It has been many months since my last post here at Babalu—six to be exact. In that time, I’ve made a rather significant career change, gotten married, moved, and begun to contemplate having children with my lovely, caring wife. It’s about time I explain my long absence here and perhaps begin anew.
For ten years, I worked in the journalism industry. The mainstream media was my bread and butter and I absolutely adored what I did. As an editor, I worked with an incredibly talented and dedicated group of men and women stationed across the globe, crafting stories from far-flung nations and giving voice to those who for whatever the reason, had none. Some of my colleagues died in the field. Others suffered serious injury—either physical or mental. Be that as it may, we did what we did out of a feeling of love for our fellow man. Sound silly? Consider this: when Benazir Bhutto was put under house arrest and cordoned off from the outside world, one of the journalists under my care was lucky enough to be right there beside her. She covered the events of those many days with bravery and humility. And so it was that when Bhutto decided to address a large crowd in Rawalpindi on the 27th of December, 2007, that same journalist was on her way to cover the event, knowing full well that there was every possibility that an attempt would be made on the candidate’s life. This journalist didn’t make it to the rally on time and luckily, wasn’t seated inside Bhutto’s SUV—which she would have been had she arrived in time—when a bomb exploded, killing Bhutto instantly. Over the course of the following 24 hours after the blast, she continued to cover the story, despite the fact that she was being chased by angry mobs all-the-while, who were very intent on killing her. This same journalist, despite the fact that she very nearly lost her life many times over the course of one day, continues to work in the field to this day. She believes in what she’s doing and her soul, is stronger than mine will ever be.
Flash forward several months. I am editing several stories on the Israeli invasion of Gaza when two photographs come across my desk. One shows the face of a three-year-old Palestinian girl covered in the rubble and debris of a house leveled during an airstrike—her eyes wide open and staring at the camera. The other shows a young Israeli girl, about the same age, with a look of sheer terror on her face as her family struggles to comprehend the scene, just moments after a Qassam rocket hit their home in southern Israel. It was at that very moment that I decided I’d had enough. The search for a new career path was about to begin.
And what of Cuba? For all my 30+ years on this planet, I’ve been waiting for the ignorant masses to finally say: “My God, why did anyone ever support this regime? What have we done?” And you know what? No one ever has. I have become tired of waiting, tired of dreaming, tired of hoping. Many years ago, my grandmother once remarked to me that for my grandfather, affectionately known to me as “papito,” Cuba was dead. He had divorced himself from that island. As a man who had fought so long and hard against another dictatorship—that of Gerardo Machado—as a member of the ABC, he was deeply offended that his people could sell their own brothers and sisters up the river.
Today, many years after that conversation with my abuela, I finally understand where he was coming from. My friends, I am tired of being angry. I am tired of having to justify myself to those who would say that my family, and yours, “got what they had coming to them.” I am tired of sitting here in my 3-bedroom home, driving to work in my Toyota, eating three wonderful meals a day, while my loved ones in Cuba—who yes, I do still visit from time-to-time—struggle to cope with the regime that tells the world it’s acting in their interests when they arrest folks for “social dangerousness” or send goon-squads to their home because of a flippant remark made concerning the government.
But I have missed you all a great deal—the debates, the teary-eyed stories, the political satire. I have missed it all. My responsibilities have increased greatly these past six months, and I won’t be able to post with the frequency I once did, but I’ve decided to come home, and do what I can from time-to-time. I only hope you’ll have me back.
Oh, and my new career path? While I can’t divulge all the details (it would give away my identity), it does combine one of my first loves, woodworking and construction, with media. In fact, I’m in the process of building my first of a series of humidors that will be lined with Spanish Cedar I once brought back from my true home, Cuba. It is a labor of love, one that makes me feel just a little bit closer to the island that once was and which I fear, I may never get to know.
Warmest regards this holiday season,