76 Trombones and all that…
I get a lot of invitations to speak about Cuba. Every now and then, one of these invitations pushes me over the edge.
Here is an email exchange worth sharing with Babalu readers.
I am leaving out all proper names to shield the terminally naive from unfair exposure. After all, this is but one more example of the seemingly invincible ignorance that grips most Americans concerning Castrogonia. Nine times out of ten, the individuals who write to me with these requests are truly clueless -- as clueless as the rest of their neighbors. And the Obama administration is nefariously preying on these naive Americans -- and on the neocolonialist impulses of some of them -- to promote its own leftist foreign policy agenda.
No doubt about it. The long-term goal of the Obama administration all along has been to legitimize the Castro regime. It is about to take place soon, during the early days of his second term.
The short-term goal during Obama's first term has been threefold, and every bit as deceitful as the sales pitch from a used-car salesman from New Jersey who needs to unload vehicles recently submerged under Hurricane Sandy's storm surge :
1. To crack the door to Cuba open, as a prelude to bigger things; 2. To pour dollars into the Castro kingdom; 3. To indoctrinate naive Americans who travel down there about the glorious goals of communism, and to have the indoctrination carried out by Castronoid agents as they lead the tourists around by the nose.
Tonight, I received this message, inviting me to lend "color" to a high school band's upcoming trip to Castrogonia. It immediately made me think of the play "The Music Man," the gullible residents of River City, Iowa, and Professor Harold Hill's song "76 trombones" (played constantly on a portable phonograph by my 6th grade teacher at Citrus Grove Elementary School in Miami):
Dear Mr. Eire, My name is So-and-So and I am on the board of the X-Y-A Library in Anytown, U.S.A. I was wondering if you would be available for a speaking engagement/book signing at the library in March. Our High School jazz band is going to Cuba in April ( my two sons included) and I am interested in organizing a community program that will ignite interest in the history and the culture of Cuba Thank you, Mrs. So-and-So
Here is my reply. No response yet. I will let you know if I get one.
Dear Mrs. So-and-So:
Thanks so much for the invitation, which I would love to accept. I do need to let you know one thing, up front. Some in the audience may not like what I have to say, for I think that travel to Cuba by any foreigners is morally reprehensible.
I am dismayed to hear that your high school jazz band will be traveling to a country that has no respect whatsoever for human rights, and in which tourists are allowed to enjoy all sorts of privileges that are off limits to the natives.
Back in the 1980's,when South Africa was still in the grip of Apartheid, the free world banded together and spurned that nation. The boycott worked. South Africa changed.
Cuba right now is a far worse offender when it comes to human rights than South Africa ever was, and it actually has its own Apartheid system in place, which is made worse with every planeload of foreigners who come to the island. Your two sons will be shielded from the horrible truth down there, but the fact is that they will be allowed to enjoy all sorts of privileges that Cubans can never even dream of. And for every dollar that the Greenwich High School parents give their kids to spend in Cuba, 95 cents will go directly into the pockets of the repressive government that stifles human rights.
Yet, despite this offensive situation, Americans are flocking down there, supporting one of the most repressive regimes on earth. And every visit by a group such as a high school band only serves to lend legitimacy to a criminal government.
I know that these so-called people-to-people trips are billed as a chance to "enlighten" Cubans and bring freedom to the island, eventually -- maybe three centuries from now. I can let you in on the secret that the tour agencies that are growing rich from these trips never reveal: The greater the number of tourists, the worse the repression gets in Cuba. In 2012 around 2.3 million foreigners visited Cuba. In 2012, the Castro regime arrested and imprisoned a record number of Cubans.
Did you know that if you own a copy of the UN Declaration of Human Rights in Cuba, you can be jailed? It's actually against the law to possess or distribute that document. Another sort of text that is banned is any biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., or any book on the American Civil Rights movement.
My own books are banned in Cuba.
Is this the kind of place you want your children to visit?
I would love to come down and talk your town out of this horribly immoral trip.
So, I hope I get the chance to come -- not in spite of my honesty about my intentions -- but because of it.
All the best,