Controversial Cuban Book Author Event At Books & Books Moved And Format Changed By Host, Florida International University

Ariel Fernandez

Founder & Editor
[email protected]

On Thursday, December 1st, following large community outrage over its sponsored event at Books & Books to hold an in-person evening with author Susan Eva Eckstein, Florida International University (FIU) decided to move the event and change the format.

The controversy revolved around Eckstein’s book, Cuban Privilege: The Making of Immigrant Inequality in America, which defines the perils of Cuban-American immigrants, whose rights, properties and livelihoods were stripped away by the Castro regime, as privileged.

In Books & Book’s description of Eckstein’s book, it states that, “This book is the first to reveal the full range of entitlements granted to Cubans. Initially privileged to undermine the Castro-led revolution in the throes of the Cold War, one US President after another extended new entitlements, even in the post-Cold War era. Drawing on unseen archives, interviews, and survey data, Cuban Privilege highlights how Washington, in the process of privileging Cubans, transformed them from agents of US Cold War foreign policy into a politically powerful force influencing national policy.”

FIU’s Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs and the FIU Cuban Research Institute were title sponsors of the event.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kevin Marino Cabrera was one of the first to speak out against the event, which was slated to take place in his district. “It is shocking that FIU’s Cuban Research Institute would welcome such hate-filled, inflammatory, anti-Cuban rhetoric to Miami-Dade County, home to the largest Cuban diaspora and the global capital of Cuban-American exiles who have experienced first-hand the repression of the brutal Castro-Communist dictatorship,” said Cabrera. “As the voice of District Six, a community which includes countless men and women who spent decades in Castro’s gulags as political prisoners and whose family members were executed or drowned escaping the Island, it pains me to see that one of our public universities would give credence to those repeating the Castro regime’s talking points,” he added.

In a statement to the FIU community, President Kenneth A. Jessell informed the community “After learning of the event several days ago, it became clear to me that we had an opportunity to enhance it by including other points of view so that we could have a balanced and objective discussion. The event now ensures that we meet the academic rigor and standards of debate and preserve everyone’s right to express their point of view while remaining mindful and sensitive to the experiences of our community. Dr. Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat, spokesperson for the Cuban Democratic Directorate and author of ‘Cuba: The Doctrine of the Lie,’ will participate as the discussant. This format will ensure a scholarly and worthwhile discussion on an important topic.”

“Universities have a responsibility to uphold freedom of expression and support open discussion of issues, even those that may be controversial. At FIU, a public research university rooted in a community largely made up of exiles and immigrants who fled communism and other oppressive regimes, this responsibility takes on a new meaning. Academic freedom and civil discourse are at the heart of our mission. We know that our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members expect that we uphold these principles. As a native South Floridian, I have been blessed to know and work with many Cuban Americans. While I will never personally know the pain the Cuban exile community has endured at the hands of the totalitarian regime on the island, I have an appreciation for the history that informs this conversation and the many contributions Cuban Americans have made to the development of FIU, Miami, the State of Florida, and beyond. I assure you we are using these recent events as an opportunity to improve our processes and ensure we create programs that meet the highest academic standards while remaining sensitive to our community. We know you expect nothing less,” added Jessell.

Eckstein did not reply to Gables Insider‘s requests for comment.

The event will take place on Friday, December 9th at 7:00PM at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center on FIU’s Modesto Maidique Campus.


30 thoughts on “Controversial Cuban Book Author Event At Books & Books Moved And Format Changed By Host, Florida International University

  1. Lots of right wing writing disparaging reviews on Amazon. Amazon has stopped those that have not purchased the book. Good for them.

  2. All those who believe that Cubans have a privileged status in this country should investigate well the history of all years of immigration from Fidel Castro’s criminal tyranny that is already going for almost 70 years and why we are beneficiaries of this status, that by the way right now is not respected because they are being deported and some thousands at this time have a deportation order like any immigrant in this administration who chooses the immigrants that are feasible for their “new vote”.Not counting that it is amazing that despite the rejection that at first we had as immigrants ( yes, we suffer discrimination at the beginning and for many years),Cuban immigrants when they arrived in this country where many left their lives working in factories, sometimes even with 3 jobs and that we practically created and lifted this city including those Universities that now invite these spokesmen of ignorance to indoctrinate with erroneous ideas and create even more separation now also among immigrants. When people from other countries are being transported on the border, and even in airplanes with their status in their yellow envelopes in hand and without even asking, this is the sample of the hypocrey of this agenda that the first thing is to disinform and create animosity towards a community that is well known for being conservative for obvious reasons, (we do not want to return to what we have escaped.) please check the history of Cuban exile and judge later, not part of Socialistoid and Communist ignorance.

