[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: April 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

How Embarrassing

Sorry for the inactivity the last several days, but work has been hectic and no sign of a break is in sight. I was able to get away just long enough to post today, but don't expect any consistent activity for at least a few days.

Anyway, on to today's post...

Looks like the ENCASA folks are getting way more than their "15 minutes of fame". ENCASA is made up of a group of Cuban-Americans who are against the US embargo on Cuba. That's not really a big deal in my book because, as we all know, there really isn't an "embargo" on Cuba since the US can and does trade with the castro regime.

What IS a big deal and embarrassing is the membership of said group. The biggest and brightest castro apologists in all of Miami belong to the group. You can see some of them here, as well as a description of ENCASA, which stands for Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists.

You want to know in a quick sentence to what lengths they will go to blame the "embargo"? Check out this segment from Miami's Cuban Connection:

(Lisandro) Perez was asked how lifting the embargo would help curtail the types of beatings experienced by Cuban dissident Martha Beatriz Roque at the hands of a pro-Castro mob on Tuesday. "Those beatings have occurred under these policies," Perez said, referring to the embargo. "The policy that is being used is not doing anything to benefit the people of Cuba."

OK, so the beatings of dissidents can be traced back to the embargo. Hmmm. How about blaming castro? Is that so hard to do? Because the fact is, we can trade with Cuba all we want (and we do), the rest of the world trades freely with Cuba and send their pasty tourists for a holiday of fun n' sun in the tourist apartheid capital of the earth, and the beatings continue because of one simple fact: FIDEL CASTRO.

How is it that a group of intellectuals can miss that obvious fact? Maybe their ideology is blinding them.

Thankfully, there are many of us out there who are enlightened enough to understand the simple truth. You can see for yourself here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Where's The Miami Mafia?

Couple of interesting news items the past few days concerning Cuba-related news here in Miami.

- Book on Cuba Will Remain in School Libraries. Pictures of happy Cuban pioneros gets to stay for now. Massive riots nowhere to be seen.

- Orishas Brings Island-Style Hip-Hop to Miami. Popular exiled Cuban group whose members have been accused of being castro sympathizers plays in Miami, and people here are actually exited.

Whatever happened to that old-school intransigence and intolerance that Miami Cubans are so known for?

Perhaps it reached its peak back in the 80's when this movie came out.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

It's All About Unity

Over 10 months ago, several Cuban-American bloggers including myself posted on a group of Cuban-American college students who started a group called Raices de Esperanza. Their goal is to bring greater awareness of the grave human rights situation in Cuba, provide support to dissidents on the island and to unite the Cuban exile community in its pursuit of freedom for Cuba.

The Miami Herald finally caught wind of this group and wrote an article in today's paper, authored by Oscar Corral. I was expecting a solid article which steers clear of divisive rhetoric and focuses solely on the group's noble mission. For the most part, the article fulfilled my expectations.

However...Corral decided to throw in some divisive comments with regards to the Cuban exile community. After all, it wouldn't be an Oscar Corral piece unless there is some controversy or dissent thrown in, even where it's not appropriate.

Before I continue, let me stress that I do not object to criticism of the Cuban exile community. We are not perfect and, like everyone else, are prone to making mistakes. In other words, we're living, breathing humans. This criticism should and does have it's time and place.

What does bother me is when articles such as Corral's go out of their way to bring up certain perceived faults of the exile community. His opening remarks state that this group of students became "disenfranchised" from the Cuba talk that "dominates Miami".
Four years ago, a few Cuban-American students from Harvard, Georgetown, and the University of Florida, feeling disenfranchised from the Cuba discourse that dominates Miami, started a youth group to focus on the island's future.
What exactly is that "Cuba discourse that dominates Miami"? If you ask me, it's about making people more aware of the situation in Cuba. It's about encouraging and expediting democracy and freedom in Cuba and supporting the dissident movement inside the island. It's about engaging in politics, a necessary evil, to accomplish this task.

How does this match up with Raices' mission, you ask?

See for yourself:


To establish a plan of action for the youth's role in a pluralistic and democratic transition in Cuba.


To unite the Cuban community in exile and within the Island across generational, ideological and economic divides, in the pursuit of a pluralistic and democratic Cuban society.

