Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bay of Pigs Museum and Library (Part 2)

First, I have to say that blogger Genius of Despair at Eye on Miami has provided (and continues to provide) crucial information regarding the so-called Bay of Pigs Museum and Library. The latest post (from Monday) on this issue is worth repeating (from a 2003 workshop), concerning the future site (Parcel B) of the "Bay of Pigs Museum":

"... it is clear that the people of Miami want a place that is first and foremost designed for their usenot primarily for museums, or tourists, or as a profit making sports facility, but as one of the ten places that makes Miami great and the downtown worth living in."

Eye on Miami has also argued that future use of Parcel B, since it belongs to Miami-Dade County, may be subject to a county-wide referendum. I'm sure Miami residents would support voting on the future use of this valuable waterfront property, especially after they realize the true purpose of this "Bay of Pigs Museum and Library."

Since my first post, several relevant events have occurred. On September 4th and 5th, Andres Viglucci and Mathew Pinzur of the Miami Herald reported on the now-County-approved feasibility study for the "Bay of Pigs Museum." The vote was unanimous.

Viglucci provided some important background information about Parcel B:

"[In 1996] the centerpiece of a $3 million campaign that helped tip a referendum in the [Miami] Heat's favor, promised 'a safe new waterfront park for all our families.' But the county and the Heat never made any attempt to build a park. The county conceded it had failed to require it... In December 2004, after the county regained control of the land, it held a public workshop to come up with ideas for a park [quoted above]. County officials said at the time they would move quickly... But [Miami-Dade County Manager] Burgess said they decided to await the results of the city master plan."

It's clear that the County has delayed any development of Parcel B for years. Now comes the "Bay of Pigs Museum." Pinzur writes:

"With an outpouring of emotion for one of the seminal moments in Cuban-American history, the Miami-Dade County Commission on Tuesday overwhelmingly supported the notion of building a museum and parking garage on a small piece of bayfront earlier promised as park land... A number of Bay of Pigs veterans were in the audience."

"Commissioner Natacha Seijas... said it could compare to Sydney's signature Opera House in Australia."

Aside from the ridiculous pieties, the idea of the parking garage was finally being reported. "Chairman Bruno Barreiro, fretting that nearby development was leaving the arena without sufficient parking [said] 'I think we might hamper and will hamper the arena if we do not really consider an additional parking structure with amenities on that site.'"

On September 11th, Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm called the whole thing a "land grab," and the Museum a "very fancy hat" that will adorn the parking garage. "The 2007 version again scuttles the waterside park that voters were promised back in 1996 when they were persuaded to underwrite the Heat's waterside arena. But somehow that lovely bayfront park with a soccer field, lined with palm trees, has morphed into a parking garage."

After Grimm hit the nail on the head, Nicolas Gutierrez Jr., vice-president (and former president) of the "Bay of Pigs Museum and Library," did some damage control and revealed important information about the project.

"The new museum would display, study and preserve the events of the past 48 years, analyzing how a totalitarian system forced millions to find freedom and opportunities in this country offered by South Florida and generous people... This museum would help ensure that such repression does not occur again elsewhere... It would be a monument to man's indomitable quest for freedom and justice. It should not be pigeon-holed as simply having ethnic appeal. The museum would be quintessentially American and could be a rallying point to unite our diverse community's many interests."

This is BS in my opinion. First, if Gutierrez believes that the Museum "deserves fair consideration from the people of Miami-Dade County," then he would be working to conduct another planning session workshop like in 2003, or be putting the Museum up for a county-wide referendum. He's doing neither. Second, members of the Museum's Project Team recently appeared on Radio Mambi and described the Museum as a future venue that would cater to the Cuban-American community, and not "our diverse community."

When Robert Chisholm and Jose E. Miranda appeared with Marta Flores last week on Radio Mambi (September 19th), they made several revelations about the plans for the so-called "Bay of Pigs Museum and Library."

[Part 3]

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