Thursday, August 03, 2006

About the Cuban press

On Wednesday night (Sydney time), I was invited to talk about what’s going on Cuba on Late Night Live, a talk show hosted by Phillip Adams on Radio National, a network of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The other guest was Associate Professor Barry Carr, who is the Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies at La Trobe University, just outside Melbourne.

Carr is the co-author with Avi Chomsky of The Cuba Reader: History, Politics, Culture. He is a regular visitor to Cuba. Our views on Fidel Castro differ markedly, which is fine. We live in a democracy and everyone is entitled to their views. I just wish Cubans inside the island had the same rights.

During the discussion, Carr was asked just how popular did he think Castro was among ordinary Cubans. His response was spot on: No one really knows. Referring to the Cuban media, which is entirely controlled by the regime, Carr added: “I think even its staunchest admirers, and there are very few of them, wouldn’t say very much about the Cuban press.”

Anyway, you can hear the entire discussion by going to the Radio National website here.


Blogger Manuel A. Tellechea said...

"Eventually in Cuba there will be important political and economic shifts towards greater openness and diversity of opinion. I shudder at the thought that the political culture of hate, violence and threats revealed by some of the correspondents to this page might in any way retard such a future outcome." — Professor Barry Carr (aka "Aussie")

"Eventually," you say, professor, there will be "important political and economic shifts" in Cuba." Eventually? After 47 years of tyranny, your "eventually" appears to encompass several more decades of the same. You are certainly in no hurry to see Cuba free. In fact, freedom is not even on your agenda. For you, "greater openness and diversity of opinion" seems to be quite enough for Cubans. But what exactly do these relative terms mean? They don't mean anything at all but are just high-sounding evasions of the truth, the terrible and irrefutable truth: that Cuba (along with North Korea) is the world's last Stalinist state, which cannot be "reformed" but must be abolished.

Stalinism in Cuba does not "make you shudder." What makes you shudder is "the political culture of hate, violence and threats revealed by some of the correspondents to this page." In other words, you shudder at the thought that at least some Cubans in the world actually enjoy freedom of expression (though not in our country). You would rather shut us all up so that the stream of Castro's propaganda may flow unobstructed.

The "rest of the world may not see the U.S. as a beacon of democracy," but Cuban-Americans certainly do because we have known the real absence of democracy and value it all the more because of it. A year's residence in Cuba without your Australian passport would certainly prove an epiphany for you in this respect. This experiment has actually been tried by those more naive than you and the result has always been the same — the erstwhile Castro apologist returns home scarred and disillusioned, denouncing the regime to friends who disbelief and disown them.

I am glad (for your sake) that you do not accept the numerous bribes which you admit have been proferred to you by the Castro regime, even though the refusal of its largesse entails economic hardship for you. In the end, when the record of these transactions is made public, you will glad not to see your name on Castro's "dishonor list."

Posted by: Manuel A. Tellechea | September 12, 2006 at 12:24 AM

11:29 pm  
Blogger Manuel A. Tellechea said...

Professor Carr (aka "Aussie"):,

What blog have you been reading, professor? I neither shout nor scream. Having reason on my side, I leave the histrionics to others who must avail themselves of such effects because they have no other weapons in their forensic arsenal. I would advice you also to return to college as a student, but I doubt that it would do you much good, since it appears to have had little effect on you the first time, and being older and more closeminded, I should think it would profit you even less now.

You are right: I don't know your opinion on Stalinism, and you certainly have not enlightened us on that score. Perhaps you wish us to presume that you think ill of it. I am not, however, ready to take even that for granted.

You may try to eat your own words (as well you might) but the record stands unaltered: you "shudder at the thought" of Miami's "political culture of hate, violence and threats" but feel no such compulsion to condemn Castro's totalitarian regime. How many deaths by firing squad have Cuban exiles committed in Miami? How many Cuban exiles have been murdered on the high seas while attempting to escape to Cuba? How many political prisoners are held in Miami jails? But you "shudder" at Miami's supposed intolerance, but have nary a word of criticism for Castro's island gulag.

What are we to make of you, then, professor?

Just another left-wing academic from the boondocks worshipping at the feet of some clay-footed idol.

Posted by: Manuel A. Tellechea | September 12, 2006 at 02:41 AM

11:32 pm  
Blogger Manuel A. Tellechea said...

Barry (aka "Aussie"),

The bridge between us seems to be wider than that between our two island homes (or do you see Australia as a continent?).

No, you are not John, nor would I ever mistake you for John. John is harmless though not guileless. His hatred for Cuban-Americans is legendary on this blog. He uses any number of aliases to express it, and he hates me for always being able to find him out. He is also in the habit of hijacking other commentators' names and posting under them to further increase the confusion. But regardless of what name he uses, I can always find him out. A little blog history that may prove useful, although, I'm afraid, it would invalidate any research that your students could do on this blog.

As for your anthology, I am sure that there isn't anything in it that I haven't read elsewhere -- that is, from the original sources. I really can't imagine what you have done with (or to) Eddie Chibas' writings. He was an adamant anti-Communist who urged the purging of all Communists from labor unions. Chibas, a gentleman, despised the gangster Castro and shunned him whenever he could. Castro repaid him by literally kipnapping his corpse. Yes, Chibas' death was a very great tragedy. If Chibas had lived, there would never have been a Castro (I know you are shuddering now at that thought).

I'm glad to hear you admit that your book is not "neutral," which shows at least that you are not an American leftist. American leftists always insist that their books are neutral, no matter how partisan or biased they really are. I hope I haven't tempted you into following their example.

The name "Chomsky" does make me cringe, as it should anyone with any respect for truth or sanity.

I am glad that you like Luis Garcia. I should think that it would be very difficult to hate a Cuban-Australian, such a wonderful mix of so many winsome qualities. But I do think he bested you in your little exchange. Of course, I would not expect you to agree with me.

For your information, I do read Cuban books published after 1959. And I know that editors in Cuba and Australia are familiar with my writings, too, because they can't resist the urge to steal them. Ocean Press, for example, published without permission or attribution my English translations of Jose Marti's "Versos sencillos." (In a second edition they at least credited me). And the Centro de Estudios Martianos, in Havana, devoted the entire 7th volume of the Critical Edition of Marti's "Complete Works" to a collection of hitherto unknown writings discovered by Carlos Ripoll and me and published originally in our book "Seis Cronicas Ineditas de Jose Marti" and reprinted with our permission in CUBAN STUDIES 29. The Castroite editors did not seek our permission to reprint them, but, astonishingly, they did credit us.

Posted by: Manuel A. Tellechea | September 12, 2006 at 08:59 AM

11:35 pm  
Blogger Manuel A. Tellechea said...

For more of the debate between Professor Barry Carr and Manuel A. Tellechea, you are cordially invited to visit Oscar Corral's Miami Herald blog ("Miami's Cuban Connection") at:

There you will also be able to read Professor Carr's rejoinders, which I do not feel free to reproduce here.

With best regards,

Manuel A. Tellechea

11:43 pm  

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