The only part of this vision that would rub some exiles the wrong way is the unity across ideological divides. Is this what Corral is trying to get at? If so, it's like the proverbial finding a needle in the haystack. It's impossible for everyone to agree on everything, and our community isn't this monolithic monster that swallows any dissent. It's the big picture that counts, and you would be hard-pressed to find a Cuban-American in Miami who wouldn't support Raices' mission and vision (well...maybe a few).

Politics are a big part of this, of course, and that's a necessary evil in order to fulfill the desired goals. One would be naive to pretend that politics shouldn't exist here. Raices itself doesn't steer clear of politics. Corral even had to admit, after his opening shot, that there really aren't any big differences between Raices and general Miami Cuban-American sentiment:
Not that Raices' message is much different from that of their elders. They want freedom and democracy in Cuba. They want to focus on Cuba's human-rights abuses. And they criticize the communist government.
In fact, one of Raices' motivators for starting the group wasn't disenchantment with loud-mouthed hard-liners, but apathy. Hard to believe, right?
Apathy about Cuba was one of the main reasons the students decided to get involved in late 2002. It started small, as an e-mail network of friends and contacts, Gonzalez said. Most of the members today are full-time students or have graduated and have day jobs.
What do you think motivates the Cuban-American bloggers listed in my blogroll?

Nowhere on their site will you see any hint of division with the exile community. In fact, a look at their link page lists groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation and Cubanet, which are undeniably big components of the traditional Miami exile community. They also reach out to more "moderate" groups such as the Cuba Study Group, and that's perfectly fine in my book.

You see, it's about inclusiveness, not exclusiveness. That's what Raices is all about, and that's what most of us here in Miami want as well. Despite Corral's attempts to exclude and divide right from the get-go, the truth eventually comes out in the article.

Corral and others are more than welcome to write constructive and critical articles on differences in the exile community. But when it's included in articles about what is supposed to be a united effort amongst different exile groups, it defeats the purpose and only serves to perpetuate misperceptions.

ManCamp Gets Some Pub

I couldn't help but grin from ear to ear when I saw this spread in the Home and Garden section of the Herald today. It's none other than 26th Parallel's Blogdad and patriarch of Miami Cuban-American bloggers, Babalu's Val Prieto and his ManCamp.

Check out the article at the link above, it's well worth the read and gives a pretty good picture (both literally and figuratively) of Val's backyard retreat.

While you're at it, go over to Babalu and congratulate Val.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Letter to CodePink, Version Two

2010 Linden Ave
Venice, CA 90291

To Whom it May Concern,

Back in December of last year, I sent an e-mail to your organization regarding the critical state of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet. In case you don't remember, Biscet is a Cuban who is serving a 25-year sentence in a Cuba prison for trying to establish a human rights group on the island.

I am kindly writing to you again as a reminder of the cruel injustice that Dr. Biscet and many others face every day in Cuba. Perhaps your organization has been too busy organizing peace vigils in front of the White House with Cindy Sheehan and Susan Sarandon. Perhaps you have been busy organizing marches for peace, justice, democracy and human rights. Perhaps you have been busy protesting the war in Iraq and the possibility of war with Iran. Or maybe even you have been tied up planning your next trip to Cuba.

As a stalwart of justice and human rights, I am counting on you to take some time away from your busy agenda to bring about a greater awareness of Dr. Biscet's plight. After all, all he seeks is human and civil rights. Take a stand against freedom-haters across the world. Most importantly, take a stand for those who desire the same freedoms that you enjoy in this great nation of ours. Maybe on your next visit to Cuba, you can visit some of the prisons there and lend support to those who have been thrown in jail simply for expressing their desire to be free.

I know this is a big endeavor, but you are no stranger to organizing large crowds of people united for a cause. The plight of Dr. Biscet deserves no less.

Thank you for your time, and thank you in advance for your interest.



Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Learning Through Living

Fellow Miami blogger Alesh of Critical Miami e-mailed me yesterday asking if I would be offended by a post of him wearing a Che shirt. After checking out the post, it became immediately apparent that I wouldn't be. Alesh makes a point about his experience as a first-generation Czech immigrant and how he and his family's experience with Communism has shaped them.

