Ignorance is no excuse anymore concerning the only communist tyranny left in the Americas. Even Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated recently her "growing concern about Cuba’s dismal human rights record. Officially, the State Department says that Castro’s Cuba "systematically violates fundamental civil and political rights of its citizens."

Last April 23, the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva placed Cuba among the major violators of human rights in the world. Since 1959, when Castro took control about 20,000 have been executed. The pattern continues today.

With this in mind, does Cuba sound like a good business partner? Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott of Washington, wrote on July 15, a "Dear President Castro" letter to invite the tyrant to the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Seattle beginning on November 30 and running through December 3, 1999.

In his letter, McDermott, a strong opponent of the US embargo against Castro, says, "I believe that our entire community would be eager to hear from you, discuss with you, and probably debate with you about the future of our relationship. You will be received respectfully, graciously and warmly."

The letter continues "In 1992 I visited Cuba, and while I was unable to meet with you, I did have a very thoughtful and informative meeting with Vice President Fernández (hand picked by Castro) and several other Cuban ministers. I enjoyed my brief stay in Cuba."

My guess is that he did not visit Castro’s jails and concentration camps or Mazorra Psychiatric Hospital where political prisoners are forced to undergo electroshock to their testicles and given psychotropic drugs as documented by Dr. Armando Lago’s 1991 book The Politics of Psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba.

His "brief stay" with Castro’s ruling elite convinced McDermott as to what is best for the 11 million captive people on the island. And that is for Castro to continue in power, especially if all trade restrictions are eliminated and he gets credit privileges from the US, although Castro has a record of not paying debts and engaging in unethical business arrangements that exploit workers.

Comparing the people of the US and Cuba, McDermott has the audacity to say, "We both cherish the right to self-determination and we both have an unwavering commitment to family and country."

I would like to ask McDermott, what right of "self-determination" Cubans have under Castro? What commitment to "family" when Castro separates them by sending family members to work at opposite ends of the island, by political hatred, imprisonment and execution, and by exile? What "country", when the overwhelming majority of Cubans are constantly thinking of how to get the hell out of Cuba?

"I am also hopeful that your visit will give us an opportunity to educate the American public about Cuba." I guess what McDermott is talking about is the brainwashing of the American public by more Castro propaganda like that distributed by the Venceremos Brigade. McDermott proudly claims "Seattle was one of the most ardent supporters of the Venceramos [sic] Brigade in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s." and, he continues "Several of Seattle’s prominent political and business leaders were Venceramos [sic] Brigade graduates or supporters."

S. Steven Powell’s 1987 book, COVERT CADRE, INSIDE THE INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDY, reveals that the Venceremos Brigade was an "arm of the (Cuban secret police) DGI" which by 1970 was controlled by the nice guys of "the Soviet KGB." The express purpose of this brigade was to recruit young American activists. Under the guise of going to Cuba to help harvest sugar cane, these Americans were receiving indoctrination so that in the future they would help the Castro regime’s campaigns in the US to favor his goals and serve as "access to economic, political and military intelligence."

It would appear that the scheme worked particularly well on Representative McDermott and other Washington state Democratic members of the city and county councils of Seattle who also wrote letters asking Castro to attend the WTO meeting. They are Sue Donaldson, President of the City Council and Peter Steinbrueck, Richard McIver, Tina Podlodowski, Nick Licata, Maggi Fimia, Greg Nickels, Larry Phillips, Larry Gossett and Dwight Pelz. Their participation in this insensitive-to-Cuban-suffering sham exposes their sympathies for tyrannies of the left.

In the case of Dwight PeIz, it happens that his father visited Nicaragua in 1988, while the communist Sandinistas (armed and supported by Castro) were in control of the country. His father participated in a 12-day political hospitality trip organized by the communist front "religious" organization called Witnesses for Peace that later became the fanatically pro-Castro Pastors for Peace.

Council member Pelz’s father signed a pledge to disseminate what he was shown in his guided tour. Consequently, he gave two slide presentations in my neighborhood church, which I attended. I was appalled by the pro-Sandinista propaganda and misinformation distributed. But this long term scheme is also paying off.

And then, our hero, Karen, enters the picture.

Karen could not believe what she was reading in an article by Michael Paulson in her local Seattle Post-Intelligencer on August 3 titled "Dear Fidel Castro: Please come to Seattle." Outraged by Jim McDermott and company’s letters, she called Congressman McDermott’s office in Washington, DC and she was told that she was "the first caller" to complain about the invitation to Castro.

