Letters from the Issue of February 27, 2003

Cuba after Castro? Don't be left out!

It's All About Ego

The subject may be Cuba, but the object is self-promotion: After reading Kirk Nielsen's article about Jorge Mas Santos and the Cuban American National Foundation ("Dialogue: The Final Frontier," February 20) I had to cry me a river over the transformation of those low-life Cuban extremists at CANF.

So now the foundation is willing to talk with representatives of Castro's government, something other Americans have proposed repeatedly over the years, but to no avail. Three words best describe the reason for this remarkable transformation: Payá's Varela Project, a movement within Cuba to bring about positive change for the Cuban people. The CANF found itself being left behind, the media spotlight no longer on them, but shined instead upon Cubans in Cuba working for reform. They couldn't get their hands on the Varela Project to subvert it, as they have done in undermining efforts to lift the repressive U.S. embargo of Cuba. They lost face, their egos were bruised, and the world was moving on without them.

The greatest absurdity and telling sign of an ego war being played out is that CANF chairman Jorge Mas Santos this past weekend received a free-speech award from the People for the American Way. His counterpart in Cuba, Oswaldo Payá, has already received his award, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, Europe's most prestigious human-rights award.

Jorge Mas Santos and company shouldn't be looked upon as if they were noblemen from King Arthur's court. Rather they should be seen as hot-air balloons waiting to burst.

Clyde Cates

South Miami

It's All About Business

Yes, the subject is Cuba, but the goal is profit: Jorge Mas Canosa was an able lobbyist who utilized ample funds from wealthy Cuban Americans to create influence in the U.S. Congress. He was also an astute businessman who used his political influence to create a huge economic empire for himself.

His son, Jorge Mas Santos, is following closely in his father's steps. The wealth of the exiled Cuban icons is slowly being transferred to their offspring. This younger, business-oriented generation is already looking at future opportunities to do business in Cuba after Fidel Castro disappears. Jorge Mas Santos is definitely attempting to position himself accordingly. We must remember that in our capitalist society, business is business -- no matter what.

Isidro Borja

Miami

My Peoples! Let's Give It Up for RRA Recording Artists GOP-U!

"Time to cap Iraq, jack, cuz Hussein be insane and Dubya be down, y'all hear me?" Judy Cantor's article "Miami & Havana & Hip-Hop" (February 13) poses the question: Can rap bridge the gap? Sure it can, only if it is stripped of all its cultural value, homogenized, and repackaged with the Castro regime's seal of approval.

As a young hip-hop fan and a person with a social conscience, I found it laughable to see the "rapaganda" that was being "sampled" in the article. Imagine if the Bush administration "officially recognized" rap and began "harnessing" it to create its very own "Republican Rap Agency." (Who would get signed? Only ultra-right-wing patriots who oppose any form of social criticism.) This is why it was nauseating to hear how the Castro regime officially recognized rap and called for its nationalization.

The Cuban agency will only sign rappers like Doble Filo, who rap about things the government approves -- for example, the wonders of the revolution or that damned ley asesina that forces thousands of rafters to risk death in the Florida Straits. Now try to imagine 50 Cent rapping about the need for war in Iraq and about how all Democrats are really pro-Saddam.

Another interesting observation is that these Cuban rappers see themselves filling the same role as the musicians of la nueva trova in the early Sixties. Is this the same nueva trova that sang to Fidel and his henchmen while innocent people were being tried in kangaroo courts and sentenced to indefinite jail terms or execution by firing squad? I guess this new nueva trova will fill the same role. They'll rap about the revolution and Yankee imperialism, and live in plush government homes while truly free rappers like the Free Hole Negro collective will continue to be harassed and subjugated by a system that wants to silence them. If only they'd just stop rapping about the absurd concept of freedom, they'd be able to collect a government check and be flown to Miami for a cultural exchange.

It appears we're willing to patronize Castro's approved/censored rappers and just as willing to ignore the ones who have a free conscience. I don't think anyone with a brain would have supported pro-apartheid rap in South Africa. But Castro rap is the bomb!

But what the hell do I know? I'm one of those who are grossly misinformed about what's going on in Cuba, particularly because I live in Miami. So I guess that means the people living in Cuba are informed. I'm sure they're picking up their copy of New Times and are commenting on it right now. (Yeah, right.)

As long as they are marketable and have phat beats, who cares if they're censored? In my humble opinion, this was the essence of Judy Cantor's article. Talk about a false conscience.

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