Alesh's insightful post reminded me a little of this post at Babalu by Conductor a few days back about Cubanos Arrepentidos - a regretful Cuban, regretful of his/her heritage.

I'm not implying that Alesh is a Checo Arrepentido, but despite our background, despite what our parents tell us, sometimes we have to learn about our heritage the hard way. His parents' displeasure of the Che t-shirt made Alesh dig a little deeper and search for the reason behind their feelings. When you grow up nice and cozy in the United States instead of suffering through life in a Communist regime such as in the ex-Czechoslovakia or Cuba, you can become quite detached and desensitized from the awful things that your parents and relatives had to go through.

Most second and even first-generation Cuban-Americans I know have gone through some sort of stage in their lives when they've tried to distance themselves from their Cuban roots. I went through a mild version of Cubanus Arrentipidus myself well into my 20's. It usually takes some defining moment or process in order for people to come to terms with their heritage. For me, it was a long process of maturing mixed with experiences such as the Elian fiasco back in 2000 that woke me up to reality.

Not everybody completes this process. Some remain regretful Cubans for life. Some are fortunate enough not to go through the process at all. Either way, the hope is that we learn something from our interactions and our experiences.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bay of Pigs - 45 Years Later

April 17th is the anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. An invasion which cost the lives of many Cubans of Brigade 2506, as well as the possibility for Cuba's freedom. It also helped set the stage for the Cuban Missile Crisis the following year.

Frankly, I don't have a direct connection to anyone who fought in that battle, so I can't provide any personal accounts passed down from a friend or relative who was there. I also never totally understood the true magnitude of that battle and the failure of the United States to provide the necessary air support. Most accounts you hear or read about in the media or learn in school are watered down and lacking in detail. This all changed after I read Humberto Fontova's book Fidel - Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant, particularly the chapter on the invasion.

Much has been said of John F. Kennedy's betrayal of the Brigade forces on the ground in Cuba, but what really gave me the biggest impression regarding the Bay of Pigs were the odds that Brigade 2506 faced, as well as the personal stories of four American pilots who decided to help their Cuban partners.

Fontova mentions that Brigade 2506 was outnumbered by Cuban troops by almost 40 to 1! Two-to-one, or three-to-one are staggering enough odds, but forty-to-one? Nevertheless, it took the Soviet-backed Cuban forces three entire days to defeat a group of 2,000 men, and this was only after they ran out of ammunition. If only Kennedy would have provided the air support as he had promised, there would have been no Missile Crisis, no brutal dictator 90 miles to our south, and no author of this post (my parents met in the U.S.).

Kennedy's decision not to engage angered many of the Navy trainers who worked with the Brigade before the battle. Four of the trainers decided to go anyway. Their names are Thomas "Pete" Ray, Riley Shamburger, Leo Baker and Wade Gray, and they were officers in the Alabama Air Guard. Against steep odds, they decided to stick with their fellow combatants. All four died on their first missions.

Loyalty and determination to do the right thing cost them their lives, but in the minds of many Cuban-Americans and freedom-lovers everywhere, they are immortal.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

My Views on Immigration

I've posted here, here, here and here on the immigration issue. Those posts have focused primarily on South Florida's reaction. I really haven't offered my personal views on the matter, not because I don't want anyone to know, but simply because I felt the initial urge to react to the protests instead of on my personal opinion.

After having posted 4 articles on the subject, I feel it's now my responsibility to inform you on how I feel personally about the immigration issue in the United States.

I don't think illegals should be automatically sent back. I don't think there should be an amnesty, either.

I don't think we should build a wall along the border. I don't think our borders should be open, either. They should be better-protected to discourage illegal immigration.

Our immigration policy needs change. We need to come up with a better way of processing the illegal immigrants who are already here. Ways to encourage them to become legal residents and then citizens. Those who are productive members of society deserve to stay. I'm not currently endorsing any of the plans that are being considered in Washington, although the Sensenbrenner Plan is at the bottom of my list.

