Thursday, June 28, 2007

No Defense for Terror (Part 5)

The testimony and allegations by Osmeiro Carneiro are very fascinating (beyond the fallacies Enrique Encinosa presents) because he talks about his involvement in the famous interview between Ricardo "El Mono" Morales Navarrete and Francisco Chao Hermida in 1982, and also names Orlando Garcia Vasquez as a conspirator in the 1976 bombing. At the time, Orlando Garcia was a Venezuelan intelligence director and security adviser for the president, Carlos Andrés Pérez. Those who have read the declassified documents on Luis Posada Carriles will recognize the name Orlando Garcia Vasquez because his name appears on some of the documents, notably on one as the official assigned to "protect and assist" Orlando Bosch while he was in Venezuela in 1976.

The names, Orlando Garcia Vasquez and Osmeiro Carneiro, will reappear in the following posts.



Before I get to Encinosa's statements on Ricardo Morales Navarrete, I wanted to quickly examine the FBI report that "declares" Luis Posada Carriles as "not involved" in the 1976 bombing.

Enrique Encinosa mentions a February 3, 1992 FBI report declaring "that Posada was not involved in the [1976] Barbados assault." Encinosa accurately mentions the date of the investigation and one of its authors: Special Agent Michael S. Foster. But, this FBI report is not really a report, but instead a deposition investigating Posada's involvement in the resupply operations of Contras in 1985 and '86 . It also had two investigators, Foster and Special Agent George R. Kiszynski. This FBI deposition has been declassified, and is posted on the National Security Archive website. You can read it here.

If you read all 31-pages, you will notice that the overwhelming majority of the topics discussed concern Posada's involvement with the Contras in El Salvador, not his involvement in the bombing of 1976, or other events. Also, this is not an FBI report that investigates or examines facts, or makes suggestions or recommendations. It is a simple FBI interview that does not corroborate or add information, but merely repeats what Posada says.

Its very convenient for Enrique Encinosa to present this FBI document as a "report" because it lends credibility to his defense. But, in this case, the FBI is not declaring anything. The substance of the transcript begins with the statement "Posada then advised as follows:" From that point, until the final page, Posada's statements are mainly referred to in the third person (e.g., "As far as Posada knows" or "As best as Posada can estimate"). Only in the final four pages does the discussion begin to deviate from the involvement with the Contras, and the bombing of 1976 mentioned. On page 30, the investigators write:

"Posada was not responsible for the downing of the Cuban airliner, as he was accused. Posada was involved in the armed struggle against Castro, but he was not responsible for blowing up the Cuban airliner in 1976."

This statement follows comments to the FBI investigators revealing that "Posada would like to come to the United States eventually. He is tired and wants to move on with his life."

These are not declarations by the FBI as Encinosa suggests.

[Part 6]

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No Defense for Terror (Part 4)

Still, some would say that Luis Posada Carriles was at least acquitted ONCE, and that this must prove his innocence. This is not entirely true. And, there are specific issues about that case that one should examine and consider. I will get into some of the specifics of that case when I analyze the defense of Luis Posada Carriles by everybody's favorite columnist Humberto Fontova. But now let's continue examining the merits of Enrique Encinosa's Truth about Luis Posada.



"El testimonio más interesante en las teorías de conspiración proviene de Osmeiro Carneiro."

Encinosa writes that the "most interesting testimony" to support his argument that Luis Posada Carriles is innocent comes from a man named Osmeiro Carneiro. I agree with Encinosa that Carneiro's testimony is very interesting, especially because it reveals the OPPOSITE of what Encinosa argues.

Encinosa writes that "Carneiro declared on July 15, 1991, according to El Nuevo Herald, that Bosch and Posada Carriles were innocent, but were used as 'scapegoats' by [Orlando] Garcia and [Lázaro Rogelio] Ugarte."

This is inaccurate. You can see the article for yourself here.

The article in question, titled "NUEVA VERSION SOBRE ATENTADO A AVION DE CUBANA" (New Version about Assault Against Cubana Plane) is an approximately 200-word news brief that appeared on the left column of the front page of El Nuevo Herald on July 15, 1991. The article never mentions Orlando Bosch or Luis Posada Carriles, and it never says that they were "scapegoats" or "innocent" of the bombing in 1976. In this respect Enrique Encinosa is lying.

