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Commentary: For Miami Cubans, hatred of Castro trumped respect for Mandela
Published on December 20, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Anthony L Hall

The hysterical concerns Miami Cubans vented about a simple handshake detracted far too much from the rapturous tribute President Obama paid to Nelson Mandela at last week’s memorial service in South Africa. Not surprisingly, the selfie-obsessed media were all too happy to oblige by devoting almost as much coverage to the Miami Cubans’ sideshow as to the South Africans’ main events....

Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at
Miami Cubans, of course, have been on a 50-year odyssey to depose the Castros and reclaim their putative birthright as Cuba’s landed gentry and, well, apartheid-like rulers.

More to the point, they seem possessed of the delusional belief that Fidel Castro and his brother Raul are like Scylla and Charybdis, preventing them from returning to their paradise lost. Never mind that their failure to find their way back home after all these years, despite a US-led embargo that has operated like a North Star, suggests that the gods might just be playing them for misguided fools….

Whatever the case, nothing indicates how adrift at sea they are quite like their Chicken-little rantings about Obama shaking hands with Cuban President Raúl Castro at Mandela’s memorial.

For it’s bad enough that they appeared utterly unconcerned about intruding on this solemn global occasion with their petty parochial politics; to say nothing of showing no regard for the categorical imperatives of diplomatic decorum. But they also appeared blissfully ignorant of the fact that most US presidents, including FDR, JFK, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan, have had cause to shake hands with dictators, some of whom, like Joseph Stalin, make the Castros look positively benign.

Here, for example, is how Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the de facto leader of the Miami Cubans who fled Cuba with her family when she was a child, framed the Obama-Castro handshake during a Congressional hearing last week with Secretary of State John Kerry:

It is nauseating… Sometimes a handshake is just a handshake, but when the leader of the free world shakes the bloody hand of a ruthless dictator like Raul Castro, it becomes a propaganda coup for the tyrant. (FOX News, December 11, 2013)

Except that the irony seemed completely lost on Ros-Lehtinen that, on the very day when she was treading water with her cheap and inconsequential diatribe about a handshake, Elian Gonzalez, the Castros’ celebrated second-generation heir, was riding a wave of indoctrination to ensure predictable and seamless transitions that will enable their revolution to live on for at least another 50 years:

Gonzalez, who turned 20 on Friday, traveled to Quito, Ecuador, with a 200-person Cuban delegation for a weeklong youth conference, according to reports.

‘Fidel Castro for me is like a father,’ Gonzalez recently told a Cuban paper. ‘I don’t profess to have any religion, but if I did my God would be Fidel Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path.
’ (New York Daily News, December 9, 2013)

Which only vindicates my prediction that:

It is a testament to the conceit and arrogance of Miami Cubans that they firmly believe that – once the Castro brothers die off – they will be able to return to Cuba to inherit the political power and social privileges their ancestors abdicated decades ago. And they assume this prerogative without any regard for the Cubans who have been toiling at home, waiting for their opportunity to govern their country.

But, at this rate, chances are that a well-indoctrinated Elian Gonzalez will be Cuban dictator before Miami Cubans are disabused of their antic pining for their paradise lost.

(“Dancing on Fidel Castro’s Grave Is Not Only Unseemly; It’s Premature,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 2, 2006).

Incidentally, it is noteworthy that US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas flew all the way to South Africa to pay his last respects. His father was born in Cuba, his mother in the United States -- in Delaware (i.e., not even in Miami); but Cruz was born in Canada. Moreover, his father fled Cuba in 1957 -- long before Castro seized power in 1959.

It speaks volumes therefore that even this carpetbagger’s hatred for the Castros is such that Cruz saw nothing wrong with disrespecting Mandela: by making quite a show of walking out of the memorial when Raúl, the comrade Mandela probably appreciated more than any other world leader singing his praises on that day, stood to pay tribute to him.

To be fair, though, one can hardly blame Miami Cubans for their conceit and arrogance -- given that members of both political parties have pandered to their quixotic cause in this Ted-Cruz fashion from day one.

Indeed, only this explains how these “exiles” have been able to prevail upon every president since 1960 to maintain America’s plainly feckless embargo against Cuba. (You can be forgiven for having no clue that the express intent of this embargo was to force the Castros and their heirs out of power….)

But, if nothing else, Obama’s handshake telegraphs his presumed intent to normalize ties with Cuba, which would clearly be in America’s enlightened national interest -- even if it betrays that of a few wannabe Cuban aristocrats living down in Miami.

He has already lifted restrictions on travel for cultural, educational, and religious purposes. Other steps -- like initiating direct talks with the Cuban government, removing Cuba from the state sponsors of terrorism black list, and lifting all restrictions on person-to-person travel -- are bound to follow.

What’s more, I remain convinced that Obama will seal his legacy by prevailing upon Congress to completely lift the embargo, which has done far more to undermine America’s values at home and credibility abroad than Obama’s handshake with Raúl Castro ever could. And he might be aided in this by a cognitive dissonance among young Miami Cubans who are developing less regard for the embargo than Catholics have for contraception.

Finally, for what it’s worth, my anti-embargo sympathies have always been animated and vexed by the fact that:

The vast majority of black Cubans live in more squalid conditions today – four decades into his socialist dictatorship – than they did under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, the man Castro overthrew…

It is precisely because poor blacks in Cuba have suffered most from America’s embargo against Cuba that I condemn white Miami Cubans for using their considerable political influence to keep it in place.

(“Raúl Pledges to Continue Fidel’s 50-year Revolution … Duh!” The iPINIONS Journal, February 26, 2008)

That said, I would be remiss not to mention that serious concerns about a fake sign language interpreter detracted far too much from the commendable way the South African government orchestrated last week’s memorial events and funeral service.

Because reports are that this self-professed schizophrenic, who was standing only arm’s length from Obama and other world leaders, is prone to violent rages and has been accused of numerous crimes, including rape, kidnapping, and even murder.

Alas, this only reinforces the reputation for administrative incompetence that plagues all African governments. And Lord knows I have lamented often enough about their incompetence. This is not the occasion to comment any further….

Related commentaries:
Bush…lift embargo
Dancing on Castro’s grave
Castro admits his model has failed

Raul pledges
Miami Cubans blackmail Bahamas

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