Dear President Obama,
I grew up in Miami, Florida. As you could probably imagine, many of my friends were of Cuban descent. Most of them were second generation Americans, the grandsons and granddaughters of first wave Cuban exiles. First wave, describes the Cubans who fled (or were driven out of) Cuba during and shortly after the Revolution in 1959 because of political reasons. They are recognized as political refugees.
I remember quite clearly being told about the Cuban Revolution by my friend’s grandparents. It struck a chord with my, a young Jewish boy in Miami, because what they described in Cuba sounded so much like what the Holocaust survivors who my grandparents knew up in Fort Lauderdale would describe. The torture, mass killings, not knowing who you could trust, the horrors they they had witnessed first hand. The fear and the sadness poured out of them decades later.
There is one story that sticks in my mind from the paternal grandfather of a friend, classmate, and next door neighbor. He (the grandfather) was a young man, a teenager during the Revolution. Politically curious, he attended an anti-Castro meeting in a warehouse in Havana with a friend. It was raided by Castro’s soldiers. They split up and ran, the plan was to hide for a while then return home. After a little bit, my friend’s grandfather started to walk home when he came across the scene of a massacre where a number of anti-Castro meeting attendees had been stood up against a wall and shot. He recognized the shirt on one of the bodies. It belonged to his friend. Fearing that he had been followed and not wanting to put his family in danger – it was well known that Castro’s soldiers would will the families of anti-Castro supporters – my friend’s grandfather went to the Havana docks and found a boat headed for Miami. He left Cuba with nothing but the clothes he was wearing, having never said “good bye” to his family.
This is the regime that you are going to baseball games with. This is the regime that you are nodding along with when they criticize America. This is the regime you “agree to disagree” with on human rights.
Is that the strongest condemnation you have for a regime that stood people against a wall and shot them because a family member dared to listen to a speaker disagree with Fidel?
You are willfully ignoring the greatest act of oppression and mass murder in the Western Hemisphere in the 20th Century for a photo-op.
Mr. President, you are being shown a Potemkin Village and you are asking if you can buy a time-share in it.
This is an affront, not just to the American ideal of liberty, but to basic human decency.
This is unbecoming of the President of the United States.