Cubans know

Cubans are among the few people on earth who understand with seriousness what the Vietnamese went through as the black curtain of communism descended upon them in the dark night of a long terrible war’s ignominous end. Where even the ‘peace’ was no blessed relief because the rage of the Ches and Ho Chi Minh acolytes peaked as the oppression started, the beginning the sharp painful pointed tip of a communist scythe right through you, body and soul. And then the terrible escape, on the high seas, you against sharks, thirst, sunburn, lightning, rain, squalls, hunger, pirates, salt-burns, and the madness of seeing nothing around you but an endless liquid chrome horizon, knowing you are alone on the high seas and abandoned by the world, your message in a bottle unheeded, and you unknowing of what will become of you.

Cubans know.

If you improbably survive, and make it to haven, in Miami or Orange County or Linda Vista or Houston or Westminster or San Jose or Portland, you will in a symbolic sense remain at sea, because so few will know you. They will not know of the sharks and pirates and sunburn. You will look normal, a new immigrant, and you will be treated normally but you will remain forever a stranger, because they cannot understand or imagine. Some will not be able to understand your story by looking at you. Some worse ones will not want to know your story, they will be leftists, insensate to the crimes of communism because they cling to the utopian notion of a Better World and you are shattering that treasured dream. So, they turn their heads, too. Or worse yet, they label you a fascist, a Nazi, a rightwinger, a crazy. For not buying their communism.

Cubans know this too.

Today, I called up an old acquaintance, a well-known Vietnamese-American journalist whose journey to America began as a boat child, fleeing with his father the evils of the communist maelstrom that engulfed Vietnam in 1977.

I knew he was a pragmatist and a realist. I knew he had been back to Vietnam and was not utterly against normal relations with the unrepentant regime. I knew he was a bit of a liberal. I asked him what he thought of President Bush’s visit with Phan Van Khai, the Vietnamese prime minister, which will happen today.

It all came back to him, the experience of communism and the tiny boats on the high seas and the exile. He had no kind words for the Vietnamese prime minister. He reminded me of the human rights violations still going on in Vietnam, the inability of people to emigrate except by illegal boat, the ban on religion, the indigity of ration cards, the politicization of every aspect of society. It may be less terrible than it had been but he told me never to forget that it was still an oppressive regime that was ensconced in a mountain of crimes against humanity, something it had never renounced. It was still the same monster, its mood tamer, he told me.

Coming from him, a highly westernized Vietnamese-American, practical and detached and probably a Democrat voter albeit not anyone’s leftist, I was surprised. But then, I wasn’t. The experience of communism never leaves you. You cannot shake it out of your mind or identity, it’s like the memory of a near-brush with death. It never leaves you. You can only tell others, and this is what he told me, fearlessly, unconcerned about what liberal opinion may be. This was the reality of communism he knew.

Cubans know this too.

10 thoughts on “Cubans know”

  1. thanks for the similarities that you point out.. heres one where its very different: the us trades with vietnam to the tune of over $6 billion.. if those conditions exisit in vietnam, why do we trade with them? arent those dollars going to further opress and repress the people in vietnam? THIS IS NOT AN CUBA EMBARGO POST this is a WHY? why not one against vietnam? where is the outcry of the vietnamese community? perhaps those in the cuban community who are so set againt trade with cuba should give the vietnamese a hand here.. seems to me its the same situation…

  2. So, what are you saying daniel? that trading with Vietnam is bad, but we still do it, thus we should just open up trade with Cuba?

    or are you saying that trading with Vietnam is bad, but we still do it, and since we dont trade with Cuba now for the same reasons we should stop trading with Vietnam?

  3. Daniel: Your heart is in the right place. But unlike trade with Cuba, US trade with Vietnam REALLY DOES go to the Vietnamese people. They allow private companies and foreign investment over there. That’s why trade is so high. It really does help Vietnamese people, not communists. They’re still a bunch of damn commies in power but a dollar spent on Made In Vietnam cashews or shrimp or baby furniture really does go to the people of Vietnam who own those factories and make those handicrafts. It is not a Cuba situation where fidel hogs it all. That’s why the Vietnam government is so weak and sloppy and disgusting; it doesn’t control every last thing. There are just too many potentially angry Vietnamese, there are 80 million of them, almost the size of Mexico. But China is a far worse predator for Vietnam and that is why VN is cozying up to the US. What needs to happen is this: Vietnam needs to be told that trade is good with us, friendship is good with us, we are glad to extend both. But you’ve got to clean up your human rights record. Do that and we are friends for life. Don’t do that and we are going to let China eat you.

