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Those Smoking Cubans

Okay, the Miami Herald I understand. They need to play this story huge, because it's a huge story in their circulation area. So it's okay that they run another giant headline on the front page about Fidel. Hell, he is a god in Miami, an evil god perhaps (certainly to the expatriates), but a god no less. How else to explain two days of dancing in the streets to celebrate ... intestinal bleeding in a 79-year-old man. If he's conscious of any of this, I'm pretty sure the dictator would be flattered and strangely gratified.

But the Sun-Sentinel again dominating its front page with the story -- the entire front page is all Castro -- is boneheaded (though it was nice to see Vanessa Bauza on the front page again -- why is it I feel like I haven't read her in a long while?). Sure, lead the page with Castro, but put it all in perspective with, well, you know, Iraq and Lebanon and the heat wave, etc. Broward County is NOT all wound up in this. Interested? Yes. Up to its eyeballs in hysteria? Hell no. How do I know this? Well, I live here, one, and I haven't seen a single reveler rock an SUV or wave the flag. And, if I didn't believe my own eyes, the Sentinel itself told me so. Staff writer Tal Abbady reports this morning that all the fun and games "seemed to stop at the county line."

Political player Pepe Lopez has the lead quote: "What are they celebrating? That Fidel is dying quietly in bed and the same communists who destroyed the country for 47 years are still in power?"

Damn, that's weird to hear. It almost sounds like common sense. The Miami Herald, in its incredible roll of Castro stories today, also noticed the lack of excitement in Broward. Reporters Trenton Daniel, Nicole White, and Jennifer Mooney Piedra dig deep to find, profoundly, that Castro isn't the "be-all" in Broward. A quote from University of Miami geographer Thomas Boswell: ''They aren't quite caught up in the aura of Fidel Castro's government. What you have in Broward County is a more spread out and settled Cuban population. They're looking for good housing and good schooling.''

Imagine that. These people are irresponsible enough to have actually gotten on with their lives. They're not consumed by hatred and the need to get back to a past that, truth be told, never even existed. The guy they harken back to, the guy Castro booted out of power, Fulgencio Batiste, was a ruthless and corrupt dictator too. Remember? But boy, if the Cuban Mafia in Miami gets to take over, we can all look forward to a transparent, clean government on the island. I mean, look how wonderful and upstanding their public service has been in Miami. I nominate Val Prieto for Minister of Propaganda.

The deal is this: A lot of Miami Cubans are just as crazed with hate as Israelis and Palestinians, as the IRA, as Sunni insurgents, as ETA members. Hence they are dancing like banshees in the street because an old man they hate is sick. Those who are trapped in a bitter past can't be expected to act or think rationally. Make no mistake, they want to see a revolution now, regardless of the destruction and bloodshed that it might cause. Luckily, cooler heads are probably going to prevail. Ana Mendendez struck the right chord: "First, the rhetoric of hate and bitterness has to die with Fidel," she writes. "Time is passing all the old demagogues by."

May it pass them swiftly. If you read nothing else about Cuba today, take a look at Wayne S. Smith's piece in the Sentinel. The good professor's analysis is on the money. It's about Condoleezza Rice's lie-filled rhetoric and George W. Bush's policy position that there should be no constitutional succession in Cuba, but rather an installed "transitional government." Smith tells us why forced "democracy" is a fool's game, a pipe dream. But then again, there's a lot of those to go around these days.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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