Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Lost City

Yesterday, as I waited for a friend to pick me up for dinner, I had the urge to write. I didn't know what, or what about, I just had that urge to write. So, since I had my laptop, I just let it flow and this is what came out. I hope you enjoy it.

I look around the crowded Starbucks. Coño como hay gente! I think to myself. Its six in the afternoon and the place has been hustling and bustling for the past three hours. Who would’ve thought Starbucks would be such a success in Miami? But then again, with so many Colombians, Venezuelans and yes the Cubans all loving coffee so much, how couldn’t it? Como ha cambiado Miami. I remember coming here as a child and hearing Cuban Spanish. Now as I sit here in the Starbucks and listen in on the conversations at the other tables I can assure you I’m the only Cuban-American here. I thought Miami was supposed to be full of rabid Cubans crying over what they lost 47 years ago. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

In the seven days I’ve been here I’ve found none. I’ve encountered many passionate Cubans, and contrary to common belief not all of them are elderly sixty somethings playing dominoes and wearing guayaberas. The waitor at the restaurant where I had lunch was about thirty, a recent exile, and exhibited as much hate for Fidel as Armando Perez Roura does on Radio Marti. What could he have possibly lost if he was younger than the revolution? He had lost his freedom, his right to freely speak, his right to oppose a government which knows no boundaries to repress and oppress.

I went to see The Lost City with mami a week ago, and the theater was half full. To my surprise, most of the people in the theater were thirty or forty somethings – not the typical guayabera clad Miami Cuban. Mami and maybe one more couple, were the only ones there that could’ve known a pre-Castro Cuba. Yet all of them were enjoying the film, its story and its truth. It was a once in a lifetime experience to be watching a movie in a theater where everybody is ad libbing as the film progresses – every instance, every situation, every twist and turn. And you no what? No one, no one, was denying what was happening on the screen. You could hear the disgust when Che appeared the first time; you could sense the hate in the theater. No one cheered; not even when the summary executions were presented, not even when a former policeman was shown beaten and bloody.

Gasps could be heard when properties were taken away, and when the brigades showed up claiming the saxophone to be a symbol of The Empire. Gasps, hurt, passion. Not laughter, or joy. Yet these were people who grew up in the revolution, who only learned of a pre-Castro cuba from Castro himself. But people brave enough to either overstay their visas, pay a smuggler or thread water to find FREEDOM. And not just freedom of speech, freedom of dissent, or freedom to own property. But also the freedom to learn the true history of their own country; to take back everything that was taken from them, denied by a madman.

Yet there are people who embrace Fidel believing the myth of a peasant led revolution that ousted the rich and gave right to an oppressed mass. They are the ones who need a history lesson, so they can learn that the rebel army led by Fidel was packed by white rich college educated kids, as well as middle class kids and everyone who wanted Batista out. They don’t want to learn, that people in Cuba wanted Batista out. That the Directorio Universitario – not associated with the rebel army of the bearded - led an armed attack onto palacio on their own, because they wanted him out and wanted DEMOCRACY reinstated in the island. The rebellion was of a political nature, it was to again bring elections and an elected president instead of a power hungry and rights abuser dictator. Ironically, so much was the hate for Batista and tan fuertes las ganas de sacarlo that Cubans were not able to see beyond their noses, and were duped into supporting a tyrant. Who once in power, recanted all his promises including holding elections because "el pueblo ya escogio".

I’d like to see all those people who call Bush a Nazi, a tyrant, a dictator or even dare compare him to Hitler say such sandeces to a Holocaust suvivor, to the families of the thousands of desaparecidos under dictatorships such as Videla’s, Pinochet’s, Franco’s. They seem to conveniently forget that if Bush were all those things Cindy Sheehan, for starters, would be long dead, the Code Pink women would at the very least be political prisoners, and there would be no discussion of an immigration reform. We’d simply be hunting them down. After all, they would be considered invaders. They seem to conveniently forget that, as bad as Bush can be, in two more years we get to elect a new leader. Franco was in power for 30 years, Videla had to be taken down and Pinochet was duped into believing he could win a referendum. By the time Hitler was done with his short reign, he was responsible for more deaths than possibly all US led invasions combined. And these are the same people who place Fidel on a pedestal, and Cuba as the model to follow? Did they have too much acid in the 60’s or are they smoking something they aren’t sharing?

Someday the truth about Cuba will come out; someday people will be able to see that those rabid angry guayabera clad Cubans who have been fighting for 47 years were right. One day the world will awaken, and like with the Holocaust, have to deal with the guilt and the shame of having looked the other way, of having preferred to play blind because not seeing means that you can avoid the responsibility of doing something. Problem is, like with the Holocaust, history catches up with people. And they will end up being in the wrong side.