I pondered about why Enrique Encinosa would make such a deceptive statement about this article, until I found out that El Nuevo Herald had actually followed up with this story 11 days later with a full interview with Osmeiro Carneiro. On July 26, 1991, El Nuevo Herald published an interview with Carneiro by reporter Gerardo Reyes, who also followed the Carneiro story (about secret wiretaps in Venezuela) on the 27th and 28th. I'm sure that Enrique Encinosa could not have missed these articles, especially since the Carneiro interview made the front page and was a more than 1000-word article.

You can see portions of this 1991 front-page article titled "CONGRESO VENEZOLANO INVESTIGA A CUBANOS" by Gerardo Reyes here: Page1 and Page2.

In this "interesting" interview with Osmeiro Carneiro, a former military intelligence officer in Venezuela for more than 20 years, it is alleged that Orlando Bosch knew about the plan to bomb the Cubana flight in 1976 and helped "unite all the terrorist groups" against the Cuban government in June of that year. The other details that Carneiro mentions also lend support to the US government declassified documents that show Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles as conspirators to this act of terrorism. Carneiro just adds more names to the fire because he mentions that Bosch and Posada Carriles were part of a group he called "El Gang de la Muerte" (The Gang of Death).

Furthermore, Carneiro NEVER says that Bosch or Posada were "innocent" or "scapegoats." This is a fabrication by Enrique Encinosa, who in my opinion knew about this interview, but decided to ignore it and engage in propaganda to paint Luis Posada Carriles as an innocent victim in the bombing of the Cubana flight in 1976.

[Part 5]

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

No Defense for Terror (Part 3)

I took the time to find out just where this "double acquittal myth" originated from. I did a search using the NewsBank database for all articles that had "Luis Posada" and "twice acquitted" or "acquitted twice." My search lead to many articles that were written in 1997, the majority of which stemmed from one Miami Herald report by Juan O. Tamayo on November 16, 1997.

In 1997, Cuban hotels became the target of a campaign of bomb attacks dating from April to August, eight bombings in total were reported. The first to report on the bombings for the Herald was Juan O. Tamayo with a piece titled "CUBA BOMBS STIR A WILD GUESSING GAME" on August 14, 1997. This piece was also published in El Nuevo Herald. Tamayo followed the story until November 16 when he wrote his report titled "CUBAN HOTELS WERE BOMBED BY MIAMI-PAID SALVADORANS." It was the result of a two-month investigation after which the name Luis Posada Carriles reappeared in all the papers. Tamayo had fingered Posada Carriles as the "key link" between the bombings in Cuba and Cuban exiles in Miami.

But, the most important point here is that Tamayo writes:

"Posada was charged, and twice found innocent, in the 1976 terror bombing of a Cuban jetliner in which 73 people died."

The Associated Press provided the story to the majority of the papers the next day and they all reported that Luis Posada Carriles was "twice acquitted." Most of the leading papers in the US published this AP story and the rest is history.

Before 1997, Orlando Bosch had the distinction of being "twice acquitted" because he in fact was. Once in 1980 by a military court (with Luis Posada, which was later invalidated) and then again in 1986 by a civilian court. This is documented.

But, even so, Bosch was actually reported by some to have been acquitted THREE times! Its a myth that almost caught on.

On July 9, 1990, Luisa Yanez for the Sun Sentinel wrote that "Bosch was imprisoned 11 years even though Venezuelan courts acquitted him three times."[1]

On July 18, 1990, James Lemoyne of the New York Times must have read Yanez's piece and wrote that Bosch "was tried and acquitted three times in Venezuela."[2]

This "Triple Acquittal Myth" came to my attention when a blogger, Manuel A. Tellechea, once commented that Luis Posada Carriles was "thrice tried on these charges by both civil and military courts and found innocent every time."

If you keep repeating a lie, it does force itself on the truth.

[1]The Sun Sentinel (July 9, 1990) - "Judge to Decide If Bosch Will Stay, Attorney: Castro Will Shoot Activist If He Is Deported History of Violence" by Luisa Yanez.

