BY ERNIE MAILHOT
MIAMI - In early September CBS Telenoticias aired what they called a debate between Ricardo Alarcón, president of Cuba's National Assembly, and Jorge Mas Canosa, chairman of the Cuban American National Foundation, the most prominent of the Miami rightist organizations opposing the Cuban revolution.
As Alarcón later explained on the Miami radio show "Ayer en Miami" (Yesterday in Miami), he was originally asked to be part of a broad range of individuals who would comment on a Dan Rather interview of Fidel Castro. However, when the hook up with the TV network came on, Alarcón found himself answering questions along with Mas Canosa as the only other participant.
Like Mas Canosa, the two TV correspondents who asked questions of the two speakers repeated many slanders against the Cuban revolution.
At one point Ricardo Brown, one of the correspondents, asked Alarcón, "Are there not `repudiation meetings' in Cuba ... where crowds protected by the police show up at [dissidents'] homes to harass them?"
Alarcón responded, "The most recent repudiation meetings in my mind are those against Gonzalito Rubalcaba and against Rosita Forne's right in Miami." He was referring to two Cuban performers who Miami rightists targeted for violent attacks. At pianist Rubalcaba's concert in May, those attending were spit on and pushed by rightist demonstrators. Cops watched and made no arrests. A concert by Forne's, a well-known singer who lives in Cuba, was canceled twice after threats by right-wing Cubans, a firebombing, and $106,000 in financial demands that Miami Beach city officials put on the promoter.
Mas Canosa said there was no intolerance in the Miami Cuban community. He said that Francisco Aruca's radio program "Ayer en Miami" supported the Cuban government "and nothing happens to them." Mas Canosa failed to mention that the Marazul travel agency, owned by Aruca, was firebombed twice in August.
When Brown criticized the elections in Cuba, Alarcón explained, "What's wrong is that nobody should try to dictate to others how to organize their political society. What you have described is a political model that prevails in some western countries but is by no means universal. The United States has excellent relations with countries that don't hold any elections, that never did, that don't recognize the existence of political parties, don't even recognize the existence of women's rights. But they have a lot of crude oil, so nobody even thinks of blockading them. On the contrary, you sustain them, support them, you even go to war just so those countries may remain as they are."
Mas Canosa spent much of his time talking about human rights in Cuba, citing things such as the supposed Aug. 30, 1962, execution by firing squad of 492 people.
Alarcón pointed out that this was a lie. A few days after the debate, during his interview in "Ayer en Miami," Alarcón quoted from an Aug. 31, 1962, Associated Press dispatch that stated six people had died before firing squads on the 30th. The article also described their crimes, including the murders of militia members.
Alarcón's ending remarks in the Telenoticias debate included, "We may have austerity, we may have shortages, but we share something that other places don't have and that's called human solidarity. There are no closed hospitals here, no closed schools. Our indexes of infant mortality and life expectancy are comparable not with Latin American countries but with the most developed countries in Europe. All this, despite the brutal pressure exerted against our country, against this people, because it's the people who suffer the pressure from an American blockade that is illegal and criminal, that lacks every moral basis and is rejected by the entire world."
There was a lively discussion among Cuban-Americans in Miami
after the Telenoticias show. Many of the callers to the next
day's radio show "Ayer en Miami" stated that Mas Canosa dished
up more of the same lies while Alarcón spoke honestly. Others,
including Cuban-American co-workers of this reporter, didn't
comment favorably on either speaker. One worker, however,
referred to Mas Canosa as a Batistiano, a supporter of the
dictator overthrown by the Cuban revolution. "Alarcón was
correct in what he said," she stated.
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