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The Casa de Cuba in Tampa, Florida, an institution of Cuban exiles, lovers of freedom and zealous defenders of human rights, are responding from a high moral ground against those who defend the dictatorship imposed on our country for four decades at the cost of thousands of our countrymen gunned down, imprisoned, facing shortages of the basic goods needed to survive, and the millions of them who have been denied their liberty and dignity in the country where they were born.  
Christians in the world abhor the attitude of Judas, the disciple, who turned over the Son of God for a few coins. We, the exiled Cubans, in unison with those who reside in our captive island, feel repugnance against those who stand behind democracy (which exists in the United States) to sell for a bit of money the prestige of a magazine like the one you direct, and dedicate the great majority of your articles to defend the bloody regime of the Castro brothers.  
Our martyrs, from their place in heaven where they can be found, feel misery for you, and we all ask that God forgives your souls, and that you repent like Judas did for the treason against our Cuban people.  
Oscar Rodriguez
President, Casa de Cuba
Tampa, Florida  
* * * 
Dear Marvin,  
As a reader of Cigar Aficionado, I was impressed with your June 1999 issue regarding Cuba and cigars. My mother was born in Cuba and worked in the cigar factories of Tampa, Florida. Accordingly, I know something about cigars!  
However, I write to inform you that for over two and a half years I have worked closely with the Cuban Interest Section in Washington, D.C. You and your managing editor, Gordon Mott, should take great pride in the magazine's June issue. The magazine is informative, succinct and balanced. Not any of the major newspapers or periodicals have presented such an informative and timely piece.  
I take a back seat to no one in my belief that America is the greatest democracy mankind has known. But my country's policy toward Cuba is wrong. With the Cold War over, there is no rational explanation to continue the embargo. The present policy is indefensible and inconsistent with American values and self interests. 
Albert A. Fox Jr.
Washington, D.C.  
* * *  
Dear Marvin,  
I read with great interest your recent issue dedicated to the Cuban embargo and tourist guide to Cuba; I, however, felt it was missing some important attractions: Prisión de Boniato--whose star attraction is Alejandro Mustafá Reyes, who is serving a 20-year sentence for the "crime" of trying to escape the island you are promoting. His 21-year-old son was murdered as he was swimming in the bay towards his escape boat. Further, if you were to go to Prisión Combinado del Este, you would meet another attraction: Arturo Suarez Ramos. He is serving a 30-year prison term. His "crime" also was trying to escape the "paradise" you mentioned in your magazine.  
Further up the east coast is another tourist attraction you many want to inform your readership of: Prisión de Máxima Severidad Kilo 8, Camaguey. Featured attraction is Julio Alvarez Lopez, who has been reported "beaten to death" on three different occasions. He will be an attraction for the next 20 years. A little further to the east is Prisión de Ariza. As you enjoy the latest issue of Cigar Aficionado and puff on your Cohiba, you can meet Pedro Genaro Barrera Rodriguez. This is a great attraction. Mr. Rodriguez is 79 years of age. He was accused of "intellectual sabotage against the revolution." What is that? He will be an attraction for another 18 years.  
Still further east on this "tropical paradise" is Carcel de Boniato in Santiago de Cuba, the former home town of Bacardi Corp. Here you can see Jorge Pelegria Ruiz. He was accused of trying to leave this wonderful destination you are promoting. Your visitors can actually see what happens to a human being, with chronic hepatitis, who is denied medical attention.   I could go on with literally thousands of examples to make my point. Have you ever thought of this great irony? Why do people risk their lives, and that of their loved ones, to escape this "paradise" you are promoting?  
As a cigar lover, I have over the years read most of your issues, and genuinely enjoy your magazine; but I cannot understand, under any stretch of my imagination, your coziness with Fidel Castro. I read your editorial and your qualifiers in the magazine, but I submit to you, that you cannot separate the two issues.   Last, I find most ironic the fact that over the years the number one issue cigar lovers complain about in your magazine is restrictions on where they can or cannot smoke cigars. They constantly ask, where are their rights? Please be aware that in the paradise you promote, people have been dying by the thousands since 1959, fighting for some real basic rights. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion.  
