To the Editor:
Predating the Spanish-American war, the city of Key West has long enjoyed a special relationship with the people of Cuba.
Cuban expatriates fleeing Spanish domination of their island established the San Carlos in Key West. Famed patriot, freedom fighter and poet Jose Marti appeared and spoke there often, helping to raise awareness of and money for the Cuban fight for Independence. He called the San Carlos “Casa Cuba.”
Years later Fidel Castro and a small band of rebels grew in size and strength to finally, in 1959, overthrow American-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. Once again Cuba enjoyed Independence.
Following Castro’s victory, however, the U.S. codified an economic embargo against Cuba. The San Carlos was seized, taken from the Cuban people to whom it rightfully belonged. It has remained in the hands of the so-called “Miami Mafia” ever since.
The American embargo, which lasted for 50-plus years, is about to end. Cuba will again enjoy Independence.
With the restoration of U.S. diplomatic relations with Cuba and the installation of an American embassy there, should come the return of the San Carlos to the Cuban people. Its return is long overdue.
At this time of celebration I call upon the Key West City Commission to pursue all legal avenues to regain ownership of the San Carlos, its land and building, and return it to the nation of Cuba as a goodwill gesture between two longtime friends.
Michael Ritchie, Key West