Yoani Sanchez in Miami
With Cuban blogger and dissident Yoani Sanchez making her arrival in the U.S. this week, there has been a lot of talk and speculation about the type of reception she will enjoy when she makes it down to Miami on April 1st. Unfortunately, there are a few Cubans in Miami who are threatening to use their freedom of expression to carry out a Castro-style "act of repudiation" on Yoani. This is all in response to her ill-advised "ironic" remarks regarding the five Cuban spies responsible for the murder of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots and among other things, her uninformed opinions about U.S. sanctions against the Castro dictatorship.
Like all of us, I strongly believe Yoani has a right to express her opinions, no matter how ill-advised or uninformed they may be. Personally, I strongly support her right to say whatever she wants as strongly as I support my right to question her opinions; freedom of expression does not mean freedom from criticism. But in my opinion, an "act of repudiation" is less an expression of opinion and more an attempt to exact some type of revenge on someone who you disagree with. By its own definition it is an intimidating act meant to terrorize, and that is why the Castro dictatorship has used it for decades.
We as a people, as a community, have no need for such tactics. We have the truth on our side and do not need to resort to such infantile and despicable displays of ignorance. For more than five decades we have consistently won the battle of ideas without having to scream obscenities and yell insults at people who disagree with us. The worst aspect of all of this will be that the press and the media will latch on to the few Cuban Americans who choose this method and portray the entire Cuban exile community as raving lunatics. In the end, the vast majority of us who can not only defend our position but convincingly win the argument, finding no need to lower ourselves to this level, will ultimately pay the price for the misdeeds of a relative few.
Vigilia Mambisa's Big Mistake
Vigilia Mambisa, an organization that is opposed to the Castro regime, has announced a protest against Cuba blogger Yoani Sanchez, who is also opposed to the Castro regime, during her visit to Miami at the end of this month.
Surely, they are free to do so in this great democracy -- but it's a big mistake.
In the past, Vigilia Mambisa has held protests against Castro regime officials and artists who defend Cuba's brutal dictatorship.
But Yoani Sanchez is neither a Castro regime official, nor a defender of Cuba's brutal dictatorship in any way whatsoever.
To the contrary, she has been an effective critic of the crimes and injustices of Castro's dictatorship.
So what's the point of the protest?
Don't agree with Yoani's opposition to U.S. sanctions policy toward Cuba?
Neither do we.
More importantly, neither does Ladies in White leader Berta Soler, or prominent Cuban opposition leaders such as Antonio Rodiles, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez" and Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet.
As a matter of fact, in 2010, Yoani signed a letter that was distributed in the U.S. Congress asking for the lifting of some sanctions.
Nearly 500 other pro-democracy activists within Cuba disagreed with Yoani and sent a letter countering her views.
However, that didn't make Yoani and the signatories of that letter foes.
You've never seen Antonio Rodiles, Berta Soler, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez "Antunez," Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet or any other leading dissident that disagrees with Yoani on U.S. sanctions policy, protest her?
To the contrary, they watch each others back.
They remain colleagues in pursuit of a common goal: a free and democratic Cuba.
You don't have to agree with everything Yoani says -- for she in not infallible by any means -- but leave protesting her to the Castro regime and its proxies.
The Right to Greatness
I detested and continue to detest acts of repudiation. I lived through them and endured them in the flesh in Cuba. My mother also suffered through them when I defected. That is how she got sick with insults and obscenities yelled at her in the middle of the street. A deafening racket at all hours at her front door and harassing and mocking her without ceasing. That is why I cannot agree with acts of repudiation against anyone, especially in exile.
That said, I understand that someone can disagree with public figures who are not clear in regards to the Castro dictatorship, one day saying something and another day saying the opposite. This flip-flopping injures sensibilities, especially when it ignores victims and their family members and an exile community that has always been swindled out of its right to defend itself, to express its thoughts clearly, and even to be comprehended. Therefore, it is time for those who want to address the topic of Cuba to at least be literate.
Of course, the right to demonstrate exists and is valid, but we should also, above all, begin to exercise the right to greatness. In other words, to demonstrate that our pain is larger than their offenses, it is more dignified because it is wiser, more truthful, more authentic, more respectful and respectable than their lies, ignorance, and even their manipulations that only serve to give them the advantage.
Now, it is true that hearing that the U.S. embargo is meddling and obsolete and that the four despicable assassins of the Brothers to the Rescue pilots should be released at the Freedom Tower will not be easy. Nevertheless, I propose that we embrace greatness. I propose that instead of carrying out an act of repudiation against Yoani Sanchez, someone should go give a noogie* to that fifth spy that has been carousing around Miami freely for months.
Ed.: "Noogie" was the best translation I could come up with for "rayarle un yiti." Our Cuban readers no doubt know firsthand the giving and receiving of "yitis."