Dialing for dollars in Cuba

Campaign News | Saturday, 24 May 2008

By Machetera

There are so many things wrong with this story that it would be hard to know where to begin, so let’s start with Tuesday’s headline in El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish language fiefdom of the Miami Herald, which says “Dissident Cuban Woman Says Government Hounds but Doesn’t Allow a Defense.”

Now, aside from the striking fact that the Cuban woman in question, Martha Beatriz Roque, is given a free platform by a major U.S. daily from which to defend herself (and doesn’t) - something which is never offered those hounded by the United States government, Machetera’s going to take a wild guess here and say that if the Cuban government didn’t also invite her to appear on the Cuban political television program, Mesa Redonda (Round Table) where her grasping emails were unveiled, demanding payment for services rendered, it would have been to save her from being killed by the audience. Because Martha doesn’t just take money from anybody. She takes it from the ugliest people - Santiago Alvarez, the benefactor of Luis Posada Carriles, who blew up a Cuban passenger plane in 1976, killing all 73 people on board.

Alvarez, you’ll recall, spirited the aging terrorist Posada Carriles from Mexico to safe haven in the United States, aboard his vessel, the Santrina - a felony, incidentally, but one that has so far not been prosecuted since the government has been otherwise occupied slapping him on the wrist for his unusual weapons collection: “machine guns, rifles, C-4 explosive, dynamite, detonators, a grenade launcher and ammunition,” according to the Miami Herald.

Fidel Castro was the first person to point out that Posada Carriles had arrived on the Santrina, not as Posada Carriles claimed, on a bus crossing the Mexico/Texas border, but the U.S. press ran with the bus story for a very long time anyway. It worked out well in the end, as the lie about the bus trip was what the government finally used to charge and minimally sentence Posada Carriles instead of complying with international law and turning him over for extradition to Venezuela to be prosecuted in the 1976 plane bombing.

When not dialing for dollars (or specifically, euros) for herself and others, Martha apparently busied herself writing to the judge overseeing Alvarez’s prosecution, which might have paid off, had the letter not been lost at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana. Martha understood the consequences and wrote to her Miami confidante and intermediary for the terrorists, Carmen Machado,

“It’s a serious problem, since [Cuban] Security will surely bring out the original letter on Mesa Redonda, or in a book, or maybe they’ll bring me back to trial for it, since they’ve never had any proof against me despite all the years I’ve lived. I wanted you to know and for you to tell my friend, of whom I’m also very proud.”

Martha’s not the only one taking money from such despicable people. The U.S. government p.r. creation, the “Ladies in White,” (Damas de Blanco) takes terrorist money too. The “Ladies in White” are the Cuban wives of other so-called dissidents who don white clothing and head-scarves in the most cynical appropriation of the memory of the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who marched to demand the return of their children, abducted in the U.S. supported military dictatorship there.

The p.r. geniuses who thought up the “Ladies in White” have counted on a short public attention span and a compliant press, but Hebe de Bonafini, a real mother from Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo was perfectly blunt about the insult in an interview with Salim Lamrani in 2005:

Lamrani: The Cuban authorities arrested and harshly sentenced various people to prison terms, which the international press calls “dissidents,” for having collaborated with the economic sanctions against Cuba and for receiving subsidies from the United States. The French press has often alluded to the “Ladies in White,” the family of these “dissidents,” who march in Havana to ask for the liberation of their family members. Several media have referred to these people as the “Cuban Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.” What does Hebe de Bonafini, President of the Association of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo think?

De Bonafini: First, let me say that the Plaza de Mayo is in Argentina and nowhere else. Our white headscarf symbolizes life, while the women you speak about to me represent death. This is the most important and most substantial difference that should be noted by these journalists. We are not going to accept their being compared to us, or that our symbols be used to trample upon us. We are in complete disagreement with them.

However, they are demanding the release of their family members. Doesn’t that seem legitimate?

These women defend United States terrorism. They defend the world’s foremost terrorist country, that with the most blood on its hands, that which launches the most bombs, that invades the most countries, that imposes the strongest economic sanctions against others. We are talking about a country that is responsible for the crimes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

These women don’t realize that the struggle of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo symbolizes love for our abducted children, killed by tyrants imposed by the United States. Our battle represents the Revolution, the one that our sons and daughters wanted to make. Their struggle is different, since they defend the subversive policies of the United States that only contain oppression, repression and death.

What, according to you, are the interests being defended by the “Cuban dissidents?”

The interests of the United States, of course. You’d have to be blind or dishonest not to see it. You only have to read the reports published by the U.S. State Department, in which it is said that a $50 million budget is earmarked for the fabrication of an opposition in Cuba. The information is public, and it’s available. The dissidents themselves, as they are called, meet with Mr. James Cason [the U.S. representative preceding Michael Parmly in Havana] and are under his command. These dissidents have openly supported the maintenance of economic sanctions that so harm the Cuban people. Who, besides the United States, supports those economic sanctions? Tell me!

Now, to some of the sordid details about the current transactions.

Machetera won’t bother to translate all the emails from Martha (Martuchita) to her pals in Miami, but she will make a couple of observations.

In his Monday press conference on the affair, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack played stupid.

He claimed repeatedly not to understand the “mechanics” of how the terrorists’ money got to Cuba (inside the pocket of the number one U.S. diplomat, Michael Parmly) and insisted that international law was not violated. Perhaps not, but U.S. law was, even if McCormack refused to admit it. It’s a law with which sadly, Machetera has a personal acquaintance, and it has to do with George W. Bush’s brilliant humanitarian edict that no more than $300 per quarter can be sent to a Cuban citizen, and only by a family member in the United States. When you go to Western Union, you fill out an affidavit that is filed with the Office of Foreign Assets Control, swearing you haven’t sent more than the maximum permitted, every single time. But that’s just for the common folk. Martuchita’s uncommon, and so are her friends.

Carmen Machado, or alternately Carmenchu or Carmita, Alvarez’s message-girl who was in frequent contact with Martha was both arrogant enough and evidently stupid enough to use her work email, Carmen.Machado@HCAhealthcare.com for the correspondence. Machado is (appropriately enough) a Financial Coordinator at Aventura Hospital between Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Aventura, as Machado’s email address suggests, is owned by Hospital Corporation of America, “the largest private operator of health care facilities in the world,” where Senator Bill Frist made his fortune. Frist dumped his shares in a very timely manner, just prior to the release of “disappointing earnings” figures, claiming that because he was running for president, he wanted to avoid any conflict of interest. He was joined in this clairvoyance by numerous executives, who unfortunately, were not in the presidential race. Shareholders sued the company and in August 2007, the lawsuit was settled, with HCA paying $20 million to shareholders.

Machetera is the proprietor of the Machetera blog, and a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity.

© 2008 Machetera All rights reserved.

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