Will the real champions of Cuban freedom please stand up?

To Tell the Truth was one of my favorite game shows when I was growing up. In case you’re not familiar with it, it was a show in which three contestants purported to be a certain person. Perhaps it was the author of a famous song or something like that. One of the contestants actually was the person in question, while the other two were imposters. A celebrity panel would ask questions in order to try to determine who was the real deal and who was the fraud. At the end of the show the announcer would say “Will the real [so and so] please stand up?”

Well, the open letter from ENCASA US-Cuba that has been published in the newspaper and gotten some publicity, in which the organization asks the Bush administration to remove sanctions against Cuba, really got my goat. Why? Because these people are imposters. They claim to seek freedom for Cuba but many of the signatories of the open letter are simply Castro collaborators.

So I decided to write an open letter intended to speak for the great number of us who are not artists or scholars, we’re simply ordinary citizens, that disagree with ENCASA.

Please read the letter below. The actual typset PDF of the document can be found here. If you agree with the letter then I urge you to electronically “sign” it by posting your full name and your city and state of residence in the comments section or emailing me here.

The PDF document will be updated regularly over the next few days to reflect new signatures.

Please join us in standing up for Cuban freedom.

An open letter
From Ordinary Americans in Favor of a Free Cuba
In response to the missive distributed by a group calling itself ENCASA

We are a group of ordinary Americans, many of us Cuban-Americans, who are united in our desire to see the people of Cuba completely free of the communist dictatorship that has dominated their lives since 1959. We stand behind the President of the United States of America, our elected Representatives in the U.S. Congress, and our Senators who have made the strengthening of sanctions against the Castro regime in Cuba a high foreign policy priority.

In forty-seven years since the triumph of the Cuban Revolution the United States has conducted twelve presidential elections, the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union have fallen; in short the world has changed. In those forty-seven years the United States has on at least two occasions entertained a rapprochement with the Castro regime. In all instances, efforts to reach out and normalize relations between both countries have failed dismally.While almost every variable in the Cuban equation has changed one has remained constant and, of course, that is the leadership of the dictator, Fidel Castro.

Mr. Castro has sabotaged attempts at rapprochement because it would inherently mean compromising that which he refuses to compromise, namely his “right” to subvert other countries in Latin America, and beyond, with the goal of spawning violent revolutions and his “right” to use terrorist methods. It is plainly obvious to even the casual observer that the central theme of Fidel Castro’s policies always has been and continues to be anti-Americanism. In short, Castro’s contempt for the United States overrides any concerns he may have ever had about the Cuban people.

It defies logic to believe that after forty-seven years Fidel Castro will suddenly have a change of heart regarding the role of the United States in the world and conversely his role as its opponent. In short, there can be no meaningful dialogue with Cuba as long as Fidel Castro is in power.

We believe that rather than weakening or removing the embargo against Cuba, that the U.S. has a moral obligation to lead the free world in isolating its totalitarian regime. Cuba has been trading freely with almost every other country in the World for more than ten years and yet there has been no progress towards reestablishing human rights on the island nation. The unique structure of the Cuban economy is one in which the communist government sets the rules so as to capture as much hard currency as possible to preserve its hegemony, while at the same time limiting the natural democratizing effects of free trade.

Additionally, ordinary Cubans are not permitted to openly mingle with foreigners so as to avoid their being “corrupted” by outsiders. We denounce anyone from any country that visits Cuba as a tourist. We feel that it is cruel and inhumane to enjoy beaches and other recreational facilities that are off limits to Cuba’s own citizens which have essentially become a slave labor force.

The Castro regime has also devised a shrewd scheme in which Cuban exiles provide a significant amount of its lifeblood of hard currency through remittances and family visitations. While we certainly understand and sympathize with the desire of Cuban exiles to help their families in the short run, we feel that this system only helps to keep Castro in power by ameliorating the destructive consequences of Cuban economic policies. We therefore are in favor of the strict limitations on remittances and travel to Cuba currently in place.

