To the Editor:

As the daughter of Cuban exiles and having grown up in Miami, Fla., I am astonished by the misinformation, ignorance and prejudice displayed in Sam Taylor’s column (“Bush-Castro combo is one-two punch,” 11/17).

To suggest that the goal of the embargo is to decimate the Cuban middle class is a complete farce. The embargo was originally established to reprimand Castro’s government for the confiscation of American properties (businesses, land, etc.) in Cuba. The embargo is maintained today as retribution against the Cuban government’s flagrant disregard for human rights. The embargo is also a tool to obtain economic and political concessions from the current Cuban regime or future Cuban government that is not democratic.

As for Mr. Taylor’s remark on the “old elite” Cuban Americans who came to the United States after 1959, who is he referencing? Is he talking about my grandmother who left a comfortable life in Cuba to pick tomatoes on a U.S. farm because Castro confiscated all her hard-earned belongings? Or perhaps, my father who at the age of 17 took whatever job was available whether it was pumping gasoline, delivering newspaper, or busing tables to support his elderly parents? Mr. Taylor could possibly be speaking of my aunt, a schoolteacher in Cuba, who came to the United States to work as a seamstress. It is nonsensical and inflammatory to segregate Cuban exiles into two classes. Most Cuban exiles have family in Cuba, including the so-called “old elite.” Cubans are united in their desire to bring freedom and democracy to their homeland. This desire is not dependent on the date on which you arrived in the United States. Taylor’s statement that many exiles have aspirations of acquiring political and economic power in Cuba is totally unfounded.

Cuba’s current state of desperation is a result of Fidel Castro’s Marxist-Leninism as well as his insistence on blaming every problem he creates on the United States. Castro is the one responsible for the suffering of the Cuban people, not the embargo. An embargo is only effective if all nations participate; since this is not the case, Castro has no grounds to blame his self-inflicted problems on the United States. Castro’s mismanagement and egomaniacal desire to hold on to the reins of power at all costs are the true cause of the suffering that the 11 million citizens of Cuba are forced to endure. These are also the reasons why millions of former Cuban citizens around the world have lived exiled from their homeland for the past 45 years. It is wrong to blame the United States and Cuban Americans for the current disasters resulting from Castro’s ridiculous policies and lack of governance. Castro alone holds the key to ending the embargo. All he needs to do is hold democratic elections in Cuba.

It is also absurd to imply that Cuban Americans do not care about the welfare of their families and fellow countrymen. Cuban Americans have valiantly fought to end the brutal dictatorship that has destroyed their island home. All Cuban Americans want their countrymen to enjoy the basic freedoms that so many American-born citizens take for granted: freedom of speech, religion, free thought and a life without the fear of an oppressive government.

Ana Teresita Quinones

Nov. 18, 2004

The writer is a graduate student in the School of Medicine’s Genetics Department.