JVLV: Cubans Fighting Alongside Russians in
Syria? Suchliki's Tale,
By Leni Friedman Valenta
Published by the Russian International Affairs Council, October 29, 2015
Incredible! Cuban troops are being deployed in Syria, to fight alongside Russians! Since October 14, this message has been flying through the world and surely Botox sales must have boomed with all the raised eyebrows. True, the Castros are audacious.
But would Raul Castro, overseeing a crumbling regime, and with his oil producer, Venezuela, in crisis, and looking to the U.S. for salvation, really deploy his troops with Putin to save Assad?
Fox News cited the denial of Gerardo Penalver, a Cuban Foreign Ministry senior official. I also noticed when the news hit the Syrian embassy, the Russian journal Sputnik likened the story to “Russia sending troops to Madagascar to cope with lemurs.”
Finally the source was clarified -- none other than my husband’s former colleague at the University of Miami, distinguished Bacardi professor Jaime Suchliki, head of the school’s Institute of Cuban and Cuban American Studies [ICCAS]. Suchliki’s institute has also reported at least seven times in the last several years the death of Fidel Castro. If nine lives is the limit, two to go. Suchliki’s tendency to hyperbole is not the only bone I pick with him, however. There’s a much bigger one to chew on and herein hangs a fascinating tale that has taken 20 years to be told. Moreover, both bones are linked as the reader will see.
The trouble for Jiri started when he developed a close relationship with the late Jorge Mas Canosa, [hereafter Jorge] the chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation [CANF]. Jorge’s CANF supported a hard line U.S. policy towards Cuba and generously funded Suchliki’s institute. But Jorge also began giving grants to Jiri’s ISEES.
In 1985, after a decade teaching and supervising a Soviet and East European M.A. program for intelligence officers at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Jiri won a national competition for a tenured, full professorship at the University of Miami. Unfortunately, Jiri ignored prior warnings about the faculty feuding endemic to the Graduate School of International Studies [GSIS]. His predecessor, Carl Jacobson, also warned him Suchliki had helped to organize his firing, jealous of his State Department grant.
“You need Glasnost here Comrades!"
At the University of Miami, Jiri soon founded the Institute of Soviet and East European Studies [ISEES]. Like Suchliki’s Cuba-oriented institute, it was part [GSIS]. However, one of Jiri’s specialties was the Soviet-Cuban relationship – also Suchliki’s turf. Editor of two scholarly books, Conflict in Nicaragua, and U.S. Intervention in Grenada, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Jiri had served as a principle witness for Henry Kissinger’s 1983 Bi-partisan Commission on Central America.
Meanwhile, the school’s pro-Castro leftists –were not pleased with the Jiri-Jorge friendship, particularly GSIS’s late Associate Dean, Enrique Baloyra. A member of the editorial board of Arieto, “a magazine supported by the Castro government,” Baloyra tried to steer students away from Jiri’s classes.
Then, shortly before the U.S. election of 1988, Castro, with the Reagan administration’s tacit support, agreed to receive a delegation of U.S. leading experts on Cuba. Center-right Jiri was the only non-leftist aboard. At the conference, Jiri presented a paper entitled “United States and Cuba; Castroika vs Perestroika,” later published in the Miami Herald. Opening a Pandora’s Box, he also declaimed to dozens of Cuban and Caribbean leftists, “Comrades you need glasnost here.”
Silence. Pin drop! Then Jiri was suddenly rescued by two Soviet scholars who suggested “glasnost is a good thing.” They were not applauded, and when the U.S. delegation met with the late Cuban Vice President, Carlos Raphael Rodriguez, he made it abundantly clear he did not agree with Jiri and the Russians. Whoa! Jiri had discovered a Soviet-Cuban schism!
Suchliki Exposes Anti-Valenta Coup
Jiri’s trip to Havana only intensified an ongoing GSIS power struggle over policies towards Cuba and the USSR. Jiri was supported by Dean Moss, but both hardliner Suchliki, known in Havana as “Neanderthal,” and Baloyra, dubbed “Progressive,” deeply resented Jiri’s Havana trip. Why had they not been selected? Meanwhile, Miami’s staunchest hardliner on communism, Jorge, became highly interested in Jiri’s tale of a schism. “Looks like I’ll have to become a lobbyist in Moscow,” he quipped.
In 1988, Miami was the most anti-communist city in the Union. Communist visitors were welcomed with riots – once even a bazooka. Yet Jorge wasn’t joking as he asked Jiri, “Will you help me organize a dialogue with the Russians at your institute?” Jiri was happy to oblige, “If you protect me,” he replied. Said the CANF chairman, “I already have. You are still alive.”
Jorge couldn’t protect Jiri from everything. A decade later, CANF treasurer Feliciano Foyo, a friend of Jeb Bush, would recall to Jiri and me what Suchliki told Jiri and some GSIS supporters at his home in August 1990. Not only Jiri, but the late Ted Rubel, Sanford Ziff, and Elsa Eaton, were shocked to learn that Baloyra had urged Suchliki’s help in organizing a political coup against Jiri. Suchliki had taken notes. Baloyra had picked an appropriate time for a coup -- Dean Moss had just been hospitalized with a heart attack. Baloyra hoped he would be the new caudillo. Then Suchliki read his notes at a faculty meeting, embarrassing Baloyra. Jiri was relieved and thought of Suchliki as “a brother.”
But the anti-Valenta plot was still to thicken. Baloyra was joined by Vendulka Kubalkova, born in Czechoslovakia like Jiri, an expert on Marxism and Leninism. Moss and Jiri hired her in 1988, but soon regretted it. A year later she launched a campaign and then a lawsuit against them, claiming sexual discrimination in her pay. More was to come.
