The Edmond Sun


October 23, 2012

What has not happened is as telling as what has

OKLA. CITY — In the Sherlock Holmes story “Silver Blaze” the fictional detective advises his colleague Dr. Watson that sometimes the non happening of an event, such as when a dog does not bark when someone approaches a door is very significant. And that observation is on occasion applicable to world affairs as well. Recently, Venezualan President Hugo Chavez won re-election after a hard-fought campaign.  

Shortly after Chavez first took office he aligned his nation with Cuba, and has supplied that island nation with oil at reduced costs. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had been Cuba’s patron since the early 1960s, and supplied it with fuel from the oil fields in the Caucasuses, the Cuban economy foundered for a time until Venezuela agreed to to supply it with oil.

Chavez developed a warm personal relationship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and when Chavez travelled to that island nation earlier this year for cancer treatment pictures of Castro and Chavez together were widely distributed throughout both Cuba and Venezula. But when Chavez was re-elected, there were no reports of him receiving a congratulatory phone call from the 86-year-old Castro, and there have been reports that Castro may recently have become physically or mentally incapacitated as a result of a fatal illness

Several years ago, Fidel Castro officially gave up his position as Cuba’s president after suffering from an undisclosed ailment and his brother Raoul Castro  succeeded him. The younger Castro, who is 81, launched a series of reform to stimulate the moribund Cuban economy, and those measures included the right for citizens to own  their own homes and operate small businesses.  

Last week, Raoul Castro issued a new policy that could result in the communist system that  Fidel Castro  imposed on Cuba a half a century ago not long  surviving its founder. Like most communist nations, Cuba has historically restricted the right of its citizens to travel to other nations, and it was only those who were officially in favor with the Cuban government were permitted to travel abroad.

But  last week Raul Castro announced that beginning Jan. 14, 2013, Cubans will be free to travel to foreign nations  and can remain outside of Cuba for up to two years without losing their citizenship. Under American law, any Cuban citizen who arrives on dry land in the U.S. is entitled to lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.

In May of 1989 the Republic of Hungary removed the barbed wire that was situated on its border with Austria and declared its border with Austria to be open. Citizens of the communist nation of East Germany were prohibited from traveling to any country outside of the Soviet bloc of states in Eastern Europe, and Hungary was at that time an ally of the Soviet Union. Soon thousands of East German citizens were traveling to Hungary where they began to cross the border into Austria and then to West Germany. Under West German law, any resident of East Germany was entitled to immediate citizenship rights in West Germany. Several months later the Berlin Wall was opened and thousands of East Germans began to flee to West Germany. Their flight resulted in the collapse of the East German state and its  eventual unification with West Germany.

It is possible that a  somewhat similar event may occur as Cubans leave that island nation for the U.S. and other  states  where Cuban exiles live and have achieved prosperity.  And the Cubans who return to their homeland after living abroad may demand more freedom than the Castro government grants its citizens.

Yet many students of Cuba warn that the Castro government is capable of putting bureaucratic hurdles in place that will make it difficult for its citizens to leave. The government controlled media has indicated that it may restrict the issuance of exit visas to ensure “the capital of the revolution” is not lost, which could prohibit the departure of physicians and other professionals. And the U.S. culture and economy would be enriched by an influx of Cubans, and it is conceivable that in several years time  Cuban restaurants and Cuban artists will make their way to the Oklahoma City-Edmond area.

WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is a retired Oklahoma City attorney.

Text Only
  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014


Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

     View Results