You say Varela, Barrons says Barilla


Imagine Machetera’s glee as this drifted into her mailbox (thank you Walter Lippmann!).  As Nelson Valdes points out, in Cuba, barilla means the cheap lightweight wood you use to make a kite, but Machetera likes to think of it as her preferred brand of pasta.  And what better way to remember that dim bulb, or should we say overcooked noodle, Oswaldo Paya, than as the frontman for the Barilla Project?  Whatever happened to Paya anyway?  Poor guy, eclipsed by the newest Washington pasta projects: Yoani Sánchez and Oscar Espinosa Chepe (the latter briefly mentioned in the Barrons article as a founding Barilla member.)  You can only cook pasta so long before it goes to mush.

By the way, one of the cherished recipes in Machetera’s house comes from the back of a Barilla pasta box.  Recipe follows article.  Cheers.

Varela vs. Barilla or Daddy Yanqui as Dissident Leader

Nelson P. Valdes

Elliot Wilson in Barron’s MAY 25, 2009 [Relishing the Idea of a Post-Castro
Cuba] writes,

“In 2001, Cuba’s leading dissident, Oswaldo Paya Sardinas, founded an organization called the Barilla Project, intended to force a vote on the island’s future leadership. Under Cuba’s constitution, a petition with 10,000 signatures can force a referendum. Chepe, a Barilla Project member from the outset, reckons that more than 20,000 signatures had been received when the police arrived.”


  1. The “Proyecto Varela” is certainly not the “Barilla Project.” Osvaldo Ppaya called the initiative “Varela because of an important Catholic priest in the 19th century – Father Felix Varela – a Catholic priest who identified with many of the ideas of the Enlightenment. On the other hand, a “barilla” is the type of thin wood one uses in Cuba to make a kite.
  2. The Proyecto Varela had NOTHING to do with forcing “a vote on the island’s future leadership.” Amazing. It is obvious that the author did not read the proposal. Nor, for that matter, sought to find out what the initiative for a referendum was about.
  3. The author writes that, “Under Cuba’s constitution, a petition with 10,000 signatures can force a referendum.” Now that will be SOMETHING! Cuba would be the ONLY country in the world that will have the most democratic mechanism in place. Heck, who could rule when every 10,000 signatures could challenge the very legitimacy of the political system. Of course, the author did not even think of the numerous implications of what he was stating.
  4. The Constitution establishes that electors can sign a request for a referendum. However, the signatures have to be from electors AND THE SIGNATURES NEED TO BE NOTARIZED. The organizers of the Proyecto Varela [including the US Interest Section] FAILED to notarize the signatures. This is a little detail that the US Interest Section paid no attention to. Nor did Paya. Oddly enough, the Constitutional Commission of the National Assembly, pointed out in a written statement that was given to Paya, what were the mistakes that the organizers of the petition made. HOWEVER, the organizers never attempted to read the signature collection with the proper notarization.

One final assessment:

Perhaps Barron’s has discovered a new project of the Cuban dissident movement called the Barilla Project. It will be quite nice and appropriate to have Daddy Yanqui sing one of his songs – the one that goes: Sacude el bomper duro y las tablillas/ Culi de acero que me dobla la barilla… [from No Me Dejes Solo by Daddy Yanqui]

Lemon Shrimp with Asparagus and Angel Hair

1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound medium shrimp, peeled & deveined

1/2 cup chopped red pepper

1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1 cup half and half

1/2 t salt

2 T lemon juice

2 t lemon zest

1/2 box (8 oz) BARILLA Angel Hair

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil.  Add asparagus; boil for 30 seconds.  Drain; rinse under cold water and set aside.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add asparagus, shrimp, red pepper and red pepper flakes; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until shrimp is cooked and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.

Reduce heat to medium-low.  Stir in half & half and salt.  Heat thoroughly, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile cook Angel Hair according to package directions; drain and return to pot.

Add shrimp sauce to hot pasta; toss.  Add lemon juice and lemon zest; toss.  Transfer to serving platter; sprinkle with cheese.  Makes 4 servings.

Barilla’s Tip: Substitute yellow or green pepper for red. (Machetera’s tip: don’t.)

One response to “You say Varela, Barrons says Barilla

  1. In terms of the unnotarized signatures “collected” by the Varela project, I recall the massive signature forgeries that were part of the effort to recall Hugo Chavez.

    Could it be that Paya refused to have these signatures notarized, as required by law, because a very high percentage of them were forged?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s