Cuba, the Diaspora and the "Revolutionary Worms" / Iván García
Iván García, Translator: Unstated
When Norberto (alias) defected from a sports tournament in Canada, the
Cuban authorities, as usual, tried to erase him from the collective
memory of fans who deliriously cheered his spectacular shots at the basket.
No journalist dared to write his name. Nor tell of his athletic feats.
When they tell the history of national basketball, they intentionally
mutilate the moments of glory that Norberto gave the sport.
Much later, when he was over 40, Norberto arrived in Havana laden with
bags and gifts for family and friends. It wasn't the first time he'd come.
On one of those trips he "made holy" in the Santeria religion. And on
hot Havana nights he sits with a group of friends drinking rum as they
talk about sports, women and, of course, the current situation. Although
Norberto opposes the form of government of Raul Castro, he is wary of
giving political opinions. "You know, my friend, I have my mother here
and part of my family," he justifies himself.
Norberto's real fear is that the government will check its blacklist
and, for desertion from an 'official mission', he will be denied entry
to the country and can not walk the streets of the city and share with
his childhood friends.
Other Cubans in exile behave as Norberto does. To hate all the time is
not healthy. But to forget the indignities suffered is not advisable. It
is synonymous with cowardice, this justification used by some Cubans who
annually visit the island and declare themselves 'apolitical', assuring
us that they have no interest in politics.
The country belongs to everyone. Therefore, the authorities do not grant
any favors by giving you a visa to visit your country for a couple of
weeks. You shouldn't have to ask for what is a natural right.
The immigration issue is a subject suspended by the Castro brothers.
Don't forget that for a long time the regime hated Cubans who preferred
to live in other latitudes, far from the tiresome Revolutionary campaigns.
Remember Camarioca in 1963. Or Mariel in 1980. Shameful chapters of the
Revolution, when to show support for their ideas, they verbally lynched
people with disgusting words, not to mention volleys of stones and eggs
and the label of 'scum' imposed by an offended Fidel Castro on the
thousands of compatriots who decided to leave.
In the immigration offices they would put the initials SOB in their
records. It's hard to think that those same mandarins who detested those
who abandoned ship, now have made an examination of conscience and
revised their energetic speech, full of resentment toward Cuban migrants.
If Fidel Castro, 34 years ago, gave way to the council and family
reunification with that Dialogue 1978, it was mainly for economic
reasons. Almost two billion dollars in cash and thousands in little
items and phone calls, is not negligible for an economy that has spent
decades treading water.
But, like every autocracy, the authorities claim the right to decide
which Cubans living abroad can enter the island. They do not care who
oppose the system, as long as they do so quietly and anonymously.
It is estimated between 30,000 and 70,000 Cubans are on a blacklist.
They are those who openly and publicly criticize the regime from the
nations where they live. Dissidents, intellectuals and journalists who
have written texts that expose the innards of an almost scientific
repression and who opening express dissenting opinions.
The government classifies the 'worms' (disaffected) in three categories.
The good and meek, who generously spend thousands of dollars on their
families. And only at home with their relatives, do they quietly
criticize the state of affairs. Those do not bother them. After all, in
Cuba, a silent majority speaks evil of the Castros.
Then come the most precious. The "Revolutionary worms" living in the
United States, They are very useful to Castro propaganda. For from the
heart of the 'empire' they support the regime's policies, go to rallies
in support of the five spies and even have breakfast or dinner with
representatives of the government when they come to visit Cuba.
Many of these 'worms' in olive green will participate in the First
National Meeting of Cuban Residents in United States of America,
scheduled to be held this coming April 28 in Havana. Among these may be
the occasional dissenter, but in essence, they are in favor of ending
the embargo, approving the update of the economic model and calling for
the freedom of the spies imprisoned in the U.S..
The third group of 'worms' is marked with iron and fire by the official
spokesmen. They are the 'counterrevolutionaries', labeled as 'Miami
Mafia' or 'CIA', among which are web managers and bloggers on Cuban
issues who wield their pen like a whip. Those can never return. And they
can't even dream of being buried in the land of their birth.
It is time that the Cuban diaspora oppose the categories created by the
regime to divide the migration. It's lawful that Cubans living in other
nations have their own opinions, even pro-Castro. But it is
reprehensible that they separate out those who peacefully oppose them.
As long as only the "Revolutionary worms" (the "respectful" as the
organizers of this meeting call them), can discuss certain topics — and
not the hottest — the meetings in Havana will be a joke. When we want to
talk seriously about Cuban emigration, we must have all two million
compatriots living abroad. Whatever they think.
April 21 2012