Ana Menéndez has been replaced by another self-hating Cuban, except that Myriam Márquez, a horrible writer and worse polemicist, makes us look bad even before she embarks on the first platitude or non-sequitur.
The title of her column gave us hope that we might be able to think better of her, because a noble heart can make itself known even tangled in turgid prose: "Wet or Dry, Policy Should Be the Same." Not being a moral monster myself I naturally assumed that she meant that all fugitives from injustice should receive the same compassionate treatment whether they were fighting for their lives on the high seas or had defied all odds and predators (natural and denatured) to make it to these shores. But she meant no such thing. Whether "dry" or "wet" Márquez wants all Cuban refugees to receive the draconian treatment which Clinton decreed for the "wets" in his revision by presidential fiat of the Cuban Adjustment Act (1966), or, as she puts it, she wants the "U.S. [to] appl[y] wet-foot rules to dry-footers."
When the CAA was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Johnson there was no distinction between "wets" and "drys," a refugee was a refugee and the U.S. would no more have sent one back to Cuba than it would have tossed a fleeing East German over the Berlin Wall. That's the way the law worked for 30 years, that's the way it worked for all of us, including Ms. Márquez and her cousins, the rafter and the balsero. She doesn't tell us if one or both turned out to be criminals, which is the reason she gives for wanting the repeal of the Cuban Adjustment Act:
"After this country extends them every privilege under the Cuban Adjustment Act, some of them abuse the law. They pop up in Medicare scams and, when the FBI comes after them, they take the next plane back to Cuba or hitch a ride on a smuggling boat headed to the communist island."
First of all, the U.S. does not extend any "privileges" to Cuban refugees. That's her first mistake and the wellspring of all others. Their right to asylum is enshrined in U.S. law. So long as that law exists it is not a privilege or gracious concession which the U.S. grants them but recognition of that right in compliance with that law.
Ms. Márquez writes that at least half of South Florida's Medicare fugitives are "back in Cuba." Did it ever occur to her or The Herald reporter whom she quotes to that effect that the authors of these multimillion-dollar Medicare scams were Castro agents infiltrated into this country for the expressed purpose of perpetrating those kinds of frauds? It is no accident that "at least half" chose to redefect to Cuba with their ill-gotten loot. This is what they were expected to do. I doubt that you would find any rafters among Castro's agents. They are too cowardly to pay such a price even to sample freedom. Their immigration visas were no doubt duly approved by the regime and processed through the U.S. Interests Office in Havana. Is it really so hard to figure out that no Cuban exile would voluntarily repatriate himself to Cuba unless he was never an exile in the first place?
Márquez quotes U.S. District Judge Fedérico Moreno in support of her contention that the latest refugees are not trueblood refugees, but does not realize -- because she is too daft to realize it -- that Moreno's observation actually undermines her case:
''It seems to me that our thinking has to change. We always think here in Miami that if you're a Cuban refugee, you're not going to go back to Cuba. I'm wondering whether a Jew leaving Nazi Germany can go back and forth to visit the relatives. I would suspect you couldn't.''
Moreno is wrong, of course. Our thinking does not have to change. Cubans, whether they arrived here in 1959 or yesterday, are not voluntarily returning to live in Cuba -- not in droves or in a trickle, no more than Jews would have (or could have) returned to Germany in 1939. Such a thing, indeed, is almost unheard of. The handful of Cubans who do return for good to the island do so because they have completed the mission that was assigned to them in this country and are recalled to Cuba. It would be strange indeed if U.S. immigration policy towards Cuban refugees were predicated on the conduct in this country of Castro's spies and agents provocateur, who are sent here, among other reasons, to sully the community's good name and undermine the Cuban Adjustment Act, which, though gutted and perverted by both Clinton and Bush, still provides the only option for Cubans willing to risk lives to attain freedom.
For Ms. Márquez today's "Yosmanys and Yusmilas" are "abusing America's good will" by wanting to be free in a way that the "Rigobertos and Rudesindas" weren't 50 years ago. Still, the tyranny that they are escaping is the same; the tyrant is the same; everything is the same except perhaps their color and social class. Or are they unacceptable to her because they are a later version of the Cuban "New Man," say, version 26.50, when no version after 26.20 is deemed "uncorrupted?"
This daughter of immigrants, who knows that real "Americanism" consists in turning on one's own, warns in the best xenophobic fashion that "U.S. benevolence has its limits."
Benevolence has no limits for those who are truly benevolent just as cravenness has no limits for the truly craven.