Story BY CASEY WOODS.
An international network of Art Deco design enthusiasts that has roots in Miami is grappling with another South Florida obsession: the bitter, seemingly endless, battle over how to deal with Cuba.
Members of the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies, a loose association of groups dedicated to preserving the streamlined architectural style, are locked in a battle over whether to hold the group's 2007 World Congress on Art Deco in the island nation.
Those who support the notion say that politics shouldn't thwart efforts to save the country's imperiled architecture. Others say it would be morally wrong to go and, for members from the United States, almost certainly illegal.
In recent weeks, the conflict has exploded into a hostile volley of e-mails -- one of which alleged that an ICADS member was accepting handouts from the Cuban government in exchange for striving to ''deliver'' the convocation. The accused member has threatened legal action in response.
The rancor has astonished members on both sides of the divide. Many wonder if their once-genteel organization, which has hundreds of members in countries as far away as New Zealand and Australia, is forever changed.
''It's been a mean two years, and I've never experienced anything like this in my 50 years doing volunteer work,'' said Rex Ball, the president of the Tulsa Art Deco Society, who has held the ICADS leadership post since 2003. ``Before, the organization was such a pleasant social comrades kind of thing, and I certainly hope this won't split it for good.''...