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PostMiami's "Cocaine Cowboy" Days; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 01/13/16 4:16 am)
Gary Moore writes:
To John Eipper's welcome query on Miami in the Cocaine Cowboy days, I'll beg to deflect onto a closely related topic resonating with WAIS posts on the European immigration controversies: In 1980, Miami's crime level soared not just because of cocaine from Colombia but the massive Mariel boatlift from Cuba, bringing a sudden flood of asylum seekers who swamped the system.
I was sent to Eglin Air Force Base where incoming Marielitos were first held for relocation. When I mumbled to an editor about the rumors that something might not be as it seemed (at first only vague rumors), the reply was a haughty sniff: "These are brave refugees fleeing bondage under Communism" (or similar words). One shouldn't question. To question was to be slanted and cruel. The editor was a fervent liberal but played the anti-communism card as some kind of inoculation against looking too far left.
At Eglin, guards ushered me into a bizarre setting where mysterious Cubans were languishing in a fenced sports arena. A guard warned me I wasn't safe in there because those people were crazy. I mentally scoffed at his own prejudice--until I got into the crowd, and was dutifully taking notes on all the personal stories I was told about valiant resistance to communist oppression. I couldn't help thinking that all these resisters and story tellers did seem to look a little menacing and crazy. Of course it was established later that Castro, to subvert the Mariel boatlift, had emptied prisons and mental wards and shoved the crowd onto the boats, sending the behavioral problems to the US.
But my point here is the attitude of that editor. "Sentimental blindness" is to me an unpersuasive term, but can it sometimes be a fact? Had I met an early version of the high-minded German Kanzlerin, waiting not for Godot but Cologne?
(...And a note on that great insider post on Guantánamo by Tim Brown: I'm still waiting--not for Godot or even Lefty--but for more info on Tim's important insight into black magic among the Contras. Does he have an online version of his article? I think what he saw may in fact fit into an important but unheralded worldwide pattern in those days, including the savaging of American tourist June Weinstock in 1994 and the killing of a Japanese tourist in 2000. I hope this intrigue may spark a response.)
JE comments: "Sentimental blindness": This phrase needs to catch on. The visually challenged among us might take issue, however, with the comparison of blindness with a lack of understanding.
Next up: Tim Brown answers our question on how much the US pays to lease Guantánamo.