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Saturday, February 11, 2006

On "the Beach" -- Miami Beach, that is

With apologies to Foghorn Leghorn. The South Beach is like a boneyard for 1930s Art Deco architecture -- especially, apartment buildings -- except that they are very much alive, mostly reincarnated as high-end, boutique hotels with ground-floor restaurants. The streetscapes are lively and the streets themselves are like parking lots that occasionally jolt along the cars. Tonight, there was a parade of Harleys -- hard to miss -- up the strip, and down the strip.

Found a "Cuban music" club -- made the mistake of asking for "a Latin jazz club." Seems Cuban is a musical genre all its own. Those Cuban men and women know how to dance . . . and dress! Fulgencio Batista can't have been all bad -- any regime that is capable of supporting a musical culture that produces Cuban jazz must have had SOMETHING going for it. And it surely was better than what succeeded it. (Rent Buena Vista Social Club, "if you care").

Litmus test
:  Have you been -- or would you ever go -- to Cuba while Fidel Castro is dictator, er, President of Cuba?

Posted by Russ Kuykendall on February 11, 2006 in International Politics, Travel | Permalink


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Of course I have not been to Cuba and of course any one who has been , recently , should be castigated . It is a very cheap shot to play holier than thou , then slink out the exit , knowing that those who are paying for our defense are too forgiving to object.

Posted by: dave | 2006-02-11 9:58:04 PM

If I were Harper, I would cut all ties to Cuba immediately and forever so long as Castro is in power. The Helms-Burton Act would be ruthlessly applied to those going there for supporting a Communist regime. So, a vacation to Cuba would lead to 5-10 in a US federal prison.

I hope Ontarians who go to Cuba know that by traveling to Cuba, they are supporting a massive violator of human rights. Oh wait, that's right. They don't care about such things unless it suits their corporate interests.

I hope that Albertans and others would know better. After all, Castro was a known supporter of another human rights violator: Pierre E. Trudeau, the invader of Quebec in 1970, and I don't have to remind any Albertan about what he did to us to satisfy his greedy Toronto masters.

if Fidel ever tried to enter Canada, I think that he should be immediately arrested and stand trial for crimes against humanity. He and Pinochet can share a cell.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-02-12 12:58:29 AM

I am a resident of Ontario (for Scott's information) and I have never been to Cuba, nor will I go while Fidel is still upright. I am also not shy on explaining my reasons to friends and acquaintances who have been there. People go because it is cheap (#1 reason), because somehow they think it is chic and because they think they are tweaking the US nose

Posted by: Sheila | 2006-02-12 7:58:59 AM

"He and Pinochet can share a cell."

Can they fit three in a cell? Cause George W. will need some room in there.

Also, I love your anti-Communist solution, "a vacation to Cuba would lead to 5-10 in a US federal prison". Sounds like freedom to me!

Posted by: justin | 2006-02-12 9:41:01 AM

I must confess, I went twice when I was young and very apolitical -- just looking for something with a nice beach and cheap ticket. It was during my second time there that I swore I would never go back, when during his 3-hour ‘after-hours’ window, one of the resort workers we befriended started slowly opening up to us, turning around to see if anyone was watching every few seconds. He told us what life was like there, what kind of man Castro was.
My friend and I decided to spend our remaining days away from the resort, in town. We cautiously struck up conversations - most folks just smiled and nodded, a handful told us similar tales, however. It’s as if everyone we met knew at least one person in jail. When I got home I because obsessed with Cuba’s communist dictatorship.

Despite all the wonderful, beautiful people I met there over those couple years, I haven’t been back. My friend asked that first resort worker: “but isn’t it better that tourists come and support one of the only successful industries? What would happen if that was gone?” (I’ve heard this sort of ‘but-without-our-money-they’ll starve’ argument over the years from people who want to justify their cheap vacations and cleanse their guilt). The young man answered: “It’s nice that you think you are helping. But all you are doing is ensuring Castro has enough money to keep buying himself power and nothing changes.” He never said anything like ‘if you want to really help us, don’t come back’ but that’s what the message to me was.

Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-02-12 10:34:24 AM

Actually the Helms-Burton Act is not being enforced right now, so we can't put people away for disobeying it. However, something punitive should be done. We can't appeal to Ontarians' consciences because they don't have any. In fact they sold their souls and senses of decency long ago.

Ontario schoolchildren are taught mostly lies - such as how 'they' won the War of 1812 (it was a draw), how 'they' won WWII (nonsense - but they also insult veterans at every turn.) and how the Holocaust did not happen (you can thank Ontario's favorite son, Ernst Zundel, for that one).

President Bush will never stand trial anywhere except before the US Congress, and that is virtually impossible. So Augusto and Fidel will be sharing a cell somewhere awaiting trial for crimes against humanity. What a pity Pierre the Terrible is dead, because he could be there with them. Maybe Chretien could take his place.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-02-12 10:41:27 AM

I have a Cuban friend living in my city. I kind of think Castro was a hero for some people because he succeeded in defying the American giant.

