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Posted January 29, 2007 by publisher in Cuban Americans

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One day, very possibly one day soon, ailing Cuban leader Fidel Castro will die—and a nascent committee sponsored by the city of Miami wants to be ready.

So it’s planning a party.

The event, still in the very early planning stage, would be held in Little Havana’s Orange Bowl stadium—and might include commemorative T-shirts, a catchy slogan and bands that will make your hips shake.

The stadium is a bittersweet landmark in South Florida’s Cuban-American experience. After the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco, more than 35,000 exiles gathered there to hear President John F. Kennedy promise a free Cuba.

Decades later, the bowl served as a camp for Mariel refugees.

City Commissioner Tomás Regalado, a Cuban American, came up with the idea of using the venue for an event timed to Castro’s demise.

‘‘He represents everything bad that has happened to the people of Cuba for 48 years,’’ Regalado said of Castro. ``There is something to celebrate, regardless of what happens next. . . . We get rid of the guy.’‘

Despite that statement, Regalado, along with other organizers, prefers to think of it as a celebration of the end of communism—whether or not that is triggered by Castro’s death—as opposed to a large-scale tap-dancing session on someone’s grave. Regalado compares it to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The city created the citizens committee that is planning the event earlier this month. When the still-unnamed panel met for the first time last week, Castro’s death was nowhere to be found on the meeting agenda. The meeting was officially—and ambiguously—advertised under the title, ``Committee Meeting for an Event at the Orange Bowl.’‘

Its purpose, according to the city’s website: ``Discuss an event at the Orange Bowl in case expected events occur in Cuba.’‘


At that meeting, committee member and former state Rep. Luis Morse stressed the need for an uplifting, forward-looking theme for the party—one not preoccupied with a human being’s passing. The committee discussed including such a theme on T-shirts that would be made by private vendors for the event.

Plenty of details have to be sorted out: What musicians would perform? The city hopes entertainers will donate their services. How long will the event last? Hours? Days? And how much will it cost?

Performance stages require time to be set up, and a security guard company has already told Miami officials it requires 24 hours’ notice before being able to work the stadium. A gap of a day or two between Castro’s death and the Orange Bowl event is possible.

And before printing themed T-shirts, Miami has to actually decide what the theme is. It’s still working on that one.

‘‘That has to be done with a lot of sensitivity,’’ Morse said. ``Somebody needs to be a very good wordsmith.’‘

The stadium plan, though in its infancy, already has drawn criticism from callers on Spanish-language radio who complain Miami is dictating to Cuban Americans where they should experience one of the most intensely dramatic moments of their lives.

Regalado stresses that folks will still be free to spend their time on Calle Ocho—the cultural heart of Little Havana and a location viewed more fondly by many exiles—or anywhere else for that matter.

‘‘This is not a mandatory site,’’ he said of the Orange Bowl. ``Just a place for people to gather.’‘

Ramón Saúl Sánchez, leader of the Miami-based Democracy Movement organization, worries about how a party would be perceived by those outside the exile community. He stressed that Castro’s death will prompt a whole range of emotions among Cubans—not just joy.


‘‘The notion of a big party, I think, should be removed from all this,’’ Sánchez said. ``Although everybody will be very happy that the dictator cannot continue to oppress us himself, I think everybody is still very sad because there are still prisons full of prisoners, many people executed, and families divided.’‘

Rather than partying, Sánchez would rather see the post-Castro focus be on improving conditions for those still on the island. If an Orange Bowl event must happen, Sánchez would like to see it in the form of a ‘‘protest concert’’ heavy on positive messages.

Regalado, meanwhile, envisions the stadium—as opposed to Versailles restaurant or some other tried-and-true landmark—becoming the operations hub for the hordes of media expected to descend upon Miami: images of a thumping, pulsating, euphoric Orange Bowl beamed to televisions across the globe.

‘‘It’s helping a community celebrate,’’ he said. ``We can’t stop the celebrations. We just want to help.’‘

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 29, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I suppose this is a necessary event and they seem to be planning it very carefully. I hope that Miami handles itself well once the news is announced.