Ramiro A. Ortiz
Miami, Florida  
* * *  
Dear Marvin,  
The milestone June issue goes a long way in conveying to its readers the truth about Cuba, which definitely can be found on the island and not generally in the U.S. media.  
Exemplary of the disinformation by the U.S. government is the description of its policy toward Cuba as an "embargo." This is a euphemism utilized by Uncle Sam to hide its mendacity in attempting to lay siege to the people of Cuba in order to degrade and dismantle their revolutionary government. The correct term describing U.S. policy is "economic blockade," a term used by all except the United States--a term used by 157 countries that recently voted against U.S. policy in the United Nations--a term more accurately describing what is really economic war or attempted genocide.  
The term "embargo" used in the Cigar Aficionado June issue is a legal interference with trade. U.S. policy is not only illegal but immoral.  
Harry K. Nier Jr.
Denver-Havana Friendship/Sister City Project
Denver, Colorado  
* * *  
Dear Marvin,  
I am writing you today to commend you on your June issue. Being a 25-year-old graduate student living in Miami, Florida, it is extremely rare to come across such an objective piece relating to the situation in Cuba. If you happen to be based in south Florida, I recommend that you invest in some blockades and insurance immediately because the picketers and pipe bombs are bound to follow. Unfortunately, that is the current situation in south Florida, and it has reached the point where I am forced to write this letter in anonymity. It is ironic that the embargo is a tool designed to ultimately bring democracy to Cuba, and yet I can't even practice the freedom of speech in regards to this subject without doing so in hiding for my own protection.  
I do realize that this is a painful subject to many Cuban residents of the south Florida community, having "lost everything" to the Castro regime (although I was never quite sure on how some of them managed to make it back so quickly), but I can't help feel that our policy towards Cuba is somewhat similar to the behavior of a degenerate gambler--we keep playing at high stakes, hoping for that big score. Forty years later, the Association of World Health reports that "the U.S. embargo has dramatically harmed the health and nutrition" of the same people that we're trying to keep from oppression.  
Supporters of the embargo feel that the suffering of the Cuban people will become so unbearable that they will eventually rise up and overthrow their political leaders. In recent years, conditions have become unbearable, but rather than overthrowing their government, these people are risking their lives on rafts and washing up on our shores. Should we now have the CIA secretly train these people for an invasion--or hasn't that been done before?  
Every single ally we have, with the exception of Israel, which does happen to have investments in Cuba, condemns the U.S. embargo. The fact that this policy remains in place continues to elude me. As a result, the people living in Cuba continue to suffer, and I feel that as Americans, we are being denied our rights to travel to the island. I consider myself a fairly intelligent individual, but the U.S. embargo is one policy that I cannot comprehend. I thank you for this opportunity to voice my opinion, and I congratulate you on an informative issue.
A Voice of Generation X
South Florida  
* * *  
Dear Marvin,  
I am a U.S. Marine currently serving as a Marine security guard at the U.S. Interests Section Havana, Cuba. I have been an avid reader of your magazine for the past three years, and for the most part have enjoyed every issue; that is, until the June 1999 issue.  
In this particular issue, Cigar Aficionado appears to be promoting Cuba for tourism. If so, why? Do you realize how many Americans come to this country in violation of U.S. law? Americans often stand out from other tourists, making them a target for petty theft and muggings. Sometimes this occurs just because they are Americans. If, in the process, they lose their passport and other such necessities, they must come to the Interests Section for help. Never mind that a hefty fine can be imposed by our government should it decide to enforce the terms of the current embargo.  
Obviously, you have forgotten that the Cuban government does not like the United States very much. The propaganda on every street corner reinforces the Cuban government ideology that the United States is fully responsible for all of the problems that exist here. This country is not exactly benevolent in nature towards its people. It denies them basic human rights (such as freedom of speech). In fact, the United Nations recently condemned its human rights record.  
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