Besides watching one’s homeland enslaved and destroyed by an evil dictator, few things are as frustrating as the ignorance exhibited by most of the world to the countless atrocities that have taken in Cuba since the so-called “triumph of the revolution.” What seems so obvious to those of us that have experienced firsthand the brutality of the regime, and have suffered the loss of loved ones and the intolerable forced separation from family members, seems to be, on the surface, an incomprehensible mystery to the rest of the world. Other than a perception that includes visions of white, sandy beaches, tropical drinks, and all-inclusive resorts, the majority of the world appears oblivious to the stark reality that Cuba is in fact, a police state.
There is no doubt that there are some who simply refuse to even consider the ugly truth because it is inconvenient and can spoil a wonderful holiday in the tropics. However, there are also many who just seem to be clueless to what life in Cuba is really like. The fact that it is an obvious military dictatorship run by a ruthless and bloodthirsty tyrant who will stop at nothing to maintain power seems to be an esoteric concept that is just beyond their grasp. What seems so palpable to us is somehow lost to the world, and after reading this story in the Toledo Blade, about a Cuban family that escaped Cuba’s tyrannical dictatorship, I believe we can find one of the reasons why this reality appears so incomprehensible to some.
For the most part, the misery endured by the Cuban people, which is manifested in, among other things, forced separation, imprisonment, relentless oppression, and death, has been packaged into a convenient political enigma. From the millions of stories of suffering and loss, the saga of Cuba’s history has been distilled into one, contradictory yet simple tale that is easily digested. The easily consumable story speaks of oppression and free education, of murders and free healthcare, of repression of free speech and support of the arts; each and every one of them are contradictions that do not enlighten, but instead confuse the uninformed and mystifies the lucid reality of Cuba’s suffering.
However, when the story of Cuba’s agony is presented one personal story at a time, it is much easier for the uninitiated to understand. When one of the millions of stories is told, it ceases to be a political issue and rightly becomes a personal one. Most people who live in free societies and have never known oppression find it difficult to relate to a mystified tale of political contradictions. But when the story is personal, and there are fathers and mothers, and sons and daughters involved, it becomes much easier for them to relate to it.
The story of the Diez family, as it was related in the Toledo Blade article I mentioned above, told the story of Cuba through the eyes of those who have personally suffered through it. For that reason, it touched the hearts of those in the small town of Fostoria, outside of Toledo, and allowed them to see the reality of Cuba. If we were to tell each and every one of our millions of stories, we would reach those that have been confused by the diluted context the issue of Cuba has been presented in for so long.
We have already seen how the world has reacted with horror and concern to the story of Orlando Zapata Tamayo and Guillermo Fariñas. We have seen thousands of people all over the world gathering to march in support of the Ladies in White. Whenever the story is broken down into its individual parts, the world understands that life in Cuba as a slave of the dictatorship is intolerable by any standard.
We all on occasion come across individuals throughout our daily routines that are not aware of the reality of Cuba, and often we find ourselves trying to convince them that the diluted and oversimplified concept they have of Cuba is incorrect. The best way to accomplish this is not to tell them one, overall story of Cuba, but to share with them one individual story at a time. Tell them of what you and your family suffered on a personal level. Share with them the personal pain you and your family feels. Such accounts can be understood much easier than a political or ideological discussion that has been tainted by contradictions and falsehoods.
The story of Cuba is not one story, but millions of personal stories strung together. Make it a point to tell everyone you can your story and before we know it, the world will know the truth.