In short, I am pro-immigrant. Of that there's no doubt. I am only one generation removed from immigrants, and my wife is an immigrant herself. Having said that, we should encourage LEGAL immigration. We need to make it easier for immigrants to achieve legal status, but we just can't open our arms to everyone without having to go through a legalization process.

I respect the majority of those who have marched at the rallies the past few weeks. I respect the sacrifices they made to leave everything behind to come to a new country to make a better life for themselves and their children.

It amazes me to see how good this country is, that we allow those who basically have no legal right to be here to march the streets and protest our government's laws. How many of you think that this attitude would be duplicated in another country? Maybe in a few countries, but not many.

One quick note about those who stay here illegally: they should be conscious of their decision and their status. They need to realize that, no matter how hard they work or how good a citizen they may be, they are not here legally. The person who purposely overstays his tourist visa to stay here must realize this. The person who sneaks in through the border must realize this. The people marching in protest must realize this.

Changes need to be made, make no mistake. But every illegal immigrant must be able to be honest with his/herself and be personally accountable for their decisions.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Wasted Chance?

I attended the Florida Marlins' home opener yesterday, a 9-3 loss to the San Diego Padres. The game was close for the most part, until San Diego put it away in the 8th inning. The team made lots of rookie mistakes, something I'm afraid we'll be seeing a lot of this year. There were also a few non-baseball related "mistakes", such as incorrect information displayed on the brand new HD scoreboards (they look great BTW) and the F-18 fighter jets flying over the stadium before ex-Idol Nadia Turner finished her incredibly long rendition of the National Anthem.

The crowd of over 31,000 was energetic and exited to see the Marlins. There were many signs supporting the team and its young players.

Did I just make that up? Surely, in South Florida where no one cares about baseball, where everyone loves a winner.

Well, guess what Mr. Skeptic? It happened. Sure, it was opening day, but based on all the negative publicity during the off-season, I'm surprised there are still so many people out there who care about the team.

I will say it now, and I will say it again: South Florida can support baseball. This area's fans needs to be nurtured and treated with respect and loyalty. Winning 2 World Series titles doesn't entitle the team's ownership to do or say whatever they please. Good relationships are maintained, enhanced, nurtured...not taken advantage of.

Scanning through the local papers for coverage of the game, I found an article that stood out because of its dead-on accuracy regarding the way the Marlins have been treating the loyal fans. It came from an unlikely source: Armando Salguero, who typically focuses on football and the Dolphins.

Please take the time to read it, it's an 100% correct assessment of how the baseball fans in South Florida feel.

A wasted chance to entice fans


The fans did their part for this Marlins home opener, ignoring reams of bad publicity and dooming predictions of atrocious play to turn what might have been a melancholy opener into one initially showered with optimism.

The 31,308 people who filled parts of Dolphin Stadium on Tuesday afternoon were not Yankee Stadium-electrifying, but they are to be commended anyway because they brought baseball energy to this football facility.

They showed up -- which itself was something of a surprise -- they cheered, they even stayed until the eighth inning when the game turned into a rout.

But given an opportunity to grab those fans by the lapels and convince them to come back because the team is exciting and entertaining, the Marlins didn't really deliver.

They bumbled on the bases, they threw fat pitches to the plate, they missed cutoff men and dropped fly balls. The team that played games close last week got steamrolled 9-3 by the Padres in their home opener.

And now there will be wrath at the turnstiles because of it.

''I hope,'' outfielder Jeremy Hermida said, ``the fans enjoyed the day and come back.''


Some definitely will return. Fans are, by definition, extremists who flow against the tide of logic.

But chances are that starting with today's 1:05 rematch with the Padres, most of the fans who showed up Tuesday will come dressed only as a humid breeze.

And who can blame them?

The Marlins, young and inexperienced and unproven, offer precious little to be really excited about now. Not to criticize these young players, but this is a highly overmatched team.

Sure, shortstop Hanley Ramirez is showing glimpses of being tomorrow's star and the first four players atop the batting order might be a pitcher's nightmare by around 2010.

But my calendar says 2006, and there is no certainty that lineup will be playing in Dolphin Stadium or even in South Florida three opening days from now.

So, excuse fans if they believe owner Jeffrey Loria is sending contradictory signals when he says in one breath that watching this team is an opportunity to see ``a terrific club in its formation stages.''