[2]New York Times (July 18, 1990) - "Cuban Linked to Terror Bombings Is Freed by Government in Miami" by James Lemoyne.

[Part 4]

No Defense for Terror (Part 2)

"Examinemos la realidad, más allá de la propaganda y la retórica."

This is the main purpose in Enrique Encinosa's article, La Verdad sobre Luis Posada, telling the reader to "examine the truth, beyond the propaganda and rhetoric." I agree, let's proceed.

Encinosa provides 5 points to proclaim the innocence of Luis Posada Carriles to the bombing of the Cubana Airline flight in 1976.

1) Luis Posada Carriles "voluntarily submitted" to a lie detector test whose results showed he was not involved in the bombing of 1976;

2) Posada Carriles was "acquitted on two occasions" in Venezuelan courts, namely in 1980 by Judge José Moros González;

3) Testimony by Osmeiro Carneiro, made in El Nuevo Herald on July 15, 1991, declaring that Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada Carriles were "innocent" and "scapegoats";

4) Testimony by Ricardo "El Mono" Morales Navarrete confessing to a conspiracy with Cuban intelligence agents to blow up the Cuban airline flight and blame Bosch and Posada;

5) An FBI report "declaring" that Luis Posada Carriles was not involved in the 1976 bombing.



Its important to note that Luis Posada Carriles "voluntarily submitted" to a lie detector test right before he entered the US in 2005 and was accused of illegal entry, and his past history placed under suspicion by the FBI. More likely that the polygraph was the idea of his attorneys and not solely of Posada, already knowing that they would face legal troubles. Not voluntary at all it seems. Nevertheless, polygraph tests have been shown to be very unreliable and its results are not allowed in federal courts as evidence. The website provides many examples to support the unreliability of such tests. This test alone does not prove the "innocence" of Luis Posada Carriles, but instead is a legal strategy by Posada's lawyers who can use the polygraph examiners testimony to claim innocence for their client, which is allowed in court.


According to the judicial record, Luis Posada Carriles has never been acquitted twice. Encinosa is correct in stating that he was acquitted in 1980, but this only counts as ONE. According to what has been officially submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS in 1984, the initial civilian court that brought charges on Posada Carriles never made an acquittal, but instead on "August [25] 1977, [Judge] Dr. Delia Estaba decided that this case was not within her competence, and referred it together with the records, to the Military Courts, specifically to the First Military Court of First Instance."

Only in 1980 was Posada acquitted by José Moros González. Still, this decision was invalidated in 1983. According to the submission to the IACHR:

"On March 24, 1983, the Court Martial declared itself incompetent to handle the case, based on a recent ruling of the Supreme Court of Justice, in deciding in the case of a woman journalist, that persons must be judged by their natural judges; it decided to send the case, consisting of 23 pieces plus the exhibits, to the Superior Judge, XIV Criminal Court, José Erasmo Pérez España, and to submit the conflict of competence to the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice."

According to Jose Pertierra, a Cuban-American lawyer representing Venezuela in its extradition of Luis Posada Carriles, the decision in 1983 means "that the lower Court’s decision is annulled, and that the entire record of the case is void, much akin to the legal effect that an annulment has on an attempt at a marital union."

Rosa Miriam Elizalde, a Cuban journalist, and José Pertierra write about the "Double Acquittal Myth" of Luis Posada Carriles, and explain that in this case "[a] lie, if repeated often enough, turns into truth."

[Part 3]

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No Defense for Terror (Part 1)

As annoying as the Luis Posada Carriles case is, the defenders of terrorism against Cuba are just as annoying.

Here in Miami, there are many who are ready to defend Luis Posada Carriles, his acts of terrorism, and have no shame to do so. As the picture on the left shows, many arguments in defense of terrorism against Cuba appear in several small newspaper publications that can be found around Little Havana. Those shown in the picture are merely for the month of May.

