Get ‘Em While They’re Hot

Message to my compatriotas at the Babalu CubaNostalgia pavilion:

Get ready for an increase in Che Bullet Hole T-shirt sales today.

Exiles share mixed memories of their homeland


May 20, Cuban Independence Day, holds a special place in the hearts of Cuban exiles. A holiday not officially celebrated on the island because Fidel Castro would rather promote milestones of his communist revolution, it stands more than anything else for that palpable emotion that often dominates Miami’s exile community — nostalgia.

And what better place to take the pulse of that emotion on the eve of Cuban Independence Day than Cuba Nostalgia, the annual convention that has snowballed into a massive weekend event with hundreds of exhibits.

For three days, the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center gets converted into a time machine of sorts, where the adornments along memory lane are mostly for sale. Everything from vintage Cuban currency to T-shirts of Che Guevara with a bloody bullet hole on his forehead can be bought.

At Cuba Nostalgia, the younger generation of Cubans and Cuban Americans has a different perspective on Cuban Independence Day — and nostalgia — than their elders.