Fidel’s children

A Cuban writer wants her young son to honor his dissident father, serving an 18-year sentence. But she doesn’t want him to get in trouble at school, where he’s being taught to be a good little follower of Fidel.

There was time his kindergarten teacher asked children to bring a plastic gun to school.

I went to the classroom to ask and found the teacher distributing plastic weapons and shouting, “Go! Shoot! Boom, boom! We are killing imperialism!” All the children, including my son, were shooting in the air and shouting “Boom, boom!” against this invisible specter the teacher told them was imperialism.

Parents who object may be charged with “acts against the normal development of a minor.”

Since his father was detained in March as part of the crackdown on dissidents that landed 74 other courageous Cubans in jail for an average of 20 years, my son has been restless and confused. It’s no wonder. He cannot explain to the teacher or his schoolmates that his father is a good man who is jailed for defending freedom and democracy. He speaks of his father only with close relatives. When I told him that his father was in jail on orders from our president, he answered: “Ah, Mummy, don’t you speak evil of Fidel: They will take you away too, and I will be crying a lot!”

I used to work with a Cuban-American whose father, a professor, had called a meeting to protest an order to teach Fidel thought in all classes. His father spent four years in prison for the offense. But, at least, the family ended up in the U.S.

Via Education Gadfly, which also features “Twas the Day Before Vouchers.” It’s a fantasy in verse.

About Joanne


  1. So… how were chemistry or math professors to inject Fidel into a lecture legitimately?

    “So let Fidel be sitting in a conical tank of depth 20 m and radius 5 m. Water is pouring into the tank at a rate of 0.5 liters/sec….”

  2. Hmmmm…
    Although not quite on topic, I have a question I’ve been dying to ask… If Bush tomorrow announced that we were going to begin an immediate invasion of Cuba to liberate its people…

    If you supported the war in Iraq, would you support an invasion of Cuba? If you do, why not go further? Why not DEMAND an invasion of Cuba…
    Why aren’t you agitating for it? Push Bush to do it? In fact, why aren’t you not calling up your congresspeople? Why aren’t you blogging about how necessary an invasion is?
    I mean, how can anyone oppose an invasion of Cuba? If you don’t support it, that means you must be a Commie-lover who doesn’t care about the poor, oppressed Cubans, right?

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Beat that straw dog!!!

  4. Walter,

    Its not a straw dog. I’m serious. The war on Iraq was initially sold to the American public based on the assertion that Iraq was an imminent threat to national security, with its ties to Al Quaeda and its weapons of mass destruction, which we were told could be deployed in under an hour… well, when it looked like those assertions were either outright lies (at worst) or just horrendous intelligence mistakes (at best), Bush switched to the humanitarian argument… and conservatives have been using this to bash the weak, scared Democrats into submission (you can’t possibly be against this war, what about the poor children? don’t you care about the poor oppressed iraqi people? you must be heartless if you oppose Bush on this!!!!)

    Well, I’m incredibly glad Saddam is gone… there is no question he was an evil, mass-murdering tyrant… and maybe if Bush had made a genuine, sincere case based on humanitarian reasons from the get-go, I might have been more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt… but to me, it seems like he used the humanitarian argument as a convenient way out… “oh, it never really was about weapons of mass destruction, or terrorism, it was about the poor iraqi people the whole time”
    i’m not buying it… it seems like the GOP is all of a sudden now conserved with humanitarian reasons… yet under Clinton, they were opposed to intervention in Bosnia, they were opposed to intervention in Africa/Rwandaa (not that the Democrats were pushing for that either)….
    the GOP and bush in particular were dead-set against “nation-building”… now its an about-face… and i’m not buying that its all because of 9-11.

    OK… enough of my incoherent rant… i’ve been up 48 straight hours working on my dissertation… i need to crash…. uuuugh

  5. PJ/Maryland says:

    Jab, I’d be in favor of removing Castro from power, but I’m not sure we need to invade to do that (notice we haven’t invaded North Korea or Iran, even tho Bush put them in [on?] his Axis of Evil).

