Monday, April 23, 2007

Two years ago

I felt lost when I first moved out of Miami and into Chicago 7 years ago. I was amid castro lovers and Bush haters. And though it would be wrong to say that all of Chicago is liberal, I assure you that the majority I've encountered are as bleeding heart as they can get.

What made matters worse is that in true Democrat manner all things in Chicago were diversed into sections, labeled, and tapped come election time. Given that many of the hispanics in Chicago were Mexican and of mestizo race, the term Latino came to mean all things Mexican and mestizo. Thus, since I did't eat ridculously spicy food, wear a sarape (boots and a big hat), have an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe displayed in my car, and was not a few shades darker I was not considered a Latino.

As a white Cuban-American I couldn't fit their label: I was an oddity. Those who knew an iota of Cuba were suprised that I wasn't black and assumed that my family was rich and left with Batista –if those morons only knew. For the first time I realised that the place of birth has little to do with one's identity. For the first time I felt like a foreigner in my own country.

This led me to the web.

And at that time there was little to nothing going on in regards to Cuba. Icuban.com was just getting started, and my only other venues for home were Cubanet.org and Juanperez.com. Eventually, I stumbled on to a Cuban internet store called Babalu where they were selling shirts that said ¡ÑO! on them. After some pondering I decided to buy the shirt, and yet in my 2 am web fatigue I forgot to save the link. I only remembered the store's name and in googling it I found another website called Babalublog.com. There I found my Cuban home away from home, my island without a bearded dictator. (Later I would discover that the blog owner Val is related to an ex-girlfriend of mine –¡ño! Miami is a small world.)

Bueno, in my comments at Babalublog.com I began to realize that there was something more to this. There was Cuban-American void in the internet that needed filling. I corresponded with three regulars at Babalu (Henry, Kill Castro and Charlie Bravo) and with them started a site dedicated to the unique P.O.V. of a Cuban-American -hence the name Cuban-American Pundits. On April 22 CAP was founded. And as a team we covered an enormous area: KC and his sharp insight in politics, CB and his wealth of information and resource, Henry was (and IS) our che expert and news commentator, and I was a commentator on culture and society.

It was solid but it wasn't perfect.

In time KC and CB had very valid and yet somewhat different positions then the direction CAP was taking, and thus felt that they needed to break and create their own blog at Killcastro.com. It was a difficult time, but looking back I now see that it was for the best since the split allowed for us the space to express our opinions. To this day I frequently visit their site.

As Henry and I got our groove together, I unfortunately began burning out. I have a tendancy to bite off more that I can chew, and as a MA student juggling several almost full time jobs and some volunteer service, I found myself having to back off abit from the blog. Henry and I discussed this and agreed that Trenblindado should be emphasised and we made CAP its official blog. I officially backed off and helped here and there with the maintence. Since then Henry has done an amazing job with this site and our new contributor Sr. Cohiba is a perfect addition with wit, deep legal insight, and amazing photography. Man, I'm glad to be back.

Two years ago today I was hopeful for a free Cuba, and in some way I thought that these blogs might make that change. I now see that I was wrong. What this Cuban-American world of blogging has shown me is that there is a hunger out there among those Cubans who are exiled, and those torn between some image of their parents Cuba and this almost alien country of birth. It is a hunger that has prompted the explosion of countless Cuban-American bloggers. It is a hunger that impels many anti-castro/che websites. It is a hunger that has probably led you to this site.

In the end, blogs alone will not change Cuba, rather, what these blogs have done is make us a home away from home. These now countless Cuban-American blogs have provided a nourishment for a hungry soul starving for a witness to truth. What these blogs have done and what we will continue to do here at CAP is provide a home for the truth of fidel castro's failure, the errors of those who side with him, and the witness of what it means to be a US citizen with cafe, tabaco y ron flowing in our veins.

Cuba will be free one day, and for many of us, these blogs are the fuel that keeps our hopes alive.

Patria, Pueblo, y Libertad

8 comments:

David said...

