SYSTEMATIC PORTRAYING OF AMERICANS OF CUBAN ORIGIN, BY TAHT SAME MEDIA AS EXTREME, UNREASONABLE, AND BY AND LARGE, "UNAMERICAN"
by Juan J. Buttari
Mr Buttari is a Senior Economist for Program and Policy Analysis, Economic Growth Center, Global Bureau. U.S. Agency for International Development .
It is obvious that Americans born in Cuba are undergoing difficult times. The storm trooper tactics to extract young Elian from the house of American citizens in Miami should have alarmed the nation to a greater extent than, from what one can gather from the press, it has.
(1) The Administration has misled the public in presenting Elian's case as an immigration case within the purview of the INS, and selling its position under the guise of "parental rights". Apart from the broader moral and fairness framework under which Elian's case should have been considered, it seems to me that in reality the Administration is using this opportunity, in cahoots with the Cuban government, to pursue foreign policy objectives vis-a-vis Cuba (mollifying Castro and some kind of rapprochement). It may have also been acting out of other concerns - - e.g., trying to avoid any kind of precedent that the Elian case might establish in connection with future migrants; fearing the linking of the Elian case to issues under the discussion involving children of U.S. citizens held by spouses of other nationality overseas; fulfilling some kind of understanding regarding the acceptance by Cuba of "undesirables" who had gained entry into the U.S., etc.
(2) The policy by much of the U.S. media of ignoring or downplaying news on violation of human rights in Cuba.
(3) Systematic portraying of Americans of Cuban origin, by that same media, as extreme, unreasonable, and, by and large, "Unamerican". Current strong inti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. facilitates their attack.
(4) Excessive force use by the police forces of the City of Miami or Dade County in dealing with demonstrations by Cuban Americans. This seems to be going on behind the back of the mayors of Cuban origin. (Yesterday UNIVISION showed what seemed an unwarranted attach on a female lawyer of Cuban origin who was collected money in behalf of persons arrested as a result of demonstrations.)
What to do? It seems to me that we should be flooding as much as we can the offices of members of Congress and segments of the press who have taken an objective or friendly stand (Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, for example) with complaints and calls for justice. Moreover, we should use all legal means available to sue against authorities that are so trampling on the basic liberties that Americans take for granted. I encourage all of us to think about legal initiatives that we might use to counter the outrageous attacks upon us.
Juan J. Buttari
at U.S. Embassy/USAID, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Juan J. Buttari at U.S. Embassy/USAID, Port-au-Prince, Haiti