Contrary to what some would have Americans believe, the United States currently trades with Cuba. In fact the United States is Cuba’s largest supplier of food and agricultural products. These transactions are conducted on a “cash up-front” basis. We sympathize with American farmers that would like to open and develop new markets. After all we are capitalists. But we believe that a free Cuba of the near future will be a much more viable business opportunity than today’s Cuba that has shown a propensity to default on all types of financial obligations. The last thing we would ever want is for American taxpayers to be left paying the tab, a tab that would prolong the life of the Castro regime and thereby hurt ordinary Cubans.

Our opponents would have one believe that we have no compassion for those ordinary Cubans and that we have dubious motives. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is because we so badly desire freedom for them that we advocate policies that will hasten the demise of Castro and his dictatorship. The blame for the failures of the Cuban economy can and should be put squarely at the feet of Castro and his sycophants. U.S. free trade with Cuba will be no more of a “magic bullet” in solving Cuba’s problems than Cuban trade with Canada, Mexico, Japan, the United Kingdom, or Russia has been to date.

Now that Fidel Castro has found a new economic sponsor in Venezuela, he has once again made subversion and furthering his internationalist agenda a top priority. His repression of the Cuban people has also worsened. We believe that it is the United States’ best interests to continue to view Cuba as a dangerous adversary, rather than a potential partner as long as a communist regime is in power there.

We would be unanimously in favor of removing economic sanctions against Cuba under the following eight conditions:

1. That all Cuban political prisoners and prisoners of conscience be released immediately and granted an unconditional amnesty.
2. That all Cubans be allowed to move freely within the country.
3. That the existing system of apartheid-like segregation be eradicated immediately, specifically that all Cubans be treated as equals to their foreign counterparts, such as “prominent scholars and artists” from abroad.
4. That all Cubans be granted access to all sources of uncensored information, whether in broadcast, print, or Internet immediately.
5. That all Cubans be granted the freedom to express their opinions freely without fear of repercussions.
6. That all Cubans be allowed to travel abroad freely.
7. That all Cubans be allowed to live, work, and seek a better life for themselves as they see fit.
8. That all Cubans be allowed to elect their leaders through verifiable, transparent democratic elections as allowed for in Cuba’s last legitimate constitution, the Constitution of 1940

In short, we want Cuba to adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since Fidel Castro has demonstrated that such reforms are repugnant to him, we feel that there is no other recourse for freedom- loving people than to try to accelerate the inevitable demise of Cuba’s current form of government.

Lastly, we would like to emphasize that ENCASA in no way represents the feelings of ordinary Cuban- Americans. The group is self-appointed and consists of some well meaning but naïve individuals as well some recognized leftists and Castro collaborators. The true leaders of the Cuban Diaspora are the ones that are elected democratically every two, four and six years.