  3. Incredible how misinformed some folks are. The only reason that this event was moved from Books & Books to FIU is due to space — no room in B&B (its tiny!) to host an event w/ as much publicity as this has garnered. Makes total sense to move to a larger venue! Thanks to B&B for bringing this author & to FIU to offer the larger space to accommodate all for further discussion.

  4. I hope everyone who is commenting here will take the time to go to the forum at FIU. Free tickets are required. Just contact the FIU Cuban Research Institute (not the Green School; they will just transfer you to the CRI) and they will tell you how to register for your free tickets through Eventbrite. The forum starts at 7, but they want people to arrive at 6.

  5. suggest reading CUBA an American History by ADA FERRER
    On the Cuban Privilege imbroglio my hero Mohamad Ali would had
    put it to rest with one of his famous punts:
    “Cubans are privileged because they are pretty”

  6. Cuban Privilege: The Making of Immigrant Inequality in America, which defines the perils of Cuban-American immigrants, whose rights, properties and livelihoods were stripped away by the Castro regime, as privileged.

    Compared to other immigrants? Yes, they are incredibly privileged.

  7. Cabrera is definitely NOT “the voice of District 6” as he claims.
    Those who endorsed him must be very PROUD.
    And they don’t speak for all of us, either.

  8. I think the more immediate problem is if the Biden Administration is going to end the preferential treatment Cubans who arrive at the US Southern Border are getting. Currently those Cuban are paroled into the US unlike potential immigrants from other countries. So far in 2022 about 300,000 Cubans have crossed the border and are benefitting in part of the “Cuban Privilege” the author writes about .

    The bigger issue now is that if we allow hundreds of thousands of Cubans in through the Mexican border many more thousands living on the island will attempt the same dangerous crossing through Central American The “privilege “ is encouraging irregular migration which most Americans and Cuban Americans want to stop coming from to the border.

  9. Us Cubans do have immigration privileges, receiving all social services plus legal status, then allowed to visit our homeland as we please. How can this author be accused of promoting a socialist agenda for writing the facts? Next thing we know, Kevin Cabrera wants to ban the book.

  10. It’s shocking (not really) that some demagogue of a commisioner would feel entitled to run his mouth about a book without ever bothering to read it. Who knows the last time that buffoon read anything. If he disagreed with the facts and data presented, he should have been willing to present a rebuttal with backed up by his own research. All he d8d is make people want to buy that book. Hey commissioner! You think that preferential treatment would have existed had it been Haiti or the Dominican Republic instead? Let’s talk about that privilege too.

  11. For freedom-loving Florida, this backlash sure is antithetical to the values of free speech and free inquiry. It’s not that Cubans don’t deserve the right to escape a repressive government, but by what means do they have this right more than any other? Why makes the plight of Cubans unique to other people, particularly Haitians who have suffered comparatively worse conditions than Haitians (both before and after the revolution), yet still have an edge above them?

    Already, I’ve noticed the book has suffered a review bombing on Amazon. I am all the more determined to buy it and go to this event as a result. This monopoly of suffering and privilege must be questioned and undone.

  12. Saúl Gales – you are my new poet laureate. You had me laughing so hard, I cried. Well said.

  13. FIU President should have left sponsored book event @ Books & Books with security present. Yes Cubans enjoy priviledged wet/dry foot immigration policy and social benefits after not working 1 second in this country, others were deported immediately. Cabrera is pandering and fear mongering to Cuban weaknesses for his personal political gains.

  14. Ah yes.
    This is Miami, the concentrated form of Floriduuuuh.
    No truth, facts or history welcome here.

  15. @ Michael Galex … l believe you miss my point… I am not comparing the Jewish community with my community and that was never my point.
    I wanted to use the title (as shock value) that would have hypothetically enraged any community (if that was their case) in their own backyard…. For all I care, she can go and present her book in the middle of South Dakota, but it is an insult to the Cuban community in south Florida.
    To me that book is a slap in my grandparent’s face, my parents, and myself (for many things I will not write in here). But thank you for your input sorry if i confused you about the comparison.

