Que culpa tengo yo?

I have been criticized many times in the blogosphere and elsewhere and had Babalu called single-minded because of the focus of this blog. Just last week I was speaking to a reporter over the phone when I was asked:

“You seem to have assimilated into the US perfectly well, speak with no accent and from what Ive read, you appear to love this country. You left cuba as a child and haven’t been back. You were raised here but your blog focuses primarily on Cuba, a place you yourself have stated you dont remember. Can you tell me why?”

I thought about this for a second, took a deep breath and responded.

“Every night,” I said, “I go to sleep in my bedroom in the home that I own after a hard day’s work and with a full stomach, knowing that I have a roof over my head, a good job and cupboards stocked with food.”

“I sleep soundly next to my beautiful and loving wife in my air conditioned bedroom in the home I own with the full cupboards in the suburbs of Miami, Florida, USA and I dream dreams I cant remember.”

“And every morning, next to my beautiful and loving wife in my air conditioned bedroom in the home I own with the full cupboards in the suburbs of Miami, Florida, USA, I open my eyes and awake and my first thought is Fuck! God damn it! I am still Cuban! as if, miraculously, the night’s slumber will have relieved me of the burden.”

It’s not my fault I’m Cuban.

But I am, regardless of where I live and what beautiful and honorable flag flies from the eave of my home or what country I’ve gladly and honestly pledged allegiance to all my life. And just like it’s noone’s fault I’m Cuban, noone can take the Cuban away from me. It is born within and and will live there forever.


Inspired by the wonderfully bittersweet “It’s not Easy, Being Cuban” at Chantel’s.

32 thoughts on “Que culpa tengo yo?”

  1. bombillo,

    the mere fact that this blog exists proves Im proud of my Cubanidad. But I’d be lying if I didnt say it is a burden sometimes, both mentally and emotionally.

  2. I understand, Val, even if the burden is only having to answer questions like that. I’m not paranoid, but the implication always seems to be how can you be proud to be Cuban when so many Cubans are crazy. Or something like that.

    It’s not a burden for me. I was born in this country, and in terms of national identity, I am first and foremost an American. And my Spanish is so-so. But my blood is Cuban and that, too, is a source of great pride for me. I am proud of my family and our history, and of my fellow Cubans and Cuban Americans. We have made America better. It is not a burden. In fact, my commitment to American freedom and liberty has only been made stronger as I advocate for the same for Cuba.

  3. Marc,

    Every single time you read an article by the NYT or WaPo or some other clueless MSM member and said article boasts of the Cuban healthcare, and 100% literacy and all the other things that you know are complete BULLSHIT, and that in turn angers and frustrates you, then it does become a burden. Every single time you are frustrated when you read the news or see some schmuck nachor from NBC nes in Cuba, telling only a quarter – if that – of the real story, then it is a burden.

    every single time you read of Farinas or Ferrer, or Biscet, wasting away in Cuba with seemingly noone giving a shit except for us cubans, and it breaks your heart, then its a burden.

    So you all can fool yourselves – and I mean this in no derogatory way – that your being Cuban is no burden and thats fine. But I prefer to be honest with myself and understand that – at least to me – its damned huge burden sometimes.

  4. Our burden is unique in that we have our ancestral homeland so close to us…yet so far and unreachable.

    I think that’s the frustrating aspect of being a Cuban-American. Otherwise, as Val noted, it’s all good.

    Embrace the burden, indeed.

  5. Go listen to Albita’s song for a while while drinking a mojito and you’ll be able to deal with all your burdens a lot better!

  6. Reminds me of a line from Carlos Eire’s “Waiting for Snow in Havana:” “Lord forgive me, for I am Cuban.” There is a lot of meaning in that sentence…as for me, all I can say is you may take the Cuban out of Cuba, but can’t take Cuba out of the Cuban. It is my proud burden and I live – and will die – with it. Permission to not apologize for that.

  7. I understand, Val, and you make a good point. Those things piss me off, too.

    But as it relates to what I write on my blog, and in conversations with co-workers and others, I see it as a responsibility, not a burden, to respond, to debunk, to enlighten, to call “bullshit,” etc. And it is a responsibility I take proudly.

    Could I be doing other things? Just ask my wife and my dogs. They’ll tell you.

    Maybe I’m quibbling over semantics, but I see that responsibility and my acting on it as just an extension of who I am as a Cuban, and as a person.

    So if it is a burden, hell yeah, I embrace it – proudly.

  8. Unless you are of Cuban descent, you probably wouldn’t understand how we feel and how we react to the news from our ancestral homeland. I am an American and proudly so, but there’s 100% Cuban blood in my veins.