While Moss was in the hospital still another faculty foe joined the plot; Kubalkova’s friend, the late Alexander McIntyre, whom Jiri had not recommended for tenure. No scholarly publications! McIntyre’s and Kubalkova’s effort to discredit Jiri were also helped by Jiri’s and Kubalkova’s student, Craig Simon. Author of a monograph on Frisbee the ultra-leftist Simon began a letter-writing campaign among the students, suggesting they go to another program. The campaign was revealed by several students who supported Jiri. Louis Rodi (now a homeland security senior official) wrote in a February 14, 1991 letter, “… Mr. Simon is venting his own personal frustrations stemming from his own shortcomings on both Dr. Valenta and the Soviet Studies program.”
As the “Moscow-Miami Dialogue” envisioned by Jorge and Jiri was evolving, Russian opposition leader Boris Yeltsin began his September 1989 tour of America and visit to the White House. Not pleased were Gorbachev, the Bush ’41 administration and a majority of academics, adoring Gorbachev and angry at spoiler Yeltsin. Among the latter was Kubalkova. But Jiri, aware that Yeltsin had a more democratic vision than Gorbachev, invited him to Miami. Within 48 hours he became the only professor in the country who both raised the money for Yeltsin’s honoraria and invited Yeltsin to his school.
Knock Knock, Guess Who’s Coming for Lunch?
Kubalkova, writing a laudatory monograph on Gorbachev, was aghast. That “alcoholic?” As Pravda was busy demonizing Yeltsin, one of her students blasted Jiri in the university paper for inviting the “bum” from Moscow. Worse yet from Kubalkova’s perspective, Yeltsin came to the Valentas’ home for lunch. There he explained to Jiri’s Cuban and Jewish co-sponsors, prominent Cuban-American writer, Carlos Montaner, and Miami Herald reporter Fred Tasker that his aim was a democratic peaceful revolution! Mouths dropped open!
Following the lunch, Yeltsin was scheduled to address a town hall meeting Jiri had scheduled at the Omni Hotel in Miami. The following incident was subsequently confirmed by prominent Miami Herald writer-turned CNN anchor, Andreas Oppenheimer, in his book, Castro’s Final Hour. As Jiri and Yeltsin were driving to the hotel in a white limousine, Yeltsin asked Jiri, "But isn't Castro undertaking his own version of perestroika?”
“No, said Valenta. Speaking Russian [rusty Russian, indeed, but one Yeltsin understood well] …the professor told his guest about the Ochoa affair, about the recent incidents of repression against dissidents in Cuba, and of Castro's refusal to accept any meaningful political or economic reforms.”Yeltsin was astounded. He had not been briefed.
Smitten with Gorbymania, university President Tad Foote excused himself from the town hall meeting that followed. But Jiri, moderating the event, and fearing the worst from the anti-Castro crowd, was unexpectedly surprised. A builder like Donald Trump, Yeltsin had a similar hypnotic effect on the audience. He radiated charisma, completely conquering the crowd with his honesty, wit and democratic heart. They adored him! Nor were Kubalkova and Suchliki amused, when Jiri and his former wife, Virginia, enjoyed a vodka dinner the following month with the Yeltsin family at their Moscow apartment.
Suchliki Turns Against Moscow-Miami Dialogues
In late May 1990, another dialogue with prominent Russians took place at the Doubletree Hotel in Miami, organized by Jiri together with a Russian counterpart, Andrey Kortunov, a rising star of Georgi Arbatov’s Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada. It involved key legislators, foreign policy officials and prominent opinion makers in both the U.S. and USSR responsible for Latin America. Invited to teach with Jiri for a semester, Andrey soon became the superstar of Miami, helping Jorge and Jiri open the most anti-communist city in the Union to Russian business like Aeroflot and political interests. Jiri also organized with Igor Kokorev, the best Russian expert on U.S. cinematography, a festival of glasnost films in Miami Beach.
Both Jiri and Andrei had ensured the Russian delegations would include prominent supporters of both Yeltsin and Gorbachev. The first formal Moscow-Miami Dialogue included both Yeltsin and Gorbachev supporters. Among those in the Yeltsin camp were Yuri Pavlov, head of the Soviet Latin American desk, Yeltsin’s friend, the late Argumenty y faktyi editor-in-chief and parliamentarian, Vladislav Starkov, and prominent economist Nikolai Shmelev. Shmelev became so popular with the Cuban Americans in Miami that Moss and Jiri invited him to teach a semester at Jiri’s institute. But Kubalkova, objected and Shmelev did not come. Moreover her campaign led to canceling the visit of another distinguished professor, then Ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock. A close friend of Jiri’s he was eager to come. He ended up working with Legvold at Columbia University.
Co-sponsoring the visit of these men was Moscow’s Peace Committee, then headed by prominent writer, Genrik Borovik. A KGB favorite in the past, he was now a Gorbachev reformer. Meanwhile, another participant, Georgi Arbatov, a-Gorbachev foreign policy advisor, was now firmly in the Yeltsin camp. Nevertheless, Kubalkova, Suchliki and a CIA scholar in residence at Suchliki’s institute, labeled Arbatov, Kortunov and Borovic “KGB agents.”
Also among those invited to the dialogue by Jiri was Friz Ermath, then the chief Russologist at the CIA. Fritz must have known that Borovik’s Peace Committee sponsored the travel of the Russian visitors. But did he realize what was really going on? Jiri and Andrey had succeeded forging a unique debate over Kremlin subsidies for Castro’s regime. KGB Chief Vladimir Kryuchkov was outraged. He wrote in his memoir that the Miami dialogue was a dangerous CIA project. Also, that Arbatov was the head of the pro-U.S. lobby in Moscow.
CIA my foot! It was not involved. And speaking of Foote, again he didn’t come, still disliking Yeltsin and his friends. Likely the CIA was unhappy it wasn’t involved. The new dialogue attracted tremendous publicity throughout Latin America. Unannounced, a few dozen Russian reporters rushed to Miami, eager to write critical articles about glasnost-adverse Cuba. Jorge told Jiri to accommodate them as most were short of money.
