Miami's Cuban Politics

Democracy, Revenge, & Capitalism
{Updated: Saturday, January 9th, 2016}
         Patrick Oppman, CNN's Havana correspondent, has been reporting all week about a new deal frantically signed by Mexico and five other Latin American nations to finally use airplanes and buses to transport over 8,000 Cubans to the Mexico border. Once there, when their front toe touches U. S. soil, they instantly become, quite unlike all non-Cubans, legal residences of the U. S. complete with instant welfare. Since 1966, of course, this extremely discriminatory practice has been a "legal" law designed to entice Cubans, and only Cubans, to the U. S. for the purpose of hurting Castro, not so unlike the terrorist bombing of the civilian Cubana Flight 455 that was heralded in the Miami media as the "biggest blow yet against Castro."
     Wet Foot/Dry Foot, enacted into law by the U. S. Congress in 1966, has much in common with Cubana Flight 455, although Wet Foot/Dry Foot is very legal and the terrorist bombing of the civilian airplane was not. Both, however, have been largely condoned by a huge segment of the intimidated or unconcerned American people. The demise of Cubana Flight 455 took place Oct. 6-1976 and, from that day till this day, Americans have been persuaded not to express an opinion about it. The same thing has happened to Wet Foot/Dry Foot since 1966 although non-American democracy-lovers in the Caribbean, Latin America and the world believe that it is -- like many U. S. laws designed to hurt Castro while also enriching and empowering Cuban migrants -- grossly discriminating against all non-Cubans, meaning such laws are unbecoming for the world's most famed democracy. That's why CNN's ongoing coverage of the months-long debacle in Costa Rica is so very important.  
         CNN's Patrick Oppmann this week has detailed how over 8,000 Cubans have been blocked in Costa Rica for many weeks because a lot of Latin American nations are not too pleased with America's Cuban laws that they feel discriminate against their citizens who would be detained and deported if they touched U. S. soil. Costa Rica as well as other nations such as Panama and Nicaragua are tired of putting up with thousands of Cubans, stranded or otherwise, heading to the U.S.-Mexican border, some of whom have reportedly paid as much as $15,000 apiece to human traffickers who claim, falsely, that President Obama is capable of ending Wet Foot/Dry Foot, which only Congress could do, as those human traffickers gleefully well know. Frantically, as Patrick Oppman reports on CNN, Costa Rica, Mexico, and other outraged countries have reached agreement to start flying and busing the stalled Cubans to the U.S.-Mexican border on January 12th. The whole mess centered in Costa Rica highlights the sheer insanity of the world's greatest democracy allowing, decade after decade, a handful of self-serving zealots to easily use the U. S. Congress to legalize laws that favor one group of people while alarmingly discriminating against all others.
Photo courtesy: The Miami Herald.
         The Miami Herald this week had a major article entitled: "Miami-Dade Pursuing Ferry Service To Cuba From Port-Miami." In fact, there are numerous commercial enterprises in the state of Florida, including Miami, and other cities and farms across America that long to do business with Cuba now that a bold and brave President, Mr. Obama, has opened some doors that had been closed since 1959. Ports from New Orleans to Miami to Virginia, as emphasized this week when Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe visited the Port of Mariel, have long competed to be at the forefront of doing business with Cuba when, or if, the embargo is ever lifted. Yet, with a stranglehold on Congress, a few extremists can easily prevent that, even though many experts believe that -- in capitalist America -- the vast plethora of American businesses, large and small, that desire opportunities to conduct commerce with Cuba will finally, one day, prevail. Sadly, that's not the way Congress operates.
     Carlos Gimenez is a smart and powerful man. He seems to believe that President Obama's commendable efforts to normalize relations with Cuba will help the vast majority of Cubans, Cuban-Americans, and all Americans...as well as enormously boost the worldwide image of the U. S. and its democracy. Carlos Gimenez was born on January 17th, 1954 in Havana. After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution over the U.S.-backed Batista dictatorship on January 1, 1959, the parents of Carlos Gimenez migrated to the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida. Carlos Gimenez since 2011 has been the Mayor of Miami. He was preceded as Miami's Mayor by like-minded anti-Castro zealots Carlos Alvarez and Alex Penelas. But more and more, Cuban-Americans like Carlos Gimenez disagree with the hard-line Miami members of the U. S. Congress who insist on maintaining and even strengthening anti-Castro laws that, coincidentally, enrich and empower Cuban-Americans and also provide powerful financial and residential incentives for Cubans on the island to defect to the USA.
