The news of the turn out on February 24, 2007, was somewhat disappointing to Marta Flores. Flores, the nicknamed "Queen of the Night" on Radio Mambi, described last Saturday's protest with some disappointment, especially the lack of attendance of young Cuban-Americans. I agree with her description, I was there.
Several Cuban exile organizations gathered at the Jose Marti Park this past Saturday to call for the release of Cuban patriots in US prisons, such as Luis Posada Carriles. This protest is a repetition of the demonstration that occurred on January 19, 2007, at the Bay of Pigs Memorial on Calle Ocho. That event made headlines when counter-protesters where attacked by members of Vigilia Mambisa and their president Miguel Saavedra, all of whom were captured on video and photographed initiating the fight.
This time, some of the same exile groups came out on what turned out to be a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and the bright blue, cloudless sky presented no premonitions of hostilities. As I drove to Jose Marti Park, I had my radio tuned to Radio Mambi and listened to the 12 o'clock news program. By that time, Radio Mambi was already reporting a high turn out for the demonstration. According to El Nuevo Herald, about 500 protesters made the time to come out that day.
Once there, I noticed many other people, couples and families simply enjoying the weather, playing at the park, taking their pictures with the famous Miami River. I also happened to notice a boy scout troop had assembled nearby and were visiting the river front. Nevertheless, this wasn't any other Saturday for the gathered Cuban exiles.
Protesters calling for the release of their Cuban patriots shouted into a megaphone, making their demands to the crowd and the US government. Some, from as far away as Los Angeles, called for their immediate release, while others called for continued struggle. One made it clear to all who listened that the struggle is already underway to liberate Cuba. Never mind the obstacles that they have encountered all these years, one shouted out, they have plans ready for the eventual overthrow of the Cuban government. He assured everyone that many exile groups have their plans ready, and that they are waiting for the right moment.
[Photo by Ariel Remos of Diario Las Americas]