Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee unanimously opposes Castro Consulate

An exercise in  Grassroots Democracy

Last night in the City Hall of Miami Beach
Last night at the Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee there was a meeting convened at 6:30pm to discuss  whether Miami Beach should be the new home to a Cuban consulate. At the meeting I made the case that was presented on this blog over the past few days concerning the threat posed by a Castro consulate to lives and property and listened to other points of view. Orlando Gutierrez outlined the espionage and criminal activities carried out by the Castro regime at their diplomatic posts and its implication for Miami Beach: “This disruptive activity by the Castro regime will pose a threat to the overall stability of this world renowned destination.” In contrast with this view was Commissioner Ricky Arriola who repeated his belief that "allowing for a Cuban consulate in the city would be a 'good way to help people.'" He argued the "need to service our constituents who are clearly going to be traveling to Cuba." However there is evidence that a Cuban consulate would not have "customer service" as a priority.

This reality was on full display last year when a Cuban national was denied service at the Cuban embassy and consulate in Washington DC.  On July 21, 2015 when  Rosa Maria Payá Acevedo, a Cuban national, attempted to present a letter to the Cuban consulate and embassy requesting her father's autopsy report she was not allowed to turn in the letter and a patrol car was called. Since 2012 the Payá family has been requesting Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas's autopsy report from the dictatorship and has yet to be given a copy as they are entitled by law.

Ironically Commissioner Arriola and Mayor Levine met with Gustavo Machin Gomez who is both a diplomat and Castro regime intelligence agent who in 2012 was involved in the cover up of the extrajudicial killing of Cuban human rights defender. In 2000 the same diplomat led a mob of ten Cuban diplomats to physically assault Cuban American demonstrators with their fists and sticks in Washington DC outside of the Cuban Interests Section (today the embassy). Mr. Machin Gomez and the other diplomats were so aggressive that they accidentally beat up a U.S. secret service agent who was observing in the vicinity.

Carnival Corporation's The Adonia
 Unmentioned last night, because it is not directly related, but reveals the attitude of the dictatorship in Cuba towards Cubans and Cuban Americans is the controversy surrounding Carnival corporation going along with long standing regulations by the Castro regime in discriminating against an entire class of people based on their national origin which it explained in the following statement:
Cuba has a longstanding regulation that no Cuban-born individuals are allowed to travel from anywhere in the world to and from Cuba by ship. This regulation applies to all cruise lines, ferries and any form of shipping planning to travel to and from Cuba.
Carnival Corporation was granted approval to travel to Cuba by the U.S. in July 2015, and on March 21 by Cuba for our sailing on our new Fathom brand starting on May 1.
 According to the Daily Telegraph, Cuban Americans are banned from the first cruise to Cuba in decades and the first victim of the ban, is a Cuban American academic who has been traveling to the island since 1978 to visit family and for academic research and is an advocate for normalized relations with the dictatorship:
Cuban-born Maria de los Angela Torres, an academic at the University of Illinois, tried to book a cabin on a Fathom cruise to the Caribbean island and was put on a waiting list for a $2,470 ocean-view cabin. She came unstuck when the reservation agent requested her passport information. The country has a longstanding regulation that forbids Cuban-born individuals, regardless of US citizenship, to travel from the US to Cuba by seagoing vessels, including cruise ships and ferries.
 Unfortunately what Commissioner Arriola is unwittingly advocating is the empowerment of  the Castro regime to continue violate norms and not be held accountable for its continued discrimination, abuse and repression against 11 million Cubans and opens up the possibility of complicity in the discrimination against Cuban Americans when what took place at the Cuban Consulate in Washington, DC is undoubtedly repeated elsewhere in the United States and if Arriola and Levine have their way, this would include Miami Beach.

Last night an African American talk show host addressed the Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee in opposition to the Cuban Consulate in Miami Beach pointing out the shameful history of Miami Beach that in 1915 did not allow African Americans to reside there forcing them into what would become Overtown. Cuban Americans, although not to the extreme experienced by African Americans, suffered discrimination when they arrived in South Florida in the early 1960s according to the academic scholar Dario Moreno:
In Miami in the early 1960s, it was common to find signs posted in apartment buildings that read: "No Pets, No Kids, No Cubans." Moreover, during the 1960s and 1970s, due to the urging of local Anglo politicians new Cuban refugees were relocated outside of Dade County in an effort to prevent the political empowerment of Cubans.
It is a sad testament that in 2016 a small group of Cuban Americans would be pursuing policies that take Cubans and Cuban Americans back to the days that they were discriminated against by Americans because of their national origin. However, it is doubly painful because it is being done to placate the arbitrary rule of the Castro dictatorship from which they fled.

Thankfully last night after carefully listening to all points of view the Miami Beach Hispanic Affairs Committee unanimously opposed the opening of a Cuban Consulate in Miami Beach. Hopefully Mayor Levine and Commissioner Arriola will reconsider their position. Unfortunately last night Arriola described the following resolution as "harmful":
Commission should formally oppose Cuban consulate in city so long as Cuban government continues its violation of basic freedoms and human rights violations.
Commissioner Arriola's argument that not having a Consulate in South Beach will necessitate traveling to Tampa is absurd. For example Norway has three general consulates in New York, Houston and San Francisco that in past have handled applications all over the United States through postal or messenger services. Currently, consulate matters with the Castro regime are handled in the Embassy in Washington DC (and before that in the Cuba Interests Section) and the Mission in New York City and can be handled in the same manner through the post. 

One final observation, perhaps for the sake of truth in advertising the debate should center around opening a "Castro Consulate" because it has already been demonstrated that the Embassy and Consulate in Washington DC does not serve Cubans or represent them but rather the Castro dictatorship.

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