Monday, April 27, 2009

Though The Diaz-Balarts Are Still Barking, Most Americans Back Obama's Steps Towards Normalizing Relations With Cuba


Fascist brothers fume over letter

Two of the sons of a prominent Cuban fascist, former torture overseer and Interior Minister Rafael Lincoln Díaz-Balart y Gutiérrez, represent a big swath of south Florida, reactionary Republicans Lincoln and Mario Díaz-Balart. Rafael founded the first violent anti-Castro group, the ironically named la Rosa Blanca, and was instrumental in pushing a self-serving anti-Cuban policy onto the U.S. He's dead now but his two misanthropic offspring are still fighting the old battle of the pre-Revolutionary aristocracy-- an aristocracy based primarily on Mafia connections-- wanting to turn back the clock and turn Cuba into a banana republic again. Needless to say, Obama's overtures towards Cuba have been met by the Díaz-Balart clan and their allies with hysteria and invective.

But more and more Cuban Americans have come to see the Díaz-Balart brothers as relics of a long dead era. They are among the last vestiges of the bad old batistiano and gangsterismo days and have lost a great deal of sway in the Cuban American community. Last year Mario nearly lost his seat to a more contemporary and forward-thinking Cuban-America, Joe Garcia. And even Lincoln, who fancies himself the president-in-exile of Cuba, lost some support even though he ran against a Democrat nearly as corrupt as himself, Raul Martinez. Last week Mario got a letter from a diverse group of Cuban-Americans outraged that he had compared Cuban-Americans who help their families in Cuba to greedy businessmen who, like Prescott Bush, traded with Hitler.
April 22, 2009

The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart
United States House of Representatives
328 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-0925
Dear Congressman Diaz-Balart:

Like you, we are Cuban-Americans. Despite our diversity in faith, age and political views, we are bound by a set of common values and dreams for the people of Cuba and our community. Among them is that our brothers and sisters on the island can one day live in a democratic society where differences in opinions are respected.

To that end, we believe that those of us living in freedom must lead by example and practice the same level of tolerance for dissent we demand of the Cuban government. It is for this reason why we were appalled by your recent remarks on a television show where you stated that Cuban-Americans who disagree with your views on US-Cuba policy and aid their family members on the island share “the same attitude as those who wanted to do business and did business with [Adolf] Hitler.”

Mr. Diaz-Balart, it is one thing to respectfully disagree with someone over policy issues. In fact, among those of us signing this letter there have been honest disagreements in the past and even spirited debates. But it is quite another for you, an elected federal official, to launch personal attacks against your own constituents by likening them to Nazi supporters and the unscrupulous businessmen who conducted business with Adolf Hitler simply because they don’t share your views.

As Cuban-Americans and leaders and members of some of the largest exile groups in the United States, we emphatically reject your characterization of the Cuban-American community and those who send humanitarian aid and support to their parents, children, relatives and friends on the island. If anything, these people are more akin to the generous men and women from around the world who shared the tremendous burden of aiding the Allied forces and provided humanitarian support to the Jews being persecuted throughout Europe during World War II.

It is simply unacceptable for you to use the privileged bully pulpit that comes with the office voters have entrusted you with to make such a harsh and insensitive portrayal of so many in our community that just want to help their family.

We respectfully call upon you to immediately repudiate your inaccurate and irresponsible remarks, which do not reflect the views or values of the overwhelming majority of people in our community, regardless of their ethnicity, party affiliation or views on US-Cuba policy. If there ever has been a time when this kind of outlandish rhetoric is counter-productive to the cause of advancing Cuban freedom, and the image of South Florida, it is now when the eyes of the world are upon us.

Now is the time to stand united and turn the page on the inflammatory rhetoric of the past as we work toward a more prosperous future for the people of Cuba and South Florida.

Dr. Francisco “Pepe” Hernandez, President, Cuban American National Foundation; Marcelino Miyares, Spokesmen Coordinator for Cuban Consensus; Carlos Saladrigas; Arturo Lopez-Levy, PhD Candidate (ABD) and Lecturer, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver; Patrick Hidalgo, MBA Candidate, MIT Sloan School of Management; Gladisley Sanchez, Harvard CAUSA (Cuban American Undergraduate Student Association); Manny Hidalgo, Executive Director of the Latino Economic Development Corporation of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area; Neli Santamarina, Small business owner; Mario Egozi, Entrepreneur; Rolando J. Behar,  Union Liberal Cubana

Today's NY Times is reporting the first tentative steps the Obama administration is taking around the diktat from the fascist batistianos like the Díaz-Balarts, dead and alive. First steps include informal talks to open up channels of communication, something the Díaz-Balart family has fought from the time they fled to Florida and even before they helped plot the disastrous and tragic Bay of Pigs operation.
[O]fficials said informal meetings were being planned between the State Department and Cuban diplomats in the United States to determine whether the two governments could open formal talks on a variety of issues, including migration, drug trafficking and other regional security matters.

And the administration is also looking for ways to open channels for more cultural and academic exchanges between Cuba and the United States, the officials said.

The next steps, said a senior administration official, would be meant to “test the waters,” to see whether the United States and Cuba could develop a “serious, civil, open relationship.”

...Polls suggest that there is increasing support among Cuban-Americans for ending the United States’ policy of isolation toward Cuba. And proposals have been made in both houses of Congress that would lift restrictions on travel to Cuba for all Americans.

In an interview, a State Department official described the pressure building for a new policy toward Cuba as a “steamroller” and said that the administration was “trying to drive it, rather than get run over by it.”

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