You've got to hand it to U.S. Rep. David Rivera; he's nothing if not determined. Tomorrow, the House Judiciary's Subcommittee on Immigration will consider (and likely approve) a bill, H.R.2831, introduced by Rivera that would withhold or rescind permanent residency status given under the 1966 Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act (commonly referred to as CAA) to any Cuban immigrant who dares to travel to Cuba for any reason before he or she becomes a U.S. citizen. And since it can take years to officially become a citizien, Rivera is essentially prepared to keep families now accustomed to being together, apart.
Why is a Cuban American legislator is proposing to limit the rights of his fellow Cuban-Americans (or, technically, soon-to-be Cuban Americans)?
You know U.S.-Cuban relations have hit a bizarre new low when The Washington Post editorial board - which favors a harder line on Cuba policy than most - criticizes the Obama administration for taking too hard a line this time.
Late last week we learned that the State Department granted visas to Mariela Castro (a sexologist and GLBT rights advocate in Cuba, and, oh by the way, Raul Castro's daughter) and two other high level officials, Josefina Vidal (the Foreign Ministry's Director of its U.S. Section) and Eusebio Leal (the man behind the "living" restoration of Old Havana). Predictably, Cuban American critics in Congress fired off statements of horror, particularly over Mariela Castro. But they offered no gleeful appreciation for the administration's decision to turn away nearly a dozen of Cuba's most noted academic specialists in U.S.-Cuban relations, who were invited to the same conference, the annual meeting of the Latin America Studies Association, as Mariela Castro and some 60 other Cuban academics who did receive visas.
"The rejections send a message that a timorous Washington is somehow afraid of competing points of view from academics in a poor island nation with a shrinking population and an economy about the size of Arkansas’. It’s a message that conveys weakness, not strength.
So does the absurd outcry from Cuban American politicians, including members of Congress, bent out of shape that a visa was granted to Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and an advocate of gay and transgender rights. What are they so frightened of?
William Booth of the Washington Post broke an exceptionally important story this weekend about an editorial published on the website of Radio and TV Marti – the anti-Castro, taxpayer -funded government broadcasters –which called Cuba’s Cardinal Jaime Ortega a “lackey” and asserted the Cardinal espoused views that were “contrary to the doctrine of Christ.”
Hours after Booth’s story was published, the editorial disappeared from the website, and links that were once live instead produced a message “Esta página no existe,” [This page does not exist], although the piece for Spanish readers can currently be found here.
Name-calling against the Cardinal is considered fair game among some hardliners in the exile community who worry that successful efforts by the Church to help free political prisoners and to open spaces for debate in Cuba on economic reform and human rights convey an image of openness on the island inconsistent with their preferred views of the Castro government.
In those precincts, it’s commonplace to read language like this, “The Pope came and went from Cuba, salsa dancing with the excommunicated Fidel (in 1962), saying not a word about, nor once acknowledging, never mind meeting with, any of the dissidents,” which is both harsh and consistent with expression in a free society.
While the FBI investigates a fire that destroyed, or in the owner’s words, “pulverized” the offices of a company that offers flights to Cuba (and coordinated a Cuban American delegation to the island for Pope Benedict’s recent trip), news that a K-9 alerted for accelerant on the premises almost immediately raises the spectre of firebombings past in Miami. More than a decade has passed since the last reported incidents of Cuban exile terrorism targeting Cuban Americans in Miami that seen as too soft on or cozy with Cuba.
"There are people that had a lot of torture, a lot of killings back on the island, and they don't appreciate A, the new wave of Cubans that are coming over and the new immigrants that are coming over that just don't have a recollection of what happened to the previous generation," said Ian Martinez, who works in an office at the building.