Signed,

Valentin Prieto, Miami, FL
Maggie Prieto, Miami, FL
Henry Gomez, Miami, FL
Ana Ivette Gomez, Miami, FL
George Moneo, Miami, FL
Maria T. Moneo, Miami, FL
Robert Molleda, Miami FL
Amanda Dufau, Miami FL
Ziva Kathleen Sahl, Los Angeles, CA
Steven Sahl, Los Angeles, CA
Humberto Fontova, New Orleans, LA
A. Delgado, Miami, FL
A. Gutierrez, Titusville FL
Abraham Cardenas, Miami, FL
Adam Martinez, Hialeah, FL
Adelia Rodriguez, Miami, FL
Adriana M. Bóveda-Lambie, Rhode Island
Aida Suarez, Queens, NY
Aileen Abascal, Miami, FL
Al Bazail, Los Angeles, CA
Albert Gonzalez, Miami, FL
Alberto Quiroga, Boca Raton FL
Ale Cardenas, Miami, FL
Aleida Hornia, Elizabeth, NJ
Alejandro Diaz, Miami, FL
Alejandro Puig, Minneapolis, MN
Alex Hernandez, New York, NY
Alexander Salvador, Miami FL
Alexis Martinez, Hialeah, FL
Alfredo Cabrera, Arlington, TX
Alfredo Quintero, Miami, FL
Alisa S. Artigas, Alpharetta, GA
Alvaro De La Teja, Miami, FL
Amanda Solomon, Burbank, CA
Ana De Lamar, Miami, FL
Ana Frenero, Miami, FL
Ana Martinez, Miami, FL
Ana Rosa Delgado, Miami, FL
Andres Jimenez, Miami, FL
Anelle Martinez, Hialeah, FL
Angel Rodriguez, Phoenix, AZ
Angela Becker, Antioch,TN
Angelica De Lamar, Miami, FL
Antonia Silva, Duluth, GA
Antonio E. Leon, M.D., Bethesda, MD
Araceli Vazquez, Miami, FL
Armando Llechu, Miami, FL
Armando Quincoses, Weatherford, TX
Arthur Rivers, Mackinaw City, MI
Aymee Camayd Tokmakci, IOP, SC
Barbara Alonso, Miami, FL
Barbara Dezayas, Miami, FL
Barnabe Suarez, Jr. Queens, NY
Barnabe Suarez, Sr. Queens, NY
Beatriz Valdes, Miami, FL
Bernice Castro, Miami, FL
Berta Sangineto, Miami, FL
Beth Cleaver, Mobile, AL
Bob Glen, Plano, TX
Bridget Olson, Los Angeles, CA
Calixto M. Lopez, Miami Beach, FL
Camilo Martinez, Miami, FL
Carlos Dieppa, Miami, FL
Carlos M. Echerri, Norwalk, CA
Carmen Higgins, Marathon, FL
Carmen Kaba, Miami, FL
Carolina Pelleya, Miami, FL
Catherine King, Phoenix, AZ
Cecilia A. Sotomayor, Miami, FL
Celsa A. Echeandia, Leesburg, VA
Chadd Newman, St Petersburg, FL
Chantel Acevedo, Hamden, CT
Charlie Bravo, New York, NY
Charlinken Bendana, Miami, FL
Christina Crespo, Los Angeles, CA
Clara Quintero, Miami, FL
Coleen Clark, Miami, FL
Cristina Miyares, Miami, FL
Dalia Paganacci, Kendall, FL
Dalia Rosa, Miami, FL
Damaso Viñas, Miami, FL
Dana Flores, New Britain, CT
Daniel Garcia, Miami, FL
Daniel Hernandez, Miami, FL
Dariusz Byczkowski, Ontario, Canada
Darmon C. Thornton, Las Vegas, NV
David Zincavage, San Carlos, CA
Debra Torres, New York, NY
Delia E. Fernandez, Miami, FL
Demostenes Suarez, Miami, Florida
Dennis Martin, Miami, FL
Devin White, Miami, FL
Deyvis Caraballo, Miami, FL
Diana Cartaya Williams, Miami, FL
Diana M. Diaz, Miami, FL
Dominic P. Parise, Harmony, NC
Douglas Morris, West End, NC
Dr. Antonio de la Cova, Bloomington, IN
Eby Kaba, Miami, FL
Ed Suarez, San Antonio, TX
Eduardo Conde, Eureka Springs, AR
Elena Hernandez, Miami, FL
Elia Brito, Lake Worth, FL
Elisa P. Muñoz, Miami, FL
Elsa Ruiz, Miami, FL
Emily Nelson, Plano, TX
Emmanuel Navarrete, Miami, FL
Engracia Valdes, Miami, FL
Enrique L. Gomez M.D., Miami, FL
Enrique Leon, Miami, FL
Enrique Rubio, San Juan , Puerto Rico
