[Marxism] Another violent Cuban-American exile episode in Miami

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Nov 25 06:48:31 MST 2006

What is the origin of violence in society? Why do some people think 
that they can brandish a weapon and force others to do their bidding?
One source of such thinking is certainly the attitude of a government
which thinks it has the right to invade other countries and impose a
regime on the peoples of those countries which would meet Washington's
criteria for approval. With hundreds being killed daily in Iraq since
its government was overthrown by Washington, Iraqis aren't putting up
with the occupation. They are resisting by whatever means they think
will work to redress their grievances. People don't like liberators
who come bearing bayonets! Iraqis are no different. And daily life 
for most people under Washington's heel is infinitely worse than it 
was under Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship. Is it any wonder 
that today some Iraqis have nostalgic longings for those days?

In microcosm, this long gunman was trying to impose his own thinking
on the MIAMI HERALD. He wasn't the first as the HERALD itself has long
been target of Cuban exile militants. Most recently, the MIAMI HERALD
disclosed that millions of dollars supposedly to be sent to assist 
opponents of the Cuban government were, in fact, being kept in Miami
where they were spent to purchase everything from cashmere sweaters
to Godiva chocolates. We're talking tens of MILLIONS of dollars here.

Before that, the HERALD disclosed that some of its own staffers had
been paid to produce anti-Castro material for Washington's propaganda
machinery such as Radio and TV Marti. Some of these "presstitutes",
as journalist Saul Landau eloquently described them, were removed
from the newsrooms or had their wrists gently tapped. The militants
in Miami immediately went to work. They began a campaign of threats
and intimidation against the paper, including cancellation of sub-
scriptions, etc. They suceeded in getting the Herald's editor fired
and their people put back on the payroll. They provided an awesome
lesson to anyone else in Miami who would buck the impunity with 
which the militants dominate life in Miami. This has been going on
for over forty years in Miami. In this context it's a good sign, too, 
that the New York Times saw fit to print a report on these events.

While it's entirely probably that this man had the emotional and the
personal problems which are discussed here, they didn't arise isolated
from the history of the community in which he functioned. In Miami, in
the milieu where Cuban-American rightist terrorists have used every
kind of murderous and violent threat to impose their will on the every-
one, such acts only stand out for their sudden and drammatic arrival.

The United States is a culture where violence is endemic and the idea
that women and children are considered property is a widespread, but
not openly-acknowledged cultural and ideological conception. Mobs of
rightist Cuban exile militants threatened the Federal government to
defend the kidnappers of Elian Gonzalez in 2000. Miami's mayor said
he would not permit the local police to assist when the federal court 
ordered the child returned to his father. Meanwhile, mobs of exiles
burned the American flag. In the cowboy culture which is viewed as a 
little bit over-the-top but understandable, men like this get a kind
of cultural validation. Keep mind, too, that Miami is a place where
known terrorists like Orlando Bosch walk the streets with impunity
and Luis Posada Carriles openly holds press conferences and is only
detained by the federal government on a minor visa violation.

This article in today's HERALD is informative and it should be read 
carefully. It provides us a kind of cultural snapshot of a certain 
segment of Miami life. I feel very sorry for his wife and more so 
for the children who will be haunted by his actions. 

By no means is it fair to say that this man's actions characterize
the Marielitos as a social layer. Most of them are peaceful and law-
abiding people who came to the United States in search of what they 
hoped and dreamed for: a better life. Some found it, others didn't.

This time of year we see calendars on sale for the year 2000 and,
among them, I recently saw a calendar glorifying Tony Montana,
the murderous Marielito criminal depicted so graphically in Brian
DePalma's 1983 movie SCARFACE. It's something to think about...

Walter Lippmann, CubaNews




Posted on Sat, Nov. 25, 2006	


Cartoonist had been struggling with marital, financial problems
The man who stormed the newsroom of El Nuevo Herald was 
  dogged by personal problems and a history of outbursts.
ebrecher at MiamiHerald.com

Friday morning, El Nuevo Herald freelance cartoonist José Varela
called his brother-in-law and said: ``Take care of my kids. Don't let
them watch TV today.''