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  2. Follow up post #2 added on January 29, 2007 by MiamiCuban

    It doesn’t matter how much they try to present this party as a celebration of the “end of communism”, people around the world will see it for what it is, the pitiful, shameless act of celebrating someone’s death.  The Cuban exile community has already lost everyone’s respect for their handling of, for example, the Elian Gonzalez affair, as well as their defending the terrorist Posada Carriles, so this circus act at the Orange Bowl will only sink them further.  Even among those who are not Castro supporters you will find many decent people who would never stoop to that level.  What the Orange Bowl WILL attract is probably the same element we saw on television during the Elian fiasco, not a law-abiding group of citizens at all, if one remembers how the U.S. Marshalls had to raid the place because the mob outside took it upon themselves to take the law into their own hands.  No siree, the Orange Bowl will definitely not be a heart-warming place.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on January 29, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts


    You bring great insight to the Havana Journal and make good points. I don’t see how the exiles are going to appear in a positive light to the US or Cuba once Fidel is gone.

    When they can travel to Cuba I get the sense that it will be “Get out of my way. I’m going back to Cuba” and “Do you know who I am” being the ultimate ugly Americans.

    Cuba consulting services

  4. Follow up post #4 added on January 29, 2007 by MiamiCuban

    Sadly, I think you’re right.  Believe it or not, there are still exiles in Miami (older generation of course) who still have property deeds they’re holding onto because they think they’ll go back to Cuba to reclaim their houses, lands, etc.  I can’t imagine the numbers are great, first and foremost because of the absurdity of this, but also because very simply many of them have died.  But you do find this nonetheless (I have some in my own family), and some of the right-wing radio stations in Miami continue to promote this idea.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on January 29, 2007 by J. Perez

    It will only serve to heighten mistrust and animosity between Cubans in Cuba and some, and I emphasize some, of the exile community in Miami and elsewhere. As MiamiCuban points out, the Elian fiasco is still fresh in our minds, a spectacle not worthy of being repeated.

  6. Follow up post #6 added on January 29, 2007 by Pete Chavez

    It’s not my cup of tea either.  Yet I am sure that there will be plenty of “decent people” there and jubilant over that ___holes death.  And it is a free country folks.  But who cares what the world thinks, there is nothing valuable in Cuba just sand, surf, oppression and anti-Yankeeism.  Why on Earth would the world community ever or have ever been in solidarity with the exile communty, there’s nothing in it for them?
    MiamiCuban, you should be thrilled at the prospect of the exile community sinking further into public discredit, maybe you should sign up to help organize the event.  But just think if that Orange Bowl gets filled up.  That’s a hell of alot of free speech oops I mean bad element rounded up.  Haha

  7. Follow up post #7 added on January 29, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I suppose the event is probably a necessity. Even non-Cubans will want to come to the party and Miami is going to have to put people somewhere so they should organize an event I guess.

    Pete, why do you say there is nothing of value in Cuba? How about the people, culture and history? But, let’s not get off topic.

    As far as the world being in solidarity with the exile community? Ever hear of George Bush?

    Cuba consulting services

  8. Follow up post #8 added on January 29, 2007 by MiamiCuban

    No, I’m not at all “thrilled at the prospect of the exile community sinking further….”.  I just wish they would wake up and stop being so hostile and narrow-minded.  It would certainly make us all look good if they did so….especially if they profess to be pro-democracy.  Second, Cuba is not full of “anti-Yankeeism.”  I have family there who are full supporters of the Socialist system and also of Fidel….and what they want is the embargo lifted because it’s the humane thing to do.  They’re completely open to resuming normal and fair trade relitions with the U.S.  They are not anti-American, and they are not holding grudges.  What they do want is to be respected as a soverign nation, something which embargoes and psychological warfare will never permit.

  9. Follow up post #9 added on January 29, 2007 by CAPTAIN C

    Mr. Pete Chavez,  with great respect I must disagree with your comment,  ‘’  there is nothing valuable in Cuba just sand surf-  -  - “”.  For me the friendship of the cuban people is very valueable.  And also,  many of my canadian friends [ including cubans ]  are investing in the resources of Cuba.  When I was in the MTZ. bank last week I see that they are offering a return of 8% on some of their GIC,s.

