The past several months have witnessed the emotional media controversy surrounding the fate of six-year-old Cuban refugee Elin Gonzlez in Miami. A debate raged - even among conservatives and Christians - as to whether or not Elin should be sent back to live under a communist dictatorship or be allowed to stay with relatives in the U.S.
Elin's father, Juan Miguel, says he wants Elin back in Cuba. His Miami relatives say his mother wanted him here. Conservative Christians point out that Christians are always in support of parental rights.
Perhaps much of the debate would not have existed had the American public's understanding of Castro's Cuba not grown dim with the passage of time and distorted with the steady bombardment of leftist media propaganda.
Even before Elin appeared off Florida's shores on Thanksgiving Day 1999, and before the gestapo-like raid on Elin's relatives in Miami during Easter weekend, it was fashionable among left-wing elitists to soft-peddle an economically distressed Cuba as Castro's "failed socialist experiment." Marxism is still the rage in the halls of American higher learning, despite years of failed governments and over 100 million lives affected as a direct result of the communist experiment. Nevertheless, adjusting history in the minds of Americans is necessary to the process of establishing normal relations with Castro.
To refer to Cuba as "socialist" is historical revisionism. Cuba is not a failed socialist experiment but a 30-year-old, hard-core Marxist dictatorship, headed by a brutal dictator under whose hand thousands of Christians have been persecuted, imprisoned or killed and under which political dissidents and journalists have been silenced. To this day, journalists are being imprisoned in Cuba for publishing politically incorrect articles.
Like all Marxist countries, Cuba is being forced to turn to capitalism to save itself from its own failed policies. As an interesting side-bar, while the leftists of the world have been howling for the prosecution of Chile's Agosto Pinochet for his alleged "crimes against humanity" (total estimated victims 3,000), the same leftists have been smiling on Uncle Fidel (total estimated victims 60,000). The difference? Pinochet was a dictator who established the most vibrant free-market economy in South America today. He succeeded, and that was an unpardonable sin in the minds of socialists. Castro was a communist dictator who failed, but we can't say so. As a matter of fact, it is trendy to blame Cuba's current economic condition on the U.S. embargo.
Economic Paradise Lost
Cuba never achieved its promised economic utopia. When its prime benefactor-the Soviet Union-ceased to exist, Cuba went off the dole and its GNP promptly dropped 35% between 1989 and 1993. The government had to declare a "special period in peacetime." That's a Marxist euphemism for a state of economic emergency.1
Nevertheless, Marxist ideology continues to prevail over cold hard fact. In Cuba, there are no free or fair elections. Media are controlled by the state with antennas and satellite dishes carrying U.S. broadcasts being forbidden, although they can be used in tourist hotels. Power outages are frequent. Schools operate without paper and pencils. Although health care is free, medical supplies are few and far between. A rationing system based on libretas (little books) covers almost all items.2
As Cuba's crisis deepened, the government tried to promote the tourist trade to bring in hard currency, but most Cubans were shut out of the expanding hard-currency economy. Finally, in 1993 the Cuban government begrudgingly gave Cubans the right to engage in private enterprise, but only with family members manning the enterprise and definitely no employees.
No Media Controversy in Cuba
While there was much media controversy in the United States over Elin's fate, there was none in Cuba. Castro wouldn't allow it! The Cuban population only hears what Fidel wants them to hear, and nothing happens in Cuba without Fidel wanting it to happen. "The Castro regime has focused its police agencies to stamp out what was a growing and vibrant community of independent journalists."3
"As recently as last year, journalists in Cuba have been arrested and imprisoned, three of them for 'disrespect' to Castro."4 Many are trying to leave Cuba. Apparently Fidel intends to manipulate the American media in the future as well, as he has succeeded this time.5
Cuba Violates Parental Rights
Since much of the American debate about Elin among Christians involved parental and family rights, it is only wise to ask what rights the "Elins" of Cuba and their families actually have? None. The American philosophy of "what's best for the child" doesn't apply in Cuba. Cuban psychiatrist Dr. Marta Molina escaped from Cuba in August of 1999. In a February, 1999 affidavit, he indicated what Elin's fate would be upon returning to Cuba: "He will immediately be taken into seclusion away from the mainstream," the doctor says, "to re-indoctrinate him in the ways of the Communist ideology."6 He most definitely will not be allowed to stay with his father, except possibly for some public relations photos.
In "Education in Elin's Cuba: What Americans Don't Know," Agustn Blzquez writes:
The education that children like Elin Gonzlez receive in Cuba from kindergarten on is geared to create a new type of human being. Implicit in the 1976 Cuban constitution is an all-encompassing structure to educate and mold children. Parents do not have the authority to deviate from this structure... Beginning in preschool, children are taught songs and poems praising the revolution and Castro, establishing a personality cult around his figure. Also, belief in God is discouraged. They are taught, instead, to believe in Castro...."7
This brainwashing process demands punishment for noncompliance, and children who refuse to conform are used as examples to intimidate others. If parents dare express their displeasure, their children suffer." 8 There are no parental rights and children are removed from their families at age 11 and placed in government schools - indoctrination centers. Naturally, Elin's relationships with his Florida relatives will be severed in the name of protecting the child from counterrevolutionaries. It will be interesting to note what the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals makes of all of this. Judge James Edmundson will invariably be under tremendous covert pressure from the Justice Department to decide in their favor.
Those Cubans who fled from communist Cuba understand what the game is all about: freedom. Many paid with their lives. Had a black slave father in the antebellum South managed to get his wife and son through the underground railroad to safety in Canada but then the wife died, would the father have wanted his son to return to slavery in the South just so they could be together? Unlikely. Would he be free to voice his opinion in the matter. Unlikely.
Is Juan Gonzlez any better off? Unlikely. Will Elin be? Unlikely.
Berit Kjos contributed to this article.
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