THE book looks as jolly and innocuous as any other children's travel guide, and its 32 pages offer no obvious horrors. “People in Cuba eat, work, and go to school like you do,” reads one. Cubans enjoy eating chicken with rice. Cuba's beaches “are good for swimming and boating.” The cover shows laughing children against a rich blue sky. Only a second look reveals that they are all wearing the neck-scarves of Fidel Castro's Young Pioneers.
And that is quite enough. In Miami, a city that this week celebrated the news of Mr Castro's frailty and temporary handover with fireworks and wild dancing, “Vamos a Cuba” (“A Visit to Cuba”) is poison to some. Not only does it paint too rosy a picture of Cuba—suggesting that chicken is a staple, rather than a luxury, and implying that Cuba's best beaches are for Cubans, rather than for dollar-bearing foreigners—but it also sows alarming seeds of tolerance in the minds of the young. Although it has sat on library shelves for several years, a cry has gone up to get rid of it.
And Franky B. gets his nod:
Critics of the ban say it can be neatly linked to the upcoming election season, and a nasty fight that is brewing between two Republicans. One of the figures at the heart of the controversy is an aspiring Republican state legislator, Frank Bolaños, who is running against a fellow Cuban-American to represent Miami-Dade in Tallahassee. Mr Bolaños also sits on the school board. Three other board members who voted against the book are running for re-election to the board. “It was only when the politicians got involved that the books were removed,” says JoNel Newman, the ACLU's lawyer.
Our own, "alternative" weekly, the Miami New Times weighs in on the controversy Commie Book Ban, Vamos a Cuba has become an unlikely political lightning rod by Rob Jordan. Actually it is somewhat milder in tone, and a somewhat even-handed, -if not sympathetic-, portrait of some of the characters involved. The original father who raised the complaint, spent years in Castro's dungeons, some of the exiles involved in the campaign come across as far more complex characters than the intolerant loudmouth stereotype. But, there is enough intolerance hinted at, as when an unfortunate high school student finds himself the target of angry exiles for daring to question the decision to remove the book.
And the article, does cut down on just how silly this whole thing is, by pointing out some very basic facts everyone here seems to forget:
Their oppressor is a 32-page book from the Vamos series, which had been in Miami-Dade public school libraries for five years before anyone complained. During that time, no one had questioned why Vamos a Colombia fails to mention decades of kidnappings by leftist guerrillas or why Vamos a China omits any mention of the millions who starved during Mao's Great Leap Forward.
Ding, ding, we have a winner!!!! Normally sensible people in this city have been making some of the stupidest arguments to justify censoring what ends up being a silly book.
How is this for irony?
(On April 4, the day Amador filed his complaint, Miami's national book-reading campaign, the Big Read, opened; the book chosen for mass consumption was Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, the story of a future totalitarian state where books are banned and burned by the government.)
Of course, the perenially indignant will not get it, and find another excuse to ban the damn book.
Exile politics comes up real quick. Particularly nasty were the loudmouths on local talk radio, who trashed one Nicaraguan-born council woman for not getting in line:
Ana Rivas-Logan voted to allow a review process instead of an immediate ban, she found herself targeted by Radio Mambí, a popular station among hard-line exiles. Rivas-Logan, who was born in Nicaragua after her family fled Cuba in 1960, paraphrased one commentator's advice to listeners: "Let's not forget, when it comes to election time, that Ms. Rivas-Logan is Nicaraguan." Other board members who voted to review rather than ban the book were labeled Communist and anti-Cuban.
Talk about an authoritarian streak!!! These idiots should shut their yaps if they are going to talk about censorship in Cuba, because they are hardly paragons of libertarianism.
Frank Bolaños of course gets prominent mention. Our man Frank, is described as being somewhat "innocuous" looking at first site and is accorded the status of a political novice, but "not one to shy away from the limelight." Lurking closely behind Mr. B., according to the article, is political consultant Michael Caputo, an experienced operator with ample experience in big campaigns. Seems like some heavyweights are throwing Franky B. some major support, specially if they bring in an old pro like Caputo. Caputo of course, shamelessly pimps this loser issue, but as a political consultant he knows it is political gold. All that brinkmanship involved in making the whole process as public and confrontational as possible is probably Caputo strategy and Bolaños acting the shameless pandering part to a T.
So much for the dominant political part, that in of itself, should make this a moot issue. Hey people, you are being manipulated by politicians! But it cuts beyond that. As The Economist points out delicately, this whole thing is going on at the same time as Castro's succession becomes a real issue. Does no one in this damn town have a fucking clue how HYPOCRITICAL it is to CENSOR -and make all sorts of inane arguments in favor of - CENSORING a child's book, all in the name of fighting a regime that CENSORS???? You can not claim to be fighting for soomeone else's freedom when you would gladly restrict freedom here. Its that damn simple. QUIT BEING STUPID!!!