I'm also a Cuban-American, not by birth but by choice. I'm member of the old school, the one who fought Batista and immediately thereafter Castro.
Cuban like me has been carrying the flag for too long now, I've known this for a while and was afraid that, with our departure from this earth, that flag would never fly again...but I was wrong, and I knew that immediately after I started to visit all of this blogs you mentioned here.
My children (3) ranging in age from 31 to 46 were born here, from Cuban exiled parents. After their names, a bunch of letters like BA's, BS's, MA's and PhD's combined with that Cuba they feel are part of their beings it is making possible that whey they speak, they are listened.
In my book, Cuban-Americans like you are all my children and as such, the ones who will fulfill the dreams that once we had for our island.
God bless you.

Marcos

Agustin Farinas said...

Henry,
you think you have problems being Cuban-american. Try living in Argentina where Che and Castro are revered. Every time we go out my wife has to bring along her old ration card in her purse just to prove what she used to eat in a month. When they hear us talking and they ask us if we are Cuabns she tells them the real story no one here wants to hear. And they still don't believe her. I have had people argue and get mad and say we are liars!!

CUBAWATCHER said...

Well put!

-Anatasio

Henry Gomez said...

Agustin,

Luckily that's my co-blogger songuacassal that wrote the post. As you probably know by now, I don't suffer fools very well.

Songuacassal said...

Agustin!

Sorry this isn't Henry, though you're not the first person to make this confusion. I've never been to Argentina and so I can't relate to how bad it there.

Have you ever been to Chicago?

Not much fun here either. There are many restuarants and book stores that sport che's image. I even spotted a wall that was sporting not only an image of che but the barbudos and the red and black 26th of July movement bands. Oh, and it's not only mr. guevara! I've gotten into arguments here with people who thought that fidel was a man on par with George Washington, and that the biggest problem in Cuban is the US.

Anyhow, I think one thing we can agree on is that be it ChiCAGÓ, ArCHEtina, or any where else, a liberal is a liberal is a liberal.

Kudos to your wife for showing the rations card and spreading of the truth.

Agustin Farinas said...

Songuacassal,
We have our own "battle of ideas" here daily. We have people that told us "In Cuba there are no people on the strets" like in our country. And they get "la canasta familiar" for free so they can have an adequate diet. And they get free health care and free education also. My wife who is a rebel rouser and fanatical anti-communist, immediatly explains that health care is not for free since she had to work 16 hours a day plus the so called voluntary work on Sundays, and only paid for 8 hours.But is hopeless, they just don't get it.
However, when we aks them why don't they move to Cuba and enjoy all these wonderful things Communism provides for free, they always balk at the idea. Since the majority of the folks here emigrate to the USA instead of Cuba, we can see the hipocrisy behind those words of praise for the system. These folks cannot believe that my wife went through 2 years of never eating meat and as a consequence suffers from neuropathy and sometimes is unable to remember common things from day to day. The sad thing is that after all these encounters most of them go home to a nice barbeque with lots of meat, sausages, wine,cheese etc, things that the average Cuban can only dream about. We consider these encounters as our little drop in the vast ocean to inform people about the lies and propaganda put out by the Govt.of Cuba. Is an uphill fight, but we continue to speak out even if they do not want to listen.

Songuacassal said...

Any anti-communist is a friend of mine! It's in the streets and with the one on one witnessing that the battle lies –an uphill battle as you say.

Oh, and no matter how much they do not get it, it is NOT hopeless. Period. It disturbs me to see you mention that. As Jose Marti said "Todo hombre de justicia y honor pelea por la libertad dondequiera que la vea ofendida." And it is in the LIES, DECIET and BLINDLESS of others that honor and justice is offended. And for the sake of a Cuba with an honorable and just future we must speak out the truth, even if los mongolicos choose to remain deaf. It's our unceasing proclamation of the TRUTH that we can only hope that minds, hearts, and ultimately Cuba can be renewed. Please think twice about saying it is hopeless –even in passing. It is indeed hard but to declare it hopeless is to declare defeat.

Kudos to you and your wife taking on the ArCHEtinans, it's an example we all must follow.

Roberto Jesus Companioni said...

" sometimes you have to lose yourself to find anything at all"


"truth is an epiphiny"