People chuckled when presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon raised in Michigan and elected in Massachusetts, bungled the names of Cuban-American politicians during a recent speech in Miami.
But when he mistakenly associated Fidel Castro's trademark speech-ending slogan -- Patria o muerte, venceremos! -- with a free Cuba, listeners didn't laugh. They winced.
Castro has closed his speeches with the phrase -- in English, ''Fatherland or death, we shall overcome'' -- for decades.
However, CQ commenter Conservative Gladiator says that the context of Romney's use made the meaning plain:
Romney: “I said at the outset that the threat in Latin America is unprecedented. I say that because the Castros have a second tyrant and he has great wealth, from oil. We must stand just as firm against caudillos like Hugo Chavez, tutored by Fidel Castro. Chavez and Castro are brothers in blood, intent on personal gratification at the expense of their people. Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have stolen the phrase – 'Patria o muerte, venceremos.’ This phrase should not be used by dictators, but by liberators.
“There are two spheres of influence in the Western Hemisphere. One is dark, bellicose and spreads misery by denying people basic freedoms; the other shines like a powerful light, is peaceful and wants only for its people to live in liberty and prosper."
As Brant from SWLiP notes, this makes a big difference in the use of the phrase -- and it shouldn't have caused any "wincing", as Beth Reinhard wrote. It plainly uses Castro's language as a criticism against him, a rhetorical device that has been long in use and is quite effective. It would not be just a mistake by a pretender, but a deliberate -- and I would say excellent -- barb at a dictator who long-windedness needs some puncturing.
Like Brant, I'd like to get a copy of the speech as delivered. This was Conservative Gladiator's first comment at CQ, so I'm still holding off judgement of Reinhard until I see the transcript. If Reinhard is correct, then the original post still applies. If Conservative Gladiator is correct, Reinhard and the Herald owe its readers, and Mitt Romney, an apology and a retraction.