  10. Follow up post #10 added on January 29, 2007 by Pete Chavez

    Not to get off track and not to be so cynical but the industrialised nations of the world have always historically been at odds with oppressive governments only when there is something of unique value to them within that country (like natural resources, oil, gas, precious metals).  The people, culture and history of Cuba are of great value but to us Cubans, academians (concerned with music, dance and architecture) and let’s not forget romantic yankee hating leftists.  If we were of any value to the industrialized democratic governments in the world that have the ability to effect change in Cuba we would not be having this discussion right now.  I probably would only know America as a tourist.  They have no incentive for us to enjoy an open society as they do.  If we got free tomorrow that would be the end of cheap vacations in the Caribbean to the less solvent of the European populations (the Eurotrash).  That would also be the end to their David and Goliath fantasy.  Now how would that be a benefit to them.  Just like how would it be a benefit to the state of Florida if Cuba went free as in a free market.  It would depress Florida.  Oh, and George Bush and the Republican party is not or has never been in solidarity with the Cuban exile community.  They learned about 30 years ago that in order to stay vital they have to solicit constituencies in every part of the country.  It’s has been effortless for them. Just think the embargo was already in place so they didn’t have to move mountains in the congress.  They just had to exclaim “Cuba si, Castro no” and have Reagan take a lunch at a Little Havanna Cuban Restaurant.  They’ve solictied the anti-abortionist, the born again lunatics and the list can go on.  Most of these groups have little to do with each other and true Republican philosophy.  Yet the Reps. go after them like cheap hookers at a shriners convention.  And if you really want to look at it they’ve kept Cubans on this side from seeing change in their lives just as the Cubans in Cuba haven’t seen change in their lives.  So the only winners here are the Republican party for securing votes in a swing state.  And the Cubans as always lose and are used.  So no, I don’t count George Bush or the Reps. as an allie to all the Cuban people.  They will probably be the first to try to take advantage (economically) of Cuba when things open up.
    And this is another reason I think it’s great to skirt the system of getting goods and medicines in the hands of the Cuban people with out paying any government their abusively high fees.

  11. Follow up post #11 added on January 29, 2007 by Pete Chavez

    Dear Captain, I am glad that you appreciate us.  We need all the support we can get, but to be free mind you.

    Dear Miamicuban,  We are not a sovereign nation.  We can only be a sovereign nation when we elect our own leaders, have the personal sovereignty to speak, worship, think and even sleep with whom we want in the sovereign domains of our Cuban homes, streets, cities and countyside.  Until then Miamicuban, enjoy your sovereignty from Miami.

  12. Follow up post #12 added on January 30, 2007 by Varsi Padayachee

    I find it rather distasteful to stage a party to celebrate a persons death, no matter how much of animosity is borne towards him.There will always be the faction, who will look under every rock to justify this “party”. While there will be many of those on the Island who will find joy in Fidel’s demise, I suspect they will not set up a party to celebrate. When you think that the Miami gang cannot sink any lower, they certainly prove me wrong.

  13. Follow up post #13 added on January 30, 2007 by Pete Chavez

    Varsi’s back on Fantasy Island, haha.  Of course no one on the island is going to be openly celebrating, IT’S NOT A FREE COUNTRY, THEY’LL GO TO JAIL!!  And I have never heard of a gang big enough to fill the Orange Bowl.  Varsi again seems to have a problem understanding dissent and opposition in an open society and the fact that when a society is not open, opposition takes place somewhere else, like a neighbouring country.  Of course except for South Africa, that’s the rule of thumb, only when it affects him!

  14. Follow up post #14 added on January 30, 2007 by Varsi Padayachee

    Mr. Pete Chavez, You appear to walk around with a massive chip on your shoulder. Sadly, your thin veneer is starting to show!This site is, by my understanding, a vehicle for free, diverse and intelligent discussion. However, sadly you seem to project your lack of substance, self, dignity and your immencely low self esteem by attacking others. While you rejoice in this absurd celebration, there are those of us who would obviously choose a different path. No one questions their right to dissent or celebration. It must be encouraged.
    I left South Africa to live in Europe to study. My family lived through and still live in South Africa. For all your huffing and puffing, why did you not stay in Cuba and fight the oppressive govt. Or perhaps, you are one of those brave “warriors” who prefers to run and hide with your tail between your legs.
    Given that you are such student of democracy, why does it trouble you when opposing view are offered? No one wants you accept those views. Show them some respect. But then again, given the fact that you have demonstrated an absolute lack of self respect, how can one expect an astute chap like you to respect others!

  15. Follow up post #15 added on January 30, 2007 by Pete Chavez


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