If I read history correctly, it seems Batista was no saint. At that time, Cuba was a game place, organized crime paradise and a brothel.

To me Castro was not an evil guy. He took the wrong way of communism. Too bad. I wish he would repent and transform his country that could become a beautiful tourist place.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-12 11:24:07 AM

Where do you come off saying Ontarians are taught the Holocaust didn't happen Scott? Ernst Zundel was deported back to Germany recently and it's not like he was an eminent politicians or university professor, he was just some lousy writter that no one took seriously.

I'm glad to see you support freedom of expression and of mobility for Canadians though. As much as I dislike Castro, we can't punish people for going to Cuba, that's complete nonsense. Just like punishing some washed-up writter for saying the Holocaust never happened is nonsense. You should read George Jonas's columns on the matter.

Posted by: Luc Schulz | 2006-02-12 11:33:31 AM

Ontario is based on white Christian supremacy, pure and simple. All this multiculturalism stuff is nonsense, designed to pacify racial, ethnic and religious minorities fears about assimilation. They need not worry about that because white Christian Ontarians wouldn't let them get close anyway. No, 'whitie' prefers to keep the 'colors' in the low paying menial jobs they wouldn't touch.

Zundel may be gone but he lingered around for 20+ years spreading his message of hates and lies with considerable success. He was able to tap into long standing anti-Semitic sentiment in Ontario. What stopped him was not a general consensus on historical truth or racial equality. He was simply too embarrassing for Ontario's wealthy elite to ignore - the nail that had to be hammered down, as it were. Remember: Ontario didn't want to allow refugee Jews in before WWII, and the B'Nai Brith repeatedly shows huge annual increases in anti-Semitism in Ontario, particularly the GTA.

You will notice that the US Immigration Authorities needed a fraction of the time to deport Zundel that the Canadian ones did. Nuff said.

As for race, Ontario is an Apartheid state, pure and simple. The Jane Creba case proves how racist Ontario is. One pretty little white girl gets shot in the head, and all of a sudden people take notice. 77 non-whites died in 2005, and hundreds were wounded, and no one cared. In fact, Tronna's idiot mayor did all he could to distract people from the issue. Time will tell if he succeeded or not.

It is fair to say that Ontario's reputation for tolerance is a complete fabrication. The only reason why this has been allowed to pass is that Ontarians treat everyone like crap, white or otherwise. They're an ugly, belligerent, nasty people and it is wise to put as much distance between them and the rest of the world as possible.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-02-12 12:27:17 PM

I could almost agree with Scotts` last paragraph. However people are unlikely to rally around drug types who get gunned down , as they would be to a young girl , shopping at Christmas and gunned down by those same boneheads . I`d say that the immigrants need no help in walling themselves off from whitey; they do a pretty good job of it themselves. It`s a clash of culture and more specifically colour ,but who is going to admit it. That is the ultimate transgression in phony southern Ontario , telling it like it is.

Posted by: dave h | 2006-02-12 12:52:33 PM

Ontario is based on white Christian supremacy? Huh? What planet are you from?

Ontario, in particular Toronto, is the bastion of socialist, multicultural, welfare recipients who love big government. The entire province is under the spell of the Toronto Star (remember the "Black Jays" article!--yeah those Jays are a racist bunch).

If Ontario is bigoted, it's against Western Canada. The difference between Canada and the US? In the US the looney left want to control the levers of power, and continually lie to attempt to do so. In Canada, they do control the levers of Canada. If I lived in Toronto I would rather be a visible minority looking for a job than a WASP.

Posted by: ace | 2006-02-12 3:15:56 PM

yet another thread trails off the topic. habititual...

Posted by: Stopthetrain | 2006-02-12 7:08:35 PM

"If I lived in Toronto I would rather be a visible minority looking for a job than a WASP."

For the love of God, why would you say such a thing?

First, living in Toronto is highly inadvisable, as is even visiting. It is much too dangerous and aggrvating to deal with Toronto people in their natural evironment. They hate everyone and everything, and react with hostility to any action. Best advice: just avoid at all costs.

Second, the above comments apply double for ethnic or racial minorities. Toronto, and much of Ontario, is extremely racist. Whites will treat other whites very differently than non-whites - so long as they have a use for you. This racism has always existed, but it was usually overshadowed by the typical hostility Ontarians have towards others. They're a nasty bunch. No wonder they don't believe the Holocaust happened.

It's not so much 'white supremacy' as it is 'Ontario supremacy' that drives white Ontarians to act the way they do. To them, Ontario has to come first no matter what. They designed Canada to keep them going, regardless of how much it costs others. Westerners, and especially Albertans, are despised by Ontarians. I wonder why so many of them move here - they're among the same people that they hate the most, including Americans. Why is this? Because they can't do anything about the US except hate and fear them. Albertans, on the other hand, can be beaten up and harmed because the Feds were ruled by Ontario until recently.

