BY ERNIE MAILHOT
MIAMI - Traffic along Sunset Drive in southwest Miami slowed September 16 as it neared the 60 loud and spirited pickets on the corner of SW 92nd Avenue. As "Abajo el terrorismo" and "Abajo el bloqueo," ("Down with terrorism," "Down with the blockade") were shouted through a bullhorn, "Abajo" resounded back from the demonstrators who drowned out the dozen or so right-wingers in the counterprotest across the street.
The demonstration was called by the Miami Coalition to End the U.S. Embargo of Cuba, the Antonio Maceo Brigade, and the Alliance of Workers of the Cuban Community to demand a halt to the terrorist campaign of bombings against the Cuban people. These bombings, aimed at tourist spots, began in April and escalated on September 4 when four blasts were set. One of these, at the Copacabana Hotel in Havana, killed an Italian businessman who was a resident of Canada.
The protest was held near the offices of Rep. Ileana Ros- Lehtinen. She is one of two right-wing Cuban American congresspeople in southern Florida who has ties to Cuban- American counterrevolutionary organizations here and who is a leading spokesperson for the U.S. government's anti-Cuba policies.
As protesters against the bombing arrived to set up their picket line, they were confronted by dozens of Dade County police and squad cars and told that they would be demonstrating in an isolated, fenced off area behind Ros- Lehtinen's office. The cops also had an area fenced off for the counterprotest in this location.
When organizers of the action led all of the protesters to the main thoroughfare, the police threatened to remove their officers and the buffer between the two groups. They said motorists would throw things at the demonstrators and even shoot at them.
Despite this the activists held their ground and established their right to demonstrate where they would be seen and heard by thousands of rush hour commuters. The cops soon brought their barricades to the main street.
Most of the cars passing by slowed to read the hand- lettered placards held by the pickets. A few yelled insults but many more smiled and waved. One placard said, "Ros- Lehtinen your partners are terrorists." Others called for the U.S. government to investigate and arrest those in the U.S. responsible for the attacks on Cuba. Many called for an end to the economic blockade of Cuba and an end to the bombings.
Cuban authorities have arrested a Salvadoran visitor to Cuba who has confessed to setting six of the bombings. A statement by the Cuban Ministry of the Interior said that the bombing campaign is linked to the Cuban American National Foundation, one of the counterrevolutionary groups based in Miami.
Those protesting the bombings were exuberant about the success of their action and the fact that they had outmobilized the rightists 5-to-1. Throughout the afternoon leading up to the action Cary Roque, a right-wing radio show host on Spanish language WCMQ, had called for people to counterprotest with her.
Roque and the handful that she mobilized could hardly be heard when they hurled insults and chanted "Viva USA" in answer to the chants of "Viva Cuba."
At one point Andrés Gómez, the head of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, took the bullhorn and told one of the counter- protesters to raise the Cuban flag he was holding, because it was dragging on the ground. The rightists quieted momentarily while, in embarrassment, they followed Gómez's order to the uproarious laughter of those they were protesting against.
The Miami Herald, the Spanish-language Nuevo Herald, and several major television channels covered the protest.
After the picket line, 25 people went to the Pathfinder Bookstore to discuss the success of that day's action. Orlando Collado from the Miami Coalition to End the U.S. Embargo of Cuba gave his view of the advances being made by those in Miami who support the sovereignty of Cuba. "I really thought that with all the cars with so many Cubans going by that we would get a lot of insults. But I only heard one. This shows how the right-wingers don't have support. That's also why they aren't calling any demonstrations these days. They can't get the people out like they used to."
Janet Post and Rollande Girard, the Socialist Workers Party candidates for Mayor of Miami and City Commission in District 5, brought their supporters to the picket line and social. They said that the success of the action in the face of threats from both the police and rightists is very much tied to the changes in the working class as a whole. This includes the greater willingness to fight to victory like the unionists at UPS and the Bay Area Rapid Transit. "In the future strikes like these," said Post, "will strengthen other social protest movements including the fight to defend the Cuban revolution."
Meanwhile, the September 13 Miami Herald reported on the expulsion from Cuba of David Dorn, the head of international relations for the American Federation of Teachers. Dorn, in Cuba on a tourist visa, was actually a courier for Freedom House delivering money and other materials to counterrevolutionaries on the island. Freedom House is a right-wing outfit led by Frank Calzon.
According to the Herald, "Calzon often uses visitors to
Cuba to deliver aid to dissidents such as cash, fax machines
and short-wave radios. Freedom House also has a $500,000
U.S. government grant for democracy-building items."
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