Monday, April 2, 2007

The So-Called "Debate"

"PASSIONS GLOW AT TRAVEL BAN DEBATE" said the headline in the local section of the Miami Herald (not online). The Herald's Laura Morales continues to write that it was "tense, heartfelt and often loud" as "[t]empers flared here and there" and that "several panel members had to remind the crowd to keep calm." And, to top it off, Morales includes that "[d]uring the question-and-answer period two audience members became so angry and disruptive they had to be escorted out by police." A local blogger (Stuck on the Palmetto) writes that some at the event "engaged in screaming fits, heckling and disruption," and yelling out "[t]he usual favorites: 'Communist!', 'Go live in Cuba if you like it so much!'"

Welcome to Miami.

This past Saturday "marked a first" for some in Little Havana's Tower Theater as an actual debate took place in the heart of the Cuban exile community ('bout time really). Days prior to this event, Ninoska Perez-Castellon from local Spanish radio (Radio Mambi) was describing the event as a "provocation." She was upset because the debate was coordinated by the ACLU (she hates them) and included Arizona congressman Jeff Flake (hates him too). But, more importantly, she acknowledges that many "proud intransigents," that she helps to inspire, cannot hold back their emotions during civil discussion (thanks to encouragement from Radio Mambi) and thus any event that voices dissenting opinions will be poor publicity, but also (god forbid) allow people to make up their own minds on a particular subject.

Its actually a sad commentary for the local paper to write that this debate on US policy towards Cuba marks a first for Little Havana. Also, it's especially disappointing because the so-called debate on Cuba is virtually over.

For many years, its been shown that the majority of Americans favor re-established relations with Cuba, and an end to failed US policy towards the island. Even the newest Cuba Poll (2007), conducted regularly by the Florida International University, shows that the majority of Cubans are starting to reveal similar tendencies. According to the poll, there is a growing majority of Cuban-Americans that want unrestricted travel to Cuba and an end to the US embargo. Support for the US embargo has dropped since 2004, from 66% to 57%. The majority of Cubans also oppose the new family travel restrictions of 2004. The Miami Herald (Pablo Bachelet) and the Sun-Sentinel (Vanessa Bauza) summarize the other findings.

A local blogger (Cuban American Pundits) recalls from the debate on Saturday that a panel member opposing current US policy towards Cuba used a "debating trick." The "trick" shifted the burden of proof towards the supporters of US policy. Honestly, with the continued growth of opposition towards a failed US policy (even within the Cuban exile community), the burden of proof lies justly on those who support it.

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