Apparently the most tragic event in the Florida straits over the past fifty years involves recreational swimmer Diana Nyad getting stung by a jellyfish.
From CNN to ABC, from NBC to CBS, from Reuters to the AP, from the Washington Post to the New York Times, it was “all Diana Nyad all the time” the past week. The swimmer failed on her fourth attempt to swim from Stalinist Cuba to Key West, was pulled from the water and has been featured and feted in print and on video practically non-stop ever since. If only Sir Edmund Hillary, Neil Armstrong and Ferdinand Magellan had gotten half the media laurels for their triumphs as Diana Nyad got for her flops.
Perhaps you will excuse the families of from 20-50 thousand Cubans who died horribly from dehydration, sunburn, drowning, machine-gunnings or were eaten alive by sharks on the exact (but NON-recreational) journey from issuing a hearty “Boo-hoo-hoo” for Diana Nyad’s little jellyfish bo-bo.
For over half a century tens of thousands of desperate Cubans have been crossing the storm-tossed, shark-infested, and Soviet machine-gunned Florida straits in everything and anything that floats—however precariously. Alas, no Shark cages and electronic shark shields have been available to people once richer than most Europeans who now consider toilet paper a luxury.
Many completed the hundred mile journey. Many more died horribly in the attempt. The horrifying estimates run from 20 to 50 thousand Cubans gone to rest in that watery “cemetery without crosses,” accompanied by utter silence from the media. In one day July 13th 1994 43 freedom-seeking Cubans drowned, 11 of them children. Carlos Anaya was 3 when he drowned, Yisel Alvarez 4. Helen Martinez was 6 months old.
For her showboating swims Diana Nyad proudly partnered with the regime responsible for this appalling economic and demographic disaster and those tens of thousands of horrible deaths. The woman actually flaunts her partnership with Cuba’s Stalinist regime. To wit:
“Millions of us worldwide, but especially here in the United States, have been fascinated by the mystique of this "forbidden" island so close to our shores,” wrote Nyad in the Huffington Post. “We are aware of the advanced level of medicine and general education on the island. We have installed proud posters of Che (Guevara) on our college room walls….as someone who grew up with many Cuban friends in South Florida, someone who has now visited Havana some 30 times…”
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.