Last week Washington saw the opening of Hemingway’s, an exclusive bar situated in the section of the Swiss embassy reserved for Cuba’s communist dictatorship. The master-stroke in this propaganda drive by the Cuban regime was its decision to invite the BBC to cover the event. In return for a few rum cocktails the Cubans have been rewarded with a couple of pieces of gushing PR that must have exceeded even their wildest hopes. For a small outlay on drinks and a band they have received an uncritical filmed report (although it does include possibly the most boring Hemingway anecdote ever, as told by former US diplomat Wayne Smith) and an article by Kate Dailey that would not look out of place in whatever passes for the society pages of Granma. Take this bit for example:

While mojitos and Cuba Libras were being poured in the small back room that houses the bar, a 12-piece band played Latin music in the front of the hall.

Sandra Levinson, resplendent in a sparkling black and blue blouse, spun and twirled with her partner. MS Levinson, executive director of the Center for Cuban Studies in New York City and director of the centre’s Cuban Art Space, learned to dance during her many trips to Cuba, and had travelled down to Washington specifically to attend the opening.

The “resplendent” Ms Levinson is a throwback to the days when New York socialites rubbed shoulders with the Blank Panthers, as immortalised in Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic (see Levinson’s letter to the New York Review of Books in 1969 for a taste). She founded her Cuban Studies centre in 1972 and has been a loyal and much-valued supporter of Cuba’s dictatorship. The following description of her is taken from a Minnesota Star Tribune article in 1996:

“The Minneapolis native has become one of the most well-known North Americans in Cuba. She’s on a first-name basis with the who’s who in Havana – including Castro, with whom she has dined on several occasions. Castro has even met her mother.”

In an interview with CBS in 1988 Levinson complained that Cuban youth were an ungrateful bunch:

“there are a lot of young people who simply cannot appreciate … what the revolution has given them.”

So said the New York art gallery director who dines with the dictator.

And what of Hemingway and Cuba? Here’s an example of the sort of detail the BBC prefers to avoid when discussing the communist state’s history:

Hemingway, who had looked kindly on Leftist revolutions since the Spanish civil war, invited his friend George Plimpton, editor of the Paris Review, to witness the shooting of prisoners condemned by the tribunals under Guevara’s control. They watched as the men were trucked in, unloaded, shot, and taken away. As a result, Plimpton later refused to publish Guevara’s memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries.

While the likes of Kate Dailey and Kim Ghattas (who seems to have been in attendance in a purely social capacity) cheerfully glug the Cuban regime’s cocktails in the company of various limousine liberals, stories such as this continue to be ignored by the BBC:

Cuban human rights activist Yris Perez Aguilera was released from jail late Friday after she was arrested earlier in the day.
It was the second this week that Perez, the wife of the former political prisoner Jorge Luis Garcia Perez “Antunez”, had been detained by the Cuban second police.
Before she was released, a State Security official delivered an ominous threat if she again takes to the streets:
“Whatever happens, you cannot go out. … And every time you do, we’re going to wear you out with 72 hours of detention. We’re going to liquidate you little by little.”
Via his Twitter feed, Antunez called on the U.S. Congress to take up the cause of Cuban activists risking their lives to oppose the Castro regime.

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14 Responses to USEFUL IDIOTS

  1. james1070 says:

    The BBC’s support and love for Castro and his Marxist regime over the years is sickening. A pal of mine bought the BBC propoganda and went on holiday to Cuba. He came back from Cuba saying he felt ‘dirty’ for going on holiday to a facist state. There were secret police everywhere, spying not on tourists but on those who worked in the hotels.

    The best job in Cuba is working in a hotel, because the staff have access to foriegn goods. At the end of the holiday it is not uncommon to give a maid your holiday clothes, soap and toothpaste as a tip. What the BBC will not explain that things like toothpaste and toothbrushes are rationed by the government.

    And what benefits do the poor people of Cuba get from living under Marxism? Ice cream served from a concrete bunker that looks like something out of the Jettisons. The BBC propoganda machine claimed that Cuban ice cream was the best in the world, but my pal noted that when it was sold each portion was weighed (weighing ice cream?) and that it sucked. A cheap block ice cream from the Co-Op tasted like Hagen Daz compared to Cuban ice cream.


    • D B says:

      Sad to say I never saw The Jettisons. Was that a cartoon about a family of outcasts discarded and abandoned by a communist regime?


      • james1070 says:

        LOL, sorry meant The Jetsons. But the ice cream was described as tasting like chemicals.


    • John Anderson says:

      I took half a suitcase of cheap packets of supermarket soap – because the allowance in Cuba is one small block of soap per family per month.  People I gave the blocks to were overjoyed – if I gave a pack of 5,  the maid could keep 2 and trade the others for lots of food.