Easier to say than do. They needed immediate cash. It was the weekend and the university was closed. Paperwork could not be processed. To help these guests, Jiri opted to utilize small amounts of cash from the conference proceeds with Jorge’s approval. None of this was according to Hoyle, but extraordinary circumstances required unusual measures. When Suchliki got wind of this though, he went ballistic
Naturally the Cuban dictator was furious. Soviet high officials meeting in Miami for a tête-à-tête with Cuban exiles led by Jorge? On May 23rd, only hours before the departure of the Soviet delegation for Miami, the Cuban ambassador, Joachim Balaguer, tried to prevent its departure. Since weeks before the opening of the dialogue, moreover Jiri, Andrey and their cohorts had been receiving were dozens of bomb threats and menacing calls at the institute staff and students. The FBI was called in to protect participants, some of them beautiful young agents disguised as prostitutes.
Moreover, excited by Suchliki’s criticisms through a local radio station and Kubalkova’s whispers about the KGB taking over Miami, some Cuban exile groups were planning to protest the dialogue. Jorge took to the airwaves, however, and saved the day.
The “mini-summit” as this dialogue was also called by the U.S. press, preceded a Washington summit between Bush ’41 and Mikhail Gorbachev. Primarily it became a discussion of Cuba and a key part of it was Suchliki’s presentation. While some Russian speakers were critical of the imperial overreach of the Kremlin Empire, Suchliki hyperbolized the Russo-Cuban military cooperation, as he would 25-years later with Syria. He viewed with great suspicion Gorbachev’s “New Thinking.”
During this dialogue, Yeltsin won a free election and became the leader of Russia. Several months later, in September 1990, Jiri led a CANF delegation to the Yeltsin White House and lobbied the new president to reduce Russian subsidies to Castro. Shortly thereafter, Yeltsin did.
Prague- Miami Dialogue
By late 1989, a new spring had arrived not only in Moscow but in Prague. Born in Czechoslovakia, Jiri, had fled Prague as a student activist after the 1968 Soviet invasion. Arriving in America as a political refugee, he had been waiting for this for two decades. In America, with Prague ever on his mind, he had written a seminal book, Soviet Intervention in Czechoslovakia 1968, Johns Hopkins University Press. Now, his book was published again, with an introduction by the late Alexander Dubcek.
In August 1990, Jiri invited to Michael Cermak to Miami. A Czech radio reporter just expelled from Cuba for a broadcast critical of Fidel, Cermak was about to become a press spokesman for Czech Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier. In October he helped Jiri launch a Prague-Miami Dialogue, the two of them bringing Dienstbier to Miami. After a dinner co-sponsored by the CANF, the minister, Jiri, Jorge, Foyo, and a top CANF leader, Domingo Moreira, met in private circle and forged the ending of the Czech representation of Cuba in Washington. All without the approval of Foggy Bottom. Dienstbier also offered to make Jiri his Ambassador to Cuba. Jiri refused, asking instead to direct Dienstbier’s foreign ministry think tank. Done. Jiri started in the spring.
Still teaching, commuting between Miami, Prague and Moscow, Jiri enjoyed his new line of work. He raised funds for large institutional grants from the Konrad Adenauer and the PEW Foundations. He launched a project resulting in two books on Czech national interests. Among other things, they proposed a better relationship with NATO, rescinding Czech subsidies to Cuba, and closing the PLO embassy in Prague. Encouraging Havel to return to the traditional Czech ties with Israel, Jiri also arranged with Sanford Ziff, President Vaclav Havel, Dienstbier and Yeltsin, an alternative air route for the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel through Prague.
The most pleasant activity for Jiri at IRR however, was giving a Trump-like notice “You’re fired!” To several agents of the KGB and the Czech Secret Service [STB] working for his think tank.
Unfortunately, with all the communists Jiri dismissed in Prague, he could not fire his chief menace, Kubalkova, back at the University of Miami. Kubalkova later revealed to him she was a former member of the Czech Secret Police. Now she forged an alliance with few some of the former secret police agents Jiri had fired. Their subsequent attempts to try to blackmail him are discussed in Jiri’s forthcoming memoir.
In a January 15, 1993 notarized statement, Cermak, would cite Kubalkova’s letter to the foreign ministry. She was,
“…attacking Professor Valenta’s achievements as a scholar and his personal contacts in the United States and abroad. …I was surprised as to why she would be attacking Dr. Valenta, a man of outstanding character and scholarship. I then remembered that at that time the Czechoslovak government was looking to appoint an Honorary Czechoslovak Consul to ‘’… Miami and that she was extremely interested in the position. …I also remember that Dr. Valenta opposed her being appointed because of her lack of substantial ties with the Jewish and Cuban communities in Miami…” (Thanks to Jiri, his lawyer, Alan Becker, became Czech consul).
Not only with the Czech foreign ministry did she seek to damage Jiri’s reputation; also with American academia. While Robert Legvold of the Harriman Institute at Columbia, was visiting for the Dialogue, she gave him a secret letter badmouthing Jiri. Legvold gave it to him. Then came her assault on FPI’s Daniel Pipes. who had received a joint PEW grant with Jiri. In a May 27, 1992 unsolicited call to FPI, she spoke to economist Patrick Clawson, who wrote Pipes a memo on their two-hour phone conversation.
“... he [Jiri] has taken money from the Cuban American National Foundation and various Jewish organizations which no dignified research institute would do …She is sending me a newspaper article by two members of the Oriental Institute in Prague, bitterly complaining that Valenta is a U.S. agent because he advised Dienstbier to close the PLO’s Prague office, which she sees as abandoning Czechoslovakia’s traditional Arab friends…”
Jiri had made that proposal partly because of a report he received from Czech intelligence that the PLO served as a support center for terrorist activities and contained explosives and arms.
