(Excellent commentary by Luis Ortega, the kind we need more of at this time.)

El Diario / LA PRENSA, New York May 2003 [received May 13, 2003] It's become fashionable to attack Cuba By Luis Ortega

Journalists, both the good ones and the hacks, often tend to act like lemmings. Lemmings, whose scientific name is Lemmus Myopus, are little rodents found in northern climates who live near coastlines in large groups. They exhibit a very strange behavior: they often commit suicide en masse. Everything might be going well, with no sign of danger, when suddenly one of the lemmings in the group will start screaming in alarm and then the whole herd of lemmings panic and stampede into the ocean and drown themselves.

The same thing tends to happen with journalists, especially those who write in Spanish, and if they are from Latin America, the situation gets even worse. When the Cuban revolution triumphed in 1959, and beards became fashionable, all those literary rodents enthusiastically descended on Cuba ­ Spanish, English, American, Chinese ­ they all came.

All of them wanted a piece of the revolutionary pie. They were almost heroic in their efforts. It is said that Mario Vargas Llosa broke his ankle running after Fidel Castro. He even claimed to be very proud that his son, still in his mother's womb at the time, had been able to hear one of Castro's long speeches. Nobody missed their chance to praise Cuba. It was a flood of literary homage. Even the executions carried out during the early years did not deter them from breaking their hands applauding the revolution. Everything was justified. Everything was OK. As Gertrudis might have said, a revolution is a revolution is a revolution.

But then things started to get hard. The United States started nailing Cuba to a cross and Cuba was increasingly abandoned to bear her cross alone. A revolution that dares to confront Washington is a serious matter. The literary tributes started to diminish. Even Neruda became annoyed because revolutions are fine for inspiring poetry and salon chatter but not if they get you into a clash with the empire. Destiny had a sad death in store for him anyway. Carlos Fuentes invented a feud with Roberto Fernández Retamar and opted to stay home and sign autographs, which was much more comfortable. After 44 years, there were few intellectuals left willing to risk voicing their support for Cuba. Especially if they knew that it would mean having their American visas rejected. Still, in any case, a few supporters remained. The revolution, after 44 years, appeared to be growing calm. It was no longer a revolution, and it's a lie to claim that revolutions could last for so long. What was left was a country still confronting a menacing neighbour to the north and a people that refused to surrender after 44 years of aggression. A heroic nation was still on its feet, battered by a world of misery, led by a man who had refused to lower his guard for 44 years.

It is clearly obvious that Cuba, even after 44 years of American aggressions, facing many miseries and with an aging leadership, still hasn't lost the nerve and vision that propelled it in 1959 on the hardest road that any nation in Latin America has ever had to endure. As time goes by, and we who have lived through all the horrors of this period are long gone, history will remember American aggression against Cuba as a prime example of genocide. A defenseless and peaceful country, that has never been a threat to its northern neighbour, has had to endure endless systematic attacks of the worst kind. And now, after 44 years, the threat still remains. There are almost 2 million so-called " liberators" of Cuba still on Washington's payroll.

What has caused the current media attacks against Cuba? Why have some horrified intellectuals jumped on the bandwagon to curry favor with Cuba's enemies? The reason is that the Cuban government, in accordance with its own laws, has sentenced a group of dissidents who were being funded by the

United States to jail and executed another three persons for the armed hijacking of a ferryboat. Then, in an orchestrated manoeuvre, a series of heated protests appeared. The reaction to the actions of the Cuban government has been well coordinated, but what do they want? Should Cuba not defend itself? Should it not respond when attacked? Should Cubans meekly accept the actions of an American representative who has been fomenting a rebellion on the island whose goal is the overthrow of the Cuban government?

Did they think that the government should allow foreign agents and their paid accomplices to conspire against Cuba without intervening? How many other hijackings had been planned before the executions of the three hijackers? It was reported that the hijacking was well organized, but the executions may have helped to thwart other plotters. Why would a sovereign country allow a foreign agent from an enemy nation to travel around the countryside promoting rebellion and organizing resistance cells? Why would anyone accept this policy of incessant destabilization and bribery?

The foreign campaign against Cuba today has been well planned. Nothing has happened by chance. The conflict between Cuba and its northern neighbour has not been aggravated by chance either. It is the consequence of the aggressive policies initiated by Washington. Today, I am almost a stranger in my native country, but that doesn't stop me from feeling its pain as if it were my own. The threats against Cuba today are one consequence of the way that American politics has deteriorated under the current administration. Perhaps the only thing that can save Cuba and the rest of the world from the threat posed by Washington is the economic crisis looming over America in the near future.