Re: "Eyes Wide Shut: Bush's Campaign for Ignorance" by Susan Edwards (Oct. 22-28, 2003)

I rarely write letters to publications, especially to say that I agree with something. But I break with tradition to say that Susan Edwards' observations about the realities of Cuba and the nonsensical American embargo against it are spot on.

I'm about to embark on my fourth, and possibly last, people-to-people exchange to Cuba. I've lived with several families and have firsthand knowledge of the struggles of their daily lives. Suffice to say, I am NOT a supporter of Fidel Castro. I am just someone who cares about our neighbors 90 miles off our shores. Call me compassionate, not comrade.

In truth, it's hard to find a Cuban who enthusiastically supports Castro anymore, but they all numbly repeat the mantra: "He always finds a way to pull us out of hard times." Indeed, the embargo has given Fidel the legs he's needed to keep standing. A large majority of the population of Cuba today knows nothing about life in Cuba before Fidel. He's the devil known to them and therefore accepted. They get daily reminders of the old devil who used to "rule" the island — the U.S., its corporate owners and their puppet dictator Batista — thanks to the hardships imposed by the blockade. The embargo doesn't hurt Fidel and his inner circle. They will still have their Miramar mansions and Mercedes no matter what.

Perhaps the Bush Administration should take a closer look at the habits of those they pander to for votes. Ironically, if anyone is "keeping the revolution alive" it's the Cuban exile community that regularly sends Yanqui dollars down to relatives. It's as if the negative effects of the embargo are fine for anyone they don't personally know. But when it comes to their needy families, the cash flowing down there far outstrips any dollars "going to Fidel" through American visitations, be they illegal or licensed. Apparently the exiles want it both ways. Interestingly, Bush wouldn't dare outlaw the wherewithal to send American dollars to families. Talk about a revolution!

So much for "compassionate conservatism." George W. Bush is ensuring that the suffering and sadness of the Cuban populace will continue in exchange for presidential votes next year. As Susan Edwards so eloquently stated, the real reason Bush doesn't want Americans to travel to Cuba is [that he doesn't want them] to witness firsthand what has been wrought by our embargo against the Cuban people.

— Laraine O'Neill

Re: "Compromised?" by Mary Ann Swissler (Oct. 22-28)

I just finished reading your lead article on the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Thank you for continuing to do genuine investigative journalism. One never sees real investigative journalism anymore in the mainstream, corporate-driven papers. You are an endangered species and every week, it seems, you pull it off again. The Weekly Planet performs a genuine public service.

What you describe as the state of cancer research under Republicans is shocking. I long ago concluded that most Republican politicians have zero in the ethics department. But the Republican Party has rarely looked worse than it does right now after I read about the institutional lying beginning in the Susan G. Komen Foundation and leading all the way up to the president. I guess that all the Republicans involved are just plain unencumbered by anything resembling a conscience.

—Patrice Mykytka
St. Petersburg

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