  9. The average American gets up, goes to work, and hears things like “good morning”, “how was traffic on the 405?” “Did you see, so and so on TV last night?” All very pleasant we’re all in this together have a good day kind of small talk. It’s the American morning ritual, inclusive, comforting. It’s not easy being an unpopular politically incorrect minority. You don’t get the inclusive comforting morning greetings; instead you get the kind of hostile questions Chantel referenced; like you’re the spokesperson, responsible.

    Last year when fidel was taunting Bush over the situation in New Orleans I was asked if I were blogging about the fact that the Cuban-American lobby was preventing our government from accepting Cuba’s offer to send doctors to help poor Americans. Out here in la la land no one would ever question whether or not there was a shortage of doctors. Or the co-worker rhapsodizing about Santana, and don’t you just love him?

    There’s always something. Have you noticed how often castro, inc. manages to insinuate into the MSM news? How many other small island nations do that? So unless you are willing to accept the propaganda as fact, then you are committed to responding to the questions, every single day, and every single encounter. Yes, sometimes it is a burden, sometimes it is not easy being Cuban.

  10. Hi Everyone:

    I read Val’s post today and though I am Cuban and proud of it, (I was 5 yrs old when I came in 1961) I still consider myself a citizen of the world first! Which means in my book that I work for freedom for others around the globe regardless of color, faith, country etc. I firmly believe that only by helping in setting everyone free can Cuba be free. ~Jane

  11. Hey

    First time here. I’m having trouble feeling your pain. heremano it seems to me like you are feeling sorry yourself. Hey Life is not fair I can think of many other minorities here in the us that have it worst than us cubans, even more and i can think of many other burdens that are worst, like loosing your job, being homeless. You say you have a beafutill wife, you own your house, have a good job and you bitching and ranting about your being a Cuban Burden. No sympathy here Brother, Look around you and count your blessings, that might help you out


  12. You make a good point Ray! But us Cubans love to suffer or at least some of the ones I know do. Maybe there is honor in pretending to be a martyr?! Seriously our feelings of alienation may be a bit of arrogance on our parts. We are human like everyone else in the world. WE DONT own the market on suffering-believe you me. Maybe we are comparing ourselves to the wrong people. How would you like to be one of those people from Darfur? or even a Cuban Cuban? No thanks, we are blessed and it is something that is OUR LUCK for we are no better than those left behind in Cuba or escaping the rapings in Darfur. What we should be doing is easing the pain as much as possible ALL over the world. Kudos to you Ray for calling it what it is “self-pitying. ~Jane

  13. Val, perhaps there is yet another reason your thoughts drift toward Cuba each day. Maybe it’s because Cuba is the only nation in the Western Hemisphere that has not had a free election in more than 50 years.

    Cuba is close physically and, to you, it is close culturally and sentimentally, too. But even if you have no family ties, even if you are not Cuban, it is difficult for anyone with a heart not to worry about those Cubans who want to speak their minds and cannot, or who have spoken and are paying the price in one of Castro’s prisons.

    Each of us Americans shares the same planet with the Cuban without a vote, with the Iranian tortured for demanding a free press, and with the North Korean starving as his “dear leader” builds atom bombs. We inhabit the same planet, and yet we are free, and they are not.

    We feel something is wrong out there, because something is wrong. We feel we should do something about the defenseless and the unfree, because as fellow human beings, we should do something to help them.

    How much imagination does it take to understand the horrors done to humans by secretive, unaccountable and illegitimate governments? How would we feel in such a prison? We don’t have to see oppressed Cubans every day to know they are suffering and yearning to breathe free.

    We have a responsibility to worry about oppressed Cubans. And at times, we have a responsibility to be their voice.

  14. Rey, Jane,

    It isnt self pity and by your comments I see that you missed the point of the post completely.

    let me spell it out for you in layman’s terms:

    I was asked why I work so hard for Cuba and my response was “because Im fucking Cuban.” And while i do appreiate everything I have and am extremely thankful for it, I have every right to express my frustrations and anger with the situation in Cuba.


  15. Jan

    I think one needs to be sensitive to other suffering, there’s plenty of suffering going on Cuban Suffering, Iraqui suffering, Darfur Suffering, Katrina suffering . But if all one does is focus on suffering then one’s life will be continuous melodrama and you will miss the good things that are goin on.

    This Cuban Burden, seems to me that’s more to do with living as a Cuban American in Miami. You guys seem to be focus on politics more than culture. For me living in California the Cuban thing for me it’s all about the culture not the politics. I enjoy the food, the music, the Cuban humor, cherish the accomplishments of my fellow Cuban Americans

    Val what you need to is go to calle ocho, listen to some good Cuban music, have yourself a Cuban coffee, enjoy your friends, take a look at your sorrundings and say “Damn Life is good!”


  16. Ray,

    If you search the archives of this blog that go back over three years, you will find many celebrations of our Cuban culture via music, food, family, dichasos, the whole nine yards.