Enrique Valle, Miami, FL
Enriqueta Suarez, Miami, Florida
Eric Alamo, West Covina, CA
Erik P. Bethel, Carmel, CA
Ernest E. Bennett, Centerville, GA
Estela Ramas, Miami, FL
Esther M. Garcia, Miami, FL
Esther Ochoa, Miami, FL
Eugenio A. Angulo, Miami, FL
Francisco Merino, Miami, FL
Frank Lujan, Miami, FL
Fredy Herrera, Miami, FL
Gabriel Prats, Miami, FL
Gail Delgado, Miami, FL
Gerardo H. Soto, Bethesda, MD
Gigi Fernandez, Dallas, TX
Gilbert Martin, Miami, FL
Gilberto Martin, Miami, FL
Gladys Cala, Miami, FL
Gladys Garcia, Hialeah, FL
Glenda Dieppa, Miami, FL
Glenn Lindgrew, Minneapolis, MN
Gloria M. Ramos, Miami, FL
Gonzalo Gomez, Miami, FL
Gregory O’Connor, West Palm Beach, FL
Haydee Morejol, Miami, FL
Hector Enriquez, Santa Ana, CA
Hector M. Garcia, Miami, FL
Heidy Quintero, Miami, FL
Henry Agueros, Highland Park, CA
Henry Ortuno, Queensbury, NY
Ignacio Martinez, Miami, FL
Ileana Arriola, Miami, FL
Ileana Leon, Miami, FL
Ines Eguino, Miami, FL
Iraida Valenzuela Miami, FL
Iris dela Osa, Avon Park FL
Isabel Herbach, Longwood, FL
Isabel León, Hialeah, FL
Isidro G. Balmaseda, Miami, FL
Izza Kaba, Miami, FL
J.Scott Barnard, Jacksonville, FL
Jack Hamilton, Knoxville, TN
James P. Seigler, Galveston, TX
Jan Conde, Eureka Springs, AR
Jan M. Frerrero, Miami, FL
Jan S. Ollis-Gillies, Grayson, GA
Javier Correoso, Miami, FL
Jennie Angulo, Miami, FL
Jerome du Bois, Phoenix, AZ
Jesus Brito, Miami, FL
Jesus Rodriguez, Miami, FL
Joanne Fernandez, Miami, FL
Joe Birchill, Houston,TX
John Delgado, Miami, FL
John Dickerson, Diablo, CA
Jordan Paul, Washington, D.C.
Jorge Abascal, Miami, FL
Jorge Brito, Miami, FL
Jorge Escala, Miami, FL
Jorge Frenero, Miami, FL
Jorge Machado, Palo Alto, CA
Jose A. Mendez, Miami, FL
Jose Cala, Miami, FL
Jose Gonzalez, Houston, TX
Jose I. Aguirre, Miami, FL
Jose Lopez-Varela, Miami, FL
Joseph Bethancourt, Phoenix, AZ
Josue Sierra, Arlington, VA
Juan Carlos Garcia, Miami, FL
Juan Diaz, Miami, FL
Juan E. Jimenez, Miami, FL
Juan Lopez, Miami, FL
Juan M. Fernandez, Miami, FL
Juana Cabrera, Hialeah, FL
Juana Machado, Miami, FL
Julie Green, Pelham, AL
Julio C. Perez, Chicago IL
Julio C. Zangroniz, Rockville, MD
Julio Cabrera, Hialeah, FL
Katherine LaPeer, West Palm Beach, FL
Kenneth G. Hahn, Placentia CA
Knox Gohring, Fullerton, CA
Kristi Voss, Miami, FL
Kristine Valdes, Miami, FL
Larry Daley, Corvallis, OR
Larry Muñoz, Los Angeles, CA
Laura Chiang, Miami, FL
Lee Laden, Philadelphia, PA
Leonardo Gonzalez Jr., Miami, FL
Leonardo Gonzalez, Miami, FL
Leonides Garcia, Miami, FL
Les Pantin, Coral Gables, FL
Lesley Varas-Caraballo, Miami, FL
Lidia Hernandez, Miami, FL
Liliana Quincoses, Weatherford, TX
Lisa Harriott, Homestead, FL
Lissette Navarrete, Miami, FL
Lloyd Briggs, Hallandale Beach, FL
Loida Gonzalez, Miami, FL
Loretta Guzman, Miami, FL
Louis A. Mayor, San Antonio, TX
Lourdes Argimon, Miami, FL
Lourdes Ruiz, Hialeah, FL
Lourdes Villadamigo, Miami, FL
Luis Castro, Miami, FL
Luis Diaz, Hialeah, FL
Luis M. Valdes III, Miami, FL
Luis M. Valdes Jr. Miami, FL
Luis Mayor, Colleyville, TX
Magaly Guzman, Miami, FL
Manuel Garcia, Coral Springs, FL
Manuel Morlote, Miami, FL