To Pipes and Clawson, but also to Jiri’s former wife, Virginia, some of Kubalkova’s comments sounded anti-Semitic. Virginia later testified Kubalkova had told her, “There are too many Jews around Jiri.” Jiri was also aware Kubalkova had questioned his Jewishness. I can testify that Jiri is a mischling whose mother is Jewish. In 2000 I saw the names of his relatives on the holocaust wall of the Pinkas synagogue.
Political Correctness: From Sexual Discrimination to Sexual Harassment
As a CANF public relations campaign against Fidel Castro’s regime continued in both Moscow and Prague, major articles appeared in the media questioning the Kremlin’s economic aid to Cuba. Castro’s response was at hand. Only later would Jiri learn that Fidel’s DGI was preparing the publication a book, entitled, El Chairman Soy Yo, naming Jiri, along with Jorge, as the main organizers of “a prostitution ring from Prague to Miami.”
Was that what inspired Kubalkova? Or was it the serendipitous eruption of Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas? Whatever. Kubalkova now changed her target and mode of attack. While she initially went after both Moss and Valenta on sexual discrimination, she now zeroed in on Jiri, by then in the midst of a divorce, with a charge of sexual harassment. She wrote a letter to President Foote, hurling incredible charges at Jiri of repeated sexual harassment towards her, oppression, threats and excluding her from his school activities. Thus she asked that he be dismissed! A word of disclosure.
Jiri was an easy target -- handsome, naturally flamboyant, at times abrasive, European, macho, warm, and much liked by women of all ages. Having lived for 23 years in Central and Western Europe, he sometimes hugs someone who does a favor or pats them on the back. Flirtatious? Yes, guilty as charged. But that’s only a crime under The Mikado, courtesy of Gilbert and Sullivan
As the Washington Times, stoutly defending Jiri, observed, “Her word against his!” Moreover, I have seen the lady and gotten to know his beautiful former wife who testified on his behalf. There is no way my tall, handsome and charismatic husband, a magnet for women all his life, could ever have been interested in Kubalkova, this plain-faced, thickset termagant, known to make anti-Semitic hints. Virginia, who I got to know, agreed.
Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Palous, who frequently lectured at Jiri’s institute, also weighed in on Kubalkova’s claim that she was excluded from Jiri’s projects. “Significantly, I noticed that at all times when I was visiting the University of Miami, Professor Valenta acted in a highly professional manner towards Professor Kubalkova. In addition, he invited her to attend all the lectures and seminars that I was delivering at the university and in no way attempted to exclude her from these events.”
Admired in Life, Reviled in Death
Alexander McIntyre, as Jiri learned, was the organizational brains behind the coup. He now spread rumors of Jiri’s sexual harassment and helped to prepare the Kafkaesque kangaroo court that subsequently prosecuted Jiri. Ironically, this 350 pound giant was later found to be a sexual predator when his grown stepdaughter complained of his playing with her genitals since she was eleven. To avoid jail time --or worse-- as a “short eyes” in prison lingo, he, committed suicide, chaining himself to his car and driving it into a canal. The story, hushed up by Foote as we learned, appeared only in Miami’s New Times on October 19, 2000 under the title, “Admired in Life; Reviled in Death.”
Troublemaker! President Tad Foote at first wanted to fire Kubalkova. Afflicted with Gorbymania, he also disliked Yeltsin. At any rate, he decided to support her, and the university paid all her legal fees.
Thanks to Foote’s deception, Jack Matlock still believed for a long time that Jiri’s only witness was his former wife, Virginia. The university has never admitted that during the hearings twelve witnesses appeared for Jiri. A few more unexpectedly left town. What they observed was summed up by Daniel Pipes: “Kangaroo court.” In a letter to the Miami Jewish Journal, he and Clawson complained, “…when one of us in testimony before the UM Faculty committee, tried to raise the issue of Dr. Valenta’s accusers’ anti-Semitic and anti-Cuban attitudes, he was not allowed to speak.”
Testimony as to Kubalkova’s possible motives was not admitted. Even Baloyra, though he complained about Valenta’s CANF ties, denied there was sexual harassment of Kubalkova. His own motivations against Jiri, however, were exposed by Jorge, who declared Baloyra “a Cuban agent.” A few years after the kangaroo court, Jorge and Pepe Hernandez helped Jiri get on a major TV radio station, where he engaged Baloyra in a sharp dialogue. For the first time Jiri had the guts to reveal that Baloyra was on the editorial board of Arieto. Baloyra died shortly thereafter of natural causes.
Only six of Kubalkova’s alleged 18 witnesses – which she proudly said she had herself recruited -- ever showed up and their testimony wasn’t serious. One of them was a spurned secretary who admitted she loved him. Another was a graduate of Patrice Lumumba University, a school for third world radicals and terrorists. And so it went. This one claimed Jiri had touched her buttocks during a meeting with the late John Swing, then Executive Vice President of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Swing debunked her and presented many photographs, showing JIri's then wife,Virginia, sitting next to him. “It could not have happened in my presence,” he declared.
Suchliki Again Switches Sides
Back to the professor, who could have exonerated Jiri – Jaime Suchliki. By now we know Suchliki had strong motives for not helping Jiri; his unrepentant Neanderthal ideology, his battles for grants and his jealousy of Jiri, now the favorite of the CANF. Suchliki’s dark side prevailed. Recall he had a smoking gun -- notes on his conversation with Baloyra about an anti-Valenta coup. But he changed sides, even blaming Valenta in the press for mishandling a CANF grant and railing that his wife was paid $4000 for her hard work helping to prepare the Dialogues.
Most ridiculous was his claim Jiri had taken the Russians to Key West to see the Hemingway Museum, a trip approved by Jorge and CANF president, Pepe Hernandez as both of them testified. Suchliki could have exploded Kubalkova’s whole story and saved Jiri, but he didn’t. He disappeared.
