Life in the Echo Chamber

Living in Miami is often like living in an echo chamber. The sound and fury from an event can reverberate for an extraordinarily long period of time, causing those within its boundaries to mistake its true size and meaning. Often what seems deafening in Miami is barely heard anywhere else in the United States.

The incident two weeks ago off Surfside was just such an event.
And now we have the tragic case of a woman drowning when the boat she was on collided with a Coast Guard cutter. According to the Coast Guard, the pilot of the boat foolishly refused orders to stop, deciding instead to cut in front of the cutter. The pilot gambled and a woman lost her life. Within hours of the woman's body being recovered, Diaz-Balart was back on television calling for an end to the 1995 immigration accord. The Cuban American National Foundation, whose patriarch, the late Jorge Mas Canosa, tacitly supported the 1995 agreement, joined Diaz-Balart in calling for an end to the repatriations.

In truth, however, nothing is likely to change. A Clinton administration official told me last week there are no plans to review or alter the 1995 immigration accord with Cuba. Despite the Herald's pronouncement that the policy doesn't work, as far as Clinton is concerned the policy works just fine. And Clinton isn't alone. Diaz-Balart's speech before Congress, and the Herald editorial, may have created a buzz throughout Little Havana and on Spanish-language radio, but it fell flat everywhere else.

Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas refused to comment on whether the 1995 accord should be set aside. The mayor's spokesman, Juan Mendieta, said he would get back to me with a response. A week later I'm still waiting. Florida Gov. Jeb Bush issued a statement over the weekend condemning Castro but gingerly sidestepping the issue of the accord. Even his brother, presidential front-runner George W., won't say if he would cancel the agreement should he be elected.

No one is looking to create a crisis where none currently exists.

jim_defede@miaminewtimes.com

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