Two major stories emerged last week regarding Cuba; one story you probably know — Jimmy Carter was in Cuba — and the other you probably do not. The contrast represents the complete inversion of what really matters.
An American president in Cuba, current or former, is news, even if he’s one whose stature is diminished by the fact that his legacy — Middle East peace accords, gasoline shortages and a 444-day hostage crisis caused by an act of Islamic terrorism — is particularly lacking in today’s context. But does anyone remember the last person to go to Cuba with such a fuss? His name is Elian Gonzalez — and not one reporter has laid eyes on him, unaccompanied, since he was seized by the INS in a pre-dawn military raid two years ago.
Many may regard Elian as irrelevant. Yet the driving force behind Elian’s forced return to Cuba — backed by each branch of the U.S. government and most Americans — is the notion that he would live a perfectly satisfactory life with his father in Cuba. Intellectual honesty demands an appraisal of his condition.
That’s especially true now that we know much more about the government agency which swiped him at gunpoint — in a child custody case, remember — the INS.
We now know that, when the INS should have been hunting for Islamic terrorists who had burrowed into the same Sunshine State as Elian, plotting the destruction of America’s skyscrapers and military defense, INS staff may have been shredding documents.
A copy of an internal INS memorandum on Elian’s case — recently released by Judicial Watch — contains a handwritten note by the memo’s author, INS attorney Rebeca Sanchez Roig, saying that Doris Meissner, then INS chief, ordered all copies of the memo destroyed. Roig’s note also said Meissner dictated that no more discussions related to Elian Gonzalez be put in writing. Last week, the former spokesman for Elian’s Miami relatives, Armando Gutierrez, submitted a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking Ashcroft to investigate.
While the INS was apparently more concerned with concealing its attempt to enforce its rejection of Elian’s plea for asylum, head Sept. 11 terrorist Mohammed Atta’s visa was being approved.
It’s now well known that INS incompetence continued long past Sept. 11; they recently mailed visa approvals for two Sept. 11 terrorists and granted four Pakistanis visa waivers in violation of their own rules.
When the INS should have been arresting Islamic terrorists for expired visas, they were forcing Elian Gonzalez to live in a society defined by the Black Book of Communism, published by Harvard University Press, as tyranny.
According to the book’s scholars, children are routinely abused in Cuba. Forced to leave their parents and ordered to work in fields, many children are also sent to camps, such as the Nueva Vida (New Life) camp, constructed to hold 1,500 adolescents. Certain children under age ten are detained at an internment camp and all children in Cuba lose their milk ration at age six. Cuba is a state of slavery.
Not according to Jimmy Carter, who praised Cuba yesterday as being “dedicated to providing superb education, health care and equal opportunities to all the people.” Carter’s historic visit to Cuba, the first by an American president, current or past, since totalitarian rule was first instituted in 1959, will never provide Cubans — including Elian — with what they need most: Freedom.
As the curtain comes down on Carter in Cuba, the contrast between his sanction of communist Cuba and the tragedy of Castro’s most celebrated refugee is striking; Jimmy Carter will return to America. The once-exuberant Elian, last seen staring lifelessly at a Cuban flag, remains in Cuba.