These publications can be found in many parts of Little Havana, and have been in existence for very long. Their editiorials regularly speak of the "flagrant violations" by the Cuban government, "the bloody tyrant" Fidel Castro and his "communist aggresion." They're the old-school bloggers. Their pages welcome articles by Carlos Alberto Montaner, Armando Perez-Roura, Ramon L. Bonachea, Luis Conte-Aguero, Agustin Tamargo, and any other who speaks against the "communist agression."

But, as adamant and vocal as some are to justify a war against Cuba, their arguments in defense of Luis Posada Carriles are surprisingly poor. Let's examine one example that argues that Posada Carriles is in fact "innocent" of the bombing of a Cuban airplane in 1976 that killed 73 people on board.

Perhaps one of the most important defenses for Posada Carriles comes from Enrique Encinosa. Encinosa is well known to his listeners on Radio Mambi, and by the fans of his many books on Cuban history. Encinosa also appeared recently on the documentary "638 Ways to Kill Castro" saying that terrorism is an "acceptable method" against Cuba. The documentary also reveals Encinosa's very close relationship with Posada Carriles, whom he called regularly while Posada was in federal prison. Last October, Encinosa released an article titled La Verdad sobre Luis Posada (The Truth about Luis Posada). Its main argument is that Luis Posada Carriles is in fact a "scapegoat" and "innocent" of the 1976 bombing. He presents many theories and testimonies that suggest a connection with the Cuban government and the bombing. This article has found its way into many different websites that I have found:

- La Junta Patriotica Cubana (The Cuban Patriotic Board) website

- La Nueva Cuba (The New Cuba) website

- Cuba Nuestra Digital (Our Cuba Digital) website

- Cuba Democracia y Vida (Cuba, Democracy and Life) website

- The Univision (US Spanish Television Network) website

And blogs:

- El Club de Los Amigos Malos Blog

- Baracutey Cubano Blog

- Blog for Cuba

Encinosa's article DOES NOT presents "La Verdad" about Luis Posada Carriles. On the contrary, I will argue that Encinosa engages in an exercise of propaganda because of his obvious ommissions of important facts in the case of Luis Posada Carriles. Also, I accuse the websites above for supporting false representations of the facts, and perpetuating the false innocence of Luis Posada Carriles.

Let's review the facts of Encinosa's argument.

[Part 2]

Monday, June 18, 2007

Talking about Luis Posada Carriles...

The Institute for Policy Studies has an audio interview with José Pertierra, attorney for the Venezuelan Government in extradition of Posada, and Saul Landau, Fellow from IPS.

It is an excellent audio summary of the US/Cuba context which envelopes the Luis Posada Carriles case. Listen to it or download it here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Looking for the Truth

Been busy, but plan to post big soon on the ongoing case of Luis Posada Carriles (he's not off the hook YET). Some time back I was carefully looking at one of Enrique Encinosa's arguments defending Luis Posada Carriles. The article, titled La Verdad sobre Luis Posada (The Truth about Luis Posada), is in fact very far from the "Truth." Doing some simple research on his allegations shows that Encinosa conveniently leaves out a lot of information that contradicts his side of the story. It's embarassing.

Anyway, my next post will definitely target most of the popular "defenses" and defenders of Luis Posada Carriles. I will try to show that there really is no defense for people who have long and undeniable histories of violence. Those who attempt to, end up sacrificing any form of logic and rationale, contradicting their very own principles.

This may explain why some prefer not to directly comment on Posada's or Orlando Bosch's past violent history, and prefer to obviate by describing them as heroes, thus automatically justifying all their prior actions as noble. This method has its limits, especially in the face of facts.

Late last month, Nick Welsh for the Santa Barbara Independent wrote about Ann Louise Bardach, the journalist who extensively interviewed Posada Carriles in 1998. Welsh reminds us that the FBI has been very active in its investigation on Luis Posada Carriles, in an attempt to be "consistent with our global-war-on-terror rhetoric," but also suggests that the Justice Department may have something else up their sleeve, which may be good news for Posada Carriles, and bad for Ann Louise Bardach.

Welsh recounts how the FBI has repeatedly subpoenaed Bardach for important information on Posada Carriles (ever since they mysteriously destroyed their Posada files in 2003), and how they may be deliberately targeting Bardach "precisely because they know she’ll put up a fight" (Bardach has refused to hand over her notes on Posada Carriles to the government).

