Just this morning on Radio Mambi, Ernesto Díaz Rodríguez, secretary general of Alpha 66 and a vice-president of Unidad Cubana, called in to announce plans for a counter-protest at Versailles Restaurant on Saturday (tomorrow). Díaz Rodríguez was soon followed by another caller, a member of another Cuban exile organization (La Casa del Presídio Politico), to encourage all exile organizations to meet on Saturday at 10 am at Versailles, one hour before the Code Pink demonstration.
Díaz Rodríguez told Radio Mambi listeners that Code Pink has "defamed" Luis Posada Carriles with their campaign, and that they must protest tomorrow to show the Cuban exile community is "united in support for Posada." The other caller described Code Pink as "a group of communists," and that a demonstration tomorrow by exiles will be "a meeting of honor."
Most likely, the same individuals who demonstrated last year on January 19th in support for Luis Posada Carriles will be at the Versailles tomorrow. And, given that some of those members already demonstrated an audacity for violence, Code Pink should be prepared for similar acts.
On their campaign website, Code Pink responds to the "militant right-wing Cuban community":
"Yes, those who live in Miami know that there are elements of the Cuban community who are very violent. They have bombed and beaten people who dared to criticize their positions. But if the US. is going to have moral standing in the world, we must be consistent in opposing all violence against civilians and holding all terrorists accountable. It’s up to us to force our government to stop holding a double standard of condemning some acts of terrorism and supporting others."
The Babalu blog yesterday responded to the Code Pink campaign against Posada. Unsurprisingly, they target Medea Benjamin, who's quoted in El Nuevo Herald. Robert M, for Babalu, tries to explain why he perceives "blatant hypocrisy" on the part of Code Pink. He answers:
"It's quite easy to explain. Medea Benjamin loves Cuba, especially those in charge of the gulag."
Robert M provides ONE link to support this conclusion: a profile page on Medea Benjamin from the Discover the Networks website, a website that dedicates itself as a watchdog or "Guide to the Political Left." According to their mission statement, Discover the Networks "identifies the individuals and organizations that make up the left and also the institutions that fund and sustain it; it maps the paths through which the left exerts its influence on the larger body politic; it defines the left's (often hidden) programmatic agendas and it provides an understanding of its history and ideas."
But, Robert M and Discover the Networks are wrong.
It seems that in the excitement of identifying Medea Benjamin, both Robert M and Discover the Networks have made ONE simple reporting error: they forgot to cite their sources. But, of course it must've been a mistake, I'm sure they'll correct it. Here's what happened:
According to the Discover the Networks profile on Medea Benjamin: "Ms. Benjamin then lived for some time in Fidel Castro's Communist Cuba with her first husband, who was the coach of that country's national basketball team. (Reflecting later on her years in Cuba, she said she had felt "like I died and went to heaven.") Cuban authorities deported Ms. Benjamin, however, after she wrote an anti-government article in the government-run newspaper for which she worked."
Robert M, forgot to add the part of Benjamin's deportation from Cuba (the country "she loves"). But, Robert M and Discover the Networks forgot to cite the ORIGINAL article from where this biography originates.
On October 26, 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story on Medea Benjamin and her long history as a political activist. The author, Joe Garofoli, writes:
"Yet at first, Cuba's comparative social equality 'made it seem like I died and went to heaven.' Then she bumped into the limitations of free speech while working at a Communist-run newspaper; she was deported after daring to write an anti-government article."
Benjamin's biography also reveals that she is well aware of the complexities and difficulties of Cuban society, since she has written several books on related subjects to Cuba. To say that she "loves Cuba, especially those in charge of the gulag" is baseless and deceiving. And, I'm sure Robert M didn't intend to deceive his readers, or mischaracterize Benjamin's real attitudes towards Cuba. But I'm not so sure about the Discover the Networks website.
Also yesterday, Luis Posada Carriles' lawyer Arturo Hernández appeared on Spanish television in defense of his client. Maria Elvira Live allowed Arturo Hernández to defend Posada's current case on the air, and also to defend his client from charges of the 1976 bombing.
To some exiles here in Miami, Luis Posada Carriles embodies the highest qualities of the militant exile ("el intransigente"). To oppose him, is to oppose the exile community (if you imagine it as a unified and/or militant front). Tomorrow, this confrontation on the exile identity may result in some hostile behavior against Code Pink. But, the demonstration is also an opportunity for individuals, of whatever background, to reject a militant identity, and instead identify with efforts that lead to peace.