Best Disappearing Act (2001)

Judge Federico Moreno "disappears" the Cuba ordinance

"There is a substantial likelihood that the “Cuba Affidavit' will be found unconstitutional," Moreno declared in a seventeen-page ruling in May of last year. And with that he suspended the so-called Cuba ordinance, which required that anyone conducting business with Miami-Dade County sign a document vowing not to transact business with Cuba or with any business that conducts business with Cuba. The most prominent targets, however, were county-funded activities that brought musicians and artists from the island. Moreno put the handwriting on the wall in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Miami Light Project, GableStage, Teatro La Ma Teodora, and concert promoters Hugo Cancio and Debbie Ohanian. At the time the U.S. Supreme Court was reviewing a similarly repressive Massachusetts state law targeting business dealings, including cultural exchanges, with the repressive regime in Myanmar (the country once known as Burma). When the justices nixed that law in June of last year, Moreno dutifully followed suit with a pro-forma edict declaring the Cuba ordinance unconstitutional. Poof! County lawyers vanished from the courtroom without argument. Soon the highly uncomfortable (but constitutionally protected) rhetorical contortions performed by the ordinance's defenders, including county commissioners Javier Souto and Miriam Alonso, Mayor Alex Penelas, and lawyer Victor Diaz, also disappeared from view. There is, however, a substantial likelihood that some of them still believe it makes sense to oppose a dictator by thinking like one.


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