The rationale by the FBI may be the based on the fact that "the feds can’t afford to go after Carriles because of what he knows and what he might say. But because of the administration’s so-called war on terror, the feds can’t afford to give him a pass either. The best solution... is to orchestrate an impasse."

Provided that the FBI has been to Cuba to collect facts, and shown others positive signs, there seems to be a strong case to charge Luis Posada Carriles in the US. Welsh also writes that Bardach "contends the government already has more than enough information to nail Carriles to the wall." But, there also seems to be a growing motivation to allow the federal investigation to stall, and maybe even collapse with a simple order by the executive branch.

It seems that only time will tell.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Menendez Aftermath (Part 4)

On the same day that the Miami Herald published Ana Menedez's reply, Armando Perez-Roura made an error on his Radio Mambi show that had many "intransigents" complaining too.

Perez-Roura has a Sunday show called La Peña Mambisa (The Mambi Circle/Group) where he plays music (classical, Cuban and others), reads poetry, and engages in many forms of Cuban nostalgia. Well, on Sunday May 27th, it seems that Perez-Roura played a Barbara Streisand song, and that infuriated some listeners who complained the following Tuesday (Monday being Memorial Day). It seems that Streisand is no friend of Radio Mambi listeners because of her "Leftist" stance. Streisand (along with Michael Moore) was mentioned as being on the invite list of election observers for the 2004 Venezuelan referendum to recall Hugo Chavez. Most recently, Streisand's picture appeared on NewsMax's "Deck of Weasels," along with Michael Moore, George Clooney and other celebrities.

Very early on Tuesday, the first complaint suggested Perez-Roura had made an error in playing a Streisand song. Perez-Roura defended his selection because he thought that Streisand, while politically unacceptable, has talent and it should be considered apart from her political views.

This reply did not stop a second caller from making a rebuttal. This caller shot back at Perez-Roura with a Jose Marti quote: "Todo al fuego, hasta el arte" (Everything to the fire, even art). The entire Marti quote goes: "Cuando no se disfruta de la libertad, la única excusa del arte, y su único derecho para existir, es ponerse al servicio de ella. ¡Todo al fuego, hasta el arte, para alimentar la hoguera!"[quote #40 here]. In English, Marti was saying that when freedom is in peril, art has a duty to defend and serve freedom, without any excuse. Marti exclaims that all efforts should be wasted into the bonfire of (battle for) freedom.

Armando Perez-Roura basically lives by the words of Jose Marti, and began noticing that he had made an error. The second caller remembered how Perez-Roura was against other artists in the past like Los Van Van, and thought that he was being hypocritical. The caller in the end told Perez-Roura "you reap what you sow." Perez-Roura agreed and had no excuse this time.

But, the third caller to complain was the most eloquent. She said that she was very disappointed with the show on Sunday playing a Streisand song, and that Perez-Roura's initial excuse separating art and politics was absurd because it's the same excuse "all communists" use when they come to the US. Perez-Roura for a moment tried to deflect from the issue, but finally uttered that "I am the one who is responsible." The third caller then suggested that he should give an apology, and Perez-Roura replied "I'm giving it." But, he never does. Armando Perez-Roura never says "I'm sorry" or "I was wrong" or "I apologize." Instead, he goes on talking about how hard it is to be the programming director of Radio Mambi, and deflects from the discussion with the support of his co-hosts.

We all know that it's very difficult to apologize, especially when someone else points out how you violated your own principles. That's why it takes real courage to face yourself. To examine your own actions or beliefs, and see if they were truly right.

But, you must examine yourself honestly. How can one condemn defamation and engage in it too? How can one detest insults, but still justify their use? Are our actions in these cases justifiable and universal?

Only then will one decide if they honestly made a mistake and seek to rectify their errors. But, if this process is abandoned, there seems little hope for making any positive steps on any issue. Especially towards a free Cuba.

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3]

Menendez Aftermath (Part 3)

On May 27, Ana Menendez made it clear to everyone that she too was offended by some of the reaction received, especially those who claimed that she must not "understand" the pain of Cuban exiles.

