Noxious Regionalism

Dariela Aquique

Reviewing articles on the Havana Times website, I found one comment to a post by a colleague that was a sharp rebuttal concerning regional differences.

We assume that such feelings have always been held by Cubans, but this isn’t a phenomenon unique to us. Rivalries between regions, states, cities and towns occur all over the world.

These always appeal to comparative terms, such as the inequality of opportunities created by different levels of economic, social or cultural development between regions.

Provincial capitals are obviously those areas that centralize the governmental offices and the most important cultural institutions. Therefore, these always attract people from the countryside in search of better working conditions and more pay.

But these cities as artistic and intellectual meccas are basically fed by all the talent and skilled labor that comes from less developed areas. Of course in these stampedes of migrants there always come criminal and sociopathic elements as well; they too are attracted by the supposedly better conditions.

Regionalism is a phenomenon worthy of in depth study. It has various aspects, indeed very curious ones, such as an implicit derision by capital city residents of their provincial cousins (I never refer to them as “provincial,” because provincialism is a condition, an attitude toward life more than a place from which one comes).

It’s as if those who are born in the capital feel “superior” to those people throughout the rest of the country. This is displayed in actions such as criticizing their manner of speaking, certain modulations of language, etc.

But there’s another regionalism; it’s the one between the western and eastern Cubans. Yet at the same time there are differences between easterners themselves, depending on the degree of importance of their city and, successively, between towns in relation to smaller villages.

The fact is that regionalism is noxious. It has left ugly scars in this country’s history, like the damage caused by this attitude in our wars of independence, especially in the Ten Years War.

Regionalism tends to be sectarian and can create biases that harm society if people look at others with disdain simply because they were born elsewhere.

Recently I heard the words of a former coach of Havana’s “Industiales” baseball team (expressed with an edge of indignation):

“What hurts me most in having lost my last game as the team manager is not so much having lost per se, but in having gone down to the team from Santiago – that’s the thorn buried in my side.”

Christ! – there’s an almost pathological regionalism in those words. But in the end, and what’s most ironic (and I’m not being regionalist), is that people in the cities other than the capital are the ones who have carried out the most significant deeds and accomplishments in the history of this country.

It has to be recognized that the vast majority of eminent personalities — whether in the fields of the arts, sciences, culture or national politics — were born in the provinces. And to top it all off, they were or are from my neglected east.

Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

One thought on “Noxious Regionalism

  • I´m not from Havana either, nor from the East of Cuba.
    I´m fully convinced that regionalism is actually noxious to put it in your own words. However, if you pay close attention to the way those immigrants from your beloved East behave once they are in Havana I am sure you will find the causes for today´s regionalism towards your countrymen. BTW Santiago de Cuba´s baseball team has always been one of the best along the history of Cuban Amateur Baseball.
    One last thing: there are and have been outstanding personalities in all fields from all regions, NOT mainly from your East. And at the end all the day all their glory goes to our country: Cuba because above being from the West or East we are all CUBANS and that is what makes us “special”.

Comments are closed.