A definition for Mariela Castro’s ‘mafia’
Mariela Castro Espín, the daughter of Gen. Raúl Castro, was in the United States speaking about the rights of the LGBT community. While reportedly speaking to a group of medical professionals and transgender advocates, Mariela went significantly off-topic and spoke of U.S. foreign policy toward Cuba and demonized the Cuban-American community.
Mariela stated, “A group of Cuban Mafia in the U.S., why are they taking away rights of American people to travel to Cuba? It’s not fair. .?.?. You are millions of people against a tiny Mafia of people who have no scruples. .?.?. We are fighting for the rights of Cubans and the rights of Americans.”
One can look at the elements of a mafia and wonder what on Earth would warrant this baseless comparison.
A mafia is generally a hierarchical clan, or “family,” in which dissent is not permitted; the boss controls decision-making and the family’s future. A mafia historically claims sovereignty over a given territory — a town or neighborhood — which it commands. A territory’s mafia uses this control to run illicit activities, what now is termed “organized crime.” Furthermore, the mafia grows its ranks by judiciously testing the obedience, savvy and loyalty of potential mafiosos. Those mafiosos who betray or displease the family bosses or padrinos are “dealt with” — generally, they disappear. Turncoats are often murdered.
Does the Cuban-American community fit this description?
The community is in no way cohesive. As the hard-fought U.S. elections demonstrate, Cuban Americans disagree on numerous issues and there is a vocal minority that seeks to change U.S.-Cuba policy. On domestic policy issues, there is also significant disagreement. Ultimately, there is a great deal of infighting within the community, but disagreements are peacefully handled. Real mafias do not allow for this level of disagreement and turn to violence to resolve the problem.
It is also worth noting that this community, which the Cuban government avidly criticizes, substantially helps the Cuban economy, sending about $600 million in remittances to relatives on the island. Furthermore, in 2009 alone, there were close to 300,000 trips from Cuban-Americans traveling to Cuba.
That does not sound like the Cuban-American community comprises and is dictated to by an intransigent mafia. Cubans who travel to the island as well as those who send remittances are not castigated, purged or persecuted. The Cuban-American community, furthermore, tolerantly opens its arms to all who have fled the failed politics and economic system of the totalitarian Castro clan. On any given day, one can observe former Cuban government officials and Cuban exiles conversing at Versailles.
Despite its constant use of the label “mafia” to describe those who most oppose its brutal policies, the Castro family’s rule of Cuba is far more adequately described as a mafia. One can easily take the key characteristics of a mafia and apply them to the Castro family rule.
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