A fog of lies about Cuba damage University of Miami’s reputation

Too many of us waste time demanding grossly overpaid college football and basketball coaches be fired – simply for losing ballgames. In Miami, and we’re not alone in this, even the city’s only daily newspaper exhausts valuable news space writing about these coaches. And while all this is happening, the editors of that same newspaper dare not delve into the web of deception created by one university professor and his staff of liars, of what some call an important educational and research center.

The center is the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies (ICCAS) at the University of Miami. Its director is Jaime Suchlicki (in photo at top), who deserves to be fired by the University and investigated by The Miami Herald. Neither of these two things will happen, of course. We’re in Miami.

iccas logo-green-smllMiami fancies itself a great city. A modern city. I would agree… IF great cities are made of beautiful, bright blue winter days and impressive modern buildings with holes in the middle.

But enlightened and intelligent people I’ve asked assure me that important cities require great centers of learning, a thriving arts and intellectual community, a public transportation system that works, and that’s for starters. And except for the thriving arts (which we are working hard to achieve), Miami is lacking in the other two. By a lot!

Once known as Suntan U, later followed by simply THE U (for its football program), the U these days has been working to achieve recognition as an important center of learning. There are areas, medicine for example, where the University of Miami is recognized nationally and internationally.

But then you run into a Suchlicki – that’s how I will refer to this latest incident – and you wonder what really goes on. And why is ICCAS given a free pass, allowing them to lie their way into what they hoped would help put a damper on the process of rapprochement begun by President Obama with Cuba and its leaders. And no one here blinks!

“The Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies has received information that General Leopoldo Cintra Frias, Head of the Cuban Armed Forces, visited Syria recently leading a group of Cuban military personnel sent by Cuba in support of Syria’s dictator Assad and Russian involvement in that country,” stated the first two paragraphs of an “information and analysis” report from ICCAS. It was laughable. And denied by all sides involved – including the White House.

Yet, many news outlets decided to allow the news to play out. In fact, the release led some Republican members of Congress to consider questioning the president on the Cuban presence in Syria. And here you begin to see how a lie can become something much bigger if allowed to fester.

“The Cuban military contingent will be primarily deployed in Syria manning Russian tanks provided to Assad by the Russians. It will also operate as a military force against ISIS and other opponents of the Assad regime,” it continued.

Seriously!?

Not once in the “analysis” is any source cited. The source or sources, I would venture to say, all work inside the ICCAS offices at the U of M. And apart from Suchlicki, they include other Cuban-hating luminaries whose names I will not bore you with.

New University of Miami president Julio Frenk.
New University of Miami president Julio Frenk.

The university’s website describes Suchlicki as a “highly regarded consultant to the public and private sector.” Highly regarded? By whom? At this rate the University of Miami will remain a laughingstock in the political world. Led by ICCAS – Miami’s think-tank about Cuba, which lacks true and honest thinkers.

So what should Miami do?

Julio Frenk is the new president at the University of Miami. You can’t help but be impressed by his resume and credentials – dean of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and before that Mexico’s minister of health. Frenk arrived here with intentions of continuing to turn the University of Miami into a leading learning and research center of the south. You would then think that a center at the University dedicated to Cuban and Cuban-American studies would be one of the university’s institutions charged with leading the way. But what Dr. Frenk inherits is a center whose first act under his watch produces a Suchlicki that makes the university look like a fabricator of lies, at best.

And yet, Jaime Suchlicki and his minions still linger in their comfortable ICCAS offices surrounded by the fog of disinformation they help to create.

Where is the Miami administration in all of this?

If Frenk wants to make a good first impression, he must fire Suchlicki. People have lost jobs for much less. And if Frenk did follow through with the dismissal, then I would venture to say that Miami was on its way to assuming its role as a great university, a second part of the requirements of any great city.

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