Letters to the Editor

From the issue of July 19, 2001

It seems as though every time an exile leader emerges who has the promise of leading in a positive and meaningful way, he shoots himself in the foot. Besides Penelas's own self-destruction, the Elian fiasco hurt other leaders as well. I had high hopes for Ramon Saul Sanchez during his hunger strike to get his boat back. What a wonderful example of precisely the right kind of protest and publicity. Here was a man who had been wronged by our government, and rather than react in a violent way, he used a hunger strike to set a moral example and gather publicity. And it worked! He won! Alas, as Kirk Nielsen's story reported, now even Sanchez refuses to denounce the violent extremes of the exile movement.

And that's the true shame of it. The Cuban community is, for the most part, made up of decent, law-abiding, intelligent people. So my challenge to the community is this: We are now at a point where a generation of Cuban Americans has grown up here in Miami, Cubans who are as much children of this country as they are of Cuba. They are immersed in our shared culture, our social and political life, our melting pot. To them I say reach out and grab the reins of leadership! Bring to your elders some of what you have learned here, and lead your community into the 21st Century. Prepare for Castro's inevitable demise so there is hope that Cuba can move to democracy without bloodshed. Always remember that Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi are universally revered because of their never-ending commitment to social change through nonviolence.

Errol Portman
Coral Gables

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