Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Se Acabó! Now who will you hate?

Last night, the Cuban "Exile" community in Miami partied in the streets of Little Havana after the news broke that Fidel had temporarily turned power over to his brother Raul. These exilios drove all the way down from their gated communities in west Broward to order a medianoche and a cafe Cubano at the Cafataria Latin America and maybe get their faces on CNN or Telemundo. This all makes for good footage on FOX Seven, but though they may talk a good game about hating Castro; what the mainly younger people in the crowd know about Cuba they get from their parents and grandparents, which is all bull. Basically, the American kids of Cuban decent in Miami know nothing about their history or politics (thanks to their Miami-Dade school education), but they always know how to perform in front of the international media when the next "crisis in Cuba” comes up. (And besides that: what a great excuse to party on a school night!)

And as for the older Cubans, the real exiles, the Cuba they remember from 47 years ago doesn't exist anymore. The truth is it isn't going to make a bit of difference who takes over next because they're not getting their sugar cane factories or their Casinos back. The fact is, there is an entire generation of Cubans who have actually lived in Cuban their whole lives who've known nothing else but Fidel and they're not going to allow themselves to be returned into indentured servitude and the illiteracy of the pre-Fidel years under US tutelage. While our Cuban-American secretary of Commerce writes up plans for the post-Castro "democratic transition," anti-Fidel dissidents in Cuba like Oscar Espinosa are telling the US to butt out of their business. This is going to be the way of it; the exiles here in the 80's didn't want "Castro's animals" coming here during Mariel and Castro's animals don't want these yankee carpetbaggers calling themselves Cubans coming down to exploit their resources and labor.

The most important thing Castro ever did for Cuba, which many Americans of Cuban decent don't understand, is that he liberated the country from centuries of occupation. The streets of Miami are named after Cuban patriots like Jose Marti, Jose Antonio Saco, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, General Maximo Gomez and General Antonio Maecdo, but they didn't fight so hard and give their lives to become a colony of the United States. They fought for a free Cuban republic, free from Spain and free from the United States. The day before he died, Jose Marti wrote in a letter that he was fighting the Spanish to impede "the extension of the United States through the Antilles." He wrote that in the United States he had lived "inside the entrails of the monster," and he was concerned with American "economic imperialism," remarking that "the distain of the formidable neighbor who does not really know us is the worst danger to our America." [Counterpunch]

After fighting side by side with the Cuban independence fighters against the Spaniards and liberating Cuba, the Americans turned right around occupied the country. After four years of occupation the US offered to end it if the Cubans would add the Platt Amendment to their constitution, which spelled out that the US could move in at any time it wanted to, if it felt its interests were at stake. That was 1902; the US sent the Marines in again in 1906-09, 1910, 1917-1923, and from then on they controlled the politics of Cuba until Castro overthrew Fulgencio Batista in 1959.

There is this myth in the media I keep seeing and hearing that the Cuban-Americans in south Florida are going back to Cuba the minute the Castro regime is overthrown. Naturally, nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, everyone will be happy when Fidel finally succumbs to the "biological fact," but I doubt there are more than a handful of Cuban-Americans willing to give up their jobs and homes to go move back to a third world country. The WaPo reported that, "Miami pollster Sergio Bendixen has surveyed the Cuban population regularly over the past decade and found that 20 percent or fewer would return. . .Bendixen said he suspects the real number is even lower because it is "politically correct" for a Cuban immigrant to say he or she will return once Castro falls."

What worries me most is what happens if this administration decides, probably before the election, to help Castro along a little and orchestrates an "incident," that calls for the landing of the Marines. Carlos Gutierrez said in an NPR interview today that the US would prevent "third parties" from interfering in the "democratic transition" of Cuba, so who is to say Hugo Chavez didn't cause that bomb to go off on the Maine? The Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba said in 2004 that "sought a more proactive, integrated and disciplined approach to undermine the survival strategies of the Castro regime and contribute to conditions that will help the Cuban people hasten the dictatorship's end." You know, what that means. . . helping Cuba become the next Iraq.


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