As a response, Menendez removed herself from the role of columnist and revealed her intimate background as a daughter to "el exilio Cubano." She illustrated well her feelings about "understanding." But, unfortunately, Menendez did not reply to those who condemned her for the use of the word "mafia," or justified her use of the word or any other provocations that were essential to her original piece. Instead, Menendez chose to concentrate more on the Bouygues Travaux Publics (BTP)/Cuban Liberty Council connection.

There's no question that Menendez had made a good point about the absurdity of some of the anti-Castro organizations: wasting their efforts on more vulnerable individuals instead of larger systematic violators. Also, as a consequence of the attention of her first column, the Cuban Liberty Council (CLC) forced the resignation of one of their members (Ignacio E. Sanchez) because of his connections to BTP, a French company whose subsidiary works with Cuba.

But, was it all worth it? Did Menendez have to speak generally about some groups in the Cuban exile community just to make a point about the CLC? I don't thinks so.

In this respect, the use of words like "lunatics" or "mafia" don't seem justified, even if written with sarcasm. The better column would have been simply addressed to Ignacio E. Sanchez and the CLC to let them know that their hard-line stance is fraudulent. Instead, by not justifying her use of defamatory words aimed at unspecified groups in exile, Menendez has helped strengthen the position of new enemies.

Menendez wrote about how she tried to reach Sanchez and other members of the CLC, but met some roadblocks. Sanchez couldn't say much "citing his relationship with his client [BTP]" and far less was said between CLC member Ninoska Perez-Castellon and Menendez. Menendez seems to describe that Perez-Castellon had abruptly hung up on her, but Perez-Castellon recalls it differently.

On the 29th, on her Radio Mambi show, Perez-Castellon tells her listeners that she spoke with Menendez very angrily on the phone telling her that she had nothing else to say except that she was defamed and that her comments were in response to the defamations by Menendez. She then hung up. Just like Menendez, Perez-Castellon sees no need to explain her equally defamatory language. Instead, Perez-Castellon makes it very clear that Menendez has only herself to blame for all the denigrating replies her column received, and gives full support to all the slanderous remarks that callers have made about Menendez on Radio Mambi.

Robert at the 26th Parallel had similar sentiments. On the 27th, he concluded that there is "room for vigorous debate and even indignation from those whom you offend," but of course an indignation that is "within the law" he adds. Unfortunately, Robert's condescending advice is only aimed at "Ana Menendez and those who share her ideology." It has no universal value, and neither does the position of Ninoska Perez-Castellon.

Circumstances now show that both sides have draw lines in the sand, neither willing to honestly criticize the errors committed by opposing sides, or reflect with some objectivity. An apology or movement towards fair reconciliation seems distant, actions that people have a hard time exercising. Even the most "honorable."

[Part 4]

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]

Menendez Aftermath (Part 1)

It's been three weeks since Ana Menendez wrote about the "rabble-rousers" in Miami, and having heard and read the reactions carefully, I can say that I have learned a valuable lesson: insult and calumny, which are prevalent in Miami from opposing groups, have hindered constructive action on policy towards Cuba.

The moment I read that Menendez article on May 16th, and ran across those dreaded words, my eyebrows leapt off my face. She had come to a new level of provocation I thought, but I had no idea the amount of backlash she would receive. Sure her harsh descriptions were followed by a sarcastic remark ("I miss them already"), but most of the article was riddled with taunting phrases like:

- "That's right, swallow your pain."
- "Where are those who crusaded against the dangerous children's picture book Vamos a Cuba?"
- "Oh wow. Sure showed them."

As I posted before, the condemnation that Menendez faced was found throughout the local blogosphere, and with equal cruelty. Initially, I thought that her harsh wit would go unnoticed by some, but its seems that those who also read the arrogant and disparaging wit of Humberto Fontova (who uses descriptions like the "worldwide Media/Academia axis" or the "mainstream media-Democratic National Committee axis"; god forbid he begins to use "mafia" instead of "axis") still have a heart to be offended.

But, the lesson that dawned on me came when I heard the response by some Cuban exiles within the following days. Many called in to Radio Mambi to simply excoriate Ana Menendez at all levels, with sometimes explicit approval of the host. I found it quite hysterical (in both meanings of the word), and upsetting.