And then he plunges a knife into that chest puffed up with hope when he says, ``We are going to be playing somewhere [in 2010] and somewhere else if not here.''

He's basically asking the fans to support this team now even though it could be out of here pretty soon -- which is not exactly a great offer for the average fan.


A short aside to Mr. Loria: Stop talking about moving the team publicly.

Make whatever deals you need to make behind closed doors and go, if you must.

But if you hope to salvage a legacy here, realize that South Florida doesn't respond well to threats of moving a team.

So talk about the product on the field and nothing else because the conversation about moving to San Antonio or Las Vegas or Podunk isn't brilliant public relations in Miami.

Marlins manager Joe Girardi was asked if he thinks Marlins fans will stay away now that they got their first sour taste of this team in person.

''Fans are smart enough to know we're not going to win every game,'' Girardi said astutely, and that is true.

But although Marlins fans get a bum rap for loving the beach or the backyard barbecue more than a trip to the stadium, they are sophisticated enough to know a team that simply tries hard deserves only so much attention.

And that attention might start to wane.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Quick Immigration and Smugglers Update

The number of South Florida immigration protesters have gone up, with estimated crowds ranging anywhere from 3,000-5,000 according to the Herald to as much as 10,000 based on this report by the Sun-Sentinel which, in a rare feat, seems to have outdone the Herald's lukewarm coverage.

The science of estimating crowd size is far from perfect, but it's safe to say that South Florida protesters have increased in size. It has taken a lot of prodding, however. The Catholic Church has been a big driver behind this, as I've personally witnessed from the sermons and announcements at my local church. Also, believe it or not, Cuban exile groups have gotten involved, including a commercial on Spanish TV by Cuban American National Foundation chief Jorge Mas Santos urging people to get involved.

Still, it has to be noted that the crowds here are still tiny compared to the half-million in Dallas yesterday, and to similar numbers in L.A. a few weeks back. Heck, even in Birmingham, Alabama (never to be confused with South Florida as an immigrant hot-bed) they estimated well over 10,000 protesters. On the Spanish networks' national news last night, they didn't even bother to show footage from South Florida, even though both major networks are headquartered locally.

I still stand by my initial theory for the small crowds here.


Now for an update on South Florida reaction to the migrant smugglers being shot in Cuban waters last week...

hang on....

Sorry folks, I'm having a hard time hearing any reaction from the sound of crickets chirping.

Where's The Help? (UPDATE)

The construction going on around downtown Miami these days is choking traffic to the point where tempers are actually reaching the boiling point. This is one of the reasons I'm thankful I don't live east of the Palmetto.

This story in today's Herald gets into details about this traffic nightmare.

After reading the article, particularly this section:

A Miami police officer sits in his marked patrol car at the southwest corner of Biscayne and 36th, working an extra overtime shift to help pay the bills for his young family. He's spent the better part of the past four hours on his feet, shepherding the morning-to-midday rush.

The cop knows that he's there because too many newspaper articles and too many TV reports led to too many calls from distressed politicians who forced the Florida Department of Transportation to dole out a little more money to keep the traffic moving.

''You know, the construction is bad. And some things can't be fixed. But the biggest problem, to me, it's the motorists,'' said the officer, who doesn't want to publish his name because he didn't clear the interview with his supervisors. ``There is no courtesy out there. There is no patience. Just look at it out there. . . .''

(ed: PATIENCE FOLKS...PATIENCE! It's not easy, but try it. Trying to beat that light up ahead will only get you to the next tie-up that much faster).

Almost on cue, a woman in a beat-up blue Pontiac makes the illegal left turn from Biscayne northbound to westbound 36th Street, right in front of the cop.

His extra shift will end at 3 p.m. Nobody is hired to relieve him (FDOT officials are under the impression that their construction consultants have made arrangements for a second-shift officer who is supposed to be posted at Biscayne and 36th through the evening rush hour).

I remembered the big gimmick by FHP to slow down speeders in construction zones several days back? Officers disguised themselves as construction workers and pulled over many drivers in a one-day effort to get people to slow down.

