Friday, October 20, 2006

The Biggest Slave Plantation in the World

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review has a story about two young lovers separated by what it incompletely calls "geopolitics." An American professional cyclist, Joe Papp, met a shamateur professional Cuban cyclist named Yuliet Rodriguez. Quickly the two fell in love. Ms Rodriguez having the misfortune to have been born in a country that she cannot leave without permission from her government, she was only able to secretly see her new lover several times a year at major international cycling events. Ultimately they married, but the glacial pace of the American immigration bureaucracy combined with the slave-like status of Cubans within their own country meant that by this year she had still not been able to come to the US. She had decided to quit the Cuban cycling team, and knew that once the government learned of this officials would take their revenge, which would probably prevent her from ever leaving the country again. So she decided to leave without telling them.

After a tortuous series of flights, she ended up in Spain. Now Spain is a country that hands out political asylum (before they get in) and amnesty (after they sneak in) to immigrants from Africa like candy. But having found that she was in the country illegally, and the Spanish government (especially under the current administration) having no belief that Cuba is the sort of place that people might ask for asylum from, allowed her two choices – to go back to Cuba (which would have ended her future) or to Venezuela, which is now Cuba the second time as farce. She chose the latter option, and the day before she was scheduled to fly to the US she was arrested and scheduled to be deported to Cuba posthaste. Almost surely the Venezuelan secret services were doing the bidding of their compadres in Cuba, who were surely enraged by the fact that Ms Rodriguez was one of Cuba's most elite athletes, and that she was the very flower of Cuban womanhood who wanted to marry an American. (The old Lonely Planet guide to China used to warn of the occasional foreigner who was dating but not married to a Chinese woman finding police breaking into their hotel room in the middle of the night on the grounds that some or another Chinese law is being violated, when in reality it was the interracial relationship that motivated the break-in. This kind of insecurity over tainting of the genetic pool is another hallmark of highly controlled societies. (B.R. Meyers, an academic in South Korea, recently claimed (subscription only) that one of North Korea's greatest criticisms of the South is its legalization of interracial marriage, with a North Korean official saying at one meeting that "Not a single drop of ink must be allowed to fall into the Han River.")

The reaction of Mr. Papp is telling. He properly (in that Americans should have the right to travel as they wish) aims his ire at the US government for prohibiting him from seeing her in Cuba, but that is all he says. The true lesson here is that Ms Rodriguez wants to leave, which in a society like Cuba, where each citizen is the personal property of the Communist Party in general and the Maximum Leader in particular, is the greatest crime of all. It must be made so, because too many would refuse to stay in such a society voluntarily. It has been this way since shortly after Castro took power, as it is in all totalitarian societies.

The turning of citizens into branded cattle confined to the land of their birth is one of the quietest yet one of the greatest crimes of the Cuban state. That the Western and especially the American left has always so romanticized Fidel Castro – because the health care is free, don'cha know – is one of its greatest disgraces. Cuba is a giant plantation, pure and simple. If it were not its people could, like most of those in the world, come and go at will. That despite these restrictions, people routinely risk their lives and the lives of their children to escape is perhaps the most telling damnation of that society, one of a dwindling number of absolute tyrannies left on the planet.


Blogger joep said...

Trust me, I don't think that the US govt has sole responsibility for our separation, nor primary. It's a newspaper article, so of course all of my quotes weren't published. The sad, terrible, horrible thing is that my wife is gone and I wonder if I will ever see her again, or even know what happened to her.

11:26 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

Thanks, I accept your correction and apologize for misstating your views.

1:10 PM  

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