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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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It’s My Opinion: A Perilous Journey

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A dilapidated old boat recently came ashore in South Florida. The rickety vessel was a small, old fishing boat. Eighteen passengers were crammed aboard. Its engine was recycled from an old Soviet automobile and had a fuel leak. A tree branch propped up the sail. The hull was cracked.

The “Esperanza” – the Spanish word for hope – arrived in Miami from Cuba last Wednesday. The journey was perilous.

The human condition has a strong component of self-preservation. What could possibly drive individuals to take such a dangerous voyage? What circumstances would justify the risk to human life?

Fidel Castro was the sweetheart of the Cuban people when he came to power 52 years ago. The population took to the streets chanting his name. They thought the country would undergo a change. They thought everyone would be equal and prosperous.

Fidel led the charge against the rich. He confiscated their mansions to convert them into apartments for the poor. He advocated a slew of government-centered programs in health care, education and jobs. He was the patriarch who would care for all needs. He also would tell his compatriots what to think and what to believe. His efforts were a dismal failure. The Communist system does not work. It has failed everywhere it has been tried.

Cuba today is a decimated country. Most of the population lives in a primitive state of abject poverty. There is no commerce, no hope. The job creators – manufacturers and businesses – fled to friendlier places. The desperation is palpable.

The Cuban balseros (rafters) have risked their lives on many occasions to escape Cuba. They have come in leaky boats, inner tubes tied together and rafts.

The Cuban exile community is a hard-working population that has enjoyed success in America. The American dream has always been the ideal of equality of opportunity, not equality of accommodations for all. Many Cubans have risked their lives to escape Castro’s tyranny. Obviously, to them, life in those circumstances was not worth living.

Elections in America are coming soon. We should take this opportunity to appreciate American democracy.

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