Justice often comes at a price the accused cannot afford. While the university paid Kubalkova’s legal fees, Jiri sold all his property to defend himself –then he ran out of money, and was fired after losing everything he owned. Kubalkova got his job and also replaced him on Dante Fascell’s State Department Fellowship Board. Meanwhile, for Jiri, another marriage crumbled. He ended up homeless for weeks on the beaches of Dania. When I met him in October 1998, he was living in a shack provided by a member of the Baptist Church of Dania. To support two minor children, he was cleaning bathrooms at Winn Dixie while retraining himself as a broker.
Nobody will ever be able to repay Jiri’s suffering, described in his memoir. It is hard to envision the devastation he endured spiritually and economically, being cut down in his prime and given what one reporter termed “an academic death sentence” by this university kangaroo court! And what was he doing? Helping democratic revolutions in two countries!
Also, think of our country’s loss. He had arrived In America in 1970 barely speaking English. In four years he was a Brookings fellow. By 1984 he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He had earned every top fellowship imaginable. In my view he is more brilliant and more qualified than the last four Secretaries of State.
Kudo to Daniel Pipes, who supported Jiri for a long time, and whom Kubalkova also tried to destroy, Pipes summarized Jiri’s case in a letter to a Jewish University trustee in July, 1993. “This case fits a terrible pattern in which American universities repress views which run against the majority faculty opinion. As you know, Dr. Valenta boasts a strong anti-communist, pro-Israel and anti-Castro record. His colleagues don’t care for this so they are tar and feathering him.”
Jiri and I were married in 1999 and he moved on with his life. In 2005, Martin Palous presented to Jiri the Jan Masaryk Silver Medal awarded by minister of the Foreign Affairs “for Jiri’s contribution in preserving and promoting relations between the Czech government and the United States of America.” In 2008, at the Czech embassy in Washington, Vaclav Havel, in a remarkable, 2 A.M. meeting organized by now U.S. ambassador, Palous, whispered to Jiri, “You were right about national interests and you were right about closing the PLO embassy.”
Jiri had argued that the PLO embassy in Prague supported terrorism. Several years later in 2014, Czech police found a significant number of arms and explosives at the embassy after the new PLO ambassador opened a booby-trapped book, dormant for at least two decades that exploded and killed him.
Suchliki’s story having raked up Jiri’s old wounds, I am aware of Kubalkova’s sue-happy nature. She’s an old hand at it. Having gone through Jiri’s case with my late father, a distinguished lawyer, I know she doesn’t have a leg to stand on. In a civil court she would have faced a charge of perjury.
As I see it, however, Jiri and I would likely not have met if his outcome had been different. Nor was he wholly defeated. He rose out of the ashes, and with the financial support of my late father, we were able to travel, do on-site research, and to found our own small institute dedicated to the study of post-communism and terrorism. Paraphrasing William Ernest Henley, Jiri is the captain of his fate and the master of his soul. So am I!
Tragedy of “Neanderthal”
Unfortunately, Suchliki seems not to have understood the Kremlin is engaged in complex decision-making. As revealed by Pavlov, author of The Soviet Cuban Alliance, there exists a pro-Cuban lobby in Moscow. It was represented at the Moscow-Miami Dialogue by Sergo Mikoyan and Genrik Borovik, who advocated continuous Russian support of Castro. But Suchliki, hogtied in his own convictions, could not adjust to new realities, even amidst Russians who seriously questioned further Russian military and economic support for the brutal parasite sucking the vital juices of their nation.
Nobody has brought out the point that during the dialogues, Suchliki played into the hands of the KGB which attacked the reformist Russians in Miami.
As in the past, Moscow’s pro-Cuban lobby is presently supported by senior leaders of the Russian military, the military-industrial- security complex – men like the key players in the 1991 attempted, anti-Yeltsin coup. The lobby was much dismayed that Yeltsin cut subsidies to Cuba.
That said however, a key supporter of renewed military ties with Cuba is the Russian Society of Friendship with Cuba and its Vice President Major General, Mikhail Makaruk. Having engaged in a thorough analysis of Suchliki’s hyperbolic claims regarding Syria, however, Makaruk debunked Suchliki’s story, labeling it “disinformation” and “information warfare.” Significantly, he seemed to blame Yeltsin, who as we saw, was lobbied by Jorge and Jiri. He stated the Cuban armed forces are not presently in good shape for an intervention in Syria (as they were in Angola and Ethiopia in the 1970’s).
Suchliki surely has observed that, in the last few years, the pro-Cuban lobby has revived some of the Old Russian military ties with the anti-U.S. Caribbean trio, Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela. All three are part of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu´s 2014 global strategy to extend Russia´s naval and strategic bomber power. However, using the false Angola and Ethiopia analogy, Suchliki engaged in hyperbole with Syria. His unconfirmed report can only harm the research of respectable institutions. Thus, there have been increasing voices calling for Suchliki’s head. “Suchliki… makes the university look like a fabricator of lies at best,” wrote Alvaro Fernandez in Progreso. “Suchliki should be fired,” wrote Conexion Miami.
President Obama’s approach to Cuba has been like “progressive” Baloyra’s in the 1980’s-- recognition of Cuba without security safeguards. Obama has also unwisely declared he doesn’t “need George Kennan.” But as we concluded, “we should heed Kennan’s wise advice and still insist that extra-hemispheric powers like Russia do not develop military ties with radical regimes in the Caribbean Basin.”
Finally, we do not suggest that Suchliki be fired. I have learned enough about human suffering from Jiri. I only hope Suchliki has absorbed some lessons from this account and will try to be not just a better analyst, but a better human being.
Jiri's late 2nd wife, Virginia Valenta, with Boris Yeltsin,, 1990.
