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Elian, the Young Pioneer

November 03, 2001

Howard Rosenberg ridicules the struggle to keep Elian Gonzalez in the U.S.A. ("Old Obsessions Dwarfed by Real News," Oct. 26). He says that it was done to keep Elian "saluting the flag on U.S. soil," thus implying that the child was going to be brainwashed if allowed to stay. He then calls those who "insisted" that Elian would be--as he sarcastically puts it--turned into a "godless android" if returned to Cuba as mere "hysterical Chicken Littles."

What Rosenberg doesn't tell his readers is that as a Young Pioneer, Elian must strive to be "like El Che," the iconic terrorist of the 1960s; he must hold allegiance to the motherland; he must learn to assemble a machine gun; and he will be forced to harvest crops for the state--it's called volunteering--from the age of 12 on for one month a year if he is to be allowed to study in Cuba's "free schools." Oh, yes, and schoolchildren have two sets of report cards in Cuba: one for their grades and another one to tabulate their political integration in the system. This latter one follows them around for the rest of their lives and determines their future--that is to say, whether they go to college, what job they get, etc.

One day when Cuba no longer has a dictatorship and the truth can at last be told--as it was when the Soviet archives opened to the world--Rosenberg and other doubters will see we weren't just a bunch of Chicken Littles. There was a reason for our "insistence."

RADAMES SUAREZ

Astoria, N.Y.

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