Mara Venegas, Miami, FL
Marc R. Masferrer, Bradenton, FL
Marcela Ayon-Siervo, Miami, FL
Marcia Pereira, Miami, FL
Marcos Angel Ramirez, Miami, FL
Marcos Ruiz, Miami, FL
Margarita Laza, Miami, FL
Margarita Villadamigo, Miami, FL
Maria Corredero, Miami, FL
Maria del Carmen Mayor, Colleyville, TX
Maria Elena Gomez, Miami, FL
Maria Elena Martinez, Hialeah, FL
Maria Isabel Fara, Miami, FL
Maria Isabel Sanchez, Miami, FL
Maria Julia Diaz, Miami, FL
Maria Mendoza, Miami, FL
Maria Salvador, Miami FL
Marilyn Fajin, Miami, FL
Mario Andres Pons Miami, FL
Mario Fleitas, Miami, FL
Mario Luque, Pembroke Pines, FL
Mario Ramirez, Wantagh NY
Mario S. Garriga Cazimajou, MSc, Burbank, WA
Marisela Soto, Miami, FL
Marta Quinn, Miramar, FL
Martha Garcia, Miami, FL
Martha Quinn, Miramar, FL
Martin Hague, Saint Louis, MO
Matt Gonzalez, Ft. Myers, FL
Max Lopez, Miami, FL
Michael Bryant, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Michael Pancier Esq., Fort Lauderdale, FL
Michelle Quesada, Miami, FL
Miguel F. Oyarzun, Newport, RI
Miriam Iturbe, Miami FL
Nayivis Pupo, Miami, FL
Nelly Castro, Miami, FL
Nereida Garcia, Hialeah, FL
Nicholas Diaz, Miami, FL
Nicholas DuBoyce, Garfield, NJ
Nicholas Dueno, West Palm Beach, FL
Nicolás Antonio Jiménez, Columbia, MO
O. J. Casas, Carrollton, TX
Ofelia Hernandez, Miami, FL
Ofelia M. Torres, Miami, FL
Olfa Garcia, Miami, FL
Olga Llechu, Miami, FL
Ondina Kaba, Miami, FL
Ondina Michelena, Miami, FL
Orlando Cespedes, Riverside, CA
Orlando Machado Jr., Burbank, CA
Oscar Brito, Lake Worth, FL
Patricia Cervera, Miami, FL
Patricio Texidor, Twin Lakes, WI
Paul Sepan, Centennial, CO
Paula Gonzalez, Bronx, NY
Pedro Garcia, Miami, FL
Pedro J. Gomez, Miami, FL
Pedro León, Hialeah, FL
Pedro Martinez, Miami, FL
Peter Torres, Key Biscayne, FL
Pia Gomez, Miami, FL
Radames Suarez, Queens, NY
Ramiro Ramos, Miami, FL
Ramon Fajin, Miami, FL
Ramon Sarmiento, Miami, FL
Ramona Quintero, Miami, FL
Raphael Cervera, Miami, FL
Raul Marquez, Miami, FL
Raul Musibay, Miami, FL
Reinier A. Potts, Davie, FL
Rey F. Arbolay, Lampasas, TX
Ricardo Fernandez, Miami, FL
Robert A. Deitich, Orlando FL
Robert I. Barrocas, Miami, FL
Roberto Aguirre, Miami, FL
Roberto del Rosal, Cuernavaca, Mexico
Rocio Arbelaez, Miami, FL
Roger Romero, Miami, FL
Rolando Garcia, Hialeah, FL
Rolando J. Navarrete, Miami, FL
Rolando Navarrete, Miami, FL
Rosa Alfonso, Miami, FL
Rosa Garcia, Miami, FL
Rosario Cejo Polewczak, Raleigh, NC
Ruth Maestre, Lyndhurst, NJ
Sandra L. Brity, Miami, FL
Santiago M. Sanchez, Miami, FL
Scott Gillies, Grayson, GA
Serena Marinucci, Sydney, Australia
Silvia Mendoza, Miami, FL
Sissy Willis, Chelsea, MA
Stephanie Bienstock, Miami Beach, FL
Steve Hogge, Coral Gables, FL
Steven Holland, Harrison, AR
Susana Machado, Miami, FL
Thomas Regnier, Garland, TX
Thomas W. Hall, New York, NY
Tom Grassia, Santa Fe, NM
Valerie Dieppa, Miami, FL
Victoria Frerrero, Miami, FL
Virgilio Dieppa, Miami, FL
Vivian Castro, Caracas, Venezuela
Vivian Cató, Hialeah, FL
Walter Villadamigo, Miami, FL
Wm. Picou, Weatherford, TX
Yamy Choy, Miami, FL
Yvette Valdes, Miami, FL
Yvonne Sargent, Crystal Lake, IL
Zeida F. Casas, Miami, FL