If local police districts used even 1/10th of that initiative, and applied it on a daily basis, not just every once in a while as a publicity stunt, then maybe....just maybe....our traffic woes wouldn't be as bad.

UPDATE: Speaking of help, a new Miami blog by Gabriel Lopez-Bernal hopes to address many of our public transportation issues. It's called - appropriately enough - Miami Transit. Go visit Gabriel's site and drop him a note of support.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Smugglers Shot

The hot Cuba-related news story right now is the shooting of two Cuban-Americans who allegedly were attempting to smuggle people out of Cuba on Wednesday. They were shot at by the Cuban Coast Guard, in what is already being compared to the shoot down of the Brothers to the Rescue planes in 1996. One of the victims died a while later in a hospital in the western province of Pinar del Rio.

The details of the story have so far come from Cuba, with state-run newspaper Granma taking the lead. You can bet it will be a while before the dust settles on this story. I'm not in favor of smugglers, it's dangerous and it's against the law. However, shooting at them appears to be quite a stretch and extremely unnecessary, unless the Cuban Coast Guard officials were in some kind of danger. We'll see.

The Herald story linked above had one quote which really jumped at me and surprised me. It was from activist Ramon Saul Sanchez, who recently went on a hunger strike when the group of 15 landed on the wrong bridge in the Keys and were repatriated.
Migrant smugglers ''are worse than the communists,'' said Miami activist Ramon Saul Sanchez, who has advocated harsher penalties for smugglers. ``If they got shot, I don't care. If they got shot because they were trying to smuggle people out of Cuba for money, they got what they deserve.''
Pretty strong words.

Rick has more on Stuck on the Palmetto, as does Val at Babalu and CB at KillCastro.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

No Commie Books In Schools

The Miami-Dade County School District, which by the way was recently selected as one of five most-improved school districts in the country, plans to remove copies of a book containing themes from Cuba's communist regime.

School officials said they would pull a book with pictures of a Cuban communist youth group from grade school library shelves.


A children's book may be removed from dozens of elementary school libraries throughout the district because it contains themes from Cuba's communist regime.

The book, Vamos a Cuba (A Visit to Cuba), is available at 33 schools, district officials say.

A portrait of kids outfitted as Pioneers -- Cuba's communist youth group -- is emblazoned across the book's cover. Inside pages show scenes of a joyous carnival held on July 26, the anniversary of the Cuban revolution.

After seeing the book, the parent of a Marjory Stoneman Douglas Elementary student promptly contacted officials at the West Miami-Dade school.

''The parent was offended with the book's content,'' district spokesman Joseph Garcia said Wednesday. ``We're following School Board procedure to have the book removed from library shelves.''

First, a committee at the school will review the book's material, followed by district officials. If it's determined that censoring the book will not infringe on a student's right to a well-rounded education, a ruling will then be made on removing it.

Staff is following approved School Board rules to remove the book from all libraries.''In a memo sent Tuesday to board members, Superintendent Rudy Crew outlined his concerns: ``The book has content and pictures that are reflective of the current Communist regime.

Garcia said this is the first time he is aware of school officials removing a book for those reasons.

The book was reviewed by a number of journals, including Publisher's Weekly. It is available through the Miami-Dade public library system, Garcia said.

The book is part of a travel series by Heinemann/Raintree, a Chicago-based publishing house that specializes in nonfiction books for classrooms and school libraries.

Officials at the publishing house say they were unaware of the controversy, but will investigate the district's concerns.

'We care greatly about our customers' concerns and we will look into this matter,'' said executive editor Tracey Crawford.

The publisher's website says the series is intended to help readers understand what it's like to be a child in another land. The books are geared toward children ages 5-7 in grades K-2. Other titles include A Visit to Colombia, A Visit to Costa Rica and A Visit to Puerto Rico.

I'm sure some will see this as censorship. I see it as a group of parents concerned about what their children are being exposed to - standing up and making their voices heard. The school board is under no obligation to take the parents' advice. Frankly, communist propaganda, especially coming from Cuba, has no business whatsoever in our schools.

Here's a deal...if some people insist on keeping the books on the shelves, fine. But they also need to make sure that the other side of the story is available in those same schools.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Being American and Multi-Cultural

My friend George Moneo published an interesting post at Babalu this afternoon. It quoted an article published in The American Thinker about the definition of being an immigrant. I admit that I felt uneasy reading parts of the TAT article, not quite to the point of denouncing it as intolerant, but close.

