Thursday, April 16, 2009

Diego Suarez: Mass Cuban Exodus Coming

I was watching the show "Ultima Palabra" (Last Word) last night. Ultima Palabra is an hour-long political talk show on local Spanish-language station GentTV. The show is hosted by Ninoska Perez-Castellon, radio host of Radio Mambi and member of the Cuban Liberty Council.

In the last few days, Perez-Castellon and her guests have talked about the recent lifting of the Cuban-American travel and remittance restrictions. Yesterday, she had Diego Suarez (photo above) and Jose Azel on her show. All guests agreed that Obama had made an error in his recent Cuba policy decision, which amounted to nothing more than a "unilateral concession."

Jose Azel is a senior research associate at the University of Miami's Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS). Azel has recently appeared prominently on the local Spanish news outlets as a Cuba expert. He's actually more of a business man, and heads ICCAS's "Cuba Business Roundtable" (CBR) along with former-US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez (also a long-time business man, and opposed to lifting of travel and remittance restrictions). The goal of the CBR is to provide "businesses [with] a comprehensive menu of services and professional advice on how to prepare for conducting business in a future Cuba." The future Cuba they envision of course is post-Castro, and most likely a democratic Cuba. Why ICCAS has created a CBR is beyond me. Except that it does make sense when one recalls that ICCAS was (and may continue to be) funded by the US government to "undertake [US] preparations for a free and democratic Cuba" as outlined similarly by the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba of 2004.

(By the way, is CAFC still in effect with this administration?)

Anyway, Diego Suarez is another business man (and one of the founders of the Cuban Liberty Council). Last time I checked he was a successful CEO of several companies, two of which were Reynolds International and Vanguard Technologies, both of which manufacture the kind of large machinery one would need to reconstruct a future "free Cuba." So, Suarez was on Ultima Palabra and said that the Obama administration made a big error with the lifting of travel and remittance restrictions, and added that because of this decision a large Cuban exodus will happen within months. I missed the exact reasons he stated this, but they may be premised on the fact that Cubans on the island may now be more motivated to migrate north and take advantage of the economic benefits of unlimited travel and sending of remittances back home.

He may have a point. But, further normalization of US-Cuba relations could prevent that. But, that's a solution that Diego Suarez would never consider. In fact, Suarez is a militant on par with Armando Perez-Roura of Radio Mambi. His solution would be something like a naval blockade on Cuba, like Perez-Roura once mentioned.

[Photo of Diego Suarez from Libre Magazine. Suarez is also a big campaign contributor to Reps. Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart.]