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Winograd cites a now-defunct Miami-Cuban tabloid called Trinchera Nacionalista (Nationalist Trench) as evidence of the community's right-wing tendencies. The tabloid, which the Anti-Defamation League denounced several years ago, had a circulation of between 8000 and 10,000 in 1994 and could be found in cafes on Calle Ocho.
Orta acknowledges that the "liberal majority" often tags nationalists like himself as dangerous hatemongers, but he believes that in private, most Cubans agree with him. "If we leave here and we go to all the corners of the Cuban-exile community in Little Havana, and if I explain all these things, 90 percent of Cubans will agree with me."
In April Alianza launched a Website prominently displaying its emblem, a blue flag with a swastikalike red cross in the middle. (Orta denies any connection to the Nazi symbol.) The site contains several articles laced with conspiracy-crazy, anti-Semitic bile. One claims that "Behind the White House, behind the State Department and the Capitol, is found the real power governing the United States ... the Jewish Mafia that has absolute control of the money and press."
Alianza's six-member board of directors meets regularly, Orta says. The group wants to promote its ideas in a larger forum, though, so on May 29 it held an orientation meeting at La Casita Restaurant in west Miami-Dade for people who had contacted them about joining. Orta also invited New Times with the condition that none of the guests would be named or photographed. Of the thirty attendees, ten were newcomers, according to Orta.
The Saturday-morning meeting was held in a spacious private dining room splashed with sunlight. Displayed on a table at one end of the room were flyers and pamphlets lambasting Jews, gun control, and abortion; a paperback titled Karl Marx Was a Satanist; and in the middle of it all, a small brown cross on a stand. Miniature Cuban flags decorated each of the tables where the guests sat sipping coffee and munching on buttered toast. Most of them were middle-age men. Some appeared affluent. Others seemed to be working-class. They listened raptly, only occasionally interrupting the speaker with quiet words of encouragement: "Si." and "Asi es." ("That's the truth.")
After a prayer and some introductions, Orta explained Alianza's philosophy in a spirited, finger-wagging speech to a smattering of applause. "We don't shy away from the label 'right-wing,'" he boomed at one point. "We're not afraid of the Zionists, and we don't care about the talking heads in Miami's media. We only care about stopping the conspiracy against the liberty of our country!"
After Orta's speech another Alianza director discussed the importance of securing a radio program. The liberal media distorts the group's aims, he said, adding: "The only way we can do this is with our own program, even if it's just for fifteen minutes once a month, that's a start. But it all costs money." The man said he would contribute $100 per month to the effort and invited others to commit. Then he passed around a yellow legal pad and several people offered ten- and twenty-dollar donations.
After three hours of chatting about the new world order over coffee, board members resolved to hold another orientation meeting. One 59-year-old man, a forklift driver with a family who heard about Alianza on the radio, said he would definitely attend. "I want to spread these ideas, but first I have to learn," he said. "The more I learn, the more I can teach.... I want to do everything I can to help."
Such enthusiasm worries the Anti-Defamation League's Winograd. Even though the group has few members, he says, "numbers aren't the point; Timothy McVeigh and Oklahoma proves it," he says. "It didn't take an army to blow up a building. All it takes is two or three people." Activist Bernardo Benes, a businessman and prominent member of Miami's Jewish-Cuban community, says Alianza concerns him, too. Yet it also strikes him as ridiculous. "This is the coarsest form of anti-Semitism," says Benes, best known for helping negotiate the release of Cuban political prisoners in the Seventies. "They're not worth arguing with. They should really try to be more creative."
Whether perceived as threat or joke, Alianza plans on staying active in the coming months. It wants to protest what Orta calls the "de-Christianization of Christmas": the rise of Santa Claus and a gradual suppression of images depicting Christ. Alianza also wants to rally the Cuban community around Pat Buchanan's campaign for president.
The group's political enemy is Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas. Members want to turn the exile community against the Cuban-American leader, whom they blame for endorsing a recently approved gay rights ordinance and tightening gun-control laws. "Evidently Penelas is an obedient peon of the Zionist Power dominating the Establishment of the United States and directing the Satanic New World Order," Orta writes on the group's Website. "Penelas deserves only one name: Traitor!"
The mayor's response? "We've never heard of them," says Alfredo Mesa, Penelas's executive assistant. "We don't know what to say, except that they have the right to disagree."