[Marxism] Cuban 'independent' libraries

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Jul 31 09:07:43 MDT 2004

This is all the more important with the latest escalations
of US moves against Cuba which the Bush administration's
so-called "Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba" laid
out in May. Most of the new decisions have gone unnoticed
and unreported in the media, except for the restrictions 
on the right of Cubans in the US to visit their families
who continue to live on the island. Weekly demonstrations
have taken place against this in Miami every Saturday and
some of these were even reported in the local Miami media.

Of course, they're well-reported in the island's media.
Another one is going on right now as this is written.

To my knowledge, Kerry hasn't endorsed or spoken about 
the latest moves by Bush against Cuba, other than the
limits on remittances and travel, which he's said he's
opposed to. Generally, he says that Bush has simply 
been ineffective and offers himself as more effective.

While Kerry seems to be doing what he can to minimize 
any differences between himself and Bush on the foreign
policy level, there are notable differences over Cuba.

http://www.georgewbush.com/ [enter Cuba in search engine]

These are part of an electoral strategy to try to take 
advantage of the demographic differences in Florida 
between those who came to the US from 1959 to 1980, 
and those who've come since then, whose political
views about Cuba, and their ongoing family connections,
are, of course, quite different.

[Ralph Nader hasn't, so far as I've seen, done much to 
take advantage of this important demographic split as
he isn't making a point of his differences from Bush 
on foreign policy. Two years ago Nader visited Cuba and
had many good things to say, but he has been quiet when
it comes to Cuba policy during the 2004 campaign.]


Sharks, detention and the American dream: 
memories of the 94 Cuban exodus

MIAM, 30 (AFP) - Ten years on, Felix Izquierdo vividly
remembers the terror of looking a shark in the eye as he
fled Cuba on an inner tube, the desperation of detention
and eventually, the realization of his American dream.

Izquierdo, 31, was among the 36,000 Cubans who took to the
seas aboard flimsy rafts, stolen boats or anything else
that floated, desperate to flee the deepening crisis in
Cuba and start a new life in the United States.

He was among the lucky ones who survived the 150-kilometer
(90-mile) crossing over the shark-infested, unpredictable
waters between Havana and southern Florida.

"There were three of us. We left on the inner tube of a
tractor tire, with two oars. We had an old compass and
headed north.

"A shark swam underneath us. It was bigger than our raft,
we could even see its eyes."

Three days after leaving Havana on August 14, 1994, the
exhausted trio was only a few kilometers (miles) from

But the perilous voyage was only the first step toward
Izquierdo's new life.

Even as the three cheered their arrival in US territorial
waters, they were picked up by the US Coast Guard and taken
to Guantanamo, where a detention camp had been hastily
erected to house the thousands of Cubans detained at sea.

The exodus started in late July 1994 and gained momentum
the following month as President Fidel Castro (news - web
sites) allowed the departures in a move many believe was
calculated to force the United States to the negotiating
table. Havana and Washington eventually agreed on September
9 that 20,000 Cubans would be allowed into the United
States every year, and Castro again clamped down on illegal

But for the next 16 months the United States remained a
distant dream for Izquierdo and many of his fellow
"balseros" as the rafters were called.

It wasn't until December 1995 that he eventually was
released from detention in Guantanamo and Panama, and
allowed onto what he saw as the promised land.

"It was wonderful. It was like a dream."

He admits the first years were tough. But now, he lives in
a comfortable house in a quiet Miami suburb, has a wife, a
baby girl, two cars and what he calls a good job as a
trucker. Within a year, he says, he should get his US

"Like all refugees, at the beginning, it was pretty
difficult for those who came in 1994, particularly since
they came in great numbers," said Joe Garcia, who heads the
influential Cuban American National Foundation lobby group.

"They've found their footing. They started working and are
now productive members of the community," he said.

"You can't distinguish them from other members of the Cuban
community here," said Garcia.

"A Cuban, is a Cuban is a Cuban. Polls show all Cubans in
the United States -- 95 percent of them -- hate Castro.

Izquierdo says there is no question but that he loathes the
communist dictator. But he says he has little else in
common with the older generation of Cuban exiles, who he
considers intolerant of anyone who does not share their
political views on Cuba.

"If you think differently from them, they call you a
communist," he says, adding that he, for one, favors
lifting the US embargo on Cuba he says has failed to weaken
Castro since it was imposed four decades ago.

He also disagrees with restrictions Washington recently
imposed on family visits to Cuba.

An opinion poll conducted earlier this month shows that
while 47 percent of the Cubans who arrived in Florida after
1980 believe there should be no restrictions on such
visits, only 27 percent of the pre-1980 arrivals share that

Because those who arrived in the 1994 exodus mainly
traveled on rafts, they tend to be younger people, and as
such, they generally still have close relatives on the

As a result they are the most affected, and the most
opposed to the travel restrictions, something pollsters say
could be reflected in a drop in support for Bush among
Cuban-Americans, who traditionally have voted Republican.

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