Investigating ENCASA

Val posted a link to an article in the Herald about a group calling itself ENCASA that wants to change US policies toward Cuba and remove the economic emargo (what’s left of it).

I decided to dig around a little bit to see exactly what kind of people are behind ENCASA. I did a google search for “ENCASA US-CUBA” and found what can only be described as a recruitment message sent out to an online newsgroup, Now the actual page of the message has since been removed but thanks to Google’s cache there’s a record of the message. I have pasted the message (up to the draft of the “open letter”) below.

Newsgroups: soc.culture.cuba,soc.culture.latin-america,soc.culture.caribbean
From: NY.Transfer.News@blythe.org
Subject: Scholars & Artists for Change in US Cuba Policy
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2006 22:58:56 GMT
Organization: NY Transfer News Collective
—–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
Hash: SHA1

Scholars & Artists for Change in US Cuba Policy

Via NY Transfer News Collective * All the News that Doesn’t Fit

sent by Jane Franklin – Mar 15, 2006

Scholars and Artists for Change in U.S.-Cuba Policy
ENCASA/US-CUBA – March 12, 2006

Estimados amigos, colegas y compatriotas,

Attached below is a declaration by a newly formed group­-an Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists for Change in U.S.-Cuba Policy (ENCASA/US-CUBA). The statement, which is self-explanatory, was drafted by a steering committee (listed below) that has met and worked over the past several weeks, with a sense of urgency, to mobilize the largely silent and silenced voice of Cuban American academics and professionals and to stimulate concerted action aimed to reverse a politically failed and morally bankrupt U.S.-Cuba policy­-as most recently reflected in the arrogant and extreme 2004 Report to the President: Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (which had the temerity even to redefine away our own families in Cuba… como si fueran otros desaparecidos).

We ask you to join us and support this effort. If you agree in principle with the attached statement, please let us know, providing your name, title, and institutional affiliation/profession.

In addition, if possible, please forward the attached statement (with this e-mail or a note of your own) to your own networks of Cuban American scholars and artists, academics or professionals, and ask them to join this effort by e-mailing their names/etc. to: ENCASA .

Finally, as a separate step, we also want to collect the names of non-Cuban American intellectuals and academics, scholars and artists, who support our call for a reversal of U.S.-Cuba policy, and who want to see educational and cultural exchanges with Cuba and to exercise their right as U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba without the intimidation and prohibitions of current policy. If you can, please contact your non-Cuban American colleagues in your departments and networks and pass this on to them as well, asking them to support us by e-mailing their names/etc. to: NOENCASA .

We want to act quickly to generate as many names as possible, and continue this recruitment effort over the next few weeks, starting at the Latin American Studies Association meetings in Puerto Rico in a few days. U.S.-Cuba policy is expected to take yet another a turn for the worse come May; in anticipation of this we are planning to send a delegation to Washington DC in April, and to use what political and moral authority we can muster as scholars and artists, public intellectuals and professionals, to articulate a reasoned and forceful repudiation of current policy and to push for an alternative vision.

Let us not abdicate our moral responsibility to speak our truth to power, or allow a clique that does not represent our views to continue to claim that they speak for all Cuban Americans (or for all USAmericans, for that matter), or continue to remain silent and intimidated in our homes and ivory towers when an incessant stream of outrages continues to be perpetrated in our name. Let us instead speak up and act as moral agents and catalysts for change.

Members of the steering committee include: María Isabel Alfonso and Lillian Manzor (University of Miami); Marta Caminero-Santangelo (University of Kansas); Max Castro (Independent Scholar); María Cristina García (Cornell University); Liz Cerejido, Guillermo Grenier and Lisandro Pérez (Florida International University); Félix Masud-Piloto (DePaul University); Rubén G. Rumbaut (University of California, Irvine); and Silvia Wilhelm (Executive Director, Puentes Cubanos).

