Fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989

Today, we celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago. The fall of the Berlin Wall was the beginning of the end for communism, at least in Russia and Eastern Europe. Too bad it seems to be on the resurgence in America–Central, South, and these days, North.

I served in the US Army during the Cold War. I joined for many reasons, but among them was the hope they I would help bring down communism. I spent two years out of my four-year stint in the Army guarding nuclear-tipped Pershing II missiles in Germany. I served with a little-know Infantry unit know as the 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry, or simply as 2-4. One of these days, I’ll do a longer post about my time in the Army and why I joined.

The picture below is of me at the Berlin Wall, circa October 1985. Note what I’m pointing at. Let’s hope one day Cuba can be as free as Germany is today.

The Berlin Wall, circa October 1985
The Berlin Wall, circa October 1985

Someone from across the pond who gets it

Probably because he–Daniel Finkelstein–his father and his grandfather were all victims of Stalin’s oppression. Yep, that might explain why someone might not be too fond of Fidel Castro:

Those cigars, those battle fatigues, that beard. Kinda cool, no? No. Death sentences for those who want to flee, prison sentences for dissidents, gags for the press, jail for homosexuals, ruinous central planning for the economy, his support for a nuclear first strike against America, his opposition to any kind of reform, his four-hour long speeches, his personality cult.

But Finkelstein’s main purpose is to explain why the left loves Fidel so. He gives three reasons, the best one being that the left loves anyone who stands up to the U.S., no matter how evil they are:

Almost anyone – a homophobic, misogynist Islamist cleric for example – is given some credit if the US is their punchbag.


Just in time for Code Pinko’s Miami protest

against Luis Posada Carriles, Salon.com publishes a hit-piece that makes it sound as though Miami is awash in terrorists.

In Greater Miami, home to the majority of the nation’s 1.5 million Cuban-Americans, the presence of what could credibly be described as a terrorist training camp has become an accepted norm during the half-century of the anti-Castro Cuban diaspora. Alpha 66 and numerous other paramilitary groups — Comandos F4, Brigade 2506, Accion Cubana — are so common they’ve taken on the benign patina of Rotary Clubs with weapons.

Later–much later in the article–you get the admission that a lot of these so-called terrorists have either been tried and acquitted, or have actually completed serving their sentences.

The article brags that “Research support was provided by the Puffin Foundation Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.” Google the Nation Institute and the resulting description tells you where they’re coming from:

A liberal-left independently funded and administered organization, committed to a just society and the principles of the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, you rarely here the “liberal-left” complain about left-wing terrorists–and I’m referring to those whose attacks took place here in the United States, not other countries–walking free in the US. In fact, they tend to get glowing profiles in major newspapers like the New York Times–on September 11, 2001:

No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen

Published: September 11, 2001

”I don’t regret setting bombs,” Bill Ayers said. ”I feel we didn’t do enough.” Mr. Ayers, who spent the 1970’s as a fugitive in the Weather Underground, was sitting in the kitchen of his big turn-of-the-19th-century stone house in the Hyde Park district of Chicago. The long curly locks in his Wanted poster are shorn, though he wears earrings. He still has tattooed on his neck the rainbow-and-lightning Weathermen logo that appeared on letters taking responsibility for bombings. And he still has the ebullient, ingratiating manner, the apparently intense interest in other people, that made him a charismatic figure in the radical student movement.

Now he has written a book, ”Fugitive Days” (Beacon Press, September). Mr. Ayers, who is 56, calls it a memoir, somewhat coyly perhaps, since he also says some of it is fiction. He writes that he participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, the Pentagon in 1972. But Mr. Ayers also seems to want to have it both ways, taking responsibility for daring acts in his youth, then deflecting it.



The Miami Herald, Babalu Blog and other blogs are reporting a new initiative to help those repressed by the Castro government in Cuba. The initiative was launched by the Cuban Democratic Directorate (Directorio Democrático Cubano in Spanish), so I looked them up and found the press release here.

Basically, they plan to staff (24 hours a day) an international toll-free hotline where Cubans on the island can call to report any acts of political persecution by the Castro regime. The hotline number is 1-877-303-YONO (“Yo no” is Spanish for “I won’t” or “Not I” and is an allusion to the Directorate’s “I will not cooperate with the dictatorship” campaign).

According to the press release, “(t)his initiative from several pro-democracy exile organizations is a response to the increase in resistance actions on the Island such as protests by young Cubans wearing bracelets with the word CAMBIO, or change, as well as the public dissatisfaction demonstrated regarding Chinese buses recently bought by the Havana regime.”

This is awesome. This is incredible. The concept seems so obvious, I had a “Gee, I could’ve had a V-8” moment when I first read about it.

But now, for the benefit of anyone reading this in Spanish (mostly, on the rare off-chance someone in Cuba might actually be able to read this blog), I’ve reproduced the entire press release in Spanish, below.

EXTRA: I found the following video (Spanish) on the “Cambio” and “Yono” campaigns on Youtube.

07/11/2007 | Directorio Democrático Cubano

Organizaciones del exilio cubano encabezadas por ex presos políticos dieron a conocer durante una conferencia de prensa hoy miércoles, que reconocerán como perseguidos políticos a todo cubano que, por no cooperar con la dictadura y rechazar la farsa electoral, sean reprimidos o detenidos. También reconocerán como prisionero político todo aquel que sea encarcelado por los mismos motivos.

Durante la conferencia, que tuvo lugar en la sede de Los Municipios de Cuba en el Exilio, se hizo pública una línea telefónica internacional que estará disponible las 24 horas del día para informar los actos de no cooperación que se lleven a cabo en la Isla, y por las cuales personas caigan presas o sean víctimas de persecución política por desarrollar nuevas formas de resistencia cívica dentro de la campaña de la no cooperación.

