Typical Miami Schizophrenia on Cuba

The Fanjul flak and its repercussions

Alvaro Fernandez  (Progreso Weekly)

Alfonso Fanjul
Alfonso Fanjul

HAVANA TIMES – Schizophrenia is nothing new to Miami. But the recent uproar caused by a piece on Cuban American sugar tycoon Alfy Fanjul takes the cake. It also demonstrates what many have been saying for the past few years: the Cuba debate has pivoted towards one where even a stalwart of the past half century Cuba-thought now yearns to return to the island of his birth.

“If there is some way the family flag could be taken back to Cuba, then I am happy to do that,” said Fanjul to Washington Post reporters, adding that “his primary motivation in visiting Cuba has been a desire to ‘reunite the Cuban family.’”

Fanjul, it turns out, has visited the island a couple of times the past few years as part of a Brookings Institution delegation, and in the process has met with Cuban officials and discussed business opportunities on the island.

[Are you listening President Obama? These are words that should put your creative juices flowing. Because Miami is ready for whatever pleasant (to a majority of us) surprise you may offer for the island nation. Not only are we ready; we’re anxious for something fresh and new. And all that’s needed is a signature from you. Think of it as an autograph of great worth in the years to come. Your name on a document that seals your Latin American legacy. And it will be a positive one… the day you decide to overcome your jitters on the issue.]

But let’s get back to the fun. Well, Miami is known as the fun and sun capital of the world, isn’t it? And schizophrenia, although serious, can have its comic side effects.

Note the crazies pouring out of their closets after reading the aforementioned Washington Post article titled “Sugar tycoon Fanjul open to investing in Cuba under ‘right circumstances”.

Crazy number one was Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen who turned that ever-present smile upside down and attacked Fanjul in a press statement referred by some in the media as “surprisingly personal.”

Sen. Marco Rubio was surprised and dissapointed.
Sen. Marco Rubio was surprised and dissapointed.

Then there was Florida’s two-faced senator who has the ability to stand on either side of any issue – and defend it. Marco Rubio stated that he “was surprised and disappointed.”

“We should not ignore the systemic violations of human rights in Cuba,” added Rubio. These are words from a person who defended not funding Medicaid for 850,000 persons in Florida, most who cannot afford health insurance. But still, he talks of human rights…

There was also Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart who claimed to be “outraged.” Not to be outdone, the Miami Cuban airwaves hurled insults and epithets at Fanjul 24 hours a day. In fact, I think they are still on that roller coaster. No wonder Armando Perez-Roura always looks dizzy.

I cannot leave out Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of Cuba Democracy Advocates in Washington, DC, a lobbying group, who went as far as to threaten Fanjul and his family with a quid pro quo that’s not unusual in Mauricio’s world, where money is what’s most important in the business of politics.

Claver-Carone basically said that such statements as Alfy made to the Washington Post might affect his yearly multi-million dollar sugar subsidy provided by the U.S. government. First, Mauricio’s words could me misinterpreted as an attempt to extort. And secondly, I didn’t realize that Mauricio wielded as much power as he purports by making such threats.

The truth is I found the whole charade of the past week funny. And after reading the Fanjul piece in the Post, I immediately re-printed it in Progreso Weekly (and had it translated to Spanish in Semanal). I knew it would have this type of reaction, which then puts on display these sickly attitudes from certain Cuban Americans.

Schizophrenia is nothing new to Miami. But the recent uproar caused by a piece on Cuban American sugar tycoon Alfy Fanjul takes the cake.

But what puzzles me, because I am not a psychiatrist, were the schizophrenic reactions. Here is one of their own proposing to do in Cuba what Ileana and Mario and Mauricio and so many others have been proposing for years – to change the rules of the game. And when he expresses it, they are all over him like rampaging lice on children in a kindergarten class.

In my opinion Alfy Fanjul doing business in Cuba would be a dream come true for these folks. They just have not realized it.

Have they forgotten that the Fanjul family has turned the welfare system for millionaires into an art form? Don’t they realize that the Fanjuls and their sugar business in Florida are greatly responsible for the destruction of great swaths of the Everglades putting in danger the future of our most precious water source here in this state?

Ileana, don’t you get it? Mario, can’t you see? The Fanjuls exploit the U.S. government and its taxpayers. Sound familiar? They’ve also endangered the future of our state. Another dynamic I dare say you should be familiar with.

So what’s the big deal? Maybe the Fanjuls yearn to bring that circa 1958 Cuba exploitative style of government back to the island. Oh how you must yearn for those days…

And you idiots still complain!

Exploitation. Come on… you’re masters at it here in South Florida and in the U.S Congress.

You refuse to raise the minimum wage, which only helps to create more poverty in this country. What do you think the Fanjuls do to their farmworkers whose toil is responsible for their billions?

So what is the problem? In Alfy and his brother you have two masters of this universe. And again, they want to bring it to Cuba.

18 thoughts on “Typical Miami Schizophrenia on Cuba

  • I would not let the Fanjul family back into Cuba under no circumstances!!! Who wants history repeating itself!!!

  • Because they don’t want Americans to go to Cuba and get an idea

  • Raising the minimum wage does not lower poverty. Raising the minimum wage increases unemployment at the lowest income levels, forces costs and prices to rise, thereby increasing poverty. This has been demonstrated in multiple economic studies.

