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.,20867,21576776-601,00.html


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).


Charlie Bravo said...

Good thing that I am in two blogs who routinely misbehave by saying that the dry-foot wet-foot is nothing but a monstrousity, and that W has kept in place for more time already than Clinton. Of course, our greatest and never well ponderated politicians are shamefully silent about this, and also our celebrities, who can defend Santana and guarantee his redemption but who would not even dare to criticize the wet-foot dry-foot immorality in public.
Trading refugees -as if they were baseball cards- is just plain shameful and disgusting. Keep on trying to be the nice house slave, and you will be treated as the nice house slave. Nicely, but with somebody pointing out to you that y'ain't more than that, and that you should know what's your place.
We better get red in the face once, and for all, that getting black and blue all over our bodies any and every time that a Cuban is sent back to the floating gulag.
I refuse to take charity or bread crumbs. The USA has a certain historic responsibility for the ascencion of fidel castro to power, and for being kept in power for 49 years as a price for his continued attacks on the USA. That a balsero has to reach American land (and be subject to what some bozo declares American land, remember the seven mile bridge 15?) is just some leftover thrown under the table, for us to gnaw on it only when the masters allows us to do it. That's maybe good for some, not for me.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Or the decision may have been made at the highest echelons of the Republican Party that there are already enough Cubans to sway the vote in Florida and that the addition of any more would cost Republicans the support of the nativists (also known as xenephobes), who, philosophically speaking, are the oldest and largest American "party."

Juan (Pancho) Valquez said...

I truly doubt that someone who dislikes the idea of Cuban immigrants coming to America will be any more sympathetic to Sri Lankan and Burmese immigrants.

The idea is probably to geographically and culturally diffuse newly arrived immigrants so they become 'American' instead of turning where ever they immigrate into their country of origin.

I don't understand anyone having a beef with this. After all Cuban refugees are supposedly fleeing Cuba because of POLITICAL persecution.

If that is the case it shouldn't matter what country they are relocated to or that countries ECONOMIC status as long as it is a Democratic country. Be it: the United States, Australia, India, Mexico, Costa Rica, or Somoliland.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I don't think that it would be at all difficult to "sneak" the Burmese and Sri Lankans into this country on commercial flights from Australia, to, say, Kennedy or LaGuardia airports. They would hardly be noticed. It would be a lot more damaging to the Republicans to repudiate the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy and restore the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 to its original interpretation. Then, most assuredly, the xenophobes in both parties would notice.

I think I already made the point that any place of refuge that is not another Communist state is preferable to Cuba. Certainly Australia, a land at least as blessed as the U.S., would be a welcome sanctuary. But that is not the point.

What possible justification can there exist for such a swap of refugees? There is already a community in place to support the Cuban refugees in the U.S., just as, presumably, there are already Burmese and Sri Lankan colonies in Australia to support those refugees. Why should they be flown half way across the world, geographically, culturally and in every other way, to be granted what is already their legal right according to both American and Australian law? Certainly the two countries would not be contemplating swapping refugees if the receipt of the refugees constituted a violation of their respective laws. If "exporting" the refugees is not unlawful, then allowing them to remain in the place where they originally sought asylum is not unlawful either. Besides not being unlawful, it is also the humane thing to do. The refugee-swapping plan is bizarre, unprecedented and morally-dubious. Exactly the kind of thing that one would expect from the present White House.