The sender of this message is Jane Franklin. You can see Ms. Franklin’s ideology in her own words here, here, here, and here.

I also found it interesting that the draft of the statement by ENCASA was published, apparently in mid March, on the web site of Radio Progresso. Of course Francisco Aruca of Radio Progresso infamy and the operator of Marazul Charters has a lot to gain by liberalizing the travel restrictions to Cuba. If you had any doubts that the people behind ENCASA are hard-core fidelistas then you have just been disabused of those notions.

By the way ENCASA is planning a press conference at the Biltmore Hotel at noon today. Too bad I have to be in Miami Beach because I’d be interested to see what the cat drags in.

20 prisoners of conscience – UPDATED

Not just 20 names, not just 20 faces, but 20 human beings currently in prison for doing nothing more than trying to report uncensored information.

That’s right these men are rotting in Cuban prisons, as we speak, because fidel castro can’t bear to have the truth about his Cuba reported. I mean what’s the point in having “journalists” on your payroll spreading propaganda around the world if a handful of people are daring enough to tell the truth. So there you have it. Look at these faces and think about them tonight when you go to sleep.

When certain political elements in our country try to tell you that “we are losing our freeedoms” remember these men who have never had any freedom and live under the yoke of the same system those “guardians of our freedoms” would have us live under.

More information about these men and what you can do to help at Reporters Without Borders and PayoLibre.com.

UPDATE:

Marc Masferrer provides some Uncommon Sense about Cuba’s independent journalists here.

Cuba’s Independent Librarians Need Your Help!

Today, I received the latest newsletter from Bob Kent, the co-chair of the Friends of Cuban Libraries. In it he outlines ways in which ordinary people (hint, hint) could help Cuba’s independent librarians.

Among the many projects with a potential to alert and energize international public opinion are the following:

* Informing environmental activists of the harassment of the Green Cuba Library, a library in Havana devoted to environmental issues.

* Encouraging black librarians around the world to protest a recent raid on the Martin Luther King Library in Havana.

* Organizing medical groups to support the first independent medical library created in Cuba.

* Asking travelers to Cuba to take a few books to the island.

* Contacting intellectual freedom activists, such as the speakers at ALA and IFLA events, to educate them about the work of Cuba’s pioneering independent library movement.

Hispanic Professional or Professional Hispanic?

Setting aside the debate as to whether or not there is such a thing as a Hispanic or a Latino for a minute, I wanted to present this idea for your consideration. I work in Spanish language advertising. In my profession I have met and worked with a lot of Hispanic professionals. These are people that are in business and happen to be Hispanic. But there’s another breed of people, not just in my industry, that I call Professional Hispanics. Simply put, they are in the business of being Hispanic. There’s a huge difference between Hispanic professionals and Professional Hispanics. Professional Hispanics have no discernable talent other than to beat their chest and play the race card. It’s just sad.

A Saturday Cubanism

Cubano Arrepentido: Literally it means a regretful Cuban, in actuallity it means regretful of being Cuban or a self-loathing Cuban.

There’s a lot of similarities between Jews and Cubans. I won’t go into them too much, but both are extremely small minorities that manage to obtain a high profile and levels of professional success higher than the average American. Both groups are also very politically active and attacked for their political beliefs and being outspoken.

Among Jews there is an archetype of the self-loathing Jew, a person is embarrassed to be associated with other Jews.

Well it’s the same thing with Cubans. We have Cubanos Arrepentidos, people who attack their own heritage, along with the prevalent ideas and traditions of that heritage.

Professor Sander L. Gilman of the University of Illinois-Chicago defines Jewish Self-Hatred as:

“…the internalization of the negative stereotypes about who you are–the identification with the reference group’s image of you as “the other” in society. The person who is labeled as different wants to find out why he or she fits the stereotype, or to prove that he/she does not. But the more one attempts to identify with societal definitions in order to fit in, the more one accepts the attitudes of the determining group, the farther away from true acceptability one seems to be.”

