4A Thursday. February 8, 1996

Spreading King's message

Brothers to the Rescue, the Cuban American group that made a name for Itself spotting Cuban refugees fleeing across the waters, has found an ally in its new mission to help change the communist government in Havana. Members of the group took the two-day course at the Florida Martin Luther King Institute for Nonviolence last November. They marched in the King Day parade and dropped 500,000 leaflets over Cuba calling for civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance.

Now the group is hoping that the Cuban government will permit a meeting In Havana on nonviolence and peaceful protest as a means of effecting change. Members are hoping that President Fidel Castro's avowed respect for Dr. King would be enough to facilitate the meeting. Whether or not It takes place, it Is clear that this group has come around to the belief that change can be brought about in Cuba in the same way that it was brought about by Dr. King in the United States.

There may be some, truth there but the reality is that there has been more than thtee decades of confrontation between the exile community and the United States government, on the one hand, and, the Castro government, on the other. The exile community is, for the most part, still committed to the violent overthrow of the regime in Havana.

In throwing Dr. King's principle into the volatile mix of Cuban exile politics, Brothers to the Rescue is showing a willingness to be creative. But it is unlikely to accomplish much until there is wider commitment in the exile community and leaders emerge who are willing to do as Dr.King did and stake their lives on their belief.