By Alvaro F. Fernandez
President George W. Bush faces a battle he can never win.
I notice things we take for granted because of my visits to
Cuba. Sometimes simple things.
In Havana, off 41st Street between 34th and 36th Avenues
lives my aunt. It's a large, old house. In that home also
live her daughters, my two cousins, with husbands and four
children ranging from the 8-year-old to the oldest who is
now 20 and attending the Instituto Superior de Arte, Cuba's
fine art university where so many great artists began their
The recently announced proposals by President Bush's
Commission on Cuba brought back memories of the past decade
- the time I started regularly visiting the island since
I left it as a very young boy in April, 1960. I will
celebrate my birthday this weekend, the time of the year
when I first traveled back.
That visit changed my life. I have never been able to fully
explain it. But I also know I am not the only one who's
experienced the feeling. Feet touching ground that is
yours: a sudden jolt of energy that gives new meaning to
This feeling has much to do with a lot of the work that
I do now. Work that gets done no matter the cost.
I am not alone. There are many others.
President George W. Bush will never win the Cuba battle
because he does not understand it.
How do you defeat an ideal? Bombs won't do it. Blow up the
place; burn it to the ground. The ideal becomes greater,
And how do you explain family. Apparently, except in the
case of money and continuation of power, Bush doesn't
understand it. It's more perplexing, yet, when you consider
that he calls himself a good Christian.
It is why I both raged and laughed at the proposed measures
announced this past week. I travel to Cuba as the
journalist I am, something allowed by the embargo. Under
different conditions I would not get to see my aunt ever
again. She is not of the immediate family - a father, a
mother, brother or sister. So this holy crusader we call
our president - he who claims to speak to god - has now set
out to define what determines a Cuban family. And in all
his goodness he has decided that real family members, those
decided by him, can only be visited every three years.
Also, he of the holy connections has decided that
remittances that I might send to that 80-year-old aunt and
my cousins are now disallowed. I guess I will email them
and inform them that President Bush has decided that they
are no longer an important part of my family.
He is so wrong...
But this is also the time that the majority of Cubans in
Miami need to wake up to what's happened, and what will
keep happening if they don't act.
Sure I blame George W. He has plenty to be blamed for:
there are even things on his conscience that are worse than
the Cuba situation. Or, have you not followed the news in
What burns me the most though, is that the measures
announced are the result of strong lobbying by persons born
in Cuba. Most - if not all - want these measures applied
because in one way or another it will represent money in
their pockets. Yes! Good old American dollars.
Whatever country they feel they're from, they're sell-outs.
Consider the aircraft they want flying around the Caribbean
that will help transmit Radio and TV Marti to the island.
It's all an $18 million a year scam that won't fly. All for
a radio transmission nobody listens to, and a TV reception
that has never been seen.
Ask yourself in whose pocket those millions end up in?
These Cuban patriots don't have much love for Miami either.
First, they helped make it the poorest city in the country
by instituting a system of corruption - or what would you
call it? Now, they steer taxpayer dollars away from people
in need right here - for phantom projects.
Shame on them!
Visit Calle Ocho in Miami on any given day or night and you
will find restaurants full of people gorging themselves on
delicacies that make us an area (and country) with an
expanding waistline. We then return home to turn on the
late night news while enjoying a dish of ice cream. Before
turning in we'll tease ourselves with an intoxicating peek
at a variety of so many things we find in our overstocked
and brand new refrigerators that filters our water as it
dispenses it without having to open the door.
These are many of the same people who want 11 million
Cubans to go hungry while they continue their daily feast.
By backing the Commission on Cuba's move, they're saying:
"Hey we need for you over there to tighten your belt, while
we loosen ours. But don't worry, it's all for the good of
It's time our outrage be put to practical use. When we just
sit and complain... we're dealing with an administration
that just doesn't care. There is a way to hurt them: the
Yet, we're still apathetic. All the rich food and the
luxury have made us lazy, I suppose. "Let somebody else
worry about it" is a feeling that pervades.
Every time I visit Cuba my rail-thin 80-year-old aunt who
Bush now says is not an immediate member of my family runs
around half her neighborhood looking for mamey - a tropical
fruit found on the island. She knows I love mamey
You see, in Cuba, it's the little things that count.
That's why I continue to work on fixing what's wrong.
I know I'm doing my part. Are you?
If you haven't done so yet, then it's time you registered
to vote. The most important election of our lifetime is
right around the corner.