Wednesday, April 18, 2007
From Our Ambassador Down Under
I have debated many Australians vis-à-vis Communist Cuba in my meanderings in the blogosphere and I have never had more animated arguments in my life. In fact, I am going to collect those debates because they are also the funniest I have ever engaged in. But enough trailers of coming attractions.
Luís M. García, author of Child of the Revolution, book and blog, is one Australian I have never had to debate because his position on Castro is as clear and unequivocal as if had been raised in Hialeah, so I do not feel that I am going outside the scope of Review of Cuban-American Blogs by commending both his blog and book. His presence in Australia as a kind of exile-ambassador is especially useful to our cause since he catches a lot of things Down Under that might escape us, as witness his latest post:
Arrivals and departures
There is an interesting story on the front page of today’s edition of The Australian newspaper, under the heading "Refugee swap to bring Cubans here".
The normally well-connected paper reveals well-advanced plans by the Australian and US governments to exchange a couple of hundreds refugees a year.
Under the plan, Sri Lankan and Burmese citizens trying to get to Australia by boat but currently in detention on the neighbouring island of Nauru will be sent to the US as refugees.
In exchange, Cubans who have been intercepted at sea trying to get to Miami and who are currently held at the US base in Guantanamo Bay will get a chance to apply for refugee status in Australia.
The thinking behind the proposed scheme is that this is a way of deterring illegal migrants and people smugglers attempting to land in both the US and in Australia.
According to the paper, “the move will deliver political benefits to both governments in the highly sensitive issue of refugee policy”.
Now we have seen it all: nations trading refugees for the sake of political expediency! It is certainly preferable to returning them to persecution in their respective homelands, but what does it say about Australia's view of Sri Lankans and the Burmese, or America's view of Cuban refugees? I think the word pariah would about cover it. Is this what Cuban refugees have finally become in this hate-filled xenophobic country we inhabit? George Bush is president because Cuban-Americans made him president, a fact he has acknowledged on several occasions. And how has he repaid us? He has presided over the gutting of the trade embargo; he has given Hugo Chávez carte blanche to export Castro's Revolution to South America; and he has upheld longer than Clinton did the shameless and intellectually bankrupt "Dry Foot/Wet Foot" policy, which broke with 30 years of precedent in the interpretation and application of the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966, which makes no distinction between refugees who make it to land or those who are rescued at sea.
Of course, we are too blame also. We have long been too much concerned with our image in this country as the "good refugees," which was really something once before the libels perpetrated by Castro and the MSM in the time of Mariel. That image no longer exists, although Cuban-Americans have been 25 years late in catching on. We are in fact hated in this country, first, because of our success here, and then because of our love for our brethren in Cuba as demonstrated in both the Mariel boatlift and the Elián affaire. So in order not to be hated anymore, Cuban-Americans remain silent about the victims of the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy as well as the attempts of the Cuban government to re-enact its victory in the Elián case by forcing the repatriation of a 4-year old Cuban refugee girl to her father in Cuba (actually, to her uberfather Fidel).
Perhaps if we stopped being the "good refugees" and pressed our case with the virulence that other groups in the U.S. do, we might at last get some respect, if not from our enemies at least from our political allies.
I have researched the question and concluded that never in history have non-belligerant nations exchanged refugees in the manner that the U.S. and Australia propose to do. The only historical parallel to be found is the practice of Oriental sultans, who were in the habit of swapping sons when they reached their pre-teens (the reader can imagine for what purpose).