Golly, look at the time. It’s mid-September already and everybody’s handing out prizes.
The blocked Cuban blogger and her frightful husband Reinaldo Escobar are handing out NED Polish funded laptops in their first annual Eeyore Awards (don’t apply unless you’re a Cuban who only writes about Cuba as a dark and gloomy place); M.H. Lagarde and his illustrious jury are handing out smashed Juanes cds and U.S. Interests Section shortwave radios (batteries not included) for the best homophobic comments and unsigned death and torture threats, (among other things), so now it’s Machetera’s turn.
But before describing the prize, let’s announce September’s prizewinner, because really you just cannot make these things up, and Armando Valladares has been waiting awhile.
Not long after Machetera and Revolter published their exposé about just exactly what Otto Reich and his protegé, Robert Carmona-Borjas, have been working on in Honduras over the last couple of years, Machetera received the first of a chain of ongoing spams from Valladares. The spams were sent from the same people who were for awhile emailing Machetera several times a day asking her if she would like to download some kind of Michael Jackson clipart, proving a) the spammer chosen by Valladares is relatively agnostic about his clients and b) Valladares is equally agnostic about the reprehensible practice of spamming.
Valladares, in case you do not know, is the mad (and I mean mad) Cuban bomber who faked paralysis in order to gain worldwide sympathy for his release from prison in Cuba. But don’t take Machetera’s word for it. Look what Fidel told Ignacio Ramonet about him, in the book so beautifully translated by Andrew Hurley:
Fidel: “…he was imprisoned for acts of terrorism, pure and simple, for setting off bombs. There were two [people] involved; one was younger and we didn’t try him for it, because he wasn’t old enough, but Valladares was sentenced. It was during the days right after Playa Girón, when that famous Operation Mongoose was still in effect, which included dozens of plans for assassination attempts, acts of terrorism by the thousands – thousands! – and then Valladares, at one of those acts, was arrested, tried and sent to prison. At one point he passed himself off as paralysed, he fooled the whole world, because there was a huge propaganda campaign orchestrated by the empire [to free him].
Ramonet: There was a huge commotion all around the world because the Cubans had somebody in prison that the media were presenting as a poet, who was also paralysed, supposedly as a consequence of mistreatment in the jails.
Fidel: This book of poetry comes out, Desde mi silla de ruedas (‘From My Wheelchair‘), published by a ‘poet-prisoner’ – a terrorist, with explosives and dynamite; he wasn’t a terrorist that hurt the economy, he was a terrorist [that used] explosives and dynamite, that harmed people’s lives – and Valladares becomes this world-renowned figure, with books written [about him] abroad, and ‘paralysed’ to boot. Listen, you know Regis Debray, just as I know him – he was working in those days as an adviser to French president François Mitterand. He came to Cuba to argue in support of Valladares; he told me the Mitterand government was practically going to collapse if the ‘poet-prisoner’ wasn’t released.
Ramonet: Quite a responsibility for you…
Fidel: So then, what happened? I asked an eminent doctor, ‘Listen my friend, what is it really that’s wrong with him?’ Because there was all this brouhaha and campaigning , and he says to me, ‘There’s nothing wrong with him.’ I say, ‘What do you mean, nothing wrong with him? That’s impossible.’ And he insisted: ‘There’s nothing wrong with him.’
Ramonet: Valladares was in a wheelchair.
Fidel: That’s right. And he says to me, ‘Test him.’ So that was easy: you use audiovisual means to check on his activities. That had never been done here, nothing of the sort. So we did that, we checked, and we received a film of everything he did. Because you’ve got to give Valladares the Olympic prize for faking; he managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the whole world. As soon as he was alone, he’d look around – we’ve still got the films – stand up, go to the bathroom, and there in the bathroom he’d do all sorts of exercises. He was in better shape than you are, than I am – than an athlete! Perfectly healthy.
Ramonet: He was faking.
Fidel: I told you what Regis Debray told me. We called Debray in and we showed him the film. We showed it to him too.
Ramonet: Showed it to Valladares?
Fidel: That’s right. Before we gave our answer, we called Valladares in and we showed him the film we had of him doing wonderful exercises – he could write a manual of exercises to keep people in excellent shape while pretending to be paralysed – and his reaction, when he saw it? He stood straight up, like a shot, out of his chair.
Then we showed it to Regis Debray, and then we told Valladares, ‘Listen, you’re going to be set free’ – he’d served a large part of his sentence and had been the instrument of a fierce campaign – ‘and we have just one condition: you have to board the plane walking on your own two feet and you have to leave the plane walking on your own two feet.’ Debray already knew that the only condition we were putting on Valladares’ release was that he walk on and off the plane, that he give up on that ruse of paralysis. I’m not criticizing him, because a prisoner [has the right to] invent anything to get out.
Ramonet: He has the right to do that.
Fidel: Yes; I’d say that he has the right to invent things, but we caught him at it. Oh, he was clever – he fooled a lot of doctors. I couldn’t believe it. We sent in an eminent specialist, and he said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with him.’
All right now, back to Valladares’s spam.
Valladares seems to be using an Argentinean email address to send out unintelligible messages of support for Honduras’ putschists, and distress messages about what he sees as Obama’s “Kerenskyism”. The spam is totally unintelligible and not worth repeating (however if you must read it, click here). But the funniest parts in the one Machetera received yesterday are Valladares’s repeated references to the “Chavist (as in Chávez, we must presume) axle [sic] of evil.”
You have to wonder…somebody’s supplied Ernesto Hernández Busto a decent English translator, but Armando Valladares is evidently wandering on his own in the wilderness ever since he quit the New York based Human Rights Foundation in a huff earlier this summer when they didn’t jump to support the Honduran putschists. That’s the problem with being a CIA asset. It’s so flavor-of-the-month.
Well, back to the prize. It’s modest, but probably entirely original. Having secured the pattern for the original “Cleaver” pants by Eldridge de Paris, Machetera is offering a free pair to Valladares – quite appropriately, she feels, since yesterday’s spam was titled: “Obama-Clinton: ‘Big Stick Policy’ for Honduras and ‘Smiling Policy’ for Cuba.”
“They’re bad, they’re mad, they’re up front (but never out of sight) . . . and, of course, they’re for men only . . . real men . . . the three fisted variety.”
Here y0u go, Armando. Enjoy. “And don’t forget . . . heavy on the starch!”