The guys at Babalu are having fun, lots of it, with an earlier post here and with their own imaginations.
It has to do with the late Juan Wilfredo Soto of Santa Clara. Dissidents charge that he died last Sunday as a result of a police beating the previous Thursday in Santa Clara’s central park.
They pointed out that I referred to police “entreaties” to Soto for him to leave the park. Point well taken; I was recounting local dissidents’ accounts as described in news reports, the right word was “demands,” and I made the correction.
From there, they are implying that I claim to know what had happened (when I was relating locals’ accounts) and that I think the man deserved a beating for remaining in a public park (which is ridiculous).
What I was doing, in a case where police brutality is alleged and third-hand information abounds, was to present the various accounts for readers to chew over for themselves. (Speaking of which, here is a Granma story where Soto’s relatives and a doctor dispute the beating story, here is Herald coverage of that story, and here are counter-arguments from Penultimos Dias.
I’ll note that, reading Babalu, I see that Amnesty International refers to police “asking him [Soto] to leave” the park. That sounds like an “entreaty” to me, but then Amnesty International opposes the U.S. embargo so they are a bunch of commies.
As must be our friend Mauricio, who ran Amnesty’s note in his blog, repeating this vile lie.
For this crowd (and for some in the Plaza de la Revolucion), nothing comes easier than to say that if you disagree with them, then you must be with their foreign enemy. Hence Cardinal Ortega is a Cuban government “spokesperson” at Babalu because he isn’t in step with U.S. and European policy toward Cuba. And Mauricio suggests that if you don’t lobby for the positions he lobbies for regarding U.S. policy, then you’re a lobbyist for the Cuban government.
Back to the Soto case, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Ileana Ros-Lehtinen took a strong shot at the Cuban government but prefaced it with the phrase, “if reports are accurate.” I don’t know what that makes her to those at Babalu, but I would say she’s appropriately cautious. It’s an ugly reality that plenty of Cuban dissidents have revealed themselves to be agents of the government over the years. On occasion they have used dramatic reports of abuses to build their bona fides in the 305 and 202 area codes.
But in this whole saga, it is Rep. David Rivera who really takes the cake.
In the Soto case, there are elements on the story on which everyone agrees, from Granma to Radio Mambi. That is that the man died Sunday after an encounter with police on Thursday. Rep. Rivera fabricated a simpler story, that police just beat Soto to death on the spot on Sunday. “Witnesses have attested,” he said in the House of Representatives, that police beat Soto “mercilessly and repeatedly with batons until he was dead.” No witness or friend of Soto, and no dissident who has commented, has said any such thing.
Of course there’s no moral difference between beating someone to death and beating someone so severely that death comes within days. The issue regarding Rivera is that he appears to take reports from Cuba, exaggerate them, and present them to his colleagues.
So the facts don’t matter, the human rights issue is trivialized, and a huge favor is done for those in Cuba who reduce the issue to accusations about “media campaigns.”