The Cuban government had an enticing travel offer for expats around the world this week: Come back for a three-day panel discussion!
Surprisingly, 450 of them accepted. Yes, a boatload of Cubans living abroad flew to Havana not for the green mountains or curvy women, but for a glorified Mesa Redonda.
Max Lesnik, local agitator, is one of 200 U.S. residents present, natch.
Immigration was the topic at the Summit Against the Blockage and in Defense of National Sovereignty, a mouthful even by Cuban standards, which ends Friday.
Asked to comment, Castro critics responded with a dramatic eye-roll.
Ostensibly, Lesnik, the host of his own radio show; Francisco Aruca, founder of Marazul Charters; and the rest are discussing an international push for normalized U.S.-Cuba relations.
But writing on Generación Y, blogger Yoani Sanchez commented about the irony of hosting a powwow on immigration when most Cubans aren't allowed to travel.
It jumps out at me that the topics do not include a requirement to end property confiscations for those who relocate to another country, nor do they mention the necessity to return the right to vote to expatriates.
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Anti-Castro codgers in Miami stopped short of calling attendees pinko apologists but scoffed at the confab anyway.
"The guys going down there have a right to their own opinion, and good riddance," Francisco Hernandez, president of the Cuban American National Foundation, told the Miami Herald.
Say what you will about the Cuban government, but they sure know how to put on a show.
As a way to end the summit, organizers even staged an exhibit of drawings and paintings by, improbably, the Cuban Five.
An online gallery of the show is here.