By José Arango
When I found out last month that the New Jersey Legislative Black Caucus had irresponsibly partied in New York City with Communist Cuban diplomats to the United Nations, as confirmed by embarrassing photos in the Cuban Mission’s website, I wrote an Op-Ed for the JERSEY JOURNAL protesting the shameful comradeship event with the Cuban tyranny’s representatives (I also authored a similar piece in the digital Spanish language AHORA NEWS).
Here, I would like to touch on some additional aspects of my stern objection to such an unfortunate propagandistic gathering that is tantamount to endorsing Cuba’s brutal dictatorship disguised as an enlightened revolution since 1959.
The Caucus’ website states that its mission is, among other things, “to advocate” for the “civil and human rights” of African-Americans, other ethnic minorities and women. One gathers, though, that Hispanics of Cuban ascription —of any skin color and gender (including Afro-Cuban women regularly beaten up in Cuba)— don’t fit the Caucus’ professed advocacy objectives. Alas, our state is home to a prominent freedom-loving Cuban-American community (second only to Florida’s) who especially cares for those left behind in the Caribbean Socialist hell-hole from where they fled.
Evidently, however, both the suffering Cuban people as well as the exiled victims appear to be unworthy of the Caucus’ selective empathy.
The Caucus members further disregard their own New Jerseyan Cuban-American and other Hispanic elected legislators and appointed officials of both major political parties at all levels, most notably their own Democrat colleagues, all of whom are de facto insensitively insulted. Nonetheless, the Caucus perennially chants “solidarity!” But it appears that, notwithstanding its purported mission statement, it expects solidarity exclusively in one direction without any quid pro quo for others (at least not for Cuban-Americans who, incidentally, have voting rights here). The Caucus members may be entitled to bizarrely validate Cuba’s oppressive elite, but so are we to respectfully dissent vis-á-vis their tactless thoughtlessness.
As an assemblyman in the 1980s, I strove to serve ALL New Jerseyans, co-sponsoring or at least voting for numerous bills that especially benefitted all ethnic minorities, notably in economic development, small enterprises, job creation, education, individual rights, and general dignity-building. I was a leading supporter of then Governor Tom Kean’s Politics of Inclusion and I joined forces with fellow Black legislators in promoting State Government financial initiatives to pressure South Africa to end its hateful Apartheid system.
But now the Caucus dares to indulge (naively, sinisterly or both) in its own version of foreign policy, and in support of the longest lasting despotic rulers in the hemisphere, the militarized autocracy that has generated an un-paralleled mass emigration that, in turn —and paradoxically— gave rise to the dynamic Cuban-American enclave here, the ethnic group that the Caucus blatantly affronts.
Indeed, the Caucus seems to care less that the Castros’ and their unelected, hand-picked corrupt henchmen heirs constitute a horrific odium-mongering regime than the fact that:
- It almost caused a world holocaust with the 1962 Missile Crisis (and with Russia openly behind it, Socialist Cuba continues to represent a threat to our national security),
- It routinely plants spies in our country (who knows how many of the Cuban diplomats that feted the Caucus double up as spies who collect personal information on the Caucus members and other US-Americans),
- It —particularly significant for our state— harbors Joanne Chesimard, the assassin of brave N.J. State Trooper Werner Foerster in Middlesex County in 1963. In practice, the Caucus is moreover offending the entire law enforcement community.
Giving the Caucus the benefit of the doubt, it displays abysmal ignorance of many additional sad facts—such as:
- Cuba’s celebrated icon, Argentinian-born international terrorist “Che” Guevara, was a notorious blood thirsty mass murderer who bragged about his contempt —as he candidly wrote— for brown-skinned indigenous Latin-Americans, dark-skinned Africans and Cubans alike, plus for women of all origins, as well as gays/lesbians of all nationalities. Indeed, he inspired the much feared Nazi-style forced labor camps called UMAP, where dissidents, emigration applicants, religious youngsters [including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Afro-Cuban religion practitioners], and most particularly gays, were interned; not surprisingly, Afro-Cubans were over-represented victims in those hot tropical Gulags.-
- European-descendant Fidel and Raúl Castro’s claim to fame was to have overthrown the 6-3/4 year authoritarian —and admittedly corrupt— dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista (1952-58) who, ironically, was an Afro-Cuban of extremely humble origins who had flirted earlier in his political career with Communism, as well as with Russia, the ominous patron-country of Cuba’s disastrous six-decade Socialism.-
Regarding the economy, the Socialist government turned a fast developing country (notwithstanding Batista) into a veritable backwards and miserable one where even cane sugar, the island-nation’s historical principal export crop, now has to be imported to hardly meet the rationed domestic consumers. And as it happens elsewhere, Cubans of African ancestry are the most vulnerable socio-economically who now depend largely on remittances and care-packages from kin and friends forcibly exiled overseas.
What kind of support does the Caucus expect if its adopted socio-political model is Cuba’s failed Socialist totalitarianism with its ration cards, firing squads, thousands of deaths, and millions of exiles?
In effect, instead of defending the voiceless here and abroad, and rather than fostering logical coalition-building among ethnic communities of this great Garden State of ours, the Caucus is provoking uncalled for divisiveness. I doubt that this organization represents the sentiments of the Afro-American constituency at large, and I wonder what kind of respect the Caucus deserves from freedom loving and veritable compassionate New Jerseyans of all social backgrounds.
The Honorable José Arango represented the 33rd District in the N.J. Assembly (1986-88) as the first Hispanic elected to the legislature from Hudson County, home of the state’s largest Hispanic population. He was also the first ethnic minority person to serve as the State Chair of the 21 county Republican chairpersons, and is equally the first one to lead Hudson County’s GOP Committee.