You can disagree with violent anti-Castro dogma, but such dissent could also get you killed – or your business torched as happened on April 25 to Airline Brokers Co. Some Cuban exiles apparently take free speech so seriously that they punish those who use it in “inappropriate” ways.
Miami has witnessed countless incidents for five plus decades where those who consider their own views on how to bring freedom to Cuba as so pure and irreproachable, that anyone who challenges their doctrine merits a bomb, a bullet, or an accelerant.
Ironically, these extremists don’t do their macho violence in Cuba. They choose safer places. Orlando Bosch and his cohort Luis Posada Carriles said they were trying to free Cuba when they masterminded the bombing of the Cuban passenger plane over Barbados in 1976. If you believe in freeing Cuba, so their logic goes, you become free to kill all 73 on board. How this helped to free Cuba – well, you know.
By fighting for freedom in Cuba – or claiming to – you get a license from God to destroy and intimidate in the United States or anywhere else. Indeed, in Miami hundreds of bombings, shootings, and arson have occurred – all this mayhem in the name of that glorious cause of freeing Cuba. Although no one has yet actually explained how a fire or shooting in Miami helps liberate Cuba.
Instead, the majority of this “liberating” violence has targeted civilians in the United States. Did killing Cuban UN diplomat Felix Garcia in New York in 1980, and bombing and torching movie theaters in New York and Los Angeles (where my “Fidel” film was supposed to open in 1970) because they didn’t like the movie they hadn’t even seen help free Cuba? In the late 1980s and early 1990s, a bomber put a charge on the wall of Marazul Travel – an agency providing legal travel to Cuba. Three Molotov cocktails got tossed into Marazul offices. Travel to Cuba became a sin against the religion of “fighting for freedom in Cuba.”
From the 1960s through the 1980s, “Bombs Away” could have referred to Miami rather than a video game about space aliens. And this “violence against people who disagree with violence in the United States will free Cuba” equation continues.
On April 25, 2012, fifty-three plus years after the Cuban revolutionaries took power, God’s licensed terrorists burned the offices of an airline charter company ostensibly because it flew pilgrims to Cuba. How such actions advanced their cause of freedom for Cuba remains a logical mystery – or perhaps simply a pretext for baser motives.
The targets for violence have shared two qualities: 1) they disagreed with the dictates laid down by the extremist wing of exiles who demanded everyone submit to their views or suffer the consequences; 2) they had no chance to defend themselves.
The most recent “sinner,” who offended the self-anointed arsonists owned Airlines Brokers Co. Vivian Mannerud told Miami’s Channel 10: “It’s not that it’s burned. It’s pulverized.” She stared at the ashes that once housed her charter company. “I have never seen a fire pulverize things. I’ve seen it in pictures of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima.”
Investigators aided by dogs trained to recognize the odor of accelerant determined that the fire was “deliberate.” So, the arsonists did a professional job, just as their predecessors, the bombers and shooters did in their countless acts of murder and mayhem in Miami, New York, San Juan and Washington, DC – all to free Cuba, of course.
In March, the Miami Archdiocese, which had received bomb threats in 1998 during a previous Pope’s (John Paul II) visit to Cuba, contracted with Mannerud’s company to transport several hundred of the faithful from South Florida to the island. Was this the motive? Or did it relate to a sin of her father who started the charter company in 1982 and had testified in the trial of Eduardo Arocena of the Cuban Nationalist Movement and its “action arm” Omega 7. The jury convicted Arocena.
If the Cuban Five network had remained in Miami they might have infiltrated the group that torched Mannerud’s company and tipped the police to the caper. But those anti-terrorists remain in federal custody, while arsonists roam the Miami streets and a bomber, like Luis Posada Carriles, has a publicized painting exhibition in a Coral Gables bank.
The “patriots” have no plans to “free Cuba,” only rhetoric with phrases like “return Cuba to freedom” (non-existent in Cuba before the revolution), and “get rid of the dictatorship” (which some of them supported under Batista). But decades of violence in the United States has hurt this country, but had no effect on Cuba. Ironically, the macho perpetrators even deny their deeds, but nevertheless get honored for doing them and accept the honors.
They can’t explain how destroying a Coral Gables travel agency helps free Cuba. “The money visitors spend in Cuba supports the Castro regime.” As if bombing travel agencies stops travel!
Reach beneath the unconvincing rhetoric and into baser motives. Do the violence makers make their living from violence? After the April 25 fire, did Coral Gables business neighbors of the Airline Charter Co. receive visits? “Hey, you got a nice store here…” You know the dialogue from the Sopranos. Except Cuban exile criminals cover their shakedowns with “patriotic” rhetoric.
I feel certain, however, that Miami area elected officials have strong feelings against this act of terrorism despite their deafening silence.
*Saul Landau is a Professor Emeritus at California State University, Pomona, and a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He has produced more than 40 films on social, political and historical issues, and worldwide human rights, throughout his carereer. Throughout his career, he has been the recipient of the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award, the George Polk Award for Investigative Reporting, and the First Amendment Award, as well as an Emmy for "Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang." Professor Landau's most recent film, "Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up?" was screened at this year's Vancovuer International Film Festival.
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