Friday, January 11, 2008

Code Pink in Little Havana

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.


Robert said...


I don't know why I'm bothering to respond to you, but let's chalk it up to a moment of weakness on my part.

You choose not to see the hypocrisy because, admit sympathize with leftist goons. The link I provided about Medea's love for Cuba and castro is representative of common knowledge: CODEPINK is a far-left organization that sympathizes with communist regimes.

If they're so concerned with freedom and democracy, then where were they when the Ladies in White (you know them, right?) were being harrassed by castro goons? When have they made any comments regarding the imprisonment of Oscar Elias Biscet?

That's right, they are NOwhere to be found, because they don't give a crap about freedom and democracy. Do you deny Medea's love for Hugo Chavez? Do you see a pattern?

What I'm going to say next is surely going to burst your tiny bubble: I don't give a hoot about Posada. He's never been convicted of terrorism, but frankly he's a pain in the ass for those of us who truly support Cuban freedom, because he's a distraction that turns people's attention away from the real issues. CODEPINK knows this, and you've willingly fallen into the trap.

You and CODEPINK would have much more credibility if you all denounced all repressive acts done by castro, not turn a blind eye as you always do. Until you recognize that this isn't really about Posada, but about espousing radical views, you'll continue living in your naive little world.

Mambi_Watch said...

Thanks for your response Robert,

I'll try make it feel like you didn't waste your time doing so.

First off, I only agree with you that Code Pink and some of its activities (such as past Saturday's) are very radical and confrontational (perhaps what you mean by "far-left"). But, you are mischaracterizing an entire organization, that does various campaigns across the US (such as those with Iraqi women or for Darfur) and most likely attract many kinds of people due to their various political positions.

Many people (perhaps the majority according to polls) in the US agree with the positions of Code Pink, such as universal healthcare, preventing a war with Iran or calling for Cheney's impeachment. But, does that make the geenral US population "far-left"? No it doesn't.

The focus on Benjamin alone is too convenient.

So what's her position on Cuba's internal situation? Have you read her books? She's done many. In one, called "Cuba: Talking About Revolution" (1997), Benjamin has a long discussion with Juan Antonio Blanco, former Cuban official, in which they seem to discuss all sorts of topics about Cuba, and the several problems within. (That's the summary, I haven't read the book.) In 2003, in a separate occasion, Blanco (now in exile) wrote:

"The totalitarian vision of socialism and the individual (egotistical) style of Fidel Castro's government today are the main dangers to Cuban national security."

Do you think Benjamin, would author a book about a long discussion with Blanco if she "sympathizes with communist regimes"? It's very likely that Benjamin's view about Cuba, from where she was once deported, is mixed and cannot be described as "love", as you so conveniently put it.

I, like many Americans, sympathize with many of the political positions of Code Pink. But, I do not support all their actions, including their Saturday demonstration (not to mention the actions by some counter-protesters). In my opinion, it was far too confrontational, but I'll be posting about that soon.

About hypocrisy. (You should know this already) Code Pink is a NATIONAL movement focused mainly on policy since 2002, not on "freedom and democracy." There's a reason why Code Pink was in Cuba last year and focused their efforts on Guantanamo, and not on Cuba's prisons: they are opposed to US POLICY. If one looks at ALL their campaigns, the great majority stem from US policy. (Which also explains some members' solidarity with Venezuelan and Cuban officials, since they also oppose US policy.)

But, Code Pink (as the whole organization) cannot be called hypocritical unless their mission statements favor one issue over another similar one. In which case, Code Pink does have ONE campaign that deviates from US policy: the campaign on Darfur.

This grave humanitarian issue is not similar to Cuba's (though I'm sure some would argue otherwise) and I don't see hypocrisy by Code Pink.

But, like you, I do see where Code Pink, or some of its members, can make an effort to include the human rights situation in Cuba as part of their campaign, just like they did with Darfur. But, that means cooperating with Code Pink and building up a national grassroots movement with them, and not making accusations against them for something they haven't done.

Robert, you assumptions of "common knowledge" are not being represented by the facts that I highlighted above. But, neither am I saying that you're totally wrong. Maybe I, or some other people, do "sympathize with leftist goons", but then again there may be a good reason why we do so. At least, I try to explain it.

As for not giving "a hoot over Posada", fine. That puts you with the majority of Americans that don't know about the case. But, for those who are aware, I'm sure you know there's a big difference of opinion, far beyond simply describing him as a "pain in the ass."

Hope my reply satisfies.