LENI VALENTA: JAIME SUCHLIKI'S DERELICTIONS
A LETTER TO JULIO FRENK, PRESIDENT OF UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI
August 13, 2017
Dear President Frenk,
I must confess that I read about you before writing this letter and was extremely impressed. With your background and experiences in both health and academia, I can hope that you are a highly evolved and caring person. But in any case, forgive me if I get something off my chest that’s been there for too long.
I am the wife of Dr. Jiri Valenta, formerly a tenured professor at UM, 1985-1993, a brilliant scholar , recommended by both Kissinger and Brzezinski, who won a national competition for his position, but who left under circumstances you may find extremely interesting.
First, we were both glad to see that Jaime Suchliki is leaving UM. A hardliner extremist, he tried to exaggerate Russian commitment to Cuba in regional conflicts. The last straw was his insistence Cubans are fighting in Syria alongside Russians, which was totally wrong and viewed by observers as some sort of deception. My husband and I wrote a response to it. I noticed when the news hit the Syrian embassy, the Russian journal Sputnik likened the story to “Russia sending troops to Madagascar to cope with lemurs.”
Frankly, however I have another beef with Dr. Suchliki. But first some background information. Jiri was hired away from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey where he had taught for a decade. Winning a national competition for a full professorship at UM, he unfortunately ignored prior warnings about the faculty feuding endemic to its Graduate School of International Studies [GSIS]. His predecessor, Carl Jacobson, also warned him Suchliki had helped to organize his own firing, jealous of his State Department grant.
At the University of Miami, Jiri soon founded the now defunct Institute of Soviet and East European Studies [ISEES] for GSIS. Meanwhile, the school’s pro-Castro leftists –were not pleased when Jiri developed a strong friendship with the late Jorge Mas Canosa, chairman of the anti-Castro Cuban American National Foundation [CANF].
Like Suchliki, Jiri is a hardliner -- but a sophisticated one. Particularly hostile to him was GSIS’s late Associate Dean, Enrique Baloyra, a leader of the Social Democratic Party of Cuba in exile at that time, and a member of the editorial board of Arieto, a magazine supported by the Castro government. He and Suchliki were outraged that Jiri, rather than either one of them, was invited to become the first professor at UM to visit Havana in a scholarly exchange supported by the U.S. and Cuban governments in September 1988.
Also not pleased with Jiri’s politics was Vendulka Kubakova, a Czech national like him, whom he had hired in 1989, not knowing of her many problems at the University of Brisbane, Australia. A former member of the Czech Secret Police, she later told Jiri that she had agreed to collaborate with them before she emigrated.
In 1991, Suchliki told Jiri, in the presence of several distinguished sponsors of his institute, including the late Dr. Sanford Ziff, CEO of Sunglasses hut, and the late Feliciano Foyo, treasurer of CANF, about the political coup that was being organized against him by Baloyra and Kubalkova.
Like you, Jiri is a mischlinge from a family of holocaust survivors. He served with Nathan Sharansky and Richard Pipes of Harvard for 12 years on the National Board of the Council of Soviet Jews. He had strong ties to Miami’s Jewish community which also provided his institute with some funding.
Kubalkova hated the CANF as well as Jiri's contacts with Jewish organizations. Jiri’s late wife,Virginia, testified under oath to Kubalkova’s comment, “There are too many Jews around Jiri.” Patrick Clawson, Associate Director of the Foreign Policy Research Organization, Philadelphia, also sent Jiri a memorandum describing a phone conversation initiated by Kubalkova. In his words, “She was horrified at Valenta’s fund-raising activities. She complained that at Miami he had taken money from the Cuban American National Foundation and various Jewish organizations which, in her words, “no dignified research institute would do.”
Kubalkova also went ballistic when Jiri brought Boris Yeltsin and other Russian celebrities to the school as part of his “Moscow-Miami Dialogues.” While he correctly-- and in fact uniquely at that time -- saw rising opposition leader and democrat Yeltsin as the wave of the future, she backed Gorbachev and organized her students to object to Yeltsin’s visit. (Jiri raised the money for Yeltsin’s fee himself).
A third coup conspirator was the late Alexander McIntyre, whom Jiri and other professors had not recommended for promotion based on his lack of publications. He committed suicide following his stepdaughter’s revelation he had sexually molested her since she was eleven.
While Baloyra pressured students not to sign up for Jiri’s classes, Kubalkova did something far worse. First she accused GSIS Dean Ambler Moss and Jiri for two years of sexual discrimination, above all for being paid less than Jiri, although her work was far from equal. He had founded an institute, had many more publications, was raising huge amounts of money and holding international conferences with foreign policy celebrities that resulted in major books.
She, if her present ratings by students on Google is an example, was teaching them almost nothing.
Then, in the aftermath of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas hearings, she weaponized her female genitalia and wrote a letter to former UM President Tad Foote that Jiri had repeatedly pressured her for sex!
Not surprisingly, Dean Ambler Moss ridiculed the charge as “ridiculous.” True. All you had to do was look at Jiri and look at her. You can do that at our website: He was tall, dark and handsome and getting a divorce from one of the most beautiful women in Miami.
But by this time Kubalkova had already tasted blood. She had sued the school for equal pay and won a $300,000 award. Now she took the opportunity to threaten another federal lawsuit with spurious claims of the unhealthy sexual environment my husband had allegedly created at UM with various women -- and went after Dean Moss for his failure to properly “discipline” Jiri.
At this point the administration caved in. They not only held hearings described by Jiri’s witnesses as a “kangaroo court,” they paid her legal fees! She then personally recruited radical or disgruntled women who were either no-shows at the hearings or were debunked by Jiri’s lawyers. Sadly, Jiri’s witnessess were not allowed to testify as to Kubalkova’s multiple ideological motives for her accusation, including wanting Jiri’s job. Sadly also, Suchliki, who knew there was a conspiracy, did not defend Jiri at the hearing. Instead he railed about Jiri’ late wife, Virginia, getting paid as a research assistant although Suchliki’s own wife worked for the university.
