This morning Henry Gómez has posted on Babalú blog the Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of Elián González at gunpoint with the caption: "In 49 weeks we'd like you to vote Democrat. For old time's sake." It is not the sentiment that I object to. I should no more like to see a Democratic president than would Henry. But neither, for that matter, am I enthused at the prospect of another Republican president, especially Henry's idol Fred "Cubans Are Suitcase Bombers" Thompson. I don't like either political party and believe that both have royally screwed the Cuban people from the beginning. The Republican Lincoln wanted to annex Cuba and use it, in Martí's words, as the world's "basurero," disgorging into it America's emancipated slaves, convinced as he was that the two races couldn't co-exist in the same country and determined as always to assure white supremacy. Ulysses S. Grant denied belligerancy rights to the Cuban rebels in 1868 and did everything in his power to quell their movement, with half his cabinet in the pay of Spain. The Democrats were just as bad and had been at it longer. They were not always content to let the apple ripen, as Jefferson suggested. On several occasions they tried to pry Cuba from Spain to use as a slave colony. Lincoln's predecessor, James Buchanan, when Secretary of State, had personally betrayed Narciso López to the Spanish. Grover Cleveland had followed Grant's example by imposing a perverse "neutrality" during Cuba's War of Independence (1895-98) which allowed Spain to buy guns with which to kill Cubans while embargoing all arms intended for the rebels, nearly causing Martí's Revolution to fail even before the first shot was fired. His successor, William McKinley, did intervene in Cuba, in order to rob the Army of Liberation of their victory and impose an American protectorate over the island. In the "American Century" Eisenhower's State Department deposed Batista in order to give us Fidel; and John F. Kennedy betrayed the Cuban freedom fighters at the Bay of Pigs (betraying Cubans is America's oldest diplomatic tradition) and formerly relinquished U.S. control of Cuba by ceding the island to the Soviet Union in the Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact. In recent times, Bill Clinton introduced the "Wet Foot/Dry Foot" policy which George Bush has implemented longer than Clinton did. The Elián affaire is not an isolated incident in the history of Cuban-American relations but par for the course. Clinton and Reno, of course, bear most of the responsibility; but the Republicans are not without blame either. They controlled both houses of Congress at the time and refused to pass a relief bill that would have bestowed citizenship on the boy because their constituents, ill-served as always by the MSM, had concluded that slavery in Cuba was the best thing for the boy. That attitude, of course, was also fomented by the Republicans' anti-Hispanic xenophobia, which became a party credo under Henry's other great hero, Newt Gingrich.
Of course, Henry can be as partisan as he wishes. What he has no right to do, however, is to use Elián as a political prop because Henry was one of the few Cuban-Americans who supported Elián's return to his father before his kidnapping at Reno's orders. The prospect of sending the boy back to Cuba without the use of guns didn't in the least perturb Henry. What had him in a panic then was the prospect that those loud but peaceful protestors would tarnish by their passion and "Cubanness" the good opinion which Henry's Anglo neighbors had of him and other invisible Cubans.
This kind of shamelessness is not unknown to us. In fact, it reminds us of the modus operandi of someone we all know: it is Fidel Castro's conceit that everybody else is stupid and can be conned at will.
Not me and not here, Henry.