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In the past few days we have been hearing unending commentary and speculation about the possible - if not actual - demise of an undear and, thankfully, not near "person," if said dying life form can be so categorized.
So, to get away from the speculative and delve into actual historical, and more entertaining facts, your blogger decided to focus on a media event which took place on Havana televison, specifically at the CMQ studios near the Focsa building, where yours truly and family lived at the time, on the night of January 20, 1960. Those were the days when black-and-white TV sets predominated, as us oldies well recall.
This particular subject was inspired by the recent incident in Cordoba, Argentina, when news journalist Juan Manuel Cao, with Channel 41 in Miami, had the "audacity" - we would call it simply doing his job as a journalist - of asking a certain bearded rat an embarrassing question about Dr. Hilda Molina, to whom the rat refuses to grant an exit permit so she can visit family. This - briefly digressing to make things clearer to the reader - simply being reprisal because in the past, Dr. Molina refused to provide inferior medical care to her countrymen and women, and critizised the double standard of medical care which exists in today's Cuba.
The sick rat lost it, in the process revealing its increasingly demented state, and began berating Mr. Cao, ranting and raving like the lunatic it (sic) is...and of course, doing it within the safety of his circle of body guards. See it here, courtesy of castrianism.blogspot.com - a very good site to explore in its own right:
By the way Mr. Cao - my hat's off to you - you've got a real journalist's guts, getting in there and confronting that old windbag. Channel 41 oughta give you a raise.
Now that the stage has been set, let us tune in to CMQ TV, Havana, on the night of January 20, 1960. The young, bearded rat is babblin' and ranting, accusing un-named "counter-revolutionary elements, with the connivance of foreign governments and embassies, of plotting against the revolution!" Or words to that effect. See, these totalitarians have a built-in recorder with canned phrases and ideas, which they repeat ad infinitum...killing you slowly with boredom and banality.
In the words of my father, with whom I spoke about the incident because he and mother happened to be watching the rat's contortions and painfully listening to his verbal diarrhea...
"At one point he (ratboy) said 'We have actually read correspondence from the Spanish government to their embassy, and thus have found out about the plots and schemes against our revolution on their part!' - he went on and on, insulting Spain and her ambassador."
What the bearded, cowardly rodent did not count on was that Spain's ambassador to Cuba at that time, Don Juan Pablo de Lojendio, Marquis of Vellisca, was a brave, honorable man who took questions of diplomatic propriety and honor very seriously. Having himself been listening to the rat's tirade, he was outraged at the false charges being made against his country, and the obvious violation of diplomatic rules and protocol evidenced by the rat's arrogant, yet stupid, public admission that Spain's diplomatic mail was being illegally intercepted and read by the revolutionaries.
As a result of which, Cubans that night, in Havana and throughout the island, saw this on their TV screens...
(photo originally published in Life Magazine, 1960)
Yes, the livid visage of ambassador Lojendio confronting the cowardly rat, live on CMQ channel 6! Dad went on to describe what he and mother saw: "Suddenly, this gentleman burst on the scene, visibly angry...he moved right past the personnel there present, guards, whatever, made a beeline for you-know-who...got right in his face, called him a LIAR; you-know-who was shaken, you could tell he'd been caught by surprise and did not know how to handle Lojendio's fury. Lojendio was then taken away..." As I listened to the story, could not help but detect a certain pride father obviously felt for Juan Pablo de Lojendio, Marquis of Vellisca. Ambassador Lojendio had done what many feared by then to do themselves - confronted the scared rodent in its element, and rattled him badly for all Cuba to see.
Here is a more complete rendition of the incident, republished in HispaLibertas - Desde el Exilio (www.desdeelexilio.com), originally published in La Voz de Cuba Libre (www.lavozdecubalibre.com) - I have translated it from the Spanish, and only hope my inadequate translation will do justice to the subject:
"The first time castro showed his cowardly side was on the night of January 20, 1960. Don Juan de Lojendio, a Spanish marquis, Marquis of Vellisca, was Spain's ambassador in Havana. Daily, from the beginning of that month and always with increasing intensity, fidel's government had been making accusations against the Spanish embassy, charging its diplomats were contacting counter-revolutionary elements, whose opposition was growing and whose bombs were going off nightly througout Havana. On that night, castro once again spoke on television and again accused both the United States and Spain of helping the 'worms.'
Ambassador Lojendio, a stout, strong man, with copious black hair, and passionate defender of Spanish dignity, suddenly could control himself no more. Rising in fury from his sofa, he bellowed: "I am going to the TV station...I am tired of these insults, dammit!' When the ambassador arrived at the station, castro was sitting amongst his bearded men and silent militiawomen. All were applauding, with enthusiasm, the attacks he was making against the 'counter-revolutionaries. At that moment, the startled station manager tapped castro on the shoulder, and whispered to him that 'a diplomat, mad with fury, was about to make an appearance to confront him.' Virtually every independent analyst or critic who saw him - and this was seen on television throughout the whole country - agreed this was the first time they had seen fidel castro physically scared and shaken. He half rose from his chair, at a loss for words, as ambassador Lojendio burst into the studio like a tornado.
'I have been insulted! I have been insulted,' yelled Lojendio over and over again, giving unfettered expression to his most profound sense of pride and Spanish honor. 'I demand the right to reply!'
At that point, the TV studio became a madhouse. The bodyguards jumped into the fray, as president Dorticos watched, petrified; castro moved his hand to his pistol holster. His reaction should not have surprised anyone - it was one of the few times in his life he had been on the defensive and had no experience handling this kind of situation. It was not his 'style.' Finally, the ambassador, his Spanish face pinched and livid with fury, was physically removed from the studio and would have been roughly handled had not some of castro's more sober entourage intervened.
As for castro, his hands shook; he proceeded to drink some cognac which he drank from his ever-present 'coffee cup.' Pardo Llada - his inseparable companion who still defended him in those days - proceeded to introduce, in his radio program, the sound of a braying ass or donkey as an insult, the braying sound representing the voice of the Spanish ambassador. However, the following day, the entire diplomatic corps in Havana conspicuously made their appearance at the ambassador's home to say their goodbyes and render their respect to Lojendio before he was thrown out of Cuba. Castro by then had his 'divine mobs' at the airport, where they hurled epithets and insults, and threatened physical violence against the ambassador. When Don Juan arrived safe and sound in Spain, Generalissimo Franco, sardonically smiling, said to him: 'As a Spaniard, you are very good...as a diplomat, very bad.'"
Father confirmed the existence of the intimidating mobs which started roaming the streets the next day, with signs and placards, many displaying the image of a donkey, insulting ambassador Lojendio. "It was typical of those people," he said. "Intimidate with mobs displaying the rudeness and bad manners one came to expect from these so-called revolutionaries."
Juan Pablo de Lojendio, Marquis of Vellisca, is unfortunately no longer with us. But I have faith he will have both satisfaction and the last laugh when he finds out the cowardly rat he so artfully and manfully confronted on that January night in 1960 is shaking and weeping, gnashing its teeth in terror as satan's hellish mobs pursue it for eternity.