Varela -- dressed in a black FBI polo shirt and concealing what
turned out to be a toy machine gun -- spoke to a Miami Herald Media
Co. security guard, then headed up to El Nuevo Herald's sixth-floor
newsroom, where he barricaded himself for 3 ½ hours in the office of
El Nuevo Herald Executive Editor Humberto Castelló before
surrendering to police.

Varela, an award-winning cartoonist and karate black belt who will
turn 51 on Monday, had been struggling with personal problems,
including a disintegrating marriage and financial difficulties.

His estranged wife, makeup artist Marela Varela, said they had been
married for 19 years and have a daughter, 13, and a son, 7.

During a brief interview at her Miami home, Marela, 42, said she
''decided to get divorced'' three months ago.

''There [were] a lot of differences between us,'' she said between
sobs, her face swollen from hours of crying.

José Varela apparently also had been distraught over recent dramas
enveloping the newsrooms of both El Nuevo Herald and The Miami

About a week ago, Varela's son returned from a visit with him in
Jupiter, and announced: ''Mommy, Daddy says he has a new gun,''
according to Yamile Machin, one of several friends in Marela's living
room monitoring the incident on TV.

And last Saturday, El Nuevo Herald published a troubling cartoon
signed by Varela depicting a bride and groom at the altar titled,
``The speed of modern life.''

After exchanging vows, the bride then shoots the groom with a
revolver, shouting, ``Damn Liar!''

Machin said the Varelas had spoken by phone during the standoff, but
the conversation ended when José said: ``My time with you is over.''

Varela's anger may have boiled over before.

In June 2004, Mike Basanta, the property manager of Brickell
Townhouse, sought a restraining order against Varela, saying in court
papers that Varela had punched him during a dispute over the cost of
hurricane shutters. He described Varela as ``an extremely aggressive

Then-County Judge Bonnie L. Rippingille denied the petition because
it lacked ''two incidents of violence,'' according to court records.

Yet James Marx, Brickell Townhouse homeowners' association president
when the Varelas lived there, called him ``a very nice guy.''

And Mary Lopez, Marela's neighbor, called him ``a quiet guy.''

Records show Varela was arrested once, in 1991, when Miami-Dade
Police charged him with resisting arrest without violence, a
misdemeanor. The charge was dropped the next year after Varela
completed a pretrial intervention program, records show.

Varela was born in Las Villas, Cuba. He studied drawing, cartography
and architecture at the Technical Institute of Cienfuegos.

He was 24 when he, his sister and parents came to Miami during the
Mariel boatlift. In Miami, he washed dishes at a McDonald's,
installed air conditioners and worked as an airport baggage handler.

In 1991, he began publishing cartoons in the magazine Exíto. Later he
published a graphic novel entitled Santiago, El Bestia (Santiago, The
Beast) about a character he described as a ''Cuban Rambo'' who
mounted solo rescue operations to Cuba.

He won the Inter-American Press Association cartoonist award in 1998.
El Nuevo Herald hired him as an editorial artist in 2000.

The Varelas' finances began to unravel in 2002. The bank foreclosed
on their town house, and they had more than $25,000 in credit card
debt, court records show. They filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 13.
The couple paid off the court-approved debt plan last year after
selling their town house for $299,900, clearing about $120,000.

Varela's full-time cartoonist job ended in February, but he continued
as a freelancer. He also freelanced for Miami's Channel 41, drawing
caricatures for shows.

Varela graduated from the USA Martial Arts center near Brickell
Avenue about a decade ago, said Felix Puga, an instructor.

He delivered an impassioned speech at his black-belt graduation
ceremony about 19th-century Japanese samurai who gave their lives for
their teacher, Puga recalled. ''He was very impressed with that
story, and I believe he thinks like he is a samurai inside,'' Puga

During the standoff, Puga was ``very worried, because if he believes
he needs to sacrifice himself and is going to show the world
something is unfair, he will do it.''

Miami Herald staff writers Noah Bierman, Daniel Chang, Jacob
Goldstein, Susannah Nesmith and Jay Weaver contributed to this

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