In The Miami Herald:
Eight days in Cuba
I have just returned from Havana on what was billed by the tour operator as a licensed cultural exchange.
As a Miami resident of many years, a gringo with a United States passport and no relatives in Cuba, I jumped at the opportunity to visit the controversial island nation to see and hear first-hand what it was all about.
I wanted to be able to read The Herald and speak with my Cuban-American friends with my own direct perspective. I left for Cuba with a completely open mind. I returned from Cuba having been bombarded by pro-Castro propaganda, revisionist history, exaggerations, insults and some outright lies for eight days convinced that the Cuban government and its minions were, in fact, enemies of the United States with a particular hatred for Miami and its people.
Worse. Nothing will ever change. The sweet folks of Cuba are denied Internet access for fact checking the official and only newspaper, Granma. Educated Cubans, the 40-something middle class, have been completely indoctrinated to the Castros’ hard line and will rule Cuba 30 years from now exactly the way it is currently tyrannized.
Happily, as I pointed out to a young Cuban diplomat who lectured us on our evil ways, “In the current global scheme of things, Cuba is unimportant. Do your thing.”
Cuba offers excellent cigars, passable rum and very little else. Sadly, some of my fellow travelers without my perspective bought into the propaganda. Me? With what I have seen, heard and learned during eight days in Havana, I will vote to sustain our embargo, which the Cuban spokesmen hate with a passion, forever.
Mark Shyman, Miami Beach
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