by Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton

In 1997, Maria Tuma, an art teacher at the Miami-Dade County Public Schools who was nominated as the teacher of the year in 1994, was fired after 22 years of service. Her mortal sin was giving Bibles to six children.

She sighted her “freedom of expression” given by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The County School Board alleged “insubordination.”

She says, “the 1st Amendment supposedly allows freedom of expression, but they cancelled my freedom.”

In 1997 she suffered hearings resembling those in Communist Russia and Nazi Germany in which her sentence like in a totalitarian country “was already predetermined and didn’t even allow my lawyer to defend me,” she says.

The Miami-Dade County Public School Board banned the Bible because someone found it offensive. And nothing offensive to blacks, Jews, and they are very sensitive not to offend other minorities – even illegal immigrants - but when something offensive to Cuban Americans is involved, they stubbornly refuse to bulge.

Meanwhile, this year, a parent found two books in the Miami-Dade School Libraries that have caused uproar in the Cuban American community in Miami. They are A Visit to Cuba and Cuban Kids.

Both books portray Castro’s Cuba as if it is a free country in which everything is fine and dandy, food, clothing, education and health care is no problem, and everybody is very happy. This is of course inaccurate; therefore these books are giving the children misinformation and propaganda.

These books are not contributing to education but to “dis-education,” contrary to the goals of a normal school system. Notice that I say “normal.”

Americans, sadly misinformed by the liberal U.S. media and the Marxist professors very much in control of our learning centers, may swallow these books. But Cuban Americans - with firsthand experience of 47 years living under Castro’s boots - cannot sit idly by while these patently erroneous books are presented as valid by a U.S. school system.

It is not an issue of Cuban American imposing censorship; it is a matter of facts vs. lies and deceptions with the purpose to misinform.

And, by the way, these books are extremely offensive for Castro’s victims – which Dr. Armando Lago has been painstakingly documenting for ten years and which totals over 100,000 deaths including about 32 U.S. citizens whose bodies are exhibited in Castro’s museums in Cuba.

Not yet documented are the deaths that Castro caused all over Central and South America, and all the deaths of blacks his army caused in Angola – Castro used bacteriological arms to exterminate them – as well as in Ethiopia, other places in Africa and the Middle East. Also not yet documented are the deaths he caused in the U.S. due to the drug trafficking which Castro fostered and aided since the early 1960s.

How ironic that in an area heavy with Cuban Americans, the School Board insists on maintaining books that are so utterly known by a major component of the community to be inaccurate, not to mention offensive.

After living in the U.S. for 39 years, I am painfully aware that the liberal Media, the academic professors, elitist intellectuals and Hollywood circles have created a double standard in relation to Cuba and Cuban Americans. It is all right to refer to us with derogatory terms and to malign us in public forums.

It is all right to laugh at us and to censor the tragedy Cuba has been experiencing since Castro hijacked the democratic political change that all Cubans wanted in order to get rid of Batista’s six-year dictatorship.

So with all these powerful enemies around have been very difficult and will continue being difficult to get our message across to the American people. But we will continue and will not rest until democracy, freedom and justice return to Cuba.

On June 14, 2006, at 1 p.m. the final appeal of a Miami-Dade father to the School Board to remove these offensive books from his child school library will take place. So we have to wait and see what will be the response of the School Board this time.

Meanwhile, on June 9 at 2:30 p.m., a Cuban American pro-democracy group, Vigilia Mambisa, held a press conference and presented Manny Añon, a new candidate to run for the Miami-Dade School Board, for District 6. So that officially is the beginning of the campaign against Agustin J. Barrera, the incumbent president of the Miami-Dade School Board who has been opposed to the removal of these two books. That’s the way Cubans Americans work in a democratic system.

David Rosenthal of Vigilia Mambisa says that Barrera “has not understood how to represent those who elected him.”

Although I have never lived in Miami, I join my fellow Cuban Americans in Miami in their objective for a satisfactory resolution of the issue of these two inaccurate books at the Miami-Dade School Libraries.

2006 ABIP Agustin Blazquez, Producer/director of the documentaries

COVERING CUBA, CUBA: The Pearl of the Antilles, COVERING CUBA 2: The Next Generation, COVERING CUBA 3: Elian presented at the 2003 Miami Latin Film Festival and the 2004 American Film Renaissance Film Festival in Dallas, Texas and the Palm Beach International Latin Film Festival, COVERING CUBA 4: The Rats Below premiered in Miami on January 21, 2006 and exhibited in the Palm Beach International Latin Film Festival in May 27, 2006, Dan Rather “60 Minutes” an inside view and CUBAN RUMBA QUEENS, Vol. 1, MARIA ANTONIETA PONS


Author with Carlos Wotzkow of the book COVERING AND DISCOVERING and translator with Jaums Sutton of the book by Luis Grave de Peralta Morell THE MAFIA OF HAVANA: The Cuban Cosa Nostra.

For a previews of the documentaries:

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