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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Pedro Ross FCF Chairman 2006-2008 looks back over his tenure

Pedro Ross center with two other FCF members in 2006
It's only been a few short years ago when I was the chairman of the Free Cuba Foundation (FCF), but it was one of the high points of my time at Florida International University (FIU), and my life as well. I essentially moved away from that position so I could focus on Grad school and also to allow some younger people to take up responsibility within the group. At this point, I'm working in Palm Beach county with my company and the real estate investments that I have made.

I originally became a casual audience member of the group. I would show up at various events, and I met various activists of the diaspora community that were deeply involved in spreading awareness. Some of the other people I met were former members of FCF that were still involved in its activities.

The next statement that I'm about to make is one you might be expecting me to make. When I met these former members, and various current members, I was impressed by their compassion and their conviction they had for FCF and the plight of Cuban humanity and Cuban dignity. Very frequently, among a whole range of various writings, you see the same format repeated again and again. But, sometimes what else can you do except finding yourself describing certain experiences in a similar voice that other people have used. So let me say this, when I met the various people that were involved with FCF and the various others that were involved in the extended networks, all of this created a lasting strong impression on me due to the compassion and the conviction of these people.

Event in remembrance of "13 de Marzo" tugboat victims
 This compassion was one of the major forces that drove me forward when I became an active member and later the Chairman. There were times when my patience was tested, I know that it is not the nicest thing to state. But, we are all adults, and I think that is something we can be comfortable in saying. Many times, I had to aggressively think in ways on how I could balance out being a college student and being an officer in FCF. There was often a conflict in responsibilities. Many times these responsibilities occurred when academic deadlines were constantly at hand. But, that is okay, I can say these things with a smile and these experiences are all part of who I am today.

It is important for me to say that the essential goal of the Free Cuba Foundation is to spread awareness of the human crisis in Cuba. Part of the goal is not just to remind the Cuban community of Miami, it is remind the larger world community of what is going on. Sometimes, I felt that the orientation of FCF should change. If you take a larger perspective on the issue then one can see that the crisis of humanity in Cuba is a symptom of the larger problem. The larger problem is that society is not working. The Castristas have been trying to force a governmental and economic model to work that can't work and has no chance of succeeding. The dictatorship is what the Castristas have used to maintain this agenda and the Cuban people are the victims of all of this. However, if you try to deal with the issue by dealing more with the governmental and economic system then you become more of a think tank and less of a humanitarian awareness group.

June 4, 2009 vigil for Chinese Democracy Activists
 Humanity is the key of the Free Cuba Foundation, its goal is to identify the human element. The goal dictates the methods. The methods of the FCF are to the point. Lots of surface level preconditions that you see with other groups are washed away and the cause is what is packaged and delivered when you deal with FCF. The objective of FCF's operating model is to state the problem, present the problem, reflect on the problem, and what we want is for you to come away from the event with a clear notion of the issue we are putting in front of you. That kind of style of bluntly getting to the point is what partially attracted me to all of this.

So many of FCF methods reminded me of the methods that garage rock bands had in the late 1980s to the mid 90s. Crude simple xerox copy flyers, made by hook or by crook, with blunt imaginary, and to the point messages posted at every random spot that people could put things. Almost any random venue that could be found or fandangled was used to make an event. The important thing was for us to get in there and let the message carry the whole event. It was real activist kind of stuff, working by the seat of paints in terms of your budget and by what FIU allowed you to use. Actually, one of my many hopes I had was to hopefully attract some more young people that knew how to create different methods. Hopefully, these new young people had a inside tract into the minds, and into the ways that other young people perceived or understood the world that way we could have presented ourselves in way that could identify with this younger crowd. Maybe, we did get that accomplished at some levels.

However, we did what we could do. Working with the Free Cuba Foundation was a great experience, it opened new knowledge and experiences to me. My times with the group created the opportunities that led to many interesting arguments and conversations with people and contributed to a lot of the character I have today.

Cuba Libre my friends!!!!!! We will succeed!!!!!!

Pedro Ross
FCF Chairman 2006 - 2008
August 11, 2013

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