The Miami Herald
August 23, 1993, 1-B

New Cuban-American Lobby Elects Leaders

DONNA GEHRKE Herald Staff Writer

A New York TV industry executive will lead a new national organization of Cuban Americans who are challenging the influence of the Cuban American National Foundation.
Marcelino Miyares, founder of the Hispanic American Television Companies, was elected Sunday as president of the newly formed Cuban Committee for Democracy.

Also elected to a leadership position was Alfredo Duran, a Miami attorney and former Florida Democratic Party state chairman. Duran is CCD's second vice president.

The other 13 members of the board of directors, also elected at a weekend meeting at the Omni Hotel in Miami, include businessmen, scholars and a doctor. They come from all over the country -- from University of Miami professor Enrique Baloyra to Silvia Rodriguez, a Maryland real estate agent and vicechairwoman of her state's Commission on Human Relations.

"It is a very diverse group," said businessman Roberto Carballo, who was elected the committee's first vicepresident.

He said CCD will speak with a new voice in Washington -- an alternative to the Cuban American National Foundation that until now has largely dominated debate in the capital over Cuban issues.

The Cuban Committee for Democracy favors a sharply different position than the foundation: It supports negotiations between the United States and Cuba on the trade embargo. The foundation advocates the complete political and commercial isolation of the Havana regime.

CCD board member Silvia Rodriguez said that for too long Cuban leader Fidel Castro has used the embargo as an excuse for his economic failures.

On Sunday, the new group took its first public stance on a controversial issue: Mexico's decision last week to send back to Cuba eight Cuban refugees rescued off the Mexican coast. The episode sparked two days of emotional protests in front of the Mexican consulate in Miami.

CCD, like the foundation and other exile organizations, condemned the Mexican government for sending back the refugees whose boat sank off the Mexican coast.

"We urge the Mexican government to re-examine this decision," according to a press release written Sunday.

The committee is also asking the Mexican government to "secure the liberation" of the eight rafters.

But the committee stopped short of demanding the United States government retaliate against Mexico. Members said they needed more time to study the issue.

On Friday, the foundation vowed to lobby in Washington against the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. Francisco J. Hernandez, the foundation president, said his organization will launch the anti-NAFTA campaign today.

The 15-member board of the newly formed Cuban Committee for Democracy: Enrique Baloyra, Roberto Carballo, Charles Custin, Jose Diaz Asper, Carmen Diaz, Alfredo Duran, Maria Cristina Herrera, Mauricio Font, Magda Montiel Davis, Marcelino Miyares, Eliseo Perez Stable, Marifeli Perez Stable, Dr. Alejandro Portes, Silvia Rodriguez and Mari Teri Vichot.