Full-page ad takes U.S. to task on Cuba
By Albor Ruiz
Enough is enough.
That is the unmistakable message conveyed in an open letter signed by more than 100 prominent Cuban-American scholars, writers and artists - 11 of them from New York - published today in The Miami Herald as a full-page ad.
The letter is right on target when it calls U.S. policy toward Cuba "a political and moral failure for almost half a century."
Coming a few weeks before a Bush administration panel, the clearly interventionist Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, makes its second report and tightens even further restrictions on travel to Cuba. The document, a categorical, even angry denunciation of Washington's obsolete Cuba policy, is sure to cause a stir in the Cuban-American community.
"The purpose is to start a public debate about these issues," said Dr. Lillian Manzor, a University of Miami associate professor of Latino and Latin American Literature and one of the academics who signed the letter.
But the signatories, who have formed a national group, Emergency Network of Cuban American Scholars and Artists for Change in U.S.-Cuba Policy (ENCASA/US-CUBA), also have another, more ambitious, goal.
The group seeks to reverse a U.S. policy that, for almost 50 years, has had as its centerpiece an economic embargo whose cruelty to the people of Cuba is legendary.
"We have organized ourselves to voice our outrage at a policy that is inhumane, unjust, ill-conceived, hypocritical and contrary to American ideals," the letter says.
Manzor, 49, who left Cuba in 1968, is one of the group's founders. She says that it is important to let everyone know that there is no monolithic position among Cuban-Americans.
"Every time the embargo, travel restrictions or any other issue related to Cuba comes up, it is the same small group of people who are consulted and interviewed," she said. "We want everybody to know that, among Cuban-Americans, there are many different positions. I would dare say that a majority in the Cuban-American academic community disagrees with U.S. policy toward Cuba."
The letter puts it this way: "For too long, this debate has been dominated by one sector of our community. We are determined that no longer will others in our community speak for us as they continue to insist on taking this country down a misguided path that has served neither the best interests of the U.S. nor those of the Cuban people."
The letter is bound to resonate loudly from Washington to Miami given the nature of its signatories. Most of them are professors affiliated with 60 universities, including some of the nation's leading institutions. The rest are artists, writers, curators, playwrights, poets, novelists, attorneys and editors, many of them very well known.
Among the signatories there are professors from CUNY, SUNY, Columbia University and NYU.
"The Cuban nation has a long and proud record of struggle for self-determination and defense of its sovereignty," the letter states. "For more than 500 years, Cubans have rejected and defeated colonialism, military interventions and foreign influences. The policy embraced by the Bush administration and spelled out in the 2004 Commission Report ignores and misreads Cuban history.
"Moreover, the policy attempts to negate the Cuban people's right to self-determination and sovereignty by implying that the U.S. should have a major role in determining Cuba's future. Cuba's present and future must be determined by the Cuban people, not by the U.S."
Enough is enough.