El teléfono, 1-877-303-YONO, estará disponible a todo el público a partir de este viernes y será atendida por el Presidio Político Histórico Cubano. Esta iniciativa de distintas organizaciones pro democráticas del exilio es una respuesta de ayuda por el aumento de actos de resistencia: las protestas por los jóvenes con las manillas CAMBIO y el descontento público demostrado hacia los autobuses chinos recién comprados por el régimen de Cuba.

“Nosotros nos encargaremos de documentar y publicar estas acciones, de dirigir a los organismos internacionales de los derechos humanos hacia el respaldo a estos perseguidos, y de hacerle llegar asistencia económica recaudada privadamente en las comunidades cubanas en el exilio a aquellos compatriotas que la necesiten al estar luchando por la libertad dentro de Cuba,” expresó Angel De Fana, de Plantados Hasta la Libertad y la Democracia en Cuba.





Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet receives Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Bush awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Biscet
President George W. Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Yan Valdes Morejon and Winnie Biscet in honor of their father Oscar Elias Biscet during a ceremony Monday, Nov. 5, 2007, in the East Room. “Oscar Biscet is a healer — known to 11 million Cubans as a physician, a community organizer, and an advocate for human rights,” said the President about the imprisoned physician. “The international community agrees that Dr. Biscet’s imprisonment is unjust, yet the regime has refused every call for his release.” White House photo by Joyce N. Boghosian.

President Bush awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet yesterday. Of course, because Dr. Biscet is locked in Fidel Castro’s gulag, the President had to present the award to Dr. Biscet’s son and daughter.

There’s not much for me to add to this, other than to say if anyone deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom, it’s Dr. Biscet. I’ll leave you with a few links below.


President Bush puts the lie to Castro’s ’embargo’ excuse

President Bush delivers remarks on Cuba policy at State Department
President George W. Bush greets his guests Marlenis Gonzalez, right, and her daughter Melissa, center, Wednesday, October 24, 2007, after his remarks on Cuba policy at the State Department in Washington, D.C. Melissa’s father, Jorge Luis Gonzalez Tanquero is currently being held in a Cuban prison after being arrested for crimes against the regime. White House photo by Eric Draper.

President Bush gave a great speech on the United States’ Cuba policy today at the State Department. You can read the entire speech here. Or read the fact sheet on Cuba policy, titled Encouraging Freedom, Justice, and Prosperity in Cuba, here. Or you can watch video of the President’s speech here.

It was a thing of beauty. So much of it was good, that I would have had to have posted the whole thing here–I’ve posted links above instead. For my money, the best part was when he named names of political prisoners in Castro’s gulag–some of these prisoners’ families were at the speech (see photo above).


Bay of Pigs remembered

I was surprised to learn the CIA actually has an art gallery. Well, they’ve added a new piece to it: a painting depicting an air attack on Castro’s soldiers. The painting was unveiled at museum dedicated to flight in Birmingham, Alabama, according to this Miami Herald article.

Val Prieto of Babalu Blog was in Birmingham covering the event, read about it on his blog. While you’re at it, check out his photo of the beautiful painting.


Massachusetts colleges?!?! What the…?

The last place on God’s green earth–the ABSOLUTE last place–that you’d expect to find a viewpoint on Cuba other than “Castro/Che good, U.S. bad” would be a college newspaper, especially that of a liberal Massachusetts college.

So I hope you’ll excuse my utter shock when I discovered this morning not one, but two–TWO–Massachusetts college newspapers presenting the truth about Cuba.

First, from the Harvard (yes, THAT Harvard) Crimson, a piece on Andy Garcia, who visited campus to screen The Lost City:

Critics have blasted the film for presenting a misleading view of pre-revolutionary Cuba.

After the screening, Garcia told The Crimson that those critics were misinformed.

“When you make a movie about a political open wound, people will come at you with a political agenda,” Garcia said. “If a French filmmaker had made this movie, you would not have heard the same things. But I am a Cuban exile.”

Richard A. Serna ’10, vice president of the Latino Men’s Collective, which helped organize the event with the Harvard Cuban American Undergraduate Student Association (CAUSA), said Garcia brought a different perspective to the debate over Cuba.

“Garcia is someone who is trying to tell a story that hasn’t been told,” he said.

Indeed he is. Next, from the University of Massachusetts’ Daily Collegian, we get an editorial–by a student, Ben Duffy, whose name suggests he is not of Cuban descent–titled Guevara: fiend, not folk hero:

The future T-shirt icon oversaw La Cabaña fortress, a true house of horrors where opponents of the reigning Castro regime were executed. José Vilasuso, a lawyer at the fortress, prepared indictments for people who were summarily convicted on little or no evidence. “The statements of the investigating officer constituted irrefutable proof of wrongdoing,” Vilasuso said. “The defense lawyer simply admitted the accusations and requested the generosity of the government in order to reduce the sentence…[Che] reprimanded in private more than one colleague; in public, he chastised us all: ‘Don’t delay these trials. This is a revolution, the proofs are secondary… They are a gang of criminals and murderers. Besides, remember that there is an Appeals Tribunal.'” Yes, there was appealing authority. His name was Che Guevara.

Vilasuso continues: “Nevertheless, in La Cabaña, until June of 1959, about 600 prisoners were executed, plus an indefinite number of prison sentences.”

So Che executed hundreds of people, and he’s the hero. Felix Rodriguez executed Che, and he’s the villain. Whose face belongs on a T-shirt?

Bravo, Massachusetts!