  4. to be perfectly honest, im playing devils advocate.. you can look at it a number of ways :1) we trade with vietnam, and abuses still happen, this supports the embargo on cuba.. 2) we trade with vietnam, but they still have human rights abuses: why the double standard? what makes cuba “worse” than vietnam.. do we trade on a scale of how “bad” the abuse is? why is cuba singled out? how come the cuban lobby (licoln diaz balart and ros leitenen) doesnt speak out as loud on trade with vietnam like they do with cuba? arent we “brothers” in the same fight? or do we only fight CASTRO (not communists in vietnam or other parts of the world) and let the vietnamese take care of themselves? what about venezuela? we are still there, still trading, and the ties to cuba grow closer and closer each day.. what makes the embargo look ridiculous is the hypocricy.. it singles out one country and man, while other countries with SIMILAR situations, we continue to trade with.. either trade with all, or trade with none, otherwise it seems petty and vindictive.. it gives no credit to the embargo when you cry about human rights abuses in one contry and say nothing about another..

  5. daniel,

    Do you have any idea how incredibly bored I am with your embargo verborhea?

    For weeks people have given you data and information on it, given you learned opinions from people in the know, given you the cons of lifting the embargoe, asked you for your solutions to no avail, given you the differences between a China trade an Vietnam trade and cuba trade, just like above, and you ignore it and continue with your antiembargo schpeel without offering a single solitary remedy otherwise.

    I will from now on delete any comment from you vis-a-vis the embargo.

    Ya bro, estoy cansao de la misma caca.

  6. val, its your blog and you have the right to allow/delete posts as you see fit.. i dont think that ‘silencing’ those who do not toe the same line is the right apporach, but such is life, much like countries were dissent is not permitted, we may not like it, but its a fact of life.. i feel i have posted reasons and they are simply discounted, much like you feel i discount what proponents of certain policies have stated.. i have no problem saying castro is an evil man who oppresses and deserves to face justice and i would like nothing more than to see him out of power, im sure you and many more agree with that.. but just because i dont agree with certain aspects of approach on the matter doesnt make me any less or more ‘cuban’, or ‘red’ or ‘castrista’… remember last week how you were all teary eyed about “how cubans need to come together” and set petty differences aside? but your not willing to discuss details, its either support each and every policy put forth or leave.. its not the right attitude..

  7. Daniel, you continually miss things. It makes me think you don’t know the difference between private sector and public sector – to you, it is all public. This is what commies think, too. You imagine that if private Vietnamese benefit from trade with the US, it is the same as official Cubans who benefit from trade with the US. Private. Public. There is a difference. What’s more, you make the same mistake again by mistaking Val’s PRIVATE blog, which he considers his living room, to be the equivalent of STATE repression. There really is a difference between public and private. Please learn to make the distinction.

  8. This Daniel guy deserves either a spanking or a seat in the little yellow bus.

    The USA had a BLOCKEADE on Vietnam! And I am not talking ?embargo but?. here’s the rice” from the second they left (ok got kicked out) of Saigon in ?75
    This was a GOD DAMN BLOCKEADE and the only trading partner Vietnam had were those from the Soviet block and China.
    The Vietnamese were in fact very worried that China would roll over them, and besides Ho-Chi-Min (and the absolute horror of that war) there were really no anti USA sentiments left after Ho-chi-Mihn?s death (1969) . The Vietnamese government was looking for independence and had had almost 200 years of constant so there never really was any interest into turning Asia into ?1000 Vietnams? Vietnam had gone through it and they wanted no more of THAT shit.
    There was NO anti USA , protests, there were not meddling in other continents wars. They put shoulder to the wheel and started WORKING!
    Show me ONE fucking anti USA poster, demonstration, anything at all that pointed to Vietnam as a problem for the USA.