It starts off good:
To ordinary Americans, the definition of "“immigration"” is very specific: You come here with absolutely nothing except a burning desire to be an American. You start off at some miserable, low-paying job that at least puts a roof over your family’s head and food on the table. You put your kids in school, tell them how lucky they are to be here -– and make darn sure they do well even if that means hiring a tutor and taking a second, or third, job to pay for it. You learn English, even if you'’ve got to take classes at night when you'’re dead tired. You play by the rules - —which means you pay your taxes, get a driver'’s license and insure your car so that if yours hits mine, I can recover the cost of the damages. And you file for citizenship the first day you'’re eligible.
But then it turned south:

Do all this and you become an American like all the rest of us. Your kids will lose their accents, move into the mainstream, and retain little of their heritage except a few words of your language and - if you'’re lucky - —an irresistible urge to visit you now and then for some of mom'’s old-country cooking.

To me, this last paragraph read, "forget your heritage, you're an American now. Being multi- cultural is not how you become an American".

Perhaps I read into it wrong, but that's how I reacted. I'm sensitive to this particular topic, and that's probably skewing my thought process.

George and I disagreed in the comments section, but mainly from a misunderstanding of what multi-culturalism is. To me, it's about being 100% American yet embracing and celebrating your heritage. It's being comfortable with more than one culture. It's accepting different cultures as unique and part of the overall American fabric. It's what makes America great and unique next to most other countries. Ethnic and separatist groups such as MECHA and Aryan Nation don't seek multi-culturalism, they seek to divide by imposing their culture on the rest of us. Multi-culturalism, on the other hand, adds and enhances the surrounding cultures. The "Melting Pot" wouldn't be so tasty if a different culture didn't want to join the others.

Certainly, this issue is much more complex than I'm making it out to be. La Ventanita brings up some good points in her own analysis of the TAT article here. This particular comment is right on:
It will shed light on why this immigration debate is raising so many emotions. And NO it's not Xenophobia, its not racism, it is not anti-immigrant sentiment. It's the lack of Americanism, the lack of want and drive to be an American. It's the lack of love some of these groups feel towards our country because many of them are still in their homeland.
Multi-culturalism means that both cultures must be respected. Obviously, some immigrants don't want to embrace the American culture, which is wrong and disrespectful. The signs I referred to in my post last week didn't merely reflect pride for one's heritage, it was a reflection of a profound lack of respect for the United States.

Where we sometimes fall into a trap is when we interpret any kind of ethnic pride by an immigrant as anti-American. Tastefully showing pride for one's heritage doesn't automatically mean disrespect for America. One can love America AND his/her heritage. I don't have a problem with someone waving the flag of another country on U.S. soil, so long as the intent is to show pride and not to dishonor this country. I say this from my experience as a Cuban- American. How many C-A's display Cuban flags at festivals and other gatherings, then turn around and fly Old Glory on national holidays or after 9/11? Many.

If you've stuck with me for this long, my point is simply this: It's OK to be proud of where you're from AND where you're at. One can be multi-cultural and a good American.

Miami Mafia Strikes Again

Yet another example of the Miami Mafia's insatiable appetite for squashing pro-Castro sentiment in South Florida.

(Sarcasm mode off)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Oppenheimer on Immigration Protests

Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer chimes in on his reason why protests in South Florida have been mild in comparison to other U.S. cities:
It's not surprising that in South Florida, where 62 percent of the population is Hispanic, there were no such massive demonstrations. There was no need for it: In Miami, politicians and the media almost unanimously reject draconian measures such as turning all undocumented workers into criminals. They understand, rightly, that the only way to reduce the flow of migrants will be to help narrow the income gap between the United States and Latin America.
Oppenheimer makes a very good point, which I feel ties in to my previous post. Immigrants here feel more at home and their cause is understood and sympathized by the rest of the community. In turn, South Florida immigrants learn to respect the U.S. and its true spirit of helping those in need.

