The key to the problem lies in the tendency to push the issue to the extreme, both in Cuba and in the exile community.
HAVANA TIMES – The original sin of some anti-Castro emigres is that they aren’t really democrats. They find their greatest meaning in their opposition to the Cuban government, thanks to the similarities that they sometimes share with their rivals. It happens in Miami and other places too. In addition to an autocratic vocation that they’ve never lost, they cling to outdated tactics and points of view. In an ideal world, they would monopolize opposition thought and they live in a world where the Cold War has not yet come to an end.
Being stuck in time might fill them with hope – from an existential standpoint -, but it means that their vision has very little following: a house, a block, Miami’s Calle Ocho, some comments between acquaintances or nostalgic and warlike reminiscing over cakes, cups of Cuban coffee and, in the best of cases, a cigar which is in fact Dominican.
This eagerness to hold onto the past means that they are the only heirs of US policy from the time of Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers, when an anti-Communist tyrant was preferred to a progressive government. A period in time that favored the existence of Odria, Rojas Pinilla, Perez Jimenez, Trujillo, Somoza, Stroessner and Batista. A mindset that then led them to support Pinochet and Fujimori, not forgetting other military dictatorships in a more recent past and a fervent melancholy for Francisco Franco’s Spain.
This 1950s strategy has gone hand-in-hand with some emigres’ paranoia, who went into exile over the decades, While they identify with the thinking of their old enemies, they are unable to free themselves of the Party’s logic: dedicated now to applying it in the opposite direction.
There is a clear shift towards totalitarianism which can be seen in their interest to crush any opposing view and censoring libraries, schools, newspapers, magazines and websites; it can also be seen in their inability to recognize separation of powers and a fierce determination to impose their own beliefs. There’s no way democratic ideas will be safe among those who aren’t themselves democrats.
Totalitarian anti-Castrismo would dream every day of Fidel Castro’s death. They imagined it just like Cubans on the island imagined Batista leaving. The dictator dies and the clock winds back at a dizzying pace. Crippled for the future and a prisoner in the present, it could only look to the past. This didn’t happen, but the illusion endures. Now they don’t even contemplate Raul Castro’s disappearing It’s just waiting.
It’s foolish not to see that that reality is changing. How and when? Nor in the way that many people hoped it would, or as quickly as they wanted it to. But there’s no fear in recognizing that the country isn’t the same country it was a few years back. Not because its rulers want it to change, but because time, biology and this slack and uncertain progress, which is sometimes called History and Destiny other times, have imposed their will. However, some people prefer to seek refuge in the fantasy, given the lack of exact or pleasant answers.
Those who are only interested in casting aside any opposing view and turning a blind eye to a country that has been transforming over the years, for better or worse, don’t have any serious problems in Miami. The little that remains of the exile community’s radio and TV shows continue to fuel rumors and dedicating their airwaves to feeding the hate, vengeance and pipe-dreams of those who entertain their lives with stupid fables and dreams.
This entrenchment is justified by lots of frustration and years of waiting, but has contributed to painting a picture that doesn’t correspond with this city’s reality. For decades, a group from Miami’s exile community has identified itself with the cause of the most reactionary governments in Latin America. Having the media and power at their disposal to highlight these positions, not only have they expressed their support for the bloodiest military dictatorships, but they have defended and glorified those who collaborate with these regimes, including the terrorists who have been prosecuted by this country’s laws.
Exchanging recriminations and stereotypical views, the US press has limited itself to exposing extreme situations and highlighting actions of the figures who are far-removed from the civic values of this country. At the same time, emigres have received this vision with rage and rejection, but also with a feeling of reaffirmation.
Miami isn’t just the extremists
Miami isn’t as pigheaded as it’s made out to be, nor is it as tolerant as it sometimes should be. Forgetting that it’s a generous city with emigres from a diverse array of countries, is an injustice.
Maybe the key to the problem lies in this tendency to push the issue to the extreme, both in Cuba and in the exile community, where the line from Castrismo to anti-Castrismo doesn’t exist or is very blurred, words that only take on a circumstantial value.
Following this logic, being Leftist in this city means being a Castro supporter, while right-wingers enjoy the “advantages” of seeing themselves free of any suspicion.
The thousands of right-wingers, reactionaries and even the ultra-Right, in Latin America, Europe and the rest of the world, who have supported and collaborated with the Cuban government, doesn’t matter. People don’t think about these distinctions in Miami.
Just like any neutral or central position is seen with equal reservation. It’s interesting that while Cuba has lost some of its ideological rhetoric – not in the official press but in everyday opinions and non-governmental points of view, although these aren’t opposition views either – here in Miami we are firmly rooted in our “anti-Castro” fervor.
The problem with these patterns of thought is that they aren’t very useful when it comes to contemplating Cuba’s future. It doesn’t matter how diluted “Castrismo” is as an ideology, it acts as a mirror and still reflects our actions and attitudes. It’s a projection, in reality.
We Cubans have stood out for continuing to ignore debate, thanks to the easy to fall into disregard for those with different ideas. We reject each other mutually, as if we only knew how to look in a mirror and boast.
The meeting of different opinions has been postponed. The wager has been reduced to all or nothing. Before discussing or accepting differences, they advocate uniformity. In the meantime – and thanks to many US administrations, both democratic and republican ones, who are far-removed from Cuba’s real problems and have very little desire to find real solutions -, the closed doors remain in place.
After the fleeting parenthesis in the last years of the Obama administration, the siege policy has returned to feed discourse in Havana, Miami and Madrid, indulging the frustrations of many emigres, who cling onto emotionally supporting a community that continues to spin around this worn-out rhetoric, even though the guises of clowns and actors change.