    In fact the biggest problem Vietnam had was their fear that China would roll over them and swallowed them. Instead of becoming the whore that KaSStro became, siphoning all the rubles they could from the USSR. Vietnam started building an infrastructure . They knew that any dependency on either China or the USSR would mean a possible return to the old past.. So they went at it ALONE.
    Now THAT, you stupid fuck is the HUGE difference. The Vietnamese wanted a BETTER Vietnam , and had no desire to sink the USA. They also wanted economic independence from anyone who could eventually use that dependency to strangle them.
    Do you get the point here, you dense moron?
    Instead of having 5 hour speeches, and being obsessed with an invasion that was never going to happen, they ignore the blockade and became auto sufficient. They WORKED to build a country that had indeed been devastated. And gradually the did become auto-sufficient to the point that were able to export grain at very competitive prices. What you have here is a country working together and not following the whimsical lunacy of a fucking megalomaniac. No mini-cows, no SUPER COWS, no micro-jet lunacy here. No PROMISES of producing more Cheese than Switzerland or having more doctors per capita than the USA. This PEOPLE, THIS GOVERNMENT WORKED their asses off WITHOUT propaganda or epty promises
    Now, as anyone with his head outta his ass will tell you if Vietnam is selling grain at ? the price than any other country in the world. Well other countries WILL come knocking. And they did , first from the communist block and then gradually from capitalist countries like Japan and Hong Kong.
    Now AT THAT point you stupid bastard VIETNAM, made advances to normalize relations with the USA. THEY (as intelligent people they are ) knew the big $$$$ would always come from the USA and they had nothing to fear. Their economy was turned around as the ?Communist? part of their government was pretty much an ideological remnant BUT .. the country had turned into a solid capitalist economy.
    A lot of concessions were made to the USA. A lot of gestures of good will (like returning every bone of every MIA the USA had listed) They invited USA senators to come see what Vietnam had become and the rational conclusion was . These people are serious and we can negotiate . There END of blockade.
    Japanese industries began building factories and of course American companies began investing in what was a prosperous and by all accounts fair country. So what if the call themselves Communists.. Who gives a fuck? It is a FREE open capitalist economy where foreign investors are fully guaranteed absolute autonomy over their investments so eventually there was a REAL Hanoi Hilton.
    Since your reading habits are probably limited to something with pictures, I would encourage to study a little bit about why Vietnam has turned around economically (and so has China by the way) and that is ONLY because the basic doctrines of Marxism have been recognized as erroneous and totally unable to support a self sufficient economy.
    Several fundamental mistakes in the Marxist doctrine, (which Kasstro so adamantly adheres to) need to be revised (as Marx himself did and admitted before his death) and that is:
    The only thing that belongs to the PEOPLE is the LAND. The land can not be bought or sold, BUT can be leased in usufruct to private corporations as long as they are productive. How many Cuban Guajiros found themselves with a couple acres of land after the agrarian reform and not a fucking clue what to do with it? Just because you can chop sugar cane does that mean you can market sugar cane, sell it, keep an accounting system etc? So what the fuck good is owning your own land if you have no clue as to how make it produce an income for your family?

    And HERE ? the Vietnamese first and the Chinese second made the turn into the part of Marxism that never made the big headlines.
    Now, you idiot compare THAT with Kasstros 46 years of economic chaos , where not a fucking thing has been built because they are way too busy marching in front of the Interest Section or watching what the neighbor is doing.
    He lets private investors come in , and after a particularly painful bowel movement he decides to take it all back.

    THAT is the difference you little man of little intellect. Now go READ and THINK before you post .. cause man it is really embarrassing that an idiot like you is allowed to own a PC.

  9. Adding something to what KillCastro said: once I read in National Geographic that in Hanoi there are many avenues dedicated to the different wars Vietnam has suffered, conmemoring the ones against China, France and other neighbours, but there are only two little streets dedicated to the war against USA.

    On the other hand, when Val says the thing about the lefties, it reminded a story told by my uncle: he was with a friend in bar in Venezuela drinking some beers, and the waitress was a cuban refugee. My uncle’s firend is a communist, and he started to criticize the girl (how she could leave Cuba!, and all that bullshit). The lady got very angry and told him “if you like Cuba so much, why don’t you go to live there?”. Then the guy shut up, and stop saying bullshit. The funny part is that same guy now is an anti-Chavez supporter. Thing are nice what they don’t happen to you, aren’t they?

  10. Daniel –
    First, thank you for your private email. Since I have the attention span of a tze Tze fly I zoned out after the first 3 words… Sorry bud.
    I think that you missed the point regarding putting aside POLITICAL DIFFERENCES and fight a common enemy. THAT being THE BEAST
    Every one of your posts has a ?tinge? of Pro-Castrismo in them. Yeah you say a million times you are not, but the message we ALL get is YES you are!. Debating whether the USA should or should not lift this ?embargo? is COMMUNIST demagogy. Because it is a Party line without foundation, so your obsession with the topic only points in one direction.. CASTRO SYMPATHIZER UNDER COVER.
    My very first post in BABALU was one in which Val disagreed with my views in several aspects of the anti-Castro fight (and we probably still do) and THAT is healthy, but HERE? in the public eye . In a forum that can be read within Kasstro?s prison ? Fuck If I am going to give that motherfucker an OUNCE of satisfaction by knowing what possible differences we may have.
    WE HAVE NONE ? Until the SUMO HIJO DE PUTA hangs from a lamp post on El Malecon.
    How many of these seemingly unbiased , liberal ?Let?s dialog with Castro? anti-Castro Cubans do YOU think I have found in the last 3 years I have been at this electronic ?battle of ideals?? .. I tell you… A LOT!
    Some I have tracked down right to the Cuban interest Section in Washington. (I?ll give you some advice, do not post in any newsgroup with an AOL or hotmail account, it costs all of $200 to have it hacked).
    I think that someone already said if it quacks like a duck .. etc etc etc .. And you? YOU show up with feathers a beak and a wobbly walk.
    So stop being so incensed at not being able to ?express? your opinions, when those opinions we all feel are counter-productive to our goal.
    If your feelings are legitimate and without ulterior motives then you have a psychological problem that makes you think your opinion carries way too much merit. So either way .. look at it this way.
    THIS is a PRIVATE home to which you have been invited. If your conduct, opinions, behavior etc is not to the host?s liking you will be kicked out. It is Val exercising HIS freedom of expression.

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