At one level, the answer is clearly “yes.” Spend a little time among Cuban Americans, and you find that there are very few who think of returning to
And recall that the late Jorge Mas Canosa, who was virtually a spokesman for the community, recognized the fear of people on the island; he advocated compensation for lost homes and opposed any claims settlement scheme that would dislodge people from their homes. Clearly, he realized, as do nearly all Cuban Americans today, that Cubans are not interested in any change at all if it begins with them losing their homes.
But the fear, even if based on a small and shrinking segment of
And that fear is not necessarily irrational. Last month I linked to a story about a
The site’s Havana page features aerial views plus ground-level photos of houses and buildings taken by volunteers. If you scroll down, there’s a link that allows you to file a property claim and supporting documentation with FIU’s “
Now, if you were Cuban and you saw a foreigner taking pictures of your house, how would you feel about this “public service?” And what would you do?
At least the FIU site doesn’t talk about evictions – that task fell to the
When the Bush Administration’s
- While Cubans may think they have title to their property, those titles are in doubt and need to be certified by a commission that the
government will help U.S. to establish. Cuba
- The commission may determine that current occupants of homes – now called “tenants” – might have to pay “rent” until they are evicted: “If the [commission] finds that the property is occupied as a home, then the claimant should be unable to evict the tenants and take possession of the property for a specified period of time.”
Can anyone imagine a single step that the
This blunder was not lost on the Administration’s current
My hunch is that these assurances are reinforcing fears rather than dispelling them. It would be far better if the Administration would flatly disavow its 2004 commission report, in whole or in part. But governments rarely do that, and in this case maybe we are seeing an excess of deference to the commission’s chairs, Secretary of State Powell and Senator Mel Martinez.
There are a few lessons here.
Cubans are not dumb.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
And when it comes to