She then wrote a letter to Council Member Peter Steinbrueck expressing her "shock and horror" about the invitation to Castro and that he was going to be received "graciously and warmly."

Castro, she says "is a murderer not only in Cuba but sends mercenaries to Central American and African countries to kill any one or any group supporting democracy. They have ‘free’ healthcare (substandard) – but put people with AIDS in quarantine. They have ‘free’ education – but it is so the populace can read lies; there is no free press in Cuba."

Karen wrote that she strongly supports free trade "but a dictator who has terrorized the people of Cuba and Central America does not deserve a slobbering invitation stating that his visit will be a very educational and enriching experience.’" And she questions if McDermott is "so naïve or browbeaten by the college kids and professors in this area that they would put their souls aside to look cool? What about the people who have fled Cuba at the risk of their own lives? I really can’t believe this and am notifying every Cuban organization in this country I can find!" And she did, alerting the Cuban Americans of what was not being widely reported by the media.

After that, she also sent messages to each signatory of the letters. The first reply came on August 3 from Peter Steinbrueck confessing "not knowing a lot about the specifics you mentioned in Cuba." And wondering, "how many other world leaders coming to WTO are responsible for similar human rights atrocities? Castro is probably very small potatoes in that respect." His "very small potatoes" comment unleashed a series of irate protests from Castro’s victims living in the US. On August 9, Steinbrueck wrote to the Seattle City Council to regret his signing of the letter. Thank you, sir.

Karen says that Council members Richard McIvar "is sticking with the trade excuse" and Maggi Fimia is expressing "no regret and stands behind her decision" using the "trade and engagement excuse."

As of August 6, a King County, Washington website poll resulted in 86% against Castro’s attendance at the event. When Karen called McDermott’s office they told her that the "calls are running even for and against" the invitation.

And Karen thought, "it must be those hypocritical hippies that drive around with FREE TIBET bumper stickers on their Volkswagen buses that are calling Congressman McDermott’s office in support a visit from Castro." And she remembers, "about 8 years ago I was working in a coffeehouse in downtown Seattle and a hippie had on a T-shirt that said ‘Castro is not the enemy.’"

On August 10, I called the Washington, DC office of Congressman McDermott to find out if he had changed his position. To my surprise the staffer who answered the phone was defiant and told me, "Oh no! He will be extending even more invitations to Castro to come to Seattle" and that he was going to send them through the "Cuban Interests Section" in Washington, DC.

As a Cuban American I felt insulted at the defiant and insensitive tone, almost belittling me and making fun of my inquiry. McDermott’s arrogant attitude ignoring Castro’s long criminal record insisting on inviting him over the advice and protests of knowledgeable people and Cuban Americans with first hand experience, place him with a fringe of fanatics and true believers in Castro.

What should be made crystal clear to McDermott and company or any other daring US politician is that for the 87,000 people who have died because of Castro, the approximately million men, women and children that have passed through his gulag and suffered torture and humiliation, for the over one million Cuban exiles in the US, the hundreds of thousands abroad and the 11 million hostages on the island, Castro is like Hitler.

McDermott and company could not sustain the same offensive position against Jews in the US if they had dared invite Hitler. They would have to recant and apologize in a hurry.

When Cuba is finally free from tyranny and becomes a democracy, the victims of these decades of brutality are going to erect a museum to the Cuban holocaust so, like the Jews, we can say to the world and future generations of Cubans, "Never again!" And in this museum for all visitors to see there will be a Hall of Collaborators. Its walls will be pasted with the names and photographs of all who collaborated to keep Castro in power oppressing the Cuban people for so long.

So Karen, start collecting 8x10 head shots of Castro’s friends in Seattle. Cuban Americans are counting on you.

Since Castro has spies and a huge support network in the US, by now he must be aware of what Karen has done against his carefully-traced master plan with his Venceremos Brigade-indoctrinated-Seattle-cronies. He must be twice upset, first because Karen is a woman who dares to rise against his macho ego standing firmly in his way and second because he is used to eliminating all who oppose him. If she were one of his citizens, she would already be in jail.

For those who have met Castro and are acquainted with his infamous beastly temper-tantrums, he is surely fuming as a dragon. May the force be with you, Karen.


Agustín Blázquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton
Mr Blázquez is the Producer/Director of the documentary COVERING CUBA
ABIP 1999

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