Cuba: Socialism or Miami

By Martin Guevara

A neighborhood Cuban "bodega" store.
A neighborhood Cuban “bodega” store.  Foto: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Anyone who’d lived in Cuba – or any of the countries that once made up the inaptly-called Socialist Bloc – long enough to see, up close, how those who called themselves “communists” behaved, would have known that these people were bound to leave the island in the blink of an eye as soon as there was nothing to gain out of this lofty title.

We knew this, quite simply, because these people were never truly communists or anything resembling that. Though I am not a communist, and it is not my intention to extol the virtues of those who fight for social equality, I am forced to admit that such activists are often exposed to all kinds of danger and that they are willing to go against powerful forces to carry their protests forward. They are bold people.

The ones I am speaking of, however, or at least 99.9 percent of those who proclaimed themselves communists for the government perks, be these in the form of social advantages, kudos, positions, material benefits such as Russian-made cars (whose quality depended on how far their long tongues could reach), houses, trips, food and, most importantly, the fear of their fellow Cubans, those were not bold in the least. They were, if anything, the exact opposite of this.

Many of us knew that, when ratting on people or yelling “Viva Fidel” or “Socialism or Death” at the top of one’s lungs no longer proved profitable, these people would evaporate as quickly as the love of young widows.

What I never imaged was that so many of them would have the nerve to immigrate to Miami, of all places, and, what’s worse, that no few would insist on being considered political refugees.

These are people who did a lot of harm, and not precisely in the way described by that song written by Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes, when they were part of the experimental music band attached to the Cuban Film Art and Industry Institute (ICAIC).

The song titled “Cuba’s Moving Forward” (“Cuba va”), which told us that “for love, we are even killing others, so that, for love, we may continue working.” No, it was out of hatred, out of cowardice.

These veritable thugs, who brought about the death, imprisonment, suicide and banishment of so many people, who caused so much pain, have the nerve to request that they be admitted, as exiles, into the very land of sin they often condemned.

Even when I didn’t knew them personally, I wonder how those people feel who were subjected to humiliation, to prison, those who were ostracized simply for wanting to live in a capitalist country, or simply for expressing this wish to those who today arrive in their neighborhoods as dissidents.

Miami skyline. Photo:
Miami skyline. Photo:

I cannot but praise the civilized demeanor of those Cubans living in Miami, a city that, we were told from the time we were little, was inhabited exclusively by fascist murderers, who do not drag each and every one of those human-pig hybrids, take them to the coast and place them on a truck tire so they can float back to their beloved revolution.

I only had the misfortune of meeting one or two of such thugs in person, and this because of the circles I was forced to mingle with from time to time.

As every other Cuban citizen, however, I was constantly surrounded by hordes of gossipmongers, informers, stool pigeons, pretenders and pretentious swine who sought personal advantage from ratting on their neighbors, friends and even their own families, because these did not agree one hundred percent with the directives of the Comandante, or because they listened to a Miami rock station over the radio, or because they had bought a pair of Levi’s in the black market (using all of their earnings for the month to do so), or because they made innocuous and veiled criticisms of the system, the country’s leadership or its institutions, or because they did not do voluntary work, or because they were Catholic, or because they were of the Abacua religion, or because they were Jehovah’s Witnesses, or because they did not yell out the required revolutionary slogans with enough gusto, or turned off the TV during an interminable speech by Fidel, or sold fruits, candy, peanuts or homemade ice-cream on the black market.

Sometimes, the mere fact someone was a fortunate person, a person who was successful in their personal, human relationships, was enough to prompt members of a neighborhood’s Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), people who were devoid of all charm and talent, to target them with particular malice.

Personally, I know people who, swearing to be the most revolutionary of the lot, members of the Young Communists League, never once spoke against the excesses of the powerful and, on more than once occasion, ended up “screwing” the underdog.

Many of us knew that, when ratting on people or yelling “Viva Fidel” or “Socialism or Death” at the top of one’s lungs no longer proved profitable, these people would evaporate as quickly as the love of young widows. What I never imaged was that so many of them would have the nerve to immigrate to Miami, of all places, and, what’s worse, that no few would insist on being considered political refugees.

I know some who, while affirming their loyalty to the revolution, took advantage of its amorphous, atypical regulations, which forbade its own citizens from owning a company but granted this right to foreigners, gorging themselves with the benefits of a system without competition.

I know of people who harmed Cuba doubly, by ratting on many of their compatriots and by sowing one more putrid seed into their native soil, helping to create a new social class in their country, that of the nouveux riches.

Today, these people have “betrayed” the revolution they swore to defend to the last consequences (particularly while it continued to afford them the unfathomable pleasures denied the common Cuban, particularly the disaffected, the lumpen, the maladjusted), and they have added insult to injury by emigrating to no place other than Miami, the city tattooed in the collective unconscious of the Cuban people.

And, since I was stabbed in the back by this rabble on more than one occasion, today, as I watch them abandon the sinking ship like rats while it is still moored (and with a certain degree of satisfaction, I might add), I want to say, express, declare, articulate, exclaim, regurgitate, vomit the following:


4 thoughts on “Cuba: Socialism or Miami

  • The problems all these writers describe in Cuba exist in even more poignant form in all the other island and Central American countries, Mexico included. I know, because I have visited all of them.

    Further, a better life IS possible in Miami — at the cost of living in and working for the empire: A corporate state whose prosperity is procured at the cost of financially, and even militarily looting others. Furthermore, this empire is obviously in process of its own dissolution. Its government cannot even agree on a state budget now.

    I say this as a US citizen, born and bred. I may not know all the ins and outs of live in Cuba, but after a lifetime spent living and working in Washington, DC I know well the forces which drive my own.
    Cuba does what she must do in order to hold off the empire. I wish for her and her people all of the best.

  • Brought to mind:

    Milovan ?ilas

  • Well said! Amen.

  • Wow. What a powerful description of the irony facing many Cubans as the situation in Cuba continues to worsen. My wife’s 80 year-old grandfather, who is the typical old guajiro revolutionary who supports every dot and tittle of Fidel’s revolution would likely be dead today but for the blood-thinning medication his granddaughter sends him from the capitalist US. His like-minded neighbor of 50 years who served with him in the Sierra Maestra fighting against Batista now lives in a retirement community in Coral Gables, Fla. Thirty years ago both of these old guys threw eggs at other neighbors and yelled “Gusanos” as these neighbors made plans to leave for Miami. Like the old racists who called my mother “n*gger” in the ’60’s, I can only hope these folks live long enough to feel shame for their prior actions.

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