  16. I was thinking of another venue for the event: the Manuel Artime Theater on Calle Ocho, or the new Cuban Museum by Vizcaya Metrorail Station, or better yet, the Marlins Park in Little Havana!
    It would have been interesting to have Frank de Varona review the book and present his conclusions at his usual meetings at the Westchester Library 9445 Coral Way.

  17. K. Martinez, unfortunately your comparison of Jews to Cubans falls flat. Jews have never had special immigration status. In fact, even at the height of the Shoah, Jews were turned away and denied entry by anti-semitic US government leaders. There really is no comparison between the two groups in terms of U.S. immigration policy.

  18. Ariel thank for giving us the whole story.
    I am a 62-year resident of Coral Gables .Since I went to high school, we have experience intolerance. Therefore when we hear about a book titled “ Cuban Privilege” we find it to be biased, provocative, anti- Cuban bigotry.

  19. Cuba and the USA have been joined at the hip even before the Spanish American War that ended in the defeat of Spain and the creation of the Cuban Republic. I am not here to teach so look it up.
    As examples of this check out the Platt amendment to the Cuban 1902 constitution.
    The relationship between Cuba and the USA was deep. Many Americans lived and had business interests in Cuba as well as many of the large American multinational corporations.
    The relationship was symbiotic as Cuba (pre-Castro) enjoyed preferential treatment from the USA and USA enjoyed preferential treatment from Cuba. This is well documented.
    This, as well as cold war policy did create a Well-Deserved preferential treatment for Cubans
    of the original exile community consisting mostly of the upper and middle classes.
    The preferential treatment has waned with the years and may soon disappear.

  20. If this would have happened to the Jewish community …. with a book that read “Jewish Privilege: The Making of Immigrant Inequality in America” there will be an uproar. How sad…
    Moreover, to some of the people writing comments in here Cubans are NOT the only group with that status, please get informed before you start spewing ignorance. /sigh

  21. Universities continue to promote woke and socialistic agendas. Books & Books does the same. For those of you now interested in reading this book, first inform yourselves of the plight of the first generation of Cubans who had to suddenly flee their country after being threatened with jail or worse and robbed of their homes and businesses by a regime which is still there 63 years later. Thank you, Commissioner Kevin Marino Cabrera, for bringing this to our attention.

  22. I agree with Maria Elena Lopez. As a Cuban American, I can say that we are privileged because others don’t have the same luxury as we have had. We are the dark haired darlings of the Cold War. I will buy the book and I’m sure it will be a great read! In fact, I will buy one for Cabrera as a Christmas present so he can educate himself! Shame on him and all the Cuban entourage (Maria Elvira, Giménez and Marquito del parquecito)!

  23. President Jessell speaks of the venue change in terms of academic freedom. However, to the contrary, it feels like he caved-in to Cabrera’s pressure. I hope I am wrong.

  24. Thank you, Mr. Cabrera, for generating such wide attention for this book. I’ve been looking for something new to read. Any book hated by a petty, ignorant, would-be tyrant like you immediately goes to the top of my reading list. Had you not puffed your chest, stomped your feet and spat out your clearly valuable, informed opinion into the public arena, I would never have known of this book and would have lost an opportunity to educate myself on how Cubans get preferential treatment by the U.S. immigration system.

    I’ll make sure to buy a copy today. The author gets paid and I get a new book. I’ll be enjoying it tonight while you’ll be blocking traffic outside Versailles, burning “Vamos a Cuba” and Los Van Van CDs.

    Well done, peckerhead.

  25. Cubans are privileged, compared to other Hispanics – and we all know it. Case in point the ones that ask for political asylum here and then go back every chance they get to show off their American dollars. Or how about the government benefits that they qualify for so quickly. This article pretends to be impartial but does not quote the author or try to get a third party opinion, other than Cabrera’s. This is really an opinion piece, disguised as journalism.

  26. why not invite commissioner cabrera to have “a balanced and objective discussion” on a book he has not read? why change the venue from books and books to fiu? this has nothing to do with “academic rigor”

  27. No matter how much Cabrera and his cronies deny it, we Cuban Americans had a privileged status which should have been afforded to all immigrant groups.

  28. You know this is not going to end well when you have a newly elected Cuban-American public official criticizing a book he admits that he has not read!

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