A week or so ago in the daily rants distributed via email by Mauricio Claver Carone, mouthpiece for the Diaz Balart/Ros Lehtinen Axis of Retribution there was mention made of alleged attacks against Los Dames de Blanco in several locations across Cuba. I say alleged because although I have contacts in almost 30 Catholic parishes across the island I have not been able to confirm these supposed incidents. But whether they did or did not occur is not the point. The point is I sense a spirit of jubilation that goes up in the Congressional offices of the aforementioned as well as in the office of Capitol Hill Cubans whenever they report – real or fabricated – about attacks on the Ladies in White.
When you read between the lines on the so-called reporting of these alleged incidents you get a sense that this Cuban Troika is happy to once again make accusations of verbal and physical abuse of the Ladies by ‘Castro’s thugs’ while arguing for the same tired retaliation: reduce family remittances, limiting of family travel back to Cuba, and eliminate People-to-People programs. How will this help Los Damas de Blanca? Some receive remittances from family in the United States so they may be harmed financially by the Troika’s retaliatory tactics. All of these ‘punishments’ hit the wrong target; they hit the 11 Million innocent people of Cuba.
I have been blessed on my Nine Mission trips to have attended Sunday 10:00 A.M. Mass at St Rita’s Church in Miramar along with the Ladies in White. I have never been abrupt or aggressive in any manner but I have always had a backpack which had a US flag on it. That and my mode of attire have let the bystanders know where I am from. I have actually seen bystanders disperse and more importantly I have never observed any untoward action directed towards the Ladies in White. I have had conversations with them before and after Mass, upon the completion of their procession.
The solution to protecting the Ladies in White and to also spread the message of freedom to everyday Cubans is an elimination of the travel ban to Cuba. During the Iraq war we repeatedly heard the term ‘boots on the ground’ to help bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. Well in Cuba Los Damas de Blanco and millions of others need ‘sneakers on the streets’ – American tourists to interact with, to learn from, and to be shadowed by them in the public exercise of their faith and their beliefs.
My father used to say “Politicians don’t want to solve problems. Then they have nothing to complain about and they can’t get on TV.” What a shame it would be for Diaz-Balart if dozens of American tourists were attending Mass at St Rita in Miramar every Sunday. He could not feign indignation over mistreatment of Ladies in White. Moreover, Ileana Ros Lehtinen who has spent two decades protecting terrorists and thugs could no longer call press conferences with Mario obediently by her side where she would complain about ‘Castro’s thugs’. And Capitol Hill Cubans, the collection of D-B and R-L throwaways and hangers on could slink into oblivion.