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Wednesday, January 26, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 81

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Big bad Castro isn't a reason to stall boy 

Marcus Cardenas

Not too long ago, a small boy was taken along with a group of people leaving their home country to seek refuge in the United States. The group failed. The boy? Promptly returned, too. No fuss, no muss, no Disneyland and no cameras -- just some kid being rejected, along with his 9-year-old brother and 405 other hopefuls.

The boy's mother? The INS retained her for medical purposes since she was four months pregnant. Our guys aren't that cold-hearted. In fact, immigrant officials were even considering the request that has been made to reunite the mother with her children. The reunion happened just a couple of days ago, most likely due to pressure from people who hold the same disdain for these officials as I do. 

The officials said they weren't told that the mother had children on the boat, otherwise there would have been no problem keeping them here. I'm sure the mother just plumb forgot to mention she had her other children with her.

So what happened to the boat? How far did they get? Glad you asked. Turns out the boat did indeed land on the southern coast of America's Sunshine State. Did they all survive the voyage? Yup, sure did. So what's the deal, why are they there instead of here? Simple. The group is Haitian. The boy and his brother are Haitian. That is Haitian, not Cuban. Port-au-Prince, not Havana. President Rene Preval, not Big Bad Fidel Castro.

Still confused as to why their boat got sent back while that kid is riding his new bike here? Well, politically, it's just not feasible. This is because of the Cuban Readjustment Act of 1966 that Congress passed way back when our relationship with Cuba wasn't as peachy as it is now. This policy allows Cubans who flee and reach our land to stay here. Some people call this policy disparate. Or maybe it was because that little Haitian boy, like the other 406 people, is so starved and so impoverished that he just isn't as photogenic as our latest flavor of the week. 

Why were the Haitians fleeing? Let me explain. Haiti isn't a totalitarian-run government or communistic society. Actually, it's a democracy. You and I can thank ourselves for that. Not even five years ago, thousands of American troops were sent there with $600 million worth of gallons of red, white and blue paint, rearing to install democracy where we knew it belonged.

That's right -- we spent $600 million. $30 million to fund national elections, $74 million to establish and train a new police force and so on. Thoughtful of us, wasn't it?

Sadly though, things haven't changed for the Haitians. Preval, the first president elected, dismissed the other elected officials and shut down the Parliament. Their revamped judicial system is a joke, with people still being unfairly charged of crimes, jailed without being charged or given a trial at all, and jurors who would rather eat than show up when there is a trial. The police force has dismissed 800 of the 6,000 we trained because of corrupt practices. They killed fifty people in 1999 just during the arrest process. They have now become part of the crime wave they were intended to stop.

The once mighty force of thousands of American troops has steadily dwindled to just a few hundred. And now, we're pulling those troops too. And we're doing this despite a great number of Haitians living unchanged lives without telephones, electricity and in places where running water is a rare luxury.

I suppose it's only fair though. We made a $600 million investment, it didn't work out like we hoped, so we're simply selling our stock and depending on our bald eaglet to learn to fly on its own. People in Iraq, which is still run by Saddam Hussein (remember him?) ten years after we cared, remain as confused and abandoned as the Haitians feel now. But don't worry folks, everything here will be fine as long as our gas prices are low and our kidnapped Cuban boys look adorable in Mickey Mouse ears.

Cardenas, a junior creative writing major, 
can be reached at geminimeg88@hotmail.com.

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