    But to continue your parallel, Bush would have to announce tomorrow that we should invade Cuba. After a couple of months of wrangling at the UN, he’d ask for (and get) an authorization from Congress. Then he would succeed in getting the UN Security Council to unanimously condemn Castro for failing to comply with earlier mandates. (Which would relate to Castro’s invasion of Jamaica ten years ago. Um, and I guess he would have had to have attacked, uh, maybe Costa Rica and been at war with them for 8 years or so back in the 1980s.)

    Then months would go by while the NY Times talked about the rush to war and we slowly built up forces in Key West or maybe Jamaica. Then we would go back to the UN, but not get a UN authorization for the war because the French said they would veto it.

    After all that, I can imagine Bush talking me into agreeing with an attack on Cuba. Especially if some, uh, Latino-Communist terrorist groups were running around and had blown up some buildings in, say, Seattle, and I worried that they might hook up with Castro at some point.

    Continuing the parallel, does anyone know who Castro’s successor is supposed to be? Saddam had two sons, but I only remember hearing about Castro’s brother.

    BTW, good luck on your dissertation, Jab.

  6. jab,

    All in due time……

  7. PJ/Maryland says:

    Meep, I agree it might be tough to get Castro in some lessons. Language would be easy: “This is the pen of my uncle Fidel” or “All of Fidel is divided into three parts.” And reading, especially early readers (it’s important to get the kids early): “See Fidel run. Run Fidel, run! See Spot run with Fidel. See Spot bite Fidel on the leg. Ouch Fidel, ouch!”

    Maybe we could get creative in math: “Suppose I cut Fidel into 12 equal pieces. If I want to give an equal amount of Fidel to each of my three friends, how many pieces should I give each?” It’s not as much fun as fractions, but I suppose Cubans could always use F instead of X in algebra.

    Chemistry is easy: “How much H2SO4 would I need to pour into this barrel to completely dissolve Fidel?” But I’m stumped on physics, unless we get into enriched and depleted Fidel.

  8. Andy Freeman says:

    > The war on Iraq was initially sold to the American public based on the assertion that Iraq was an imminent threat to national security

    Really? Interestingly enough, the relevant speech by Bush says exactly the opposite, that Iraq was not an imminent threat.

    Bush’s actual argument was that waiting until the threat was imminent was irresponsible and unworkable.

    Which leaves us with a question – is the person quoted above dishonest or ignorant?

  9. Andy “Clinton” Freeman,

    Sorry, but you are quite wrong…
    Bush *implied* the threat was imminent…
    I’ve read the various debates on both liberal and conservative blogs on whether he used the exact word “imminent”, on what the definition of the word “imminent” is, etc. yada yada yada…
    Nice diversionary tactic though… I thought conservatives were opposed to parsing the meaning of words like that… how positively “Clintonian” of you…

    In any case, Bush said something to the effect, that enemies don’t announce when they are going to strike… so you shouldn’t wait until its “imminent”, because that could already be too late… in other words, its ALREADY imminent…

    Rumsfeld asked whether on Sept 10, the Al Quaeda attack was “imminent”….
    The whole point being that we don’t know when we could be attacked… it could happen any time… its already past imminent… what Bush was implying was we can’t wait until we know for sure, until we know that it is “imminent” because then its too late…

    You want to be an egghead, and say, “technically Mr. Bush never said ‘imminent threat'”, well so be it… but you know damn well that is disingenuous…

    its unbelievable that people have the gall to claim that bush never meant “imminent”…
    he may never had technically said that, but he sure as heck implied it…

  10. Aaaaarrrggg…
    I didn’t want to get into a debate about Iraq… that’s the past… what I really want to know is the future, what does this mean? Does this mean we could invade Cuba under the “Bush Doctrine”? Is Bush sincere when it comes to humanitarian “liberation”? Has he really changed his mind about nation-building? Or was all this just a one time deal?