One memorable response came that same day(May 16th) on Marta Flores' Radio Mambi show, with guest Guillermo Martinez (former Univision vice-president of the news department) . A caller suggested that "we go one step further" and give Menendez a public slapping for her work. Despite its absurdity (quickly noticed by Flores and Martinez), the caller's frustration became apparent as she expressed her sorrow of "50 years" that has resulted in the "poor elderly who have lost their youth" in exile. Such a tragedy, however cruel, doesn't deserve to end with such inhumanity. Guillermo Martinez, nevertheless, suggested that the solution lies in a debate where Menendez "pays dearly for the barbarous words that she is saying."

[Part 2]

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

In Case you Missed It...

Telemundo51 will be airing the complete Fidel Castro interview this evening at midnight. They are calling it a special hour-long program (Warning: From what I saw it was pretty boring, but Fidel is quite conscious).

So far, on the Telemundo51 poll asking viewers if this means that Fidel will return to power, 54% say No, and 46% say Yes, from 111 votes.

In the meantime, another group of Cuban migrants have arrived at Ellis Island, I mean Rickenbacker Causeway today. According to the Miami Herald (and other sources) it was only three migrants. The local Spanish news showed video of the migrants, one of whom was a young boy. To my amusement, he was wearing a brown shirt with the famous Che Guevara logo.

Immediately, the family was sent back to Cuba, but were given the newest copy of Humberto Fontova's book to take home.

Welcome to Miami. No "useful idiots" allowed.

Monday, June 4, 2007

I Bet That's Gotta Hurt

Boy, its gonna be a tough pill to swallow for some, but it looks like Fidel Castro might be making his comeback. I was watching the 11pm news on Telemund51 this evening, and they had Andy Gomez from the University of Miami saying that it is very likely that Fidel might make his official comeback appearance on July 26, to mark that significant day. Mark your calendars boys and girls! This is an embarrassing reversal for Andy Gomez (Senior Fellow at ICCAS) because just last December he wrote that it was "clearly marked" that the post-Fidel Castro era had begun. Well, these errors happens when you are a selfish academic who wants his named splashed all over the news. But, it only adds to the other unreliable work done at UM's Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies.

Anyway, this news comes at the heels of a recent Babalu Blog poll done on May 29, 2007. Blogger Val Prieto simply asked: Is Fidel Castro Dead? 61.3% of 310 voter said yes. Also, that same day Mr. Prieto confidently wrote: "What I don't get is how anyone could believe the guy is alive." Mr. Prieto is betting a lot of money with his readers that he's right. Since last July, he's already posted one, two, three posts with certainty that Fidel Castro is actually dead.

Telemundo51 has their own online poll asking their Spanish-speaking viewers if they believe the newest video footage of Fidel Castro means he will return to power. So far the results are split 50-50.

The newest signs of life for Fidel Castro come from his recent meeting with a Vietnamese Communist Party official (lovebirds above), and video clips of an upcoming television interview(with Cuba's Mesa Redonda) which will be aired on Tuesday (June 5) in Cuba.

I heard this news briefly mentioned on Radio Mambi by a caller (and then ignored immediately by Armando Perez Roura), but they will most likely comment fully very soon. They have a lot of 'splaining to do.

Ever since Fidel became sick last July, the suspicions by RadioMambi commentators on his health have reached enormous proportions of exaggeration. From repeated appearances by doctor Enrique Huertas on Radio Mambi's Mesa Redonda saying that Fidel is "un muerto que camina" ("the walking dead": a claim which Huertas has been making since 1998), to claims of terminal illness (repeating a John Negroponte fallacy, and also an Argentinian story of its CIA origins), to discrediting a Spanish doctor who said that Fidel had no signs of cancer, to newer claims that Fidel Castro is most likely suffering from a neurological disease and unable to make any sense at all, RadioMambi commentators have launched all possible negative scenarios of Fidel Castro's health that I cannot imagine they will ever accept any positive signs, even if they read it on Babalu Blog.