      I never heard that on the BBC, of course


  2. D B says:

    I’ve just spotted some tweets that Ghattas sent from the Hemingway soiree. After receiving a couple of replies from people saying how cool the bar sounded, Ghattas seemed suddenly to realise that tweets about supping mojitos with the Cubans might not look too good in some circles, so she threw in a tweet about human rights. In light of this Kate Dailey’s uncritical account of the event seems even more unsatisfactory.


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      Nice that Ghattas is cozy with Diana Valerie.

      Changing the discourse on Palestine. Occupying is my new occupation. Islamophobia is the new anti-Semitism.

      Charming chat last week about awful European countries – including UK – abstaining from Palestine vote.  Is Ghattas so casually conversant with a strong defender of Israel? 

      I’ll listen to here piece, “Is Obama the President of decline” later.


      • Rusty Shackleford says:

        Valerie is the worst kind of Israel-hating vermin, the type you wouldn’t mind being abducted by the Islamist Nazis she loves so much.


        • David Preiser (USA) says:

          Agreed. She believs that Hezbollah is a legitimate defense force against “Israeli aggression”.  And Kim Ghattas respects her for it.  I have to assume that Ghattas is also anti-Israel and deluded on that score.


  3. Jeremy Clarke says:

    Well, we in the UK can hardly lecture Cuba on democracy, can we? After all, our government and our presidents are unelected.   
    Indeed, it is faintly depressing that Hamas has more democratic legitimacy than the European Commission and Messrs. Barroso, van Rompuy and Castro.  

    Back on topic. Here is the BBC guide to South American politics:  
    Augusto Pinochet: an anti-democratic, authoritarian, human-rights-abusing right-wing dictator who killed a lot of people and was friendly with Thatcher = doublelplusungood.  
    Fidel Castro: an anti-democratic, authoritarian, human-rights-abusing, left-wing leader who killed a lot of people but once provided vaguely decent socialised healthcare and opposes Amerika = doubleplusgood.


  4. cjhartnett says:

    Think it`s because Mandelson once mentioned to the BBC luvvies that he`d fancy a dance in some Cubal heels…and therefore Philip Gould could only approve.
    Typical BBC…hate the blood but love the meat.
    Castro is a safe rebellions dream from the safety of Bush House..that Castro has/had “robust” views on gays gets parked somewhere out of sight.
    Typical BBC…a few sangrias and afrilly frock and they`re anybodys!
    Too much Strictly and believing their own shabby little travel shows I expect.
    Maybe they need to stop watching their own output…does me no harm.


  5. DP111 says:

    James1070 wrote: At the end of the holiday it is not uncommon to give a maid your holiday clothes, soap and toothpaste as a tip.

    This was also common practice when visiting Eastern Europe when it was part of the socialist paradise.


  6. D B says:

    Bear with me here – there’s a BBC connection at the end.  
    There was another event at the Cuban mission on the same day as the opening of Hemingway’s. This was for the launch of a book called “Who Killed Che?” If a book launch at a Cuban diplomatic mission doesn’t give you enough of a clue as to the politics of the co-authors here’s one of them speaking at the event:  
    “We came here straight from Zuccotti Park,” said Michael Steven Smith. “It’s like going from one free territory in America to another.”  
    Cuba – land of the free. Where does one even begin addressing such idiocy?  
    Judging by the photos this was a less formal affair than the Hemingway’s do (earlier in the evening, perhaps) although it did have a bit more celebrity kick – David Byrne and Judd Hirsch were among the lefty luvvy usefuls idiot in attendance.  
    The book is published by a radical left outfit called OR Books, and its co-founder Colin Robinson sounds like a real tool:  
    On Thursday night their publisher, independent outfit OR Books, held a party to celebrate the book’s publication at the somewhat unusual venue of the Cuban Mission to the United Nations. Guests passed by a giant portrait of Fidel and a smaller photograph of Che speaking at the United Nations on their way to check their coats. Upstairs in a capacious event space, bartenders served mojitos to a soundtrack of Cuban jazz.  
    OR Books co-founder Colin Robinson had hand-painted a banner that read “Free the Cuban Five” himself. “This is independent publishing!” he said, proudly surveying his work. He acknowledged that it was now, technically, the Cuban Four (one of the accused spies was recently released from jail). “But he’s still trapped in Florida,” he explained. Mr. Robinson recalled the last time he had a party at the mission, on the occasion of celebrating Fidel Castro’s autobiography, My Life, published while he was still an editor at Scribner.
    Guess what else OR Books will be publishing later this month? A novel by none other than Comrade Kite.


    • D B says:

      Just noticed – the book launch was at the Cuba mission in the UN, not Washington. The Zuccotti Park reference makes more sense now.

      Still, OR Books – pefect chocie for Comrade Kite.