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"Not being a Communist in Cuba is a felony. You are trash. Every time you walk in the street, the police ask for your papers. The Soviet visitors and the tourists eat what we don't eat. They have good cigarettes and good beer. Most of the young people have stolen to live."
While the past waves of Cuban refugees proved hard workers who not only helped each other but strengthened the communities in which they settled, some fears about the latest influx are developing in Cuban-American areas. As the U.S. enters an economic recession, the new load on schools, local services and taxes is not welcome. A few protest rallies have already been held in South Florida. Asks Miami Builder Hank Green, incoming president of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce: "Who takes them in? Who feeds them? I told my family last night, be prepared to be bilingual or to leave."
Just where the Cubans can go and how they will fare once there remains the ultimate problem for the U.S., and the answer will depend on the human reactions of many Americans. At Eglin Air Force Base, two soldiers laboring in the Florida sun to erect tents wondered why they were working so hard. "I don't really feel this is a job for the military," said one. Added the other: "I felt that way this morning, but I've changed my mind. These people are so grateful." In Key West, one 75-year-old man slowly climbed off a shrimp boat, and somebody asked him, "You've come to live in freedom?" As a volunteer took his arm to help him onto the dock, the man quietly replied: "No, I've come to die in freedom."