Cuba Ordinance 101

A New Times guide to busting the county's Cuba law

"Sometimes I wonder what country we live in. I'm upset. I'm incensed. Sometimes I think it's the Soviet Union in the middle of the 1930s. I guess it's just North Havana. This seems like a good time for a court challenge, but I can't do that as an individual. That would involve the university lawyers."

Reason won't challenge ordinance: Can't act independently

No matter that José Antonio Ponte's book was banned in Cuba -- the enemy of my enemy is no friend of Miami-Dade County
No matter that José Antonio Ponte's book was banned in Cuba -- the enemy of my enemy is no friend of Miami-Dade County

Alejandro Rios
curator of Cuban Film Series at Miami-Dade Community College

Alejandro Rios "Since I lived under a dictatorship for so many years, I have to be against censorship on principle. My primary interest is Cuban cinema. Since it's impossible for me to go to Cuba to see what they are producing there, I bring the films here.

"At the same time, if more Cuban artists or scholars could come here, they would not be able to freely express their ideas, because they come as representatives of a socialist project. They wouldn't be able to say whatever they want. Forget about it. If they really could, if there would be no danger waiting for them at home or for their families, that would be different -- but that's not how it happens....

"I don't think the ordinance really hurts Castro. There was a very strong Cuban dictator, Machado, who said, "No one is going to knock me down with a few pieces of paper." We're talking about culture, about art. They always want to attack the weakest link. If I were independent, I would challenge the ordinance. But MDCC is an institution whose primary mission is not Cuban culture or the Cuban film series."

Reason won't challenge ordinance: Can't act independently

Hugo Cancio
independent promoter

Hugo Cancio "I am against the county ordinance. I lobby against it, and I will continue to lobby against it, but I will not promote an event that will create a controversy. I'm a part of this community, and I love Miami, and I want to be sympathetic with the pain that so many people here have suffered. There are a lot of Cubans in the exile community who are hurt for legitimate reasons, including my own father, who stops talking to me whenever he hears me say something that he feels is pro-Castro.

"If I would have been affected personally by that county ordinance, I would have fought it. I was not that aware with respect to what we could do about [it]. Now that I am, I'll probably take some steps to change it. I'm here to do what I think is right. I love Cuban music. And if Debbie [Ohanian] were to call me and say, "Hugo, let's do it together,' all the better. I will do it."

Reason won't challenge ordinance: Give him time too

Debbie Ohanian
nightclub owner and promoter of Cuban bands

Debbie Ohanian "The ordinance gives the county a level of hostility that makes it difficult even for people who are not involved with the county. I can't use a county facility because it would be illegal. I looked around and said, "What do we have to do to get rid of this law?'" I've asked a few people, and they said all it takes is one person to challenge it. But it's more complicated than I thought, here and there. I'm not avoiding the issue. I have the support of the ACLU, and I definitely plan to go forward with a challenge of the ordinance. It's just a matter of time."

Reason won't challenge ordinance: Give her time

Alberto Sarrain
executive director of Teatro La Ma Teodora

Alberto Sarrain "The Constitution guarantees me the right to produce what I want. What the county regulations prohibit me from doing, I will do with the other 50 percent I get from other sources. The affidavit strikes me as one of the most absurd things I've ever seen in my life. If it prohibits me from performing with [Cuban theater groups] Teatro Buendia and Teatro Caribe'o in Cadiz [Spain], then it's a Pinochet ordinance.

"No one is calling to complain that we are putting on a Cuban play because no one pays any attention to Spanish-language theater. I don't think even the ACLU would bother with us. I'm going to go on doing exactly what I want to do. I'm ready for them to take me to jail, if it comes to that. Or they can take the money away. I've been doing theater in exile for 21 years, and I've only received money for the last two years. I'm not giving up anything."

Reason won't challenge ordinance: Try him

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