    I want to know under what conditions can and should we forceably liberate another country?

  11. How about rainy days and Mondays? They always get me down (too)!
    Or, how about when there is a need to do so. (“need” will be defined by us – if not, then who else has the right or duty to do so?)

  12. Hussein had sacrificed his country’s sovereignty to retain power at the end of Gulf War I. In essence, Iraq had to fulfill a laundry list of conditions, or the allies would come back and smack ‘im. Iraq did not fulfill that laundry list of conditions (much of which involved affirmatively identifying and, under UN oversight, destroying all existing WMD stockpiles and programs. Iraq never did this. (Iraq did claim to have destroyed all WMDs, but they never proved it, and they had agreed to do it openly and under supervision, anyway.) Thus, we had a valid reason under the rules of sovereignty to attack Iraq. We have no such pretext in Cuba, or, really, any other country. (Maybe North Korea, if they violate the terms of the cease-fire there. I don’t know those terms, so I don’t know whether they have.)

  13. Andy Freeman says:

    > Bush *implied* the threat was imminent…

    Bush said explicitly that the threat was NOT imminent.

    Note also that at that time, no one suggested otherwise. It’s only now that folks who are looking for cover or looking for an excuse to bleat “bush lied” are making the “imminent” accusation.

    It’s easy enough to prove me wrong. Come up with a cite showing that Bush said “the threat is imminent” or someone important thought that AT THE TIME.

    BTW – It’s true that there was an imminent threat on 9/11/01 even though we didn’t know it. On what basis do folk confidently assert that Hussein didn’t have something in the works that was thwarted by GWII? Sure, we may not have known about it and may still be ignorant of it, but if you’re going to use Rumsfeld’s statement to suggest that Bush didn’t mean what he said, I’m going to use it the same way to prove that the imminent threat existed.

  14. Jack Tanner says:

    ‘Bush *implied* the threat was imminent…’

    By saying he wasn’t going to wait until the threat was imminent? I think you’re confused, you can’t imply, if you deny.

  15. Kirk Parker says:

    > The war on Iraq was initially sold to the American public based on the assertion that Iraq was an imminent threat

    Thanks, jab, for letting us know where to stop listening! In your world, maybe it’s true that saying “not imminent” is a synomym for “is imminent”, but not where the rest of of live.

  16. jeff wright says:

    Actually, jab raises a good point. Is anybody really sure just why we’re in Iraq? I’m not.

    With regard to Castro, I’ve often wondered just why we were able to deal with the old Evil Empire (Soviet Union) and now with China, but that somehow Cuba is the manifestation of the Commie menace. Fidel is a two-bit dictator, he is old and he will soon die. Everything will change in Cuba when he goes.

    Why are we so preoccupied with Cuba? Communism is dead. History will run its course.

  17. Do any of you know what “nuance” is?

    In any case… despite Bush’s one statement saying we can’t wait for the threat to be imminent, he clearly implied it with everything else he said and did:

    From a speech on Oct 7, 2002 in Cincinatti, Bush said: “Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists.”

    DECIDE ON ANY GIVEN DAY… hmmm, seems to imply imminence to me…

    At a November 7 press conference, Bush said, “If we don’t do something he might attack us, and he might attack us with a more serious weapon. The man is a threat…. He’s a threat because he is dealing with Al Qaeda.”

    Bush on September 26, 2002 in the Rose Garden:
    “The danger to our country is grave. The danger to our country is growing. The Iraqi regime possesses biological and chemical weapons. The Iraqi regime is building the facilities necessary to make more biological and chemical weapons. And according to the British government, the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes after the order were given.”

    Someone please explain how that last statement does not imply the threat was imminent???
    No he didnt, say the word “imminent” explicitly,
    but conservatives are being entirely disingenuous when they claim Bush never implied imminence of the threat… despite his one statement to the contrary.

    More from that speech:
    “Each passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX — nerve gas — or some day a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally.”

    EACH PASSING DAY COULD BE THE ONE… again, implying imminence…