And so it is with Cubans too. The more a person (or pehaps a second rate author) tries distance himself/herself from his/her Cuban roots, the less likely he/she is to gain acceptance in either his/her group or the dominant group one is trying to gain the acceptance of.

As for me I am proud to be 100% Cuban-American.

A “Classic” moment.

The first World Baseball Classic was quite a dissapoinment as far as I am concerned. The U.S. team was poor and the Cuban team, that shouldn’t have been allowed to participate in the first place, made it to the tournament final. Bud Selig was bullied by fidel cagalitroso into silencing the peaceful protests of the opponents of tyranny.

But there were some good moments and my favorite didn’t occur on the field or even in the stadium.

It was the first inning of the final game between Cuba and Japan and Cuba was losing 4-0, when the Cuban leadoff hitter hit a slider over the left centerfield wall for a homerun. ESPN was showing a feed from Cuba where a giant screen had been set up in Havana’s Parque Central. When they showed the Cuban crowd’s reaction a man who was standing near the camera stood up to cheer. On the back of his T-shirt was Old Glory, the American Flag, for all the world to see. I’m sure cagalitroso had a patatú right then and there. Too bad it wasn’t fatal.

Time for a music break. UPDATED

Alfredo at El Cubano Cafe posted about a video he saw while channel surfing the other day. The song is called Matanzero and the band is called Guajiro. The guitarist is a good friend of mine. I hadn’t thought of giving him a plug but Alfredo’s post reminded me to. Check out the video here. Even if you don’t like punk rock you are going to like this.

UPDATE: The song was written by a Marielito who came when he was 6 years old. Lyrics below.

Cuando era niño
Antes de haber conocido
Ya me habia ido

Un Nuevo mundo tan extraño
Mi viejos, unica familia
Ya esto no es Vida

Matanzero Soy!
No se adonde Estoy!
Yo no quiero esta vida
Y ya pronto yo me voy!

Voces del otro lado
No temes nunca una muerte orgullosa
Estamos en el mismo bote

En el pais de la oportunidad
Nada es completamente la verdad
Prefiero libertad!

Matanzero Soy!
Pronto voy a ir!
Con un machete y el sol
En mi frente,
Murir por la Patria es vivir!

Libertad!
Libertad!
Libertad!
Libertad!

A different view of the immigration debate. UPDATED

Sirimba has posted the thoughts of Jack Kemp on this immigration bill. He believes America can be a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. I tend to agree with him.

UPDATE: Idealism?

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Some thoughts about Ronald Reagan and Immigration courtesy of the Cato Institute.

In the many eulogies to Ronald Reagan since his passing, virtually all acknowledge his role in defeating Soviet communism and reviving America’s self-confidence. But another aspect of Reagan’s record that should not be forgotten was his commitment to keeping America open to trade and immigration.

Reagan’s vision of an America open to commerce and peaceful, hardworking immigrants contradicts the anti-trade and anti-immigration views espoused by Lou Dobbs, Bill O’Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, and many others who claim to speak for the conservative causes Reagan largely defined.

At a ceremony at Ellis Island in 1982, he spoke movingly of immigrants who “possessed a determination that with hard work and freedom, they would live a better life and their children even more so.” As with trade, Reagan’s record on immigration was mixed. He signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which included stepped up border enforcement and sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal workers. But that legislation also legalized 2.8 million undocumented workers. More immigrants entered the United States legally under President Reagan’s watch than under any previous U.S. president since Teddy Roosevelt.

Like President George W. Bush today, Reagan had the good sense and compassion to see illegal immigrants not as criminals but as human beings striving to build better lives through honest work. In a radio address in 1977, he noted that apples were rotting on trees in New England because no Americans were willing to pick them. “It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won’t do?” Reagan asked. “One thing is certain in this hungry world; no regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.”

In his farewell address to the nation in January 1989, Reagan beautifully wove his view of free trade and immigration into his vision of a free society: “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and heart to get here.”

Compare Reagan’s hopeful, expansive, and inclusive view of America with the dour, crabbed, and exclusive view that characterizes certain conservatives who would claim his mantle. Their view of the world could not be more alien to the spirit of Ronald Reagan.