Letters to the Editor

Letters on Cuba, death penalty, medical marijuana, taxing Brownback voters

Cubans lack basic freedoms

Much has been written about Cuba since President Obama announced a change in U.S. policy. Much will be written during the coming months as we move forward to establish relations and economic initiatives are implemented.

I am a Cuban-American and in favor of these changes. However, let’s not lose sight of the fact that Cubans lack basic freedoms:

▪  Free elections have not been held during the 55-year-old communist dictatorship. Only one political party is allowed – the Communist Party.

▪  The state owns and controls newspapers, television and radio. Internet is not available to the average Cuban.

▪  The state controls all economic activity. There is very little private enterprise. Travel is restricted.

▪  Thousands have died for political reasons, including by firing squad and when trying to escape. About 2 million have left the island. Human rights violations are common.

The Cuban embargo has been in place for more than 50 years, but about 8 percent of imports in Cuba are from the U.S. and Cuba is not prevented from trading with the rest of the world. It’s time to end the embargo.

Let’s hope liberty will be part of Cuba’s not-too-distant future. The Castro brothers won’t live forever.



Join pilgrimage

The role of the papacy in the effort to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba is interesting. Communist Cuba, being officially an atheist state, banned the Catholic Church even though the population was devoutly Catholic.

The loyalty of Cubans to the Castro government was not enhanced by widespread poverty and a shrinking population. An average salary of $20 per month and the lowest birthrate in Latin America hastened the decline of the country. The Castro brothers in the past blamed the severe poverty on the American economic blockade, even though Europe and Asian countries had access to the country

In 1998 Pope John Paul II, accompanied by the archbishop of Buenos Aires, who is now Pope Francis, made a five-day pilgrimage to visit the people of Cuba, which began the softening of the harsh suppression of the church and its people. In 2010, as evidence of the power of the pilgrimage, a Catholic seminary was opened, and the first church in 50 years recently was built. Long-held prisoners, protested by the famous “women in white,” were released.

Now is the time to join the papal pilgrimage and end the blockade.



No death penalty

One reason why the death penalty is a broken system is that it is an unwise use of taxpayer dollars. The 2014 Kansas Judicial Council study estimated that trials in Kansas where the death penalty is sought cost three to four times more than trials where it is not sought.

The idea that the death penalty is more expensive than life in prison without parole sounds counterintuitive to some, but studies consistently have documented this fact. With a life on the line, capital trials and appeals are more complex, longer, involve more lawyers and – unsurprisingly – cost more.

In an effort to use taxpayer dollars in a more prudent manner, it makes sense for Kansas to get rid of the death penalty.



Ease suffering

The hosts of ABC’s “The View” show talked with a mom who resorted to giving her son cannabis oil as a treatment for a traumatic brain injury because he was in such pain and nothing else worked. She was charged with child abuse and endangerment.

I have always hated marijuana because of the abuses of it. But I saw the pain and frustration of the mother and it gave me pause. I will always fight recreational smoking, but I support what can help those in pain and help them live somewhat normal lives in dignity.

Why? I saw my mother last weekend. She has Parkinson’s disease, among other things. Perhaps a tea or a dose of oil from cannabis could help her tremors. Maybe it could allow her to talk to us and give some of her dignity back. How many people would move heaven and earth to have a chance to help their mom, child or spouse and to ease their pain?

I don’t support allowing someone just to get high. But is it bad to want to help someone?



Slow to replace

I would like to thank the Sedgwick County leadership for taking two weeks to replace a road bridge on 263rd Street West that the county tore up six months ago. If you don’t have the money to fix something when you tear it up, don’t tear it up. I bet this wouldn’t happen in the neighborhoods where county leaders live.



Tax voters

One way out of the budget crunch would be to tax all 433,000 people who voted for Gov. Sam Brownback even though they knew exactly what he did. Brownback and his handpicked Republican legislators planned and executed the demise of the state of Kansas as we know it. If you do not think this was planned, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Charles and David Koch should pay off the remaining shortfall. We all know Brownback takes his marching orders from the Kochs.



Letters to the Editor

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For more information, contact Phillip Brownlee at 316-268-6262, pbrownlee@wichitaeagle.com.