But, the next few days will be real interesting to hear and read how the newest Fidel Castro video is really fake. I wouldn't expect anything less from the most intransigent.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Unethical Maria Elvira Salazar (Part 3)

While doing research, I also ran into a well-known story involving Maria Elvira Salazar, which may be viewed as another unethical practice on her part. When the famous debate between Jorge Mas Canosa (from the Cuban American National Foundation) and Ricardo Alarcon (from the Cuban government) took place in 1996, Maria Elvira Salazar was one of the moderators for the nationally televised debate.

That old story came up Thurday (May 24, 2007) during the Juan Amador and Pedro Rodriguez Medina debate on Polos Opuestos. Salazar insists that her only crime, which she believes she is being punished for, was setting up that debate between Mas Canosa and Alarcon. Medina brought up the accusation that Alarcon was actually tricked by Salazar into participating in the debate. During that discussion with Medina, Salazar never directly denied the accusation. Aside from this, there's more evidence that may show that Salazar did in fact trick Alarcon.

According to a September 6, 1996, Miami Herald article by Juan Tamayo, "Maria Elvira Salazar, a Miami-born Cuban American who often reports on Cuban issues, was given the task of winning Alarcon's participation." Tamayo also pointed out that "Cuban officials have met with exile critics in the past, but only with relative moderates and only behind closed doors."

Appropriately, Tamayo pondered a mystery after the debate took place:

"Still unclear was why Alarcon took part in an event that might be perceived as recognizing Mas Canosa as a legitimate opposition leader and not the thuggish right-winger Havana always paints."

Jorge Mas Canosa, as the former Chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation, was always described as part of the "Miami mafia" by the Cuban government. He was blamed for involvement in the 1990 release of Orlando Bosch and the signing of the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, to name a few notable events. Had the Cuban government in 1996 all of a sudden changed its position with Mas Canosa?

In an August 24, 1996, Miami Herald article by Armando Correa, Salazar is quoted as saying: "It's the first time [Mas Canosa and Alarcon] have agreed to a face-off." But, after the debate was shown on television in the US, Alarcon was publicly stating that "he was originally asked to be part of a broad range of individuals who would comment on a Dan Rather interview of Fidel Castro," not participate in a debate. In July of that year, CBS had run an hour-long documentary about Cuba, hosted by Dan Rather. According to Correa, "The [Cuban American National Foundation] agreed to take part in the debate on condition that it be broadcast unedited, as a response to a recent interview CBS' Dan Rather had with Castro. The foundation described that program as 'apologetic.'" The documentary was repeated preceding the Mas Canosa and Alarcon debate.

Could Salazar and CANF have tricked Alarcon in response to the CBS documentary? If both Mas Canosa and Alarcon had agreed to the debate according to Salazar in 1996, then why didn't she tell Medina that? On the other hand, Salazar never denied the accusation that she had tricked Alarcon , and instead chose to deflect the issue by asking Medina if she had made an error in bringing the two men to debate.

No question that debate is good, but in this case, did the end justify the means? If this is the question that Salazar wants us to ponder, then she is suggesting that she did in fact trick Ricardo Alarcon into debating Jorge Mas Canosa. This scenario would lend support to Alarcon's accusations after the debate was aired, and point to why Salazar has now been banned from reporting inside Cuba.

Maria Elvira Salazar's journalistic ethics is not solely tainted with this event. When Salazar landed her famous interview with Augusto Pinochet in 2003, the Miami Herald wrote that "Salazar pressed him and his family for years, even sneaking into Pinochet's house in London with his grandson when [Pinochet] was under house arrest there in 1999."

It seems that Salazar has no problems bending the rules of ethics when it comes to getting that big interview or debate. A Vista Magazine interview quotes Salazar saying:

"I try to be non-biased. I give equal time to different opinions. I give my opinion, here and there. Then, I create the fight. I’m good at that, at creating the confrontation. The secret lies in choosing the right guests."

Polos Opuestos in no measure provides "equal time." Debates like Garcia vs Calzon, or Amador vs Medina, are few and far between on her show, which dedicates the majority of its programming to anti-Castro guests, and the anti-Castro cause.

How unfortunate to see that her "secret" also involves flaunting ethical principles every now and then.

[Part 1] [Part 2]