giovedì, febbraio 23, 2006

Babalu Blog: Flagler's Bridge

Flagler's Bridge (Updated)

There is a street here in Miami that bisects the city from one end to the other. It was Miami's first Main street and is named, appropriately so, after Henry Flagler who is known as the real founder of the City of Miami. It was also Mr. Flagler who spent an unprecedented millions of dollars at the turn of the century to connect mainland South Florida to the group of islands known as the Keys with a railroad. Years of planning went into it, thousands of men toiled and many adversities were lived through to make Flagler's bridge dream come true.

In 1935, years after Henry Flagler's death and after millions of passengers had traveled between Miami and the lower keys via Flagler's railroad bridge system, major parts of the bridge were destroyed by a hurricane. After much consideration, Henry Flagler's railroad bridge was rebuilt by the government as a thoroughfare for vehicles. No train would ever make the 156 mile trip again.

Henry Flagler's seven mile bridge, a major part of original bridge system, reconstructed and used for decades as the primary and only land route between Florida's mainland and the Keys, now sits abandoned a mere 100 parallel yards or so from a newly built more modern thoroughfare.

It was Henry Flagler's Bridge that 15 Cuban refugees landed on after days at sea back in January. It was Henry's Flagler's bridge that the US Coast Guard deemed was not officially US land and consequently repatriated the refugees back to the island prison. Henry Flagler's Bridge. The same bridge built with American money and American muscle and American sweat and, even, with a cost of American lives. Henry Flagler's Bridge. By all accounts, a historical landmark. A triumph of the American entrepeneurial spirit, a testament to American know how, a product of the American work ethic.

Yet according to our government, it is not a part of America.

Last night, Hannity and Colmes highlighted the inhumane treatment of 15 souls fleeing tyranny and oppression. Family members of the 15 refugees were taken via boat to Henry Flagler's Bridge to the exact same spot where freedom became fleeting. Where the hope of 15 men and women and children was usurped over semantics.

My wife and I, our fiend Maribel and Julio Zangroniz sat in front of our living room tv last night completely transfixed. Awed almost, that a member of the MSM had finally done something to bring to light the inane absurdity of the wet-foot/dry-foot policy. Tears flowed as they most certainly will flow as you take in the following video reports from Hannity & Colmes via Fox News:

Watch the video of two Cuban family members here.

Watch the video of the attorney working to overturn the government;s ruling on the 15 here.

Watch an interview with Alina Fernandez, daughter of fidel castro here.

I truly hope this is the beginning of real coverage of one of the most un-American and inhumane policies to ever be implemented by a US government.

UPDATE: I have watched that first video a bunch of times today. When Guerrero speaks at the end and says that Cubans will keep trying to flee and then says "Some of us make it. Some of us never make. Some of us are never found." He actually pauses for a second and you can literally see the reality and the pain that he lives with daily just consume him. He then breaks down on camera, taking me along with him every time.

It is impossible to string words together to describe exactly what Guerrero is feeling at that precise moment in time. Those of you that have been separated from your families, those of you that have lost family fleeing the island, you know exactly what that feeling is.

Also: If you'd like to know more about the railroad that acccording to the US government is no longer part of the United States, I recommend "Last Train to Paradise - Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean" by Les Standiford - acclaimed author and my former creative writing profesor at Florida International University.

Posted by Val Prieto at February 22, 2006 07:47 AM | TrackBack

Babalu Blog: Flagler's Bridge (Updated)