Her name is Ninoska Pérez-Castellón, and this is the first time you've heard of her. I myself did not know anything about her until the 9th of October, 2017 at midday. I discovered her while surfing the web to see what the media were reporting about the anniversary of Che's murder. And I came across Ninoska. It was worth the detour. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing...Ninoska the Gusana!
Last Friday, An Post, the Post Office of the Republic of Ireland, issued a €1 stamp bearing the image of Ernesto Che Guevara on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his assassination in La Higuera, Bolivia. The stamp is based on the image designed by the artist Jim Fitzpatrick from Alberto Korda's famous photo. Ireland wished to pay tribute to Che, whose ancestor, Patrick Lynch, was originally from the County Galway, in the green island. But this stamp was not appreciated by everyone. Ninoska was one of the first to unleash, on twitter, facebook and elsewhere: "Scandal! How dare Ireland honour such a mass murderer? Ninoska's Trump-loving friends joined in the clash, accusing Che of everything: homophobia, misogyny, racism, summary executions (16,000!), arbitrary imprisonments (100,000!), in short, a new Hitler. Some Irish right-wing politicians joined the chorus, calling for Irish Post to remove the stamp or, if not, for customers to boycott it. This storm in a teacup is frankly ridiculous anyway: who still buys stamps in Ireland, apart from a few nostalgic collectors of stamped mail? I remember that a few years ago the Austrian Post issued, in concert with the Israeli Post, a stamp in honour of Theodor Herzl, the founding father of Zionism. I promised myself I would get one. I was left disillusioned: none of the Vienna post offices I visited had any of these stamps, so they remained virtual.
The First Day Cover, with a quote from Ernesto Guevara Lynch, Che's father: "... in my son's veins flowed the blood of the Irish rebels"
But that's not the issue: the Gusanos - the earthworms, as the Cubans call the counter-revolutionaries of Miami and suburbs - would not miss an opportunity to spit on the Cuban revolution. The anniversary of the execution of Che has been marked by much of the world media in a rather positive way, and this secular saint is generally well respected, much more so than Fidel or Raúl Castro. Our Gusanos are therefore on the lookout for the slightest pretext to start an uproar. The Irish stamp was an opportunity not to be missed. And here our Ninoska sets off on a crusade, without missing a beat. Some Irish newspapers, whose editors had never heard of her until the day before, presented her as an "eminent journalist", an "expert on Cuba", so I did some quick research. The results, overwhelming, confirmed my first impression: yuck, yuck, yuck.
Ninoska, twitter version... and in real life
Lucrecia Ninoska Pérez Castellón was born in Havana on the 15th of March, 1950 and arrived in Miami, Florida, on the 5th of June, 1959, her family fleeing the Revolution. Her brothers and uncles took part in the failed invasion of the well-named Bay of Pigs in April 1961. Her parents must have dreamed that she would become a new Greta Garbo, hence this ridiculous name, hispanised version of Ninotchka, the title of Ernst Lubitsch's famous 1939 film. In 1987, she married another Gusano, Roberto Martin Pérez, son of an officer of dictator Batista and himself condemned for an anti-Castro plot lead by Trujillo, the dictator of Santo Domingo, then released upon the intervention of the Panamanian Noriega. Ninoska and her husband created the Cuban Liberty Council in October 2001 after leaving the Cuban American National Foundation, which they considered too soft towards the "Castro dictatorship". Ninoska celebrated her hour of fame in January 2009: eight days before giving way to Barack Obama, George Bush Junior himself called Radio Mambi to tell Ninoska that he regretted not having been able to apply the plan for a "post-Castro Cuba" that Ninoska and Co. had presented to him.
Radio Mambi 710 AM: this is where Ninoska has been raving for years, hosting a show for Gusana housewives which has earned her, among other things, to be hailed by the super-Gusano Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, as "a distinguished radio journalist, artist and community activist of South Florida". In short, the little pigs entertain themselves.
Oh! I almost forgot: Ninoska is also an artist, a neo-primitivistic watercolourist. Her immortal works are usually sold for the benefit of humanitarian associations. Not wanting to distort this article by reproductions of her nostalgic madonnas, you may have a look at them here.
One last word on Radio Mambi 710 AM: it is the biggest Spanish-speaking radio station in the USA. It is controlled by the Mexican media octopus Televisa, through the Univision group, which makes money in multimedia in the broadest sense: it broadcasts everything from cable TV to FM radio, distributes DVDs by Celia Cruz or Pedro Infante, not to mention the series Hablando solita (The one that speaks alone), a comic series for children, and Simplemente Delicioso (Simply Delicious), a series of cookware sets, available in all your favourite supermarkets. Enjoy!