  • IC, the desire to invest in Cuba by the exile community is hardly a new idea. What’s new is the Castros willingness to allow this investment. What remains to be seen is whether or not the two sides can reach an agreement between securing the investment with real property as collateral for the Cuban exile and maintaining the totalitarian control of property by the Castros. Other foreign investment has suffered from being woefully unsecured and historically vulnerable to the political whims of the dictatorship. The Canadian businessman recently released from a Cuban gulag after being imprisoned for nearly 3 years and sent home with tens of millions of dollars in investment losses should serve as a model of what investment risk really means in Cuba.

  • That is a very real possibility. I am sure he didn’t expect the virulent attacks he has received from Eliana and Mario.

    But it’s interesting to note he is not the only businessman looking to increase contacts. Jorge Perez of the Related Companies, among others, is increasingly pushing for closer ties

  • So what? Fanjul does not have any control or influence over the Bacardi family or their corporation. The Bacardis have fought very hard to keep control of their brand and have prevented the Castro’s from using it. In the 1960’s Castro attempted to sell rum with the Bacardi name & logo on it, but the Bacardi family successfully blocked them. In the 1997, Bacardi bought the rights to the Havana Club brand from the original owners, the Arechabala family. They have positioned themselves to fight the Castro-Pernod-Ricard corporation for the rights to use that brand. The Bacardi family continues to oppose the Castro regime. When the Castros are gone, you can be sure, Bacardi will return to Cuba to reclaim their property, illegally stolen by the Castro regime.

  • I think Alfy underestimated the backlash his actions have received. I would bet he withdraws his offer to invest in Cuba to protect his fortune in the US.

  • Over and over we read the same argument: why does US have an embargo on Cuba, but not on these other countries with terrible human rights records?

    The US used to have trade embargoes on Vietnam and on China. They were lifted after the governments of Vietnam & China agreed to reimburse seized US assets, and in the case of Vietnam, to return POWs and the remains of US servicemen.

    The US used to have a trade embargo on Gadaffi’s Libya, but the US lifted that when Gadaffi agreed to give up his chemical weapons and his small nuclear weapon development program.

    The US used to have a trade embargo on Burma, but it was lifted when the Burmese government agreed to allow democratic elections and to improve human rights in Burma.

    The US still maintains trade embargoes on North Korea and Iran.

    So you see, Cuba is not a unique isolated case. There are historical reasons for the embargo. There is a very simple path to having the embargo lifted and the Castro brothers know what it is.

  • Well, yes, that’s exactly why it’s still in place. However things may be moving a bit faster than you realize as business interests push for accelerated reapproachment. Divisions remain but there seems to b a new rift between the political and business interests in Cuban-America community

    Interesting article in today’s Miami Herald on that very issue

  • There is an easy to overlook but fundamental difference between our relationships with Vietnam and China despite our differences and the lack of relations that continues with Cuba. There is no politically active and well-financed community of Vietnamese and Chinese exiles living in the US with native-born or first generation members of Congress. This makes a huge difference in how policy towards these countries and the policy we maintain with Cuba is made. It is also easier said than done to complain that Obama should simply ignore these Miami extremists and “do the right thing”. The cost in political capital to start a war with anticastristas is well beyond the benefits of winning that war. Opening Cuba means empowering the Castros. For every open-minded ‘Informed Consent’ who would applaud Obama’s brave and bold step towards normalizing relations, there would be hundreds of extreme right-wingers who would have tangible proof that Obama is a card-carrying foreign-born, muslim, communist. Finally, IC, what’s the rush? In 2018, when Raul is gone and maybe Fidel is dead, there will be a whole new crop of leaders in place to spy on, possibly blackmail and at the very least, corrupt into negotiating better relations with the US. I say wait for the new guys.

  • I think the Fanjul’s might have other ideas about that.

  • I disagree. As has been pointed out before the U.S. has friendly relations with numerous countries around the world who’s human rights record are far, far worse than what is found in Cuba. We do this as a way to promote engagement and positive change…and of course see to our business interests. I would imagine that the U.S. would have an even greater incentive to isolate Vietnam, where almost 50,000 American soldiers lost their lives not that long ago, yet we have extensive diplomatic and business ties with them (in fact the TV show “The Bachelor” filmed several episodes there)

    I believe the best way to not only remove the regimes excuses but hasten its demise is to fully engage with Cuba.

  • When we see some real change, the Bacardi family will return.

    But not before.

  • Because the conditions which caused the embargo to be imposed haven’t changed one little bit.

    The Castro regime is still the same.

  • What has schizophrenia got to do with Cuban politics? People really need to educate themselves about the meaning of that word and the medical condition it identifies. It’s well past time to retire that misused metaphor.

    It’s not Señor Fanjul who is bringing exploitation back to Cuba. The Castro brothers perfected exploitation of the Cuban people and all Fanjul is doing is taking advantage of the conditions created by Raul. A pox upon both their houses!

  • Why is there an embargo on Cuba after over 50 years?

  • There are some in the exile community that are like women who have been victimized by wife-beating husbands. After a little sweet talk by the Castros, these exiles are willing to forgive and forget…until the Castros ‘beat’ them again.

  • When Bacardi wants to bring his’ family flag’ back to the island, we might see some change

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