   Carlos Gimenez, as the Cuban-born Mayor of Miami, seems to believe it is finally time to get past the Cold War treatment of a fast-changing Cuba. He understands that crafting U. S. laws to hurt the soon-to-be 90-year-old Fidel Castro, while enriching and empowering Cuban migrants, exiles and selected Cuban-Americans, has become somewhat counter-intuitive to the goals and ideals of most Americans, including moderate Cubans in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood.
     Meanwhile, as the New Year of 2016 sits atop the Old Year of 2015, four Cuban-American members of the U. S. Congress from Miami and one from New Jersey can easily dictate America's complex and layered Cuban laws...in a legislative body that has 535 mostly helpless and muted members. That's why the 1966 Wet Foot/Dry Foot law, in this first month of 2016, is roiling a host of Latin American countries that are trying desperately to do something about more than 8,000 Cubans stranded in Costa Rico on their way to seeking special privileges once they touch U. S. soil at the Mexican border. When that problem is finally resolved, many more will surely follow in 2016 and beyond. All the while, just as they were not supposed to react to Cubana Flight 455 and its lingering aftermath, Americans will be expected not to offer opinions on such tangible and visible things as Wet Foot/Dry Foot, the democracy-sapping U. S. embargo of Cuba, and other dreadful aspects of America's Cuban policy that would be fixable if this generation of Americans was just a tiny bit more courageous.
Cubana Flight 455-- Oct. 6, 1976.
9,000+ Cubans stranded in Costa Rica & Panama -- January, 2016.
        Perhaps the U. S. Congress should apologize to Costa Rica, Panama, and all the other countries harmed by a Cuban policy it so steadfastly clings to, not to mention an apology to the survivors of the 73 people that were aboard Cubana Flight 455.
      Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois, has been entrenched in the U. S. Congress since 1993. Yesterday -- Jan. 7th, 2016 -- he was furious at fellow Democrat, President Obama, for deporting non-Cubans. The Associated Press in articles today says that Mr. Gutierrez said, among other things, "In the Hispanic caucus, there is a real sense of outrage!" Puerto Rico, for example, is a U. S. Territory and its citizens can vote and are represented in Congress. But recent reports say A THOUSAND Puerto Ricans A WEEK are arriving permanently in Miami and New York to join millions of other Puerto Ricans in the U. S. because of the poverty and crime on their Caribbean island. As U. S. citizens they can't be deported but other non-Cubans can and readily are, according to Congressman Guiterrez, who was born in Chicago and is of Puerto Rican descent. So, favoring Cubans upsets everyone...EXCEPT CUBANS!!
       Every day of every year thousands of migrants risk their lives to get to the U. S., especially from poverty-stricken, crime-infested countries like Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. But they are all, including children, subject to being arrested and deported. All except Cubans, that is. Cubans are home-free merely by touching U. S. soil.
       This photo shows why many Cuban hotels are sold out for the entire year of 2016. It was raining in Havana yesterday when a German plane carrying Deputy Chancellor and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabrile arrived with a 60-member delegation mostly made up German business executives. That's Mr. Gabriel in the center in the black coat. He announced that he and his entourage want to "create an economic opening on the island as Cuba's economy embraces major changes. Germany can invest and should be a participant in Cuba's economic revival. Bilateral trade and commerce between Germany and Cuba is a natural. Germany should be Cuba's major trade partner in Europe." Germany is Europe's richest country. It now trails France and Spain as Cuba's major trading partners in Europe.
And a Cuban very-hard-to-believe-but-true story:
       This photo shows a U. S. military helicopter firing two highly sophisticated, laser-guided Hellfire missiles. Today the U. S. government is frantic because one of its Hellfire missiles is missing and -- IN CUBA!! I kid you not!! The Hellfire missile was shipped from Orlando to Spain and then was, for some reason, being shipped back to the U. S. via France. But an Air France transport plane, on a regular flight to Cuba, dropped it off at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. The United States badly wants it back because of fears it could be broken down and its secrets given to Russia, China, Iran, or some other military competitor. Cuba, meanwhile, apparently has no ill intentions with its unexpected Hellfire missile but, understandably, the Cuban government is wondering if its arrival in Cuba was just a stupid mistake or...something more devious. As I said, I kid you not BUT SOMETIMES I WISH I WERE.



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