Letters to the Editor 11/15

Culture played a role in speaker’s remarks

No one would doubt the genius of the Latin American Medical School, the humanitarian gesture of Castro’s government sending of medical doctors to Third World/developing countries or that the educational, professional and living conditions of most Afro-Cubans in Cuba have improved since 1959. All of this was discussed in various ways from 6 p.m. to about 8:30 p.m. in the TECO room Wednesday by the scholars invited to USF. I would be the first person to agree that these developments represent the “light” side of Fidel Castro’s revolution.

Victor Dreke-Cruz, a Cuban who spoke about African-Cuban relationships at the symposium, therefore had ample time and opportunity to state his case, espousing the humanitarian virtues of the revolution for people of African descent, on and off the island.

However, if one were to take Oracle writer Gustavo Hernandez’s description as a depiction of the full truth of what transpired Wednesday night, one would conclude that the scholars speaking about Cuban-African relationships were not afforded the opportunity to present their case.

What Hernandez failed to consider in his article is that Dreke-Cruz comes from a society in which people are not permitted to “lambaste” their own president.

This aspect of Cuban society became clear to me when on a U.S. research visa to Cuba in 2001, I “lambasted” my recently-inaugurated president in the dining room of an Afro-Cuban family from the Far East.

The youngest member of the family, a 26 year-old, asked me in a tone of disbelief, “Are you allowed to talk about your president that way in the United States?” This was the third of my four visits to the island, which I have traveled to extensively by land and by sea.

“Yes,” I said to this young woman, “We do it all the time, in private and in public.”

Castro maintains one of the worst human rights records of the past century, showing that the “oppressed” can become the “oppressor.”

If free speech is ever fully realized in Cuba, the truth of Castro’s sorry human rights record will be told in its entirety.

Thereafter, we will be able to compare and contrast it to Stalin’s record of the previous century.

Terri Wonder is a Ph.D. student in higher education.

Cuba issue needs both sides represented

This letter is with regard to the article by Gustavo Hernandez titled “Dissenters Lambaste Lecturer,” which appeared in Wednesday’s issue of The Oracle.

As a USF graduate and current staff member, it saddens me that there has never been a speaker invited to this campus to represent “the other side” of Cuban politics.

It seems that the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Department has made it their objective to invite Cuban speakers who represent the communist government of the island nation.

This is unfortunate, as there are many current USF students and community members who have been adversely affected by the tyranny that has existed in Cuba for more than 43 years.

It is naïve to think that members of that community would not attend this type of lecture and speak out about the truths that exist in Cuba. Several members in attendance at the Victor Dreke-Cruz and Ana Morales-Varela lecture have served time in Cuban political prisons because of their political standpoint against communism.

They have a right to voice their opinions, as this is a free country. Had they been attending a lecture in Cuba, then expecting them to sit quietly throughout the lecture and just nod their heads in agreement could be anticipated.

But this is not Cuba; it’s a free country, and there is freedom of speech, as well as freedom of assembly and protest.

There is an upcoming lecture about medical advances in Cuba. What medical advances? Advances that tourists can readily benefit from using U.S. dollars.

Meanwhile, my sister, who lives in Cuba, cannot even inject herself with the insulin she needs to live because there is no access to needles. Then we want to blame the United States for its embargo toward Cuba? That is ludicrous.

There are many examples of tourists who visit the island with American money and have access to food, hot water to bathe with and even healthcare. So where is the embargo? Sounds like the “government” of Cuba is allocating goods and services to those who have the U.S. currency with which to purchase it.

Perhaps in the future, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Department, or even the University Lecture Series ,will consider providing a platform on campus on which the other side of the issue can be addressed.

Maybe then these Cuban “dissenters” won’t feel underrepresented when the university invites presenters who remind them of all they have endured to overcome the repression communism has brought to their lives.

Anh-Kay Pizano is a USF alumnus with a masters in education.

President’s actions toward Iraq necessary

Don’t be fooled by nuclear debate. Are you crazy?

I’m responding to Joe Roma’s column on the possibility of the war in Iraq.

I must say that I love the sarcasm Mr. Roma provides in his column about President George W. Bush and Iraq, but I’m afraid he is severely mistaken about the issues.

He writes, “there is a fact that without a U.N. resolution supporting the action, it is totally and unequivocally illegal in the eyes of international law.”

Did he forget the fact that the United Nations has been defied by Iraq more than 16 times? I think so.

If it can’t see what’s going on in a country led by a dictator that gasses and tortures his own people, then who can? Well, the United States, of course.

President Bush has promised to rid the world of evil, and I believe he is going to do that.

Iraq has been given numerous chances to show its arsenal but has not.

North Korea, on the other hand, has fessed up and showed its hand. Now we see if it has the guts to fold.

So far, it has started on the right track and it looks like it is going to disarm. If it doesn’t, then force will be considered necessary.

“Old West, duking it out with the world,” you say? Well, I for one want a president who is willing to show guts and might to rid the world of all evil.

We have protesters around the nation and even in the university opposing the war and “spitting” on our flag.

They say “not in my name” to the war.

Well, I say, “do it in my name,” do it for all those who have died in the name of evil, and do it for those who want freedom for our children.

Mark Laps is a senior majoring in electrical engineering.