Miami-Dade commissioner blasts FIU for hosting ‘Cuban Privilege’ author in Coral Gables

An image from a flyer promoting a Dec. 9 event by Florida International University’s Cuban Research Institute for author Susan Eva Eckstein’s book on differences in U.S. immigration policy titled “Cuban Privilege.” Miami-Dade Commissioner Kevin Cabrera is condemning FIU’s involvement in the event.

A new Miami-Dade County commissioner on Monday condemned Florida International University for inviting an author to speak about her book “Cuban Privilege,” which examines advantages federal immigration law granted Cubans who came to the United States.

Kevin Cabrera called the work by Boston University Professor Susan Eva Eckstein “hate-filled” and “anti-Cuban.”

In an interview, Eckstein said she was shocked by Cabrera’s statement because her book is an academic exploration of how U.S. policy has treated Cuban immigrants as compared to treatment of immigrants from other countries, such as Haiti.

“It’s a book that documents the unique entitlements Cubans have gotten over the years. I don’t hold it against them,” Eckstein said. “I say the U.S. should give more equity and equality to other immigrants, not to take rights away from Cubans.”

The Cuban Adjustment Act allows Cuban immigrants to remain in the United States legally under certain circumstances. In his final days in office, President Barack Obama formally ended the “wet-foot, dry-foot” policy that, since 1995, allowed Cuban immigrants to remain in the United States legally if they reached U.S. soil.

Cabrera, the son of Cuban immigrants, was elected to Miami-Dade’s District 6 seat on Nov. 8 with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, whose administration reversed Obama policies easing trade and travel restrictions on Cuba.

Cabrera held his swearing-in ceremony outside the Freedom Tower, an icon for Cuban exiles for its role as Miami’s immigration center. Cabrera said he didn’t think a local university should be involved in promoting Eckstein’s work.

He said he based his statement on excerpts of “Cuban Privilege” and a brief video clip of an Eckstein speech, but Cabrera said he has not read her book.

His statement focuses on a Dec. 9 book-signing event organized by FIU’s Cuban Research Institute at the Books & Books store in Coral Gables. The store sits in District 6, which Cabrera described as “a community which includes countless men and women who spent decades in Castro’s gulags as political prisoners...”

In a letter to Cabrera, Jorge Duany, director of FIU’s Cuban Research Institute, defended the Eckstein event as an example of the university encouraging “constructive conversation, differing points of view, and engagement with multiple perspectives.”

“I invite you to join us for this discussion,” Duany wrote. “Questions will be addressed during the Q&A.”