I’d like to share some thoughts regarding life in Communist Cuba, important to know and understand prior to formulating an opinion on the Eliàn Gonzalez case, or life in the Island.
In totalitarian regimes, whether they be of a rightist or leftist persuasion, children do not “belong” to their parents, as they do in free, democratic societies like ours. Children are the ward of the state. Period. The state decides everything, including schooling, when they stop drinking milk (seven years of age in Cuba), career ” choice”, and job opportunities.
In Cuba, for example, at the age of eleven (11), children “have” to leave their homes for periods of time, unaccompanied by their parents, and are forced to do “voluntary” work for the regime. This may even happen earlier — one only has to note the ease with which Castro offered to send children from Elián Gonzalez’ first grade class in Cardenas, Cuba, for a thirty (30) to sixty (60) day period stay in Washington, D.C., or Havana, initially without their parents.
It is implicitly stated in today’s Cuban constitution that parents have to raise their children within the Communist ideology. Any divergence is dearly paid for-government organized rowdy crowds (“brigadas de respuesta rápida”), for example, are organized and directed by the regime to harass families suspected of anti-communist ideas or behavior. “Culprits'” homes are stoned severely and frequently, breaking windows, in many causing physical damage to their victims, and derogatory remarks are painted around their dwellings, making their lives pure hell-also for adults at work as well as for their children at school.
Regarding the large crowds which we see in Cuba via television…It is very difficult for someone who has not experienced life in a totalitarian regime to imagine that those concentrations of people are government organized and controlled to the tee. Participants report at certain times and places where they are picked up by vehicles made available by the regime so that they can be transported to wherever rallies will be held. Records with names and addresses are neatly kept. For participating in these, people score points with the government, the goal being obtaining “luxuries” as a refrigerator, a fan, government controlled food, or clothes, to name a few.
These are a few of the facts that have not been clearly explained by the US media, creating an atmosphere of misinformation leading to uneducated opinions that have affected Cubans and Cuban Americans adversely for more than four (4) decades.
I’d like to encourage my fellow citizens who are not familiar with life in present day Cuba to become more informed on the subject. The case of Elián is not a “custody” matter (since as mentioned above custody belongs to the state) as Clinton/Reno and supporters would have us believe, but another ploy by Castro with which to further engage his life-long phobic foe, the American ideal of freedom, and to divert the Cuban people from the misery to which he has subjected them since January 1, 1959, for the simple and unequivocal sake of holding power.