What a country! Fascism, racism, Apartheid all in Ontario. Socialism, by the way, is (in my opinion) just another term for Ontario supremacy.

Posted by: Scott | 2006-02-12 7:20:52 PM

The answer ids no..I have not gone and would not go to Cuba as long as Fidel Castro is alive.

Posted by: PGP | 2006-02-13 8:34:34 AM

Um, I was born in Saskatchewan and now live in Quebec, but I've spent roughly a dozen years in Ontario and I've never once heard someone deny the Holocaust.

And sure there's some passive racism amongst some people, but nothing I haven't seen elsewhere in Canada. I'd say Quebec City is much worse for that type of thing than Ontario by a long shot.

Posted by: Luc Schulz | 2006-02-13 10:05:29 AM

I consider myself to be a liberal-minded person who is a Canadian first and an Ontarian second. I like to read opinions from all parts of the spectrum because everyone has something to say that is worthwhile and valuable. I just recently started reading this blog and I found it to be a reasoned, measured, conservative point of view. Except for Scott. I would hope it is mostly rhetoric coming from him but I doubt that to be true.

Posted by: Doug Roberts | 2006-02-13 11:14:33 AM

Never have, wooah, yes I have! landed at Gitmo once for fuel but that was it. No I won't go and I castigate anyone who tells me they have gone or plan to go.

Posted by: Capt, Craig | 2006-02-14 9:19:10 AM

As an adjunct to the above, the following should give pause or maybe not if you are a left wing wacko who has a pathological hate for Bush.

From the Wall Streat Journal

10 Months in the Bahamas
How Castro stretches his tyranny to other shores.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Fidel Castro's depredations inside Cuba are by now well known. But less widely appreciated is how Fidel sometimes manages to imprison Cubans in other domiciles even once they've escaped his government's clutches.

A tragic example is the case of two Cuban dentists who have been held in squalid conditions at a detention center in Nassau, Bahamas for almost 10 months. The two have immigration visas to enter the U.S. and join their spouses and children who live here legally. But the one thing holding up their release for the past 10 months has been, you guessed it, El Maximo Lider.

David Gonzalez Mejias and Marialys Darias Mesa are not lawbreakers. Their efforts to emigrate from Cuba with their families began legally when they entered the visa "lottery" that the U.S. holds for Cubans every year since President Clinton made the "wet foot-dry foot" deal with Castro. That policy says that the U.S. will send back Cuban migrants captured at sea (wet foot) but will also allow 20,000 visas a year to Cubans through a lottery system.

Not surprisingly, Fidel has not always kept his side of the bargain. Though the dentists had won U.S. visas in the lottery, he denied them exit visas in 2002 on grounds that their medical training made them too important to spare. The dentists sent their families on to the U.S. and obediently waited the three prescribed years.

When they reapplied in 2005, the Cuban government again refused to let them go. This time they were termed "indispensable" and given no certain date for when they might join their loved ones. (Meanwhile, Castro has sent thousands of Cuban medical professionals to Venezuela both to promote revolution and earn the hard currency that is so precious in Cuba's Third World economy.) In desperation, the dentists joined a "fast boat" escape from Cuba at the end of last April.

When the U.S. Coast Guard picked up the pair, along with 16 others, their mechanically disabled boat was in Bahamian waters. Tired and terrified, they say they showed their legal--but expired--visas to the Coast Guard officer, who decided not to allow them an immigration hearing, nor to repatriate them to Cuba. Instead he deposited them with the Bahamian government, which rejected their pleas as political refugees and sent them to the detention center in Nassau.

In a diplomatic note to the Bahamas on June 30, 2005, the U.S. said it wants the dentists freed and is ready to make current their visas. But the Bahamian government is refusing their release on the grounds that a memorandum of understanding with Fidel says that Cuban rafters get sent back to the revolutionary paradise. On the other hand, a source close to the matter tells us that Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie has assured U.S. Ambassador John Rood that they will not be returned to Cuba.

The real problem is that the Bahamas fears Castro and the retaliation he might unleash--especially a mass refugee exodus--if the escapees are allowed to reach liberty in America. So its compromise with the dictator has been to keep the doctors separated from their families, living in what we are told is an unsanitary prison with lice-infested pigeons, abusive guards and boys up to 14 years of age in the women's barracks.

The Bahamas is part of the British Commonwealth and, the last time we checked, a civilized place. Now would be a good time to prove this by releasing the dentists, whose only crime is fleeing for freedom. Oh, and one more point: This would also be a good time for the National Council of Churches, famous for its obsession in reuniting Elián González with his father in Cuba back in 2000, to speak up about the injustice and cruelty of breaking up families.

Posted by: Capt, Craig | 2006-02-14 4:12:07 PM

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