Maggie Alarcón

Silence in the face of violence

In ACLU, CAFE, Cuba, Cuba/US, Cuban 5, Cuban Americans, Miami/Cuba, National Lawyers Guild, Politics, US on May 29, 2012 at 12:47 pm


Almost   a month ago, a Coral Gables travel agency chartering flights to Cuba was   firebombed. The agency had recently helped facilitate the pilgrimage of   hundreds of Cuban-American Catholic worshipers and others to Cuba to   participate in a papal mass.

The   fire department determined that the fire was deliberately set — windows were   broken and incendiary devices tossed in. Fortunately, no one was injured. This   incident appears to have been not simply a criminal act; it appears to have   had a political purpose — violence directed at people in retaliation for their   political beliefs or the political effect of their business.

Many   people in our community travel to Cuba to visit family members. Nevertheless,   doing so is still controversial in South Florida, though less so elsewhere in   the country. Those who disapprove of travel to Cuba are, of course, free to   express their opposition — but peacefully, within the law. It is their constitutional right to do so.

But   what expression of outrage or concern has been heard from elected officials,   including members of Congress, and other leaders of our community about this   local act of terrorism?

It   appeared that Miami had changed. It has been about a decade since the last act   of politically motivated violence. But the muted reaction of elected officials   and other leaders to this latest incident should be of concern — as much as   this latest ugly act of terrorism itself.

In   September 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church, an African-American church in   Birmingham, Ala., that was at the center of civil-rights activities, was   bombed. Four young black girls were killed. The next day, Charles Morgan, Jr.,   a lawyer (and a friend and inspirational leader of the civil rights movement)   delivered a powerful speech to a city business club noting that, “Every person   in this community who has in any way contributed during the past several years   to the popularity of hatred is at least as guilty as the demented fool who   threw the bomb.”

Almost   50 years later, it’s hard not to arrive at a similar judgment about public   officials in our own community who, by their silence, seem to tolerate   politically motivated violence.

To   the extent that we, but especially community leaders, fail to stand up to   intolerance, we condone politically inspired violence by silence — and bear   some responsibility for it.

Howard Simon,

executive   director, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, Miami

John DeLeon, president, Greater Miami Chapter,

ACLU   of Florida, Miami

Best   regards,


Howard Simon

Executive   Director American Civil Liberties Union of Florida |

4500   Biscayne Blvd., suite 340, Miami, FL 33137

T/786.363.2706   | F/786.363.1104

Click here to sign up for breaking news from the   ACLU


  1. Apparently time has not erased the hatred and bitterness prevelant within the Cuban-American community in South Florida toward Cuba’s revolution. Indeed, failure to cry out publicly against acts of terrorism aimed at the airline company is a crime of ommission. Those who fail to take a stand against the coward or cowards who bombed the company office are as guilty of the crime as the criminal or criminals who committed the act. What is more, official inaction in the matter is reprehensible.

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