Jiri fought the charges as long as he could until he became impoverished and could no longer pay his lawyers. The school then fired him on on he-said, she-said evidence that would not have stood up in any court of law. She then went after Dean Moss anyway. She filed a federal lawsuit and sued the school for being tardy in “disciplining” Jiri.
Jiri was then serving as a consultant to senior members of the U.S. Government. They recommended him to Czech President Vaclav Havel and Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier to direct their think tank, The Institute of International Relations. Jiri took the job. While on leave from UM from 1991-93, he was repeatedly flying to Czech Republic to transform this communist think tank into a democratic one.
Kubalkova then began to contact her former Secret Police friends and attacked Jiri for his proposal to close the PLO Embassy in Prague as a terrorist organization -- which it was! Jiri was attacked in a booklet, Paletinska Otazka [Palestinian Question] published by the PLO and pro- PLO organizations in Czechoslovakia. Arms were later found in the Embassy and two decades later, an ambassador was killed opening a safe full of explosives. Yet none of this helped Jiri. When a new and more reactionary foreign minister replaced Dienstbier, he dismissed Jiri, explaining the PLO business was a key reason.
In 2005 however, Jiri was awarded the prestigious Jan Masaryk medal by the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs for his “contribution in preserving and promoting relations between the Czech Republic and the United States of America.”
I believe the university let itself be bullied by Kubalkova because it was really afraid of losing another huge award to this liar! “Disciplining” Jiri didn’t help UM however. Kubalkova sued them anyway for being tardy in going after Jiri.
Of course Jiri could not get another job in academia. Emotionally shaken, his subsequent marriage to a Czech girl half his age ended when his money did. She threw him out, and for some weeks he was sleeping on the beaches of Dania. When I met him, he was living in a shack given to to him free by the Baptist Church of Dania, and cleaning bathrooms at Winn Dixie while trying to retrain himself as a stock broker. He was shattered psychologically, and not only did he suffer, but also his two minor children.
We were married in 1999 and my 95-year old father, a former Wall Street lawyer, studied Jiri’s case. Realizing Jiri's innocence, he funded our new Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism and made it possible for us to travel and do research all over Europe and Russia. We have since been working on three books including Jiri’s memoir, a book on Russia’s 1985-91 revolution, and one on Russian interventions We are also co-writing and publishing articles in important journals like The National Interest [honorary chair Henry Kissinger], the BESA Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, The World Affairs Journal, Washington, Aspen Review, Prague, International Geostrategic Maritime Observatory journal, Paris,and others. We are also regular bloggers for the online journal of the Russian International Affairs Council, Moscow, the principle think tank of the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs. And of course, Jiri also publishes on the Council on Foreign Relations Member Wall. But Jiri misses teaching.
Please think of our country’s loss. He arrived In America in 1970 barely speaking English. In four years he was a Brookings fellow. By 1984 he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He earned all the top fellowships and more. In my view he is more brilliant and more qualified than the last four Secretaries of State. In fact he mentored Condi Rice who knew a pittance compared to him. Think how far he could have gone!
I wanted you to know this story. I gather these types of feuds are not uncommon although UM, as Jiri learned first hand, was particularly toxic in this regard even before he arrived. Sadly, you lost a top scholar and were left with two inferior ones; Kubalkova and Suchlicki. Kubalkova had at least five personal and ideological motives for going after Jiri besides her wanting his job. .
I truly hope this has furnished you with some insights which may be helpful to you in the future. There is no threat of any kind intended in this letter. We are just writing to inform you about your school and to give you input on this important case. We know what has gone on at this university. If we can ever be of any help to you, let us know.
Leni Friedman Valenta
Dr. Valenta in 1992 with 3rd wife, Kamila, age 20
Jiri's present wife, Leni Valenta, at the time he met her in 1998.
JIRI VALENTA: HIS THREE WIVES AND HIS ACCUSER, VENDULKA KUBALKOVA
Vendulka Kubalkova, who claims to have repeatedly resisted Jiri's sexual pressures.
It is significant that the political coup against Jiri was engineered by three leftist professors. Vendulka Kubalkova, could not tolerate the fact that Jiri was supporting Boris Yeltsin, a political maverick and opponent of Mikhail Gorbachev. She was just finishing a monograph on Gorbachev and, like many other academics, believed Yeltsin was jeopardizing his path. But that was not her only motive. Like the late Dean Enrique Baloyra, she hated the fact that he was working with the anti-Casro Cuban American National Foundation [CANF]. Let me not fail to mention that she by eliminating him, she got Jiri's job.
In her efforts, she went so far as to accuse Jiri and Dean Ambler Moss of organizing the Moscow Miami Dialogue, with its most outspoken speaker, Boris Yeltsin, in order to bring to Miami KGB collaborators. Among others, she singled out one of the most liberal members of the Russian delegation, Dr. Andrey Kortunov, as a KGB agent. Today, Kortunov, one of the most respected analysts of U.S.-Russian relations, is the Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council, the think tank of the Russian foreign ministry. At that time, Dr. Kortunov, a radical reformer and advocate of ending Soviet subsidies to Cuba, ignited the fury of Fidel Castro by coordinating the Moscow-Miami Dialogue with Jiri. He also found some funding in Russia for the transportation of Russian participants. Kortunov received a message from Castro that he was never to visit Cuba. But Andrey became a hero of the dialogue and local Cuban Americans who had escaped from the "Island of Freedom."
Moreover, in 1991, Kubalkova also vetoed the teaching of yet another seminar by academician Nikolai Shmelev, a distinguished Russian economist and former son-in-law of Nikita Khrushchev. As a member of the new Russian parliament he became the most outspoken critic of Russia's military and economic aid to Havana as an unacceptable burden on the Soviet people. She also boycotted the lecture of the First Deputy of the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, Martin Palous, and stymied the visit of the late President Vaclav Havel by declaring he was invited by right wing Cubans and Jews. Havel's visit was postponed for several years.
