Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Who are "The Losers"?

I graduated from Belen Jesuit Prep School in Miami. That school has the ignominious distinction of being Castro's Alma Mater (in Cuba, the priests moved the school to Miami when the tyrant took it over).

While I was there I had an acquaintance, a fellow student, named Erik Bethel. At the time, he was just a blond haired blue-eyed gringo going to school with a bunch of Cubans. I didn't know it then but he was also Cuban. His father was a gringo and his mother Cuban. When I was at Belen, I knew Erik's dad had died when he was young but not much else about him. Erik and I weren't really friends at that point but he was close to some other guys that became close friends of mine later on. By that time, Erik had left Belen and enrolled in NAPS, the Naval Academy Prep School. After high school our mutual friendships brought us closer together. Erik graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and became a naval officer.

So fast forward to last month when I'm working on my web site,, and I find a source entitled The Losers: The Definitive Account, by an Eyewitness, of the Communist Conquest of Cuba and the Soviet Penetration in Latin America by Paul Bethel. So I send an email to Erik to ask if he's any relation to the author. And he tells me it's his dad. Only then did I learn more about his dad, who he was and what he did. Paul had been in the CIA, assigned to the Cuban embassy as a State Department attache during the late fifties and later wrote a book about it. Small world.

So now that you know the background, I thought I'd let you in on the secret of whom the Losers are. With a title like that you might think it could be the Cuban people or the United States. But the truth is that Paul Bethel may have coined the expression "loser" as we know it today. In the book, which he wrote in 1969, Erik's dad says the losers are:

...the coterie of Castro and Soviet apologists in the U.S. whose efforts have so greatly aided the Communist advances into a free Latin America. In a manner of speaking they could be called the "winners" (so far) in the conflict. But I refer to personal qualities common to their breed--they are the misfits, malcontents and "losers" of a free society, who, unable to achieve the status or power their "intellectual" gifts entitle them to, and frustrated in their efforts to "reform" their fellow men, retreat to safe havens such as the universities and the bureaucracy to air their sour resentment of democracy. It is worth noting that, lacking manliness, the "losers" are attracted to those, like Castro or "Che" Guevara, of virile image. I trust the reader knows the breed.
I couldn't phrase it any more eloquently than the late Mr. Bethel. Today Erik Bethel is an entrepreneur and councilman in the city of Carmel, California. He's the first Cuban-American to hold elected office in that state.


Songuacassal said...

WOW, I'M SPEECHLESS. Are there still copies of that book today? I'm highly interested in reading it!

killcastro said...

Sounds like Penn & Teller read the book ! ;)

Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

The book is out of print but I obtained a used copy on Amazon. You might also want to check your local public library.

The Universal Spectator said...

Oye, conductor: I am Belen '74. What year are you? BTW, I just bought a copy of the book on Amazon based on your column.

The Universal Spectator said...

For anybody that's interested, there are quite a few copies of The Losers available on

Juan Paxety said...

I found a copy on ebay. I've just finished the first chapter, and I now understand just what fidel is doing in Venezuela - continuing a Soviet policy that was first outlined at an international communist meeting in Havana in 1966. At that meeting, a Venezuelan communist passed a hat to collect money for the cause of communism. The hat was the helmet of an American pilot who had been shot down and killed in Vietnam. fidel was presented with a ring made out of metal salvaged from the wreckage of the plane.

Get a copy of this book if you possible can.