His concluding remarks are also interesting:
My conclusion: I don't see the new ''Latino Power'' as a strident separatist movement, as many U.S. anti-immigration advocates paint it. More likely, it will be a subdued mixture of U.S.-born Hispanics and transnational citizens who will be largely invisible most of the time, but will take to the streets if threatened by immigration opponents who often come across as hate mongers.
Perhaps he's right about "Latino Power" being a mostly underground movement. However, I don't think we should ignore or brush aside the anti-American sentiments espoused by that group.

Immigration reform is necessary and progress is being made in Washington. On the other hand, fighting intolerance with intolerance, as some Latino Power folks are doing, does nothing to help their cause.

Read the rest of Oppenheimer's column here.

Late to the Party (As Usual)

So that's what an "Instalanche" looks like!

Just realized that 26th Parallel was hit with an "Instalanche" back on Friday as a result of my immigration post.

So here's a belated but hearty welcome to all of you stopping by via Instapundit.

Feel free to take a look around this humble blog and drop me a line or two.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

An Opening Day to Forget? (UPDATE)

Monday marks the start of baseball season for the Florida Marlins. Normally, this would be an exciting event for me since I am a big baseball fan and supporter of the Marlins since Day 1. Last year around this time I posted in anticipation of what promised to be an exciting season. While the end result wasn't what many were hoping for, it wasn't a total disaster and the future still seemed bright.

The off-season changed all that. As most of you probably know, Marlins management decided to trade most of the starting lineup in a cost-cutting maneuver. The stadium issue became as contentious as ever, and there's no real hope right now for a solution as the ownership looks around the country for a new home for our local baseball franchise.

There's plenty of blame to go around as to why a stadium deal hasn't been secured here in South Florida. You have city of Miami (not county) officials who are experts at playing hardball to the point of frustrating even the most patient negotiator. You have the lack of interest from Broward and Palm Beach County officials in working with the Marlins. You have an overall lack of fan support, although this aspect is much more complex than it seems.

Mostly, you have to point the finger at the Marlins themselves. So far they have had talks with no less than 4 entities in South Florida: City and County of Miami/Miami-Dade, Wayne Huizenga, City of Hialeah, and City of Homestead. No real progress was made with any of
them. The common denominator: The Florida Marlins, specifically President David Samson.

The bottom line is, they want the public to foot most of the bill for a brand new stadium which will ultimately benefit the owner's pocketbook, not the taxpayers'. Despite the offers of free land and well over $100 million in public money, the Marlins have turned down every offer brought to them in South Florida. As a supporter and season-ticket holder, I am willing to pay my share to help keep them here. However, I don't expect everyone else to have to chip in as well. The Marlins are a private entity.

Major League Baseball is also to blame here. They gave team owner Jeff Loria a hefty loan to buy the team back in 2001. Why haven't they helped close the stadium funding gap here? Isn't it in their best interest to keep and promote baseball here in South Florida?

My personal feeling is that Marlins management want to leave South Florida. All of their statements about wanting to stay and doing everything possible not to leave are lies. They are confident that they can get a sweet deal from some less-than-smart city (San Antonio?) who would be more than willing to give them a ton of money.

The odds are in the Marlins' favor, but it's far from a foregone conclusion.

Want some evidence of this lack of interest in staying here? Look no further than the way they've treated their most loyal fans, the season-ticket holders. In past years, they have bent over backwards to accommodate and reward season-ticket holders. This year, it's been the exact opposite. I didn't receive my bill for the stadium parking until 3 days before it was due. Also, I received my VIP passes for FanFest 5 days AFTER the event. Thanks guys! The letters I've been getting from the team look like they have been cheaply made copies run off by some underpaid intern.

The Marlins complain about lack of season-ticket sales this year. With the kind of treatment they have been giving their loyal customers, it's a miracle they have ANY fans left.

I'll give them one more chance this season, despite the fact that they'll probably end up in last place. But I'm afraid this may be the end of a good run. I hope I'm wrong.

We need baseball in South Florida. Not for the rich owners, but for the fans and for generations of fans to come.

UPDATE: Here's Conductor's opinion on his Marlins blog. And more information on a possible deal in the works between the Marlins and Hialeah here and here. Cross your fingers.