Former Polish President Lech Walesa in Miami,
shares thoughts about Cuba
By OSCAR CORRAL The Miami Herald
Thrusday February 9th / 2006
Former Polish president and Nobel Peace Laureate Lech Walesa, one of the key personalities that helped bring down communism in Eastern Europe, expressed a humor-laden dose of solidarity with Miami's Cuban exile community Monday.
Miami Dade College hosted Walesa at a breakfast at the Marriott Biscayne Bay, and College President Eduardo Padrón presented him with the college's top honor, the Presidential Medal.
Walesa told the powerhouse crowd of about 200 -- which included Emilio Estefan, Florida House Speaker-elect Marco Rubio, and other prominent Cuban Americans -- that Cubans in Miami and Cuba must be prepared for what comes after Fidel Castro, whatever that may be.
''You should be prepared for when it happens, with well-structured ideas of what to do, because there could be anarchy,'' he said through a translator. ``Anarchy is worse than anything else.''
Walesa, founder of the Solidarity Movement, led a non-violent revolt against Poland's communist system in the 1980s. He said that was fueled in part by the rise to power of Pope John Paul II, a Polish priest named to the Catholic Church's top post in the late 1970s, giving hope to Poland's largely Catholic populace.
Walesa seemed to take a shot at the American government's ineffective attempts to bring freedom and democracy to Cuba, even hinting that Cuba is still communist by design.
''I start thinking that many Americans want to keep Cuba as a museum of Marxism in this hemisphere and that's why it has lasted so long, because it's a thorn in the side of the Americans, but it's still there,'' he said.
To prepare the audience for his unorthodox views, Walesa announced a disclaimer: ''If someone doesn't like what I say, well, understand that I am a revolutionary.'' The theme of his speech was the need for ''moral politics'' in a global economy.
The cherubic, red-faced Walesa, whose silver hair and mustache are just a shade lighter than they were in the 1980s, is in Miami with his wife and daughter, and plans to be here until next week. Several events are planned during his visit.