Only now are we coming to realize that American universities are not always places of quiet learning and professorial accord. They can be hotbeds of strife, academic feuding and power plays. There is also a bias in academia which was evident in the 1990's and is even more visible today. Academia is dominated by the political left and it has had its corresponding effect on our predominantly left wing media. Unfortunately, before he accepted his position, Jiri ignored prior warnings about the faculty feuding endemic to the Graduate School of International Studies [GSIS] at the University of Miami. His predecessor, Carl Jacobson, had warned him that another professor, Jaime Suchliki, had organized his firing, jealous of his State Department grant. Another quiet coup, shortly preceding Jiri’s arrival in 1985, was against the late Julian Weinkle, removed to the North South Center. The late Enrique Baloyra replaced him as associate dean.
I am here including comments from some of Jiri's defenders in letters to President Tad Foote as well as to the press.
In a letter to the Miami Herald, distinguished Middle East experts Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson, both heading the Foreign Policy Institute in Philadelphia, wrote:
"When one of us, in testimony before the UM Faculty Committee, tried to raise the issue of Dr. Valenta's accuser's anti- Semitic and anti-Cuban attitudes, he was not allowed to speak...."This hearing combined the worst aspects of a court and a journalistic inquiry... Unlike a journalistic inquiry, the professors sitting in judgment ruled out of order any examination of why the charges had been offered, and whether the accuser had ulterior motives. To be specific, when Clawson atempted to testify about racist remarks Kubalkova made to him, he was not allowed to speak. He wanted to explain how Kubalkova attacked Valenta in a conversation lasting some 45 minutes in a manner which smacked of religious and ethnic prejudice, and how this conversation in May, 1992, included not a word about sexual harrassment."
Former Czech ambassador to the U.N, Martin Palous, former First Deputy to the late Minister of Foreign Affairs Jiri Dienstbier, wrote:
"I have ascertained from my conversation with several officials of the former Federal Ministry of Foreign affairs of the CSFR [Czechoslovakia] that the letters which Professor Kubalkova was sending to CFSR officials, and which expressed her negative views concerning Professor Valenta, have really very negatively influenced his prestige and possibly also contributed to the manner in which the new leadership of the Ministry perceives Professor Valenta.
Michel Cermak, a former senior official in the Czech Ministry of Industry wrote:
"In April of 1990, a letter of Dr. Kubalkova was circulated in the Czechoslovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs ... she attacked Professor Valenta's achievement as a scholar and his personal contacts in the United States and abroad; no allegations of sexual harrassment were mentioned. Upon reading this letter I was surprised as to why she would be attacking Dr. Valenta, a man of outstanding character and scholarship. I then remembered that at the time the Czechoslovak government was looking to appoint an Honorary Czechoslovak Consul to the City of Miami and that she was extremely interested in the position. I also remembered that Dr. Valenta was opposing her being appointed because of her lack of substantial ties with the Jewish and Cuban communities in Miami. I therefore figured that her letter was designed to discredit his reputation in the eye of Czechoslovak officials responsible for selecting honorary consuls." [Jiri arranged that his better qualified friend, Alan Becker, got the job].
DEAN MOSS RIDICULED VENDULKA KUBALKOVA'S LIES
In 1993, University of Miami professor Vendulkova Kubalkova sued the University of Miami because of Dean Ambler Moss's publicly “ridiculing and diminishing” Kubalkova’s complaints of sexual harassment by fellow professor Dr. Jiri Valenta.
Earlier, Ms. Kubalkova, featured above together with Jiri's three wives, the late Virginia Valenta, Kamila and me, wrote a letter to then University of Miami president Tad Foote, complaining that Jiri had repeatedly pressured her to have sex with him.
I believe she smelled blood after having won a lawsuit against the school for supposedly not giving her equal pay for equal work. She was awarded $300,000 though she had nowhere near his publications and had not performed work "equal" to his. He had founded and was chairing the graduate school's Institute of Soviet and East European Studies, held international conferences that resulted in major books, and brought large funding to the school His one mistake was to hire her.
As another professor, Jaime Suchliki, warned Jiri, there was a political coup in the making against him. Besides Kubalkova, the conspirators included the late Dean Enrique Baloyra, on the board of the Castro publication Areito and the late Alex McIntyre whom Jiri had not recommended for promotion. McIntyre subsequently chained himself to his car and drove into a pond when his stepdaughter came forth with the accusation he had been sexually abusing her since she was eleven.
It didn't help the university much that they caved in to Kubalkova's demands and paid her legal fees for the kangaroo court university hearing after which Jiri was fired. She then filed a federal law suit against the school because Dean Moss had ridiculed her phony charges. He had not acted quickly enough to discipline this colleague who was creating such an "unhealthy" environment for women at the school.
I did not know Jiri at the time of his infamous “trial.” But I have seen numerous documents and photos related to the proceedings, as did my late father, prominent New York attorney Herbert Friedman Esq., who became the founder of our institute. He investigated Jiri and the charges and concluded it was a wrongful lawsuit. Be aware that Jiri was never found guilty in any court of law and although the university dismissed him, no one ever tried to have him arrested.
I did not come across the December 8, 1993 article about Dean Moss until recently, and I still don’t know if Kubalkova succeeded in getting compensation for her charge that the University didn’t step with enough liveliness to suit her. but I do know that Dean Ambler Moss, who ridiculed her complaint, had the same response I did after I saw Kubalkova in person some years ago at a public lecture. My thought was, “How could anyone believe that any man, particularly a handsome and charismatic one like Jiri, would risk his career by repeatedly pressuring that woman for sex?
Jiri’s witnesses who attended the hearings of the university “court,” felt that it was run by kangaroos who had no interest in exploring Kubalkova’s possible motives, of which there were plenty.