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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


The Cuban looking-glass

There have been numerous articles in the press and on TV about the response of people in the U.S. to Fidel Castro's decision not to stand for re-election; not a single one of them that I've seen has managed to quote a single supporter of the Cuban revolution.

But the coverage reached a new low today in this article in the San Jose Mercury News, which supplemented a Washington Post article (linked above) with its own local reporting. And, without correction, they quote Jennifer Echeverri, a San Jose resident of Cuban descent who owns the restaurant Habana Cuba in San Jose, as saying: "Someday, after Fidel Castro dies, Raul Castro probably would allow legal travel of Cubans to the United States and Americans to Cuba."

Excuse me? Is she, or the Mercury News editorial board, aware that legal travel of Americans to Cuba is restricted by the American government, not by the Cuban government? And is she aware that Cubans wanting to travel to the United States are routinely denied visas to do so by the U.S. government, unless (oh irony of ironies) they arrive here illegally? For example, in 2005 Cuban scientist Dr. Vicente Verez Bencomo was prevented from receiving a prestigious award for his development of a flu vaccine (a rather timely subject, by the way!) at the Tech Museum right here in San Jose due to a visa denial. The year before that, 77-year-old Ibrahim Ferrer, star of the Buena Vista Social Club, was denied a visa to attend the Grammy Awards, because it would be "detrimental to the interests of the United States" according to a law designed for "terrorists, drug dealers and dangerous criminals."

And, even more tragically than these two cases is the case of two of the wives of the Cuban Five, who have been prevented from visiting their husbands in U.S. prisons for ten years, in gross violation of international law and elementary human decency.

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