Saturday, April 17


A Couple of Observances to Remember

Yesterday, as you probably know already, was the 83rd birthday of our much-suffering domnus apostolicus, Pope Benedict XVI. I didn't have time to post anything, though I feel a great sadness for him at present, celebrating this happy moment in the midst of all that he is having to deal with within and outside the Church. Let us all pray for him, that God give him the strength to perservere.

Also, I don't know where the Tartarus (words chosen carefully) they're saying he looks "evil in photos." I've met him (well, for about five minutes in a receiving line). He's a lovable little fuzzball. Sort of the kittens-playing-with-yarn to Pope John Paul II's happy smiling dolphin and John XXIII's lovably cranky pizzeria owner. The guy looks like everyone's sweet, adorable grandfather, and if there are moments where he looks like the Emperor from Star Wars, well, there are some pretty gloomy, Marlon Brando-as-the-Godfather-ish Pantocrators out there. He looks intimidating, not bad--and I like it that he can still look intimidating when needed. God save the Pope, the great, the good.

Oh, and I find your lack of Faith disturbing.


Today, meanwhile is the date of the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion. As I have written before, Cuban history can seem to vacilate between high tragedy and dark comedy, especially when viewed through the wrong end of the telescope that is the usual US view of Latin America. Unfortunately, in reality, this was simply a tragedy, and probably a particularly futile and perhaps even avoidable tragedy. The emblem of the exile brigade is a cross and a Cuban flag, a very telling and interesting bit of religiosity for a people that had perhaps in the past lacked the fervency of its Iberian mother.

I wrote about the invasion and its anniversary (which is, to the son and grandson of a Cuban exile family who had a relative among the troops, distinctly personal) some years ago:
On this day, April 17, 1961, four 2,400-ton chartered transports (named the Houston, Río Escondido, Caribe, and Atlántico) transported the 1,511 men of the Cuban exile Brigade 2506 to the Bay of Pigs on the southern coast of Cuba, where they came up against the soldiers of Castro's revolutionary army. Reports of what followed describe a full-scale tank engagement, with air attacks on the exiles leaving one transport damanged and other sunk. Despite a few preliminary air attacks in the days preceding the landing, promised U.S. air support was almost wholly denied, leaving the tiny Brigade 2506 virtually crippled, with 1,189 taken prisoner and 115 killed. A number were executed, while the remainder languished in prison camps under a thirty-year sentence for treason. Almost two years later, they were returned to the United States after a torturous series of negotiations.

To this day, the communist government of Cuba refers to the exile warriors in their official propaganda solely as "mercenaries."
These are the facts. Remember them.

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