[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Letters to the Editor - Bush/Hiaasen Edition

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Letters to the Editor - Bush/Hiaasen Edition

(Cross-posted from Babalu)

Here is a collection of letters to the editor compiled by The Miami Herald regarding Bush's speech and Herald comedian-slacker-Jimmy Buffett-wanna-be Carl Hiaasen's rebuttal column.

(A quick warning: the first letter is from none other than one of our favorite Miamian castro-appeasers: Silvia Wilhelm. Make sure you haven't had your breakfast before reading this).

I was in Cuba on a humanitarian mission while President Bush delivered his latest Cuba policy address.

There are no words to express the disbelief, sadness and, in many instances, laughter I saw in so many sectors of Cuban society in reaction to the speech.

As a Cuban American who made the difficult decision to visit the country of my birth and the land of my ancestors, I was appalled that Bush could be so detached from Cuban realities and could deliver such a misguided and arrogant speech. If the administration's goal was to try to influence or facilitate Cuba's evolution into a more-democratic society, this rhetoric at a crucial juncture was counterproductive and damaging -- not only to the process but to the image of America abroad.

Having read national and international responses to Bush's speech, I feel a sense of relief that this new Bush policy continues to be rejected by thinking and caring people all over the world and by the majority of Cuban Americans living not only in South Florida but around the globe.

SILVIA WILHELM, Puentes Cubanos, Miami

Speak for yourself, Ms. Wilhelm. Because that's pretty much what it is. Thank God.

Here are the rest.

In his Oct. 28 Issues & Ideas column, Bush on Cuba: Same old macho speech, Carl Hiaasen takes a cheap shot at President Bush's announcement of ''creating an international fund to help rebuild a democratic Cuba.'' Hiaasen's belief that no other government is interested in helping the Cuban people is simply not true. The
president mentioned the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, nations that suffered under Communism and support Cuba's courageous opposition.

When Harry Truman announced the Marshall Plan, many criticized him. But the Marshall Plan helped rebuild Europe. Shouldn't we wait to see if the international fund proposed by the United States gets some nations' support? It is true, as Hiaasen says, that Bush's support for freedom in Cuba is not new. If ''newness'' is an issue, what about Hiaasen's old and tiresome hostility toward the president?

MARIA C. CRUZ, Coral Gables

Cuban Americans should be concerned about proposals for abrupt change in Cuba. Abrupt change was deliberately engineered in Iraq and post-Katrina New Orleans to create enormous profits for Halliburton and Blackwater.

These companies, which are big contributors to the Republican Party, prey on the unstable conditions inherent in such disasters at the expense of the interests and lives of the common people.


If it had been a soccer match, it would have been Castro's Cuba 1,United States 0. But it was a self-goal. On Oct. 14, President Bush gave a ringing anti-Castro speech at the State Department.

Castro's media actually broadcast and printed large portions of it for the public. The reason they did so was perfectly clear. They knew that in less than a week, on Oct. 30, the U.N. General Assembly would, for the 16th time, pass a Cuban resolution strongly condemning the almost 40-year-old U.S. embargo of Cuba, the centerpiece of U.S policy.

It did so by a vote of 184-4, with one abstention, in a session replete with supporting statements from delegates representing U.S. allies. What can we learn from this? Either that the president's handlers have no sense of world public relations and should be sacked or that his administration does not give a whit about the United
Nations anyway.

AMBLER MOSS, professor, international studies, University of Miami, Coral Gables

How does Carl Hiaasen know that, ''It is safe to assume that RaúlCastro isn't exactly shaking in his boots,'' and that, ''There are no signs that Cuba's armed forces will suddenly turn on him, or that the citizens will spontaneously stage a revolt'' (Bush on Cuba: `Same old macho speech,' Issues & Ideas, Oct. 28)?

It is impossible to make such predictions, just as it was impossible to predict the collapse of Communism just before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Cubans, like Americans and others around the world, want to live in freedom.

Hiaasen's message is, as usual, simple: President Bush is always wrong, Cuban Americans are out of line for defending freedom in Cuba and the Castro dictatorship is a minor nuisance that will be around for a long time.

We have heard it before and can recognize bigotry when we see it.

AIDA BRANA, Boca Raton

Carl Hiaasen should get acquainted with what other world leaders besides Bush have said about Castro's Cuba.

Hiaasen seems to believe that after a certain time it is no longer appropriate for the world to pay attention to Cubans' suffering.

Former Czech president Václav Havel, who spent time in Communist jails, disagrees. Havel has said that the democratic world must support representatives of the Cuban opposition as the regime clings to power.

Havel's views on Cuba merit at least as much attention as Hiaasen's.

LAIDA CARRO, Coral Gables



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