Humberto Fontova

The “expose" on Rubio’s brother-in- law ran for two days last July and instantly fizzled, despite a publicity blizzard by Univision to their MSM soulmates. Apparently the tangent proved too embarrassingly tenuous even for most Rubio-bashers. Univision’s sleaze factor also nixed their planned Republican debate this January. “Even in this time of ever-changing media techniques, Univision’s unethical tactics stand out,” wrote Rick Perry spokesman Ray Sullivan to Univision’s CEO. “Therefore, Gov. Perry will not consider participating in the Jan. 29, 2012, Univision debate until your network addresses this ethical breach and takes action to correct it.” All candidates except Ron Paul are in lockstep with Gov. Perry on this issue.

Last week came time for Target Rubio’s plan B. A front-page story in the Washington Post by Manuel Franzi-Roig (a frequent visitor to Castro’s Cuba which he gushes over as “intriguing and extraordinarily exotic!”) accused Rubio of “embellishing” his family history.

The WaPo’s Rubio-gate boils down to this: Documents they “uncovered” (in fact they’ve been prominently displayed on a Birther blog since May) reveal that Rubio’s parents came to the U.S. in 1956 rather than in 1959 as he has claimed in some interviews and on his Senate website. Castro took over Cuba in January of 1959. So because his parents weren’t fleeing Castro’s rule at the instant of arrival in the U.S. Marco “embellished” his family’s Cinderella story. He’s technically not the son of glamorous “political exiles,” as his Senate bio claims but of tacky “economic immigrants”--legal ones to boot, making them super-tacky in WaPo eyes.

Shame on Marco’s parents. If only they’d SNUCK into the U.S. Then the mildest inquiry into his family history would ignite a media pile–on of “racist kook!”, “bigot!” “Nativist!” against the enquirer.

“If The Washington Post wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, I accept that,” wrote Senator Rubio in his official rebuttal. “But to call into question the central and defining event of my parents’ young lives – the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return – is something I will not tolerate. They stayed because, after January 1959, the Cuba they knew disappeared. They wanted to go back...”

In fact, the back and forth of Cubans between the U.S. and pre-Stalinist Cuba, for both business and pleasure, was common and considered unremarkable at the time. Same for the back and forth of Americans themselves. Think Ernest Hemingway. In 1953 more Cubans vacationed in the U.S. than Americans in Cuba.

And why not? "One feature of the Cuban social structure is a large middle class,” documented a report by the UN’s International Labor Organization in 1957. Both this writer’s maternal grandparents were born in Florida of Cuban parents here legally for a few years. But their parents returned with their infant children to Cuba, where all spent the rest of their lives--until Castro’s Stalinism made their 1962 stay in the U.S. permanent.

So imagine: these Hispanic parents voluntarily vacated the U.S. with their invaluable “anchor babies!” And my grandparent’s case was hardly exceptional among pre-Castro Cubans. The cultural, ethnic and business ties between former Spanish colony Florida and former Spanish colony Cuba made such things commonplace. Even as Spain’ “crown” colony, in the 19th century Cuba did more business with the U.S. than with Spain.

The notion of people with Spanish surnames departing the U.S. for their native countries smiling and accompanied by their families instead of glowering and accompanied by The Border Patrol or Sherriff Arapio just doesn’t register in today’s America. But it was routine throughout the 20th Century for Cubans. In the 1950’s when Cubans were perfectly free to emigrate with all their property, family, etc. and U.S. visas were issued to them for the asking only around 25,000 Cubans lived permanently in the U.S. About the same number of Americans lived in Cuba.

But The Godfather II shows none of this, you see. Their exclusive educational source on pre-Castro Cuba omits it--so liberals remain (willfully) oblivious. Sounds flippant? Well, here’s Chris Matthews from this very Sunday, while hosting the author of the WaPo hit-piece “I mean everybody who saw Godfather II knows what it was like when Castro took over!”

Right after hailing Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo as his primary historians on Cuba, Matthews gushed that his guest Manuel Franzi-Roig should win a Pulitzer Prize for his Rubio hit-piece.

You simply cannot make this stuff up.


Humberto Fontova

Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.