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[Congressional Record: July 27, 2000 (Extensions)]
[Page E1371]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                       LETTER FROM CARMEN SABRIA


                     HON. HOWARD P. ``BUCK'' McKEON

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Thursday, July 27, 2000

  Mr. McKEON. Mr. Speaker, this letter was brought to my attention by a 
constituent of mine in the 25th district of California, and I find it 
fitting to include it in the Congressional Record. I believe Ms. Sabria 
sheds a whole new light on the Elian Gonzalez case, in retrospect, and 
highlights many of the freedoms Americans take for granted.

       Letter to Those Who May Not Understand: Elianated yet? I 
     am. And duly so. It seems like an unending saga and we're all 
     sick of it by now. But after Holy Saturday's events, even I, 
     a pretty impartial Cuban-American, feel obligated to at least 
     help you, my Anglo-American and African-American friends 
     understand why the Cuban community is so outraged!
       To reunite a little boy with his father is a beautiful 
     thing. To do it with a gun at his head is not! If I can 
     remember the small trauma when I was only two years old and 
     my father put me and my mother in the bathroom while he 
     nailed the ironing board to the front door to protect us from 
     a big hurricane, I am certain this six year old will never 
     forget this day! To take a little boy back to his real home 
     is wonderful. But Elian is not going home to Cardenas, his 
     home town, oh no . . . He's going to an 11-room mansion in 
     Havana where he is going to live with his parents, yes, but 
     also with other children and some ``teachers'' . . . Is that 
     ``home'' or an indoctrination camp?
       To some of you, most of the impassioned Cubans you have 
     seen on T.V. today may seem irrational in their desire to 
     keep that little boy in this free land. To us who see a child 
     miraculously saved from the treacherous, shark-filled waters 
     of the Florida strait, after his mother risked his life and 
     lost hers to bring him to a place where he could be raised as 
     a free
       A beautiful, fertile land that could still be as it was 
     four decades ago, the most prosperous and advanced of all 
     Latin America, where now children can only drink milk for a 
     few years before their ``quota'' is removed, where medical 
     doctors give up their practice to work as taxi drivers so 
     they can earn U.S. dollars to feed their families because the 
     peso has no value anymore; where young women prostitute 
     themselves to tourists as the only way to earn that precious 
     ``dollar'' that will buy their children some shoes; where 
     children must join the communist ``pioneros'' movement with 
     their red berets and are taught to sing communist songs and 
     hate Americans, and youngsters grow to be ``Communist Youth'' 
     members and are kept from dreaming dreams by being fed 
     stories of upcoming invasions from ``the enemy''; a country 
     where artists and writers can only produce art that follows 
     the government line; and fathers like Juan Miguel must obey 
     what Fidel Castro orders him to say and do rather than do 
     what is best for his child.
       Do you know that Elian's father asked for a U.S. visa twice 
     before little Elian came, and that he called his relatives 
     here to let them know his child was coming here with his mom?
       But little Elian will soon be reunited with his father and 
     with his grandparents in that paradise island and we should 
     be happy about that. No, maybe we're not acting out of 
     concern over Elian and what his life is going to be like when 
     he goes back ``home''. Maybe we're acting out of the pain 
     that's in every one of these acclimated, prosperous, hard-
     working Cuban-Americans who cannot forget.
       How can I forget the eight months I had to work in the 
     fields shoveling dirt and pulling weeds as punishment because 
     I had requested a visa to leave the country? How can I forget 
     that my friends and I were kicked out of the University of 
     Havana, even though we had the highest scores in our class, 
     just because we had not joined the Communist Party's Cuban 
     Youth group? How can I forget the long year my godmother 
     spent in jail for suspicion of counter-revolutionary 
     activities and was never the same woman again? How can I 
     forget Eddy who died of suffocation when they packed them 
     like sardines in a truck after being captured in Bay of 
     Pigs... He was a handsome young man in his early twenties. 
     How can I forget the months my cousin Ramon spent in the 
     dungeons of La Cabana Castle right after the BoP invasions 
     (just for being a young man and not belonging to the 
     communist militia), where they almost starved him to death 
     and where he heard the shots every night of those who were 
     being executed. How can my friend Marta forget the ten years 
     she waited in Castro's Cuba while her husband, a young poet, 
     wasted away most of the time in solitary confinement, 
     surrounded by rats and roaches, and the ten more years she 
     spent in the States struggling to get him out? This poet is 
     the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission 
     on Human Rights, Armando Valladares. Do you know that due to 
     the terrible tortures and malnutrition he suffered when they 
     finally got together after 20 years, he could not give her 
     the children she had longed for and they had to adopt? Or 
     Emilita, who sent her children to live with her parents in 
     the States to keep them safe while she stayed behind with her 
     husband who was serving 20 years in political prison? When 
     she saw her children again, they were no longer children.
       The stories are endless, my friends, every Cuban in this 
     country has a story, and it is those stories that are crying 
     out today. The story of a people who felt betrayed after the 
     Missile Crisis when President Kennedy signed a pact with 
     Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev never to allow Cubans to plot 
     another invasion to free their land . . . The story of a 
     people who are feeling betrayed again because one of our own 
     who was saved from the sharks is now being sent back to the 
     biggest shark of all . . . Fidel Castro, who will 
     indoctrinate him and turn him into an icon of his propaganda 
     or, if he doesn't succeed, will destroy his spirit by turning 
     him into a frustrated youngster with no way out.
       My friends, I apologize for this ``speech'' but I thought 
     it was time for this formerly not very outspoken Cuban to 
     speak out. I know you will understand.
                                                    Carmen Sabria,
                                                   Miami, Florida.