Cuba, U.S. Presidential Candidates and the Cuban-American Community

Saturday, January 2, 2016
A Letter to the Editor of The Jersey Journal:

Cuba, U.S. presidential candidates and the Cuban-American community

On Jan. 1, Fidel and Raúl Castro mark 57 years tormenting the Cuban people.

After enjoying an initial popularity while promising a freer, more prosperous society, the duo imposed a Soviet-styled totalitarianism plagued by unprecedented oppression, shortages, paredones (firing squads), and forced labor camps (especially for religious Cubans and gays).

Cubans soon began to "vote with their feet" en masse. Indeed, Hudson County is home to a notable Cuban expatriate community, second only to Miami.

Predictably, the dictators answered President Obama's recent olive branch with increased repression and the arrest of more dissidents, notably young Afro-Cuban women.

Dictatorships of every genre — from Lenin to Perón — foster foreign fans who extol alleged achievements in justifying their horrors and misery. Like the Trujillos in the Dominican Republic (1930-1961), the Castros gifted the "presidency" from brother to brother, both octogenarians. This gerontocracy still counts on a cadre of apologists who recycle Havana's party-line and habitually attack pro-democracy Cuban-Americans with contradictory right-wing and left-wing vitriolic insults.

Our own Jersey Journal recently published a puerile letter by a Richard Heubel (Nov. 22). In differing from GOP presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz regarding Syrian refugees, Heubel slurs all Cuban-Americans.

Other presidential hopefuls in both political parties have expressed national security concerns vis-à-vis Middle-Eastern migrants; yet, Heubel whines exclusively about the only two Hispanic candidates. Furthermore:

1. He absurdly calls both U.S. senators "Cuban ... immigrants," seemingly unaware of the requirement of U.S. citizenship-by-birth to be president. Rubio's parents are Cuban-born. Cruz's father is Cuban-born, his mother of Irish-Italian ancestry. How many generations does it take for Heubel to accept foreign-born descendants as legitimate Americans? Would he call President Obama (whose father was Kenyan-born) "the Kenyan president," or Jersey City Mayor Fulop (whose parents are Romanian-born) "the Romanian mayor"?

2. Heubel grumbles about criminals among the 1980 Mariel boatlift Cuban refugees: Certainly, it was the Castros who dumped common inmates on the Freedom Flotilla, which was tantamount to a declaration of war vs. the U.S.

3. He mentions past violence in the Cuban-American community, deceptively promoting caricatured ethnic stereotypes with Hollywood's fiction á la "Scarface."

Ironically, the Castros' Cuba has long sponsored international terrorism. Cuba sought to nuke the U.S. in 1962, a scheme paradoxically foiled by Nikita Khrushchev. Weeks after the Missile Crisis, the FBI thwarted a Cuban government plan to TNT blast midtown Manhattan on that Black Friday. The Kennedy Administration expelled implicated UN Cuban diplomats.

Heubel is entitled to advocate for the aggressive dictatorship. However, why does he confound his criticism of presidential candidates with an insensitive demonization of the entire Cuban-American community? Why not address the politicians' personal opinions without hate-mongering against an industrious community constituted of victims of a six-decade dynastic tyranny?

Perhaps the Cuban-Americans' extraordinary achievements in our open society par excellence may have generated the envious motives leading to Heubel's bigoted rants.

Roland Alum
West New York

Radames Suarez

Alum is a University of Pittsburgh's external Research Associate. Suárez is a New York City librarian.