Punk Rocker Faces Prison in Cuba

I haven't blogged for a while because I've been focusing on other issues. But this one can't be ignored. Cuban punk rocker Gorki Aguila -- imagine The Clash transplanted in Havana circa 2008 -- is going on trial Friday in Havana for "pre-crime dangerousness." Echoing what Frances Robles wrote in this article, it's a critical test on tolerance for Raul Castro's rule. Will Cuba's new president continue the island's decades-long practice of imprisoning artists that challenge the government, or is a new era of civil liberties dawning on the island?

Convicting Aguila might sweep an unwanted nuisance under the rug for the Cuban government, but it might also unleash an underground cause for his freedom and identify a martyr for Cuba's youth. With the power of the internet, Aguila is no longer an obscure garage-band rebel. He is becoming an international icon that may resonate with people as far away as Eastern Europe, whose own underground rock movement helped usher in glasnost and perestroika in the late 1980s.

Aguila, who is non-political, would essentially be convicted for singing "No comas tanta p-----a, Comandante," which translates into, well...use your imagination or ask a Spanish speaking buddy. Here's Porno Para Ricardo's YouTube video. WARNING: Not for the overly sensitive or faint of heart:

Celia Documentary in the Works

The same filmmakers who brought us the premier of White Elephant last week, the documentary about the entangled existence of Miami Stadium (aka Bobby Maduro Stadium), are working on a Celia Cruz documentary called CeliacruzCelia the Queen, expected in theaters sometime early next year. Kids in Exile Films featured a trailer before the premier of White Elephant Saturday night.

What Embargo?

From the New York Post:

April 16, 2007 -- A group of Manhattan public high-school students and a history teacher with a soft spot for Cuba flouted federal travel restrictions by taking a spring-break field trip to the communist nation - and now face up to $65,000 apiece in fines, The Post has learned.

Bolivarian Youth Speak Out; Victims or Provocateurs?

Bolivarianyouth From the Miami Herald's Casey Woods:

With their fealty to Ché Guevara, their revolutionary discourses peppered with ''proletariat'' and ''comrade,'' and their ''Read Lenin'' and ''Burn Your Bra!'' T-shirts, the Bolívarian Youth seem almost retro, a throwback to a more, well, unwashed time.

But these young people, like generations of students before them, believe they can change the world -- and they say their message is getting through in Miami, home to hundreds of thousands of exiles from Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, homelands they fled because of political repression they blame on leftist governments.

''What we are doing is important, because people see us and know that they're not alone,'' said Sonja Swanson, 20, a Florida International University student.

``We are growing slowly but surely, moving more and more people here to dedicating themselves to something bigger than the individual person.''


Ana Menendez on the Price of Silence

Here we go again.

One crisis and we Cubans set upon each other like a pack of rabid dogs, scratching and snarling to the amusement of the few outsiders who still give a damn about Cuba.

Forty-seven years and what have we learned? Our history demanded the difficult work of self-reflection. Instead, we've poured our many talents into the business of self-destruction.

Three journalists were fired from El Nuevo Herald. It was sad. They were fired too quickly and their bosses were left unscathed. Fine. Anywhere else it might have been just a controversial personnel issue. But no, here in Miami it becomes part of a worldwide communist conspiracy, complete with Castro agents, dark plots and wild accusations. Anyone who dares agree with the dismissals is not just wrong: he's a degenerate, communist puppet of the evil and malevolent prince of darkness.


Ana Menendez: Don't Confuse Propaganda With Journalism

By ANA MENENDEZ, Miami Herald Columnist

Last week, two reporters and a freelancer were fired from El Nuevo Herald after The Miami Herald's Oscar Corral reported they were paid for pearances on Radio and TV Martí.

The dismissals have invigorated the opinion industry and subjected the people of this town to higher than usual doses of hypocrisy. The most amusing response comes, as usual, from Cuba, where the official press has been gloating about proof that the ''Miami Mafia'' and its journalists are  bought and paid for by the U.S. government. It would be a compelling argument, except for the fact that in Cuba, government hacks are the rule, not the exception. Of the small group of Cuban journalists who don't draw a government salary, many are, sadly, polishing their prose in jail.

The El Nuevo three were fired for entering into the sort of arrangement that defines journalism in a totalitarian state. Which brings us to more hypocrites: all the exile patriots who attack Corral for reporting the truth while simultaneously defending El Nuevo Herald's journalists for taking money from propagandists.


Celia Movie in Works

Joecardona Joe Cardona, owner of KIE (Kids in Exile) Films started a documentary on Celia Cruz 8 years ago, when she was still alive. He is wrapping it up with co-director Mario De Varona, and is excited about its release prospects. Cardona, maker of the documentaries Cafe Con Leche I & II, Jose Marti, and others, and the feature films Bro and Water, Mud and Factories, is becoming Miami's Woody Allen, capturing the city's quirks with a deep sense of understanding and irony.

Miami's Mojito King

Ticomojito Lamberto Rojas aka "Tico Mojitos" wooed so many with his lime-green Cuban elixirs that he branched out on his own as a freelance bartender/mojito expert. I sampled a few of them Saturday at a private party: 1. the traditional; 2. the mojito martini  3. the sour apple raspberry mojito (which won a recent award). He's got a repertoire of more than a dozen variations on the Cuban drink made famous by Ernest Hemingway. He says the best mojitos available in Miami for public consumption are at Ortanique on the Mile, a swanky spot on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. The ones at Lario's on the Beach are a not-too-distant second.

Tico Mojito: 305-305-3989; ticomojito@yahoo.com

For a simple mojito recipe:


Foundation's Next Generation

The Cuban American National Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. In the last decade, after the death of founder Jorge Mas Canosa, the foundation’s role and its image have shifted. A splinter group, the Cuban Liberty Council, broke away because they felt CANF was going soft on Castro. CANF continues to reach across party lines to identify candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties that will support the free Cuba cause. A generation after CANF was founded, Mas Canosa’s son, Jorge Mas Santos, continues trying to keep its cause alive. What does CANF represent to the Cuban American community today?

From Washington to Tally Via Miami

Josefuentes Jose Fuentes is on his way to Tallahassee to become the media relations director for the incoming speaker of the House, Marco Rubio. Fuentes, like Rubio, is a Cuban-American from Miami. He brings almost a decade of Washington experience to the job, having worked three years in the White House planning events for Vice President Dick Cheney, and later working as a spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development. After a brief stint in Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s administration, where he led the intergovernmental team, Fuentes decided to take the gig with Rubio, who he sees as a rising star in Florida politics. Fuentes, 31, is a graduate of Christopher Columbus High School.

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