January 18, 2000
The case of
the six-year-old Cuban boy Elián Gonzalez is a tangled one. His
mother died at sea while escaping from Cuba with him; he was rescued and
brought to this country; his father, still in Cuba, wants him back; his
relatives in America, refugees from Cuba, want him to stay here.
Cubas aging Communist
strongman, Fidel Castro, accuses the United States of
kidnapping the boy, and thousands of people have staged
protest marches demanding Eliáns return. The
Clinton administration is disposed to send him back, since, after all,
Hillary Clinton isnt running for office in Florida and has no need of
the Cuban vote.
Some rather obvious points are being lost
in the uproar chiefly, that the guilt of Eliáns
mothers death lies with Castro. He is, after all, a Communist. Like
all Communist rulers, he has made it a crime to leave his country, a crime
punishable by death without such formalities as arrest and trial. The
Caribbean serves as Cubas Berlin Wall: anyone seeking to escape
Cuba may be shot on sight by the boats that patrol Cubas coastline
looking for would-be refugees. (Communism is threatened less by invasion
than by escape.)
Eliáns mother took the risk and
paid with her life, as surely as if Castros thugs had shot her. Her
moral right to leave like all other elementary rights was
denied and violated by the Cuban regime. It isnt mere cant to say
that she lost her life seeking freedom for herself and her son.
So now Castro, having in effect caused
the mothers death, demands the sons return. The boy
doesnt belong to him, any more than anyone else does. But though
chattel slavery is passé, state slavery is alive and well in the
worlds remaining Communist regimes, where everyone is virtually
owned by the state. Elián is the twentieth-century version of a fugitive
slave; and his aggrieved master wants him back.
The remarkable thing is that nobody is
condemning Castros brazen hypocrisy. Keeping an entire population
captive, he calls it kidnapping when one boy slips out of his
grasp. He permits demonstrations against the United States, but not
against his own regime: there are of course no counterdemonstrations in
Havana supporting Eliáns right to be free. Some
protests! And most American pundits tacitly accept
Castros claim to Elián as legitimate.
We neednt (and shouldnt)
make war on Cuba. But neither should we forget our own moral standards
and political principles. Communism is an evil system, with by far the
bloodiest record in modern history. It places total power in the state,
denies every human right, and teaches children such are
Marxist-Leninist family values to inform on their parents (as
Elián himself will be instructed, if he is sent back). Are we so inured to
Castros four decades of tyranny that weve forgotten all
this? That Castro is now harmless to us doesnt diminish the evil
he does to his own poor subjects.
Note that the American news media still
refer to Castro as the Cuban leader. In liberal parlance,
Communist despots are leaders a word that implies
that they have voluntary followings whereas right-wing despots
are dictators and strongmen, words implying
that they rule by raw force.
Thus Mao Zedong was always the
Chinese leader, while Francisco Franco was the Spanish
dictator. Such epithets created the subliminal impression that life
in Francos Spain was more oppressive than life in Maos
China. The truth was far otherwise: to apply the most basic test, people
were free to leave Francos Spain, but not Maos China. No
Communist regime can afford to permit free emigration. Castro certainly
If Castro had Eliáns welfare at
heart, he would allow the boys father to come to this country. But
he wont, any more than he will allow any of his other subjects to
come here. And we cant assume that the father is speaking freely
when he demands his son, because he, like Havanas
protestors, would not be permitted to say anything else if
he wanted to.
If youve ever wondered who might
have collaborated with a Communist regime in this country, study the
people who want to send Elián Gonzalez back to Castro.
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