Friday, May 13, 2011


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.”


El Yuma said...


As in many other cases, I'm in your corner on this one.

I thought your initial note on the JWS death was appropriately cautious. We weren't there. We can only report what witnesses say and keep searching for the truth.

Given the fact that JWS was beaten and then died three days later, I feel the onus is on the government to investigate what happened. And because I have little faith that the government will do that or do it fairly, the role of Cuba's dissident, independent journalist, blogger community is key in putting pressure on them. Then there is our role as outside bloggers along with the international media - to be a responsible critical gage of events.

Anonymous said...

Babalu twisting and distorting facts Say it's not true! It's all they do. What I have yet to figure out is who is paying them to do it. I think the answer might be surprising.

Anonymous said...

It's really unbelievable, frustrating and sad that elected members of the House of Representatives can spout outright lies.

Unfortunately this happens all the time on numerous issues (ex. Health care) and they are sometimes called out by guys like John Stewart. It's too bad they can't be held accountable for misrepresentation.

Val Prieto said...

The great Phil Peters losing his cool? Say it isnt so! And with the esteemed professor following suit!

By all means, let's take what Granma reports as solid, true, and absolutely accurate accounts of the events surrounding Soto's death. It's not like theyre direct arms of the Cuban government or anything. And of course, we absolutely must believe those interviewed by granma because no one is Cuba is afraid to speak their minds. It's not like they suffer repercussions for their thoughts and words. No sirreee.

And you, Phil, are you a journalist? Arbiter of truth and justice? Or are you a guy works for a "think tank," by all accounts a military one at that, whose more of a lobbying entity with dubious funding and an "unknown" agenda?

And the esteemed professor, with a nickname whose origin he may not be aware of, and who's a self made expert on all things cuba, having interviewed hundreds on Cubans but not a single one living in exile whose thoughts and opinions might not necessarily be in tune with his expert narrative?

here's the truth, Phil: You ARE soft on the regime. A quick perusal of the archives of this blog proves as much. You are more critical of US policy, exiles, and bloggers such as myself than on those who starve a man to death or beat a man to his last breath in broad daylight, then blame that man for having the audacity to die from the beating.

As for your comment that we trivialize the dissident movement and human rights issues in Cuba, I will gladly pit the archives of Babalu against yours and Yuma's combined and we can analyze which one exposes the truth, and which one downplays reports on dissidents who get harrassed or beaten or subjugated for refusing the "entreaties" of the regime.

And to Anonymous: Tell you what, when Phil Peters opens up his books so we can all see where "the funding comes from", then we'll truly see who's who and what's what. Although, I highly doubt that this would happen, God knows what cockroaches might scatter when we turn on THAT light.

Seems like either we hit a nerve, Phil, or the power$ that be are putting on the pre$$ure.

Anonymous said...

Where is Babalu taking their marching orders from, you ask?

Read, (sorry for linking) and other similarly oriented websites.

Wait for a few hours.

Chek the babalu blog.


There is no way folks like val and drillwar and whoever esle ould stretch the truth any further. Emotionalism, drama, lies and persistent reminders of what a bunch of cowards they are. Because after the 2506, they've only given their time to moan and groan against the Castros -and collect money for a free Cuba.

I look forward to the day when there is respect for some personal freedoms in Cuba which at this point are denied to most Cubans. I also look forward to that day hoping that then this opportunistic crowd will stay in Florida and New Jersey.

Henry Louis Gomez said...

you're a disingenuous shill for the castro brothers, phil. karma is a bitch and will eventually catch up with you.

Anonymous said...

Phil, don't give up. Please.


Anonymous said...

typical anti-castro lunacy. as soon as anyone wants to bring any sort of balance, these mercenaries go on the attack. keep up the good work Phil, you do bring balance to something these people try desperately to avoid. it is the same rationale they have for working so hard against lifting the travel restrictions for all Americans -- they just can't lose control of their message of hate and their lies.

jsb said...

A man died in custody who otherwise wouldn't have died had he been allowed to peacefully protest and then return home. Seems pretty open and shut to me.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

I have no horse in this race but know both contenders very well and have very definite opinions about them.

Val Prieto believes that the Cuban people must be prodded into rebellion by his own version of "tough love" -- no remittances, no family visits, no aid of any kind which might directly or indirectly perpetuate the Castro regime by defusing the societal pressures upon it: the more miserable the Cuban people are (or can be made) the closer they will be to their own redemption.

Phil Peters believes the opposite: he wants to give Cubans bread and circuses so that they will be complacent in their chains, or, at least, appear complacent before the world; then, he hopes, economic sanctions on the regime will be removed and the colonization of Cuba can begin in earnest. (The Brothers Castro, of course, are not opposed to the colonization of Cuba so long as they can retain a 51% interest in the enterprise).

Both positions, of course, are wrong and wrongheaded. The Cuban people cannot be starved into rebellion, nor will they sell their birthright for a bowl of porridge.

Phil Peters is the pied piper of "normalization" and he gets paid for his tunes, not by Castro, who pays no one, but by the PFF (Prospective Friends of Castro). Val Prieto isn't paid a dime by anybody, which shows uncommon good sense, not on his part but on everybody else's.

Anonymous said...

so someone who supports the continued hostility against the citizens of a small nation, who seeks to enforce regime change through deprivations and terrorism and non stop propaganda has the same moral equivalency as someone who says let the citizens themselves work it out with their government (which they can not do as long as the world's most powerful nation has them by the throat) and supports responsible international relations.
You have to explain that one to me Lucy. It is the continuation of the disingenuous and immoral American centric worldview. Only someone who does not know what is really happening in ALL of Cuba would say.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

The anonymous writer, who addresses a question to an unnamed party metaphorically referred to as "Lucy," is apparently unaware that all the "hostility against the citizens of a small nation [Cuba]," all the "deprivations and terrorism and non-stop propaganda" directed at them, originates with the unelected rulers of their country, who are the ones that have had Cubans "by the throat" for 52 years. He believes, against all precedent and reason, that the best way for Cubans to break their shackles and recover their freedom is "to work it out with their government [sic]" when their relationship to "their government [sic]" is that of hostages to their captors. Such an individual, whether dupe or fellow traveler, would have deposited his hopes in the justice of a Hitler or the wisdom of a Stalin.

BTW, it is impossible to have "moral equivalence" in the absence of morality. What Anonymous @1:52 PM must mean is immoral equivalence.