pino. As expected, Del Pino's character and personal history was repeatedly questioned and attacked, and his article dismissed as "tonterias" (sillyness). Familiar insults were leveled at Del Pino, such as Bovo asking "why doesn't [Del Pino] go back to Cuba?" and the possibility that Del Pino is a Cuban agent, based on suspicions over his reasons for defection and because Miami "is inundated" with spies. The Brigada 2506 members also suggested a US/Del Pino conspiracy whereby Del Pino (who receives some protection from the US government) was instructed to write his articles to El Nuevo Herald in order to support a large media campaign of "accomodation" between the US government and Raul Castro. The host, Oscar Haza, was never confrontational with the members of Brigade 2506, unlike with Del Pino on the 12th, but instead allowed any allegations by the Brigade veterans to air on the program.

Additionally, Del Pino's lawsuit mentions an instance on the show where Bovo mentions Del Pino's home address. The address is mentioned for no reason whatsoever relevant to Bovo's general comments about, ironically, respecting Del Pino's privacy rights. Del Pino believes that this revelation was intended to further harass and intimidate him, and his family.

It should be noted that this kind of behavior of harassment and intimidation by the Miami Spanish media has a long (yet denied) history. In 1992, human-rights organization Americas Watch published a report titled "Dangerous Dialogue" that criticized local Spanish media for being "dominated by fiercely anti-Communist forces who are strongly opposed to contrary viewpoints." This report was followed up in 1994 with "Dangerous Dialogue Revisted" [PDF] after some Cuban exiles were the targets of threats and intimidation upon returning from a much publicized visit to Cuba.

It's relevant history worth reviewing.

[Part 3]

1 comment:

Srcohiba said...

The lawsuit was frivolous and without any legal merit. It was filed simply to get attention of lay people with no knowledge of the law and to trash exiles.

It's been dismissed as to Flores and will be dismissed as to all the defendants. Hopefully he and his lawyer will be sanctioned for bringing such a baseless suit.

Read the judge's Order.