For those who know little to nothing about Cuba, an interesting relationship dynamic has become apparent during the visits of Cuban dissidents with Cuban exiles. It turns out the propaganda the Castro dictatorship has churned out for decades, that Cuban exiles hate their Cuban brothers and sisters on the island, is a complete and total lie.
Of course, we Cubans have always known that. But God forbid anyone seek the opinion of a Cuban about anything having to do with Cuba.
Dissidents Find ‘Cuba Outside Cuba’ in Miami
When Cuban hunger striker Guillermo Farinas arrived in Miami, he said he was prepared to face rejection from radical members of the Cuban-American community who do not believe in pacific opposition.
The reaction has been far different. When he went to the Versailles restaurant, a traditional gathering spot for older exiles in the city’s Little Havana neighborhood, he was embraced. During an event at Miami’s iconic Freedom Tower, he was applauded.
“The love the exiles in Miami have shown us makes us discard what the government, over 54 years, has planted in our minds,” he said.
It’s still too early to know what, if any impact, the travels by Cuba’s most prominent dissidents will have back on the communist-run island. Since January, when Cuban leaders stopped requiring all citizens to obtain “exit permits,” the dissidents have met not only with exiles, but also with U.S., European and Latin American leaders. In the past, the exit permit was routinely denied to “counterrevolutionaries.” Some dissidents are still not allowed to leave.
At the very least, though, in Miami, the dissidents have stirred up a conversation about Cuba’s opposition and the misperceptions each side has formed about the other during the five decades of divisive policy and rhetoric that have followed Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.
Farinas and others have remarked about the exile community they were raised to imagine: A “Miami mafia” that wanted to return to the island and take back the houses they left behind.
“There are many people who are afraid,” acknowledged Berta Soler, a leader of the Ladies in White dissident group, in a talk before a group of exiles Monday. “We are here to be able to go there and tell those people they are wrong, not to listen to what the Cuban government says, because those in exile are going to rebuild Cuba, not take away land or homes from anyone.”
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