Friday, January 30, 2004


Frank mentions that the Progressive Demcrats, Ireland's supposed "right wing party" (don't make me laugh), are offering a trip to Cuba as a prize as part of their donations drive. While this doesn't shock me, it does bring to mind something I've wondered about for a long time. Why are so many Irish people dedicated to supporting the government of Fidel Castro?

When I lived in New Jersey, I lived in a Cuban neighborhood (Cubans are pretty numerous in North Jersey, second only to South Florida in terms of the number of Cubans). These were decent, hard-working, mostly working-class people. Many of them didn't speak a lot of English, so I couldn't communicate too well with them. But, I knew enough Spanish to know that these people HATED Castro. I don't doubt that any one of them would have given his right arm for a shot at Castro.

The few that I was able to speak to told me simply that Castro had ruined their country and enslaved their people - family, friends, whatever. These were not the exiled wealthy, but regular people.

Obviously, most Irish people were never exposed to a large numbers of Cubans. Nor are stories about the feats of incredible daring by people fleeing Cuba a regular feature on the news here.

There have been occasions when Cuban citizens have sought asylum while at Shannon Airport. These are generally on the main news here, so there can't be complete ignorance of what Cuba is like if Cubans are seeking asylum in Ireland. Yet, despite these asylum seekers, Ireland's most "right wing" party, the party that proclaims that it wants Ireland to be closer to Boston than Berlin, sees no problem with offering a trip to Cuba as a prize for donors.

This underlines the extent to which the Cuban government benefits financially from the ignorance of many and the active support of a minority of Irish people.