Monday, October 27, 2008

Losing His Touch

As usual, I was listening to Radio Mambi (the highest rated AM station in South Florida) yesterday and waiting to hear what Armando Perez Roura had to say in his daily radio commentary, Tome Nota. (The title translates more or less to "pay close attention," but literally means "take notes." Perez Roura is Radio Mambi's programming director, and perhaps the most popular voice in Miami of the militant Cuban exile.)

Lately, hosts on Radio Mambi have been warning their listeners of the potential danger of electing Sen. Barack Obama this November. Callers have been calling in to repeat those concerns, and in a nutshell they all seem to share a common conclusion about Sen. Obama: he's part of a worldwide communist conspiracy to destroy the United States. This assertion would undoubtedly have strong resonance within the mostly Republican Cuban exile community, but I don't think that propaganda works anymore.

Years of polling data about the Cuban community in Miami show that attitudes have changed, including their policy options against the Cuban government. Recent polling of three important congressional districts in South Florida [18th, 21st, and 25th], which are composed of mostly Cuban residents, show that younger Cubans may be distancing themselves from the traditional militant position. The results show that the 18 to 44 age group in each district is far more likely to vote (by an average margin of 27%) for the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama, who has voiced a new diplomatic strategy towards the Cuban government.

Nevertheless, Radio Mambi seems to remain unchanged with their military strategy to free Cuba from the evil clutches of "communism." There should be no doubt that self-proclaimed "intransigents" like Armando Perez Roura only see a military solution for Cuba. But, seeing that attitudes are changing in Miami, militant exiles, like Perez Roura, sound more and more removed from reality with every passing day.

Take yesterday's Tome Nota for example.

Armando Perez Roura begins by praising Colombian President Alvaro Uribe for the recent news of a freed FARC hostage, Oscar Lizcano. Ever since the Colombian army successfully killed a top FARC leader last March in a controversial military operation inside Ecuador, Cuban exile militants have been cheering for the Uribe administration. Perez Roura repeated his mantra yesterday that "these elements [of the FARC] can only be stripped of power by force."

But, if you are familiar with his speeches, when Perez Roura says "these elements" he really means terrorists, communists, socialists, democrats, etc. They're all somewhat the same to him, like Hugo Chavez, or Barack Obama.

Recently in Miami, former Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez was honored by some former Cuban political prisoners. Telemundo51 was there for an interview and recorded him calling for the violent overthrow of current Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Telemundo51 probably already knew what Carlos Andres Perez was gonna say, since he said it before publicly in 2004. But, Telemundo51 attempts to keep the militant spirit alive in Miami by rebroadcasting those comments, which only encourages militants like Armando Perez Roura, who yesterday quoted the exiled former Venezuelan president.

So, by the end of his Tome Nota, Perez Roura pieces together his list of "these elements" and concludes that we must...

"remove by force these elements that assume power through the vote and later begin to make 'changes.' They are elected following the rules of the game that exist, and later say they are going to 'change,' and begin changing in order to fulfill the plans they carry concealed. Because all these individuals that talk about 'change' are all alike. Inside they carry the little red worm."

Perez Roura never ceases to amaze me. Within his speech he lumps together the FARC guerillas, Hugo Chavez, and Sen. Barack Obama with inventive desperation. I'm laughing at the creative associations (not to mention the "little red worm"), but how serious is he being? Is Armando Perez-Roura, and other militants, being honestly fearful of Sen. Obama, or are they engaging in pure propaganda?

Whatever the reason may be, there are some important facts missing. Perez Roura praises the Uribe government for the recently freed FARC hostage, Oscar Lizcano, but, according to news reports, the Colombian military had nothing to do with his release. Instead, Lizcano was helped by a FARC deserter. In addition, Lizcano is telling President Alvaro Uribe to "[l]ook for a humane solution as soon as possible" to free all other hostages. He is alerting the Colombian army that FARC rebels are prepared to shoot any hostages that are about to be liberated.

Findings solutions to problems require some grasp of reality. Armando Perez Roura's committment to militancy seems to be losing touch with it.

[The same can be said about writers of the Babalu Blog.]