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Thursday, March 6, 2008

Tipping point

The politics of Cuba have been part of my consciousness ever since the early years of my elementary education. In the little Catholic school I attended in the "Down Neck" section of Newark, N.J., along about second grade we had a bunch of new kids in our classes who barely spoke English. They were refugees from Cuba, where the rise of Castro meant the end of life as their parents had ever known it. Meanwhile, we were engaged in "civil defense" drills wherein we were all herded to the basement cafeteria to practice kissing our butts goodbye in case of a nuclear attack on New York, eight miles away.

It was a great bunch of kids in that school, and despite the many barriers they faced, the immigrants fit in pretty well. I remember one classmate of mine, Rodolfo Gonzales, who was extremely bright, and who managed to pull some pretty good grades despite just having his world rocked. Way to go, Rudy.

When I was in college, I didn't take a lick of math, because I already had some serious math credits via advanced placement from high school. And so I never got a chance to take a class from another wonderful Cuban guy, Aurelio Baldor, who was teaching algebra. Dr. Baldor had been quite a figure in Cuba, apparently -- people referred to "El Álgebra de Baldor" -- and to be teaching in a commuter school in Jersey City was probably more than a bit of a downgrade for him. Moreover, he was not a young man when he had to make the transition. But he did, and I'll never forget the resiliency of his spirit.

Along about that time, I was a reporter for The Jersey Journal, a Newhouse newspaper based on Journal Square in Jersey City. One of the cities we covered (our beat was Hudson County) was Union City, which by then the Cuban immigrant population had taken over. There was still an Italian guy named Bill Musto serving as mayor, but the emergence of the Hispanic politicians had begun.

Fast-forward to 2008. Fidel Castro's finished, and he's left the reins to his idiot son, Fidel W. Castro brother, Raúl. How long can these guys hold on?

Now, remember, they've given the United States the finger for about 50 years and gotten away with it. But now I wouldn't bet on their staying in power even three more years.

Why not? Computers and the internet. Against all odds, flash drives are changing the face of Cuba. And bloggers are in on the action. The writing's on the wall, Raúl! I hope you have a decent 401(k).

Comments (9)

Cuba could be opened up in the next decade. We can always hope that Raul's gestures toward the Vatican indicating greater press freedoms actually move forward now that Castro has moved to a less role. It seems like everyone is going to take this as a change to re-introduce Cuba to the world; the EU seems willing to talk & our next president will have an opportunity to reshape our Cuba policy. I can only hope that Raul genuinely cares about the Cuban people and will work towards what is best for Cuba rather than what is best for Raul. High aspirations, I know, and while disappointment is nearly certain, it can't hurt to hope.


Here's too a new Cuba.

As long as the thugs in Cuber have all the guns, I think three years is on the hopeful side. (I borrowed the spelling from Teddy)

And will Donald Trump be in bed with a new Batista?
Like it or not Fidel was important to Cuba..America let him down, hence the Russian influence.

I don;t know why it isn't more obvious that open information sharing works so much better than a blockade.

These dictators work so hard to keep things a closed society (I guess China has something like 100K people watching WEB traffic) for a good reason.

A little advertising, football and E! channel and suddenly they will love America!

You bet KISS, it's *all* our fault. What utter, revisionist nonsense.

The creep was a marxist thug from the start. It's been America that throws hundreds of Cuban people in jail every year? It's America's fault that their press is muzzled, it's America's fault that they're still driving cars that were made 1/2 way through the last century?

Nothing like the "Blame America First" club.

The late Mr. Musto stayed on as mayor because the US made it very hard for the Cubans to become citizens, so most could not vote.
His Cuban-American protege, however, who helped the feds send Musto away on rackets charges, is now the junior US Senator from New Jersey.
He is a 1954 graduate of a little-known Jersey City college.

A 1954 college grad? Man, that's getting up there in years.

Actually, he was there when I was there. I was probably a year or two ahead of him.

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