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Posted January 19, 2005 by Dana Garrett in Cuban American Politics

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A dispute emerged over a presidential inauguration party to fete Hispanics in politics when the Cuban American National Foundation was rejected as a sponsor.

Tue, Jan. 18, 2005
Miami Herald


WASHINGTON - More than a thousand miles from Miami, President Bush’s inauguration and the related festivities are exposing an ongoing rift in Cuban exile politics.

The Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, which is hosting an inaugural eve function in the capital Wednesday to celebrate the growing influence of Hispanics in politics, has rejected an offer from the Cuban American National Foundation to be a sponsor of the event, signaling an interest in distancing itself from the prominent Cuban advocacy group.

Foundation Director Alfredo Mesa, who last week said his group was cosponsoring the event, said Monday that he was later told that the foundation’s money would not be accepted because the Hispanic institute doesn’t accept contributions from nonprofit groups. Sponsors of the event include corporations such as Altria Group, BellSouth, Carnival, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors.

But Miami Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Daz-Balart, whose brother, U.S. Rep. Lincoln Daz-Balart, chairs the Hispanic institute, said its board of directors declined to accept the foundation’s money or its involvement. The $25,000 contribution would have purchased a table for foundation members and entitled the group to be listed in the program as a sponsor.

‘‘The bottom line is their money was not taken and it’s not because they were a nonprofit, it’s because they’re not welcome,’’ Daz-Balart said.

Lincoln Daz-Balart was unavailable for comment, but his chief of staff said the foundation’s interest in publicizing its involvement confirmed the board’s decision not to accept the money.

‘‘This is not the appropriate venue to try to acquire public relations or to try to correct mistakes, it’s an event to celebrate Hispanics in the U.S.,’’ Ana Carbonell said.

The snub comes as the foundation, long a leading voice for Cuban exiles, tries to rebuild its relationship with Florida’s Republican-dominated congressional delegation and the Bush administration. Foundation officials, who two weeks ago jetted to Washington to witness U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’s swearing in, said the sponsorship offer was part of an effort to mend fences.

Critics said the foundation in recent years has fallen out of favor with the GOP, amid accusations that it has softened its traditionally hard-line approach. The foundation has also been perceived as politicizing its work, a charge magnified when its former executive director left the post in August to campaign against Bush.

Mesa, who came on board in November, said he was not told that CANF members were not welcome, and said several of the foundation’s board members planned to attend the gala with individual tickets.

‘‘At the end of the day we all believe in the same cause and that has to be the focus, ridding Cuba of Fidel and Raul Castro,’’ Mesa said. “We will do everything we can to work with all who share that goal.’‘

The Grand Hispanic Gala at the Willard InterContinental Hotel will be co-chaired by Bush’s nephew, George P. Bush, and music producer Emilio Estefan, among others.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 19, 2005 by waldo with 264 total posts

    Could it possibly be that the GOP thinking and interest are changing to something like: after deceiving you into giving us plenty of pre-election money, propaganda, and votes, we now realy don’t think much of your intransigent reactionary group connected with notorious terrorists like Posada, and would try to dissasociate with it until just befor the next elections?

  2. Follow up post #2 added on January 19, 2005 by YoungCuban with 409 total posts

    Once again ladies and gentlemen here is yet another example on how(PLAINLY PUT)“STUPID” the Cuban American community has been played by the American government, they sure are friendly when election time comes,but then close their doors once thier demons have won!

    It is no secret that politicians will promise any group the world as long as they get want they want,votes!

    I have told my little brother Alfie Mesa to keep his ears and eyes opened and to free think for himself wihtout the whispers in his ears clouding his thoughts,I hope he has listened and has finally realized that Cubans have been used as pawns in the game of politics!

    Ignorance has been what seperates Cuban families,not communism,Fidelism or opression, just plain ignorance on the part of every Cuban exile.

    But as the old saying goes ” You made your bed,now lay in it” that sure seems very surreal right now!

    Cubans need to stop being a bunch of followers and learn to lead,lead to a better Cuba and to a better relationship with Cuba,the joke has been on us all for many years,the US doesnt and has never cared about Cuba and if they have it is ONLY because Cuba may have many ways for the US to line their already greedy filled pockets!

    See you in 4 years for the next elections!

    Go Jeb! NOT!



  3. Follow up post #3 added on January 19, 2005 by Dana Garrett with 252 total posts

    A far as I can tell from my limited understanding, after Jorge Mas Canosa died CANF took a more “moderate” tone (although “moderate” here still requires considerable qualification since their views are still right-wing in my view).  They even began to fall out of favor w/ some of the “hardliners” in the exile community.  Also, this year the director of CANF resigned to work on Kerryís campaign and CANF officially opposed Bushís new travel & remittance restrictions. 

    This snub is apparently payback for political “disloyalty” (another example of what happened on a larger scale to Bernardo Benes—someone who really got the shaft as I am concerned).

    Still, it is fascinating how the historic alliance that CANF has had w/ the Republican Party had no bearing whatsoever on being invited to the inaugural—the invitations apparently being controlled by hardliners like the Daz-Balarts and the Hispanic Institute (which I know nothing about). 

    Apparently, as far as the hardliners are concerned, one misstep and you are out on your ear.  I suspect one probably could find more toleration from Castro. 

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