Facing growing protests from the South Florida community, FIU has moved its “Cuban Privilege” book event to its campus and has added a Cuban American scholar to counter what many believe is a false portrayal of Cuban refugees in the U.S. by the author, Susan Eckstein.
On Thursday, December 1st, following large community outrage over its sponsored event at Books & Books to hold an in-person evening with author Susan Eva Eckstein, Florida International University (FIU) decided to move the event and change the format.
The controversy revolved around Eckstein’s book, Cuban Privilege: The Making of Immigrant Inequality in America, which defines the perils of Cuban-American immigrants, whose rights, properties and livelihoods were stripped away by the Castro regime, as privileged.
In Books & Book’s description of Eckstein’s book, it states that, “This book is the first to reveal the full range of entitlements granted to Cubans. Initially privileged to undermine the Castro-led revolution in the throes of the Cold War, one US President after another extended new entitlements, even in the post-Cold War era. Drawing on unseen archives, interviews, and survey data, Cuban Privilege highlights how Washington, in the process of privileging Cubans, transformed them from agents of US Cold War foreign policy into a politically powerful force influencing national policy.”
FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs and the FIU Cuban Research Institute were title sponsors of the event.
In a statement to the FIU community, President Kenneth A. Jessell informed the community “After learning of the event several days ago, it became clear to me that we had an opportunity to enhance it by including other points of view so that we could have a balanced and objective discussion. The event now ensures that we meet the academic rigor and standards of debate and preserve everyone’s right to express their point of view while remaining mindful and sensitive to the experiences of our community. Dr. Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, spokesperson for the Cuban Democratic Directorate and author of ‘Cuba: The Doctrine of the Lie,’ will participate as the discussant. This format will ensure a scholarly and worthwhile discussion on an important topic.”
One has to wonder how having your country, everything you own, your dignity, and your life ripped away from you by a communist dictatorship can be seen as a “privilege,” but when it comes to Cuban Americans, they find a way.
The event is scheduled for 7 PM, December 9th, at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center on the FIU campus.