    But let me say this: while all of us here are proud and enjoy being cuban, think about just how much better it would be to celebrate our indentity and our culture freely, among and along with a cuban people who would also have the very same freedoms and rights and choices that we have here.

  17. Val

    Your point about how you wish life to be is well taken. But my friend life is doesn’t work that way. Life is not Fair. A life well lived is one that accepts the good with the bad. Your seem to be focusing on the bad, the suffering that’s going on in our homeland, the political bull crap and it makes you frustrated and upset. I look at the same suffering and choose put in perspective and say Shit Happens! You look at your cuban glass and say is half empty, i look at the same glass and say hey it’s half full

    cheers my friend



  18. Sorry, ray. I beg to differ. It’s not that Im focusing on the bad, its that Im not ignoring the problem and working to make a difference, however small that difference may be.

    I can do that and still enjoy my life quite well, and, moreover, have no qualms or compuntions and sleep soundly and in good conscience.

  19. Val

    What are your saying? That to be a “GOOD CUBAN AMERICAN” one must feel budened by what’s going on on the island

    What makes one a good cuban american anyway?


  20. Ray,

    Im saying nothing of the sort. the choice to involve yourself with the politics and happenings vis a vis Cuba or not is yours to make and yours alone.

    Im simply explaining my choice to do someting, that’s all. Im not criticizing you or anything. I respect your opinion, and by the same token, I expect mine to be respected as well.

    If you can enjoy all that is good about our culture without the least bit of concern for what the people in Cuba are living through, then, hey, more power to ya.

  21. and nostalgia. I do capiche Val! And it is not that I am misunderstanding, I merely do not see things like you are seeing them?

    BTW, I would like to thank you for Having this Blog and for allowing me to speak up and agree or disagree with what is said. I cannot and do not see myself as A CUBAN first. My first allegiance must be to the USA because it is my real home now. It is the country that took me in when I needed a home.

    The Cubans in Cuba are the REAL Cubans now. They have suffered more than we have and they deserve to be supported in whatever they finally choose. Let us hope they do not get DEMOCRACY rammed down their throats whether they want to or not. Please no more violence: there is enough going around in the world. BASTA YA! I see the romantic illusion that many cubans have about Cuba. It is their mistress or true love, the one that got away and was never consumated. Meanwhile USA(is the wife who is there day in and
    day out.} Of course the wife is going to get angry whenALL the husband does is think of the mistress.

    YET, when all is said and done the mistress (Cuba) may not have been as exciting as she seems to be. Like all our dreams, the ones never reached are the ones with most allure and the ones we carry around with much melancholy. I hope this makes sense to you VAL as I really respect what you are doing here but wonder if you see this part that I so simply ‘in layman’s terms’ point out.
    Thanks Val. Hey! I am in NYC today what a great plae! Just saw JERSEY BOYS (THE MUSICAL OF FRANKI VALLI AND THE FOUR SEASONS) tRY TO catch it if you can. JB

  22. Jan You hit the nail in the head. Let the cubans in cuba figure out what type of goverment they want. Let’s hope and pary that Castro expires, after the Bushies leave office!

    Val, i admire your passion and your advocacy but respectfully disagree with your views. Love you anyway


  23. So how about a free election to let the Cubans in Cuba say what kind of government they want? And until then, how about everyone else reminding the Castros that their regime is illegitimate?

    The Cubans want democracy. No one ever voted for the police state that Fidel Castro rammed down their throats. Right now, only madmen and mercenaries stand in the way of Cuban freedom.

    The world will remember Fidel Castro as Cuba’s deadly slavemaster, too cowardly to test his popularity with an election, too cruel to liberate one human being.

    Cuba’s bureaucrats and totalitarian enforcers probably are afraid that the coming democracy will cost them their jobs and bring them to justice. Too bad. But most Cubans will gladly move on without el oppressor.

  24. Jan,

    I dont know how long youve been reading this blog, but if you search through the archives you’ll find that I and the rest of the contributors here celebrate being Americans first. the readers of this blog have supported our troops via the Spirit of America and out of thousands of participating blogs, this humble blog came in in the top 20 and raised almost 20K for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. We have mourned and payed tribute to the vitcims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks as well enjoyed and celebrated every American holiday and day of reverence.

    So, if this is your first time here, please, a little less condescension, OK?

    As for your there’s enough violence in this world, I quite wholeheartedly agree, but suggest that you focus on its source instead of its remedy. You dont see any Americans, whether right or left leaning, burning images of Allah and Muhammed in effigy in Main Street USA.


    While I respect your opinion of the POTUS, may I suggest that your write the Democratic party and respectfully request that come next election time, they nominate a viable candidate. personally, i think that would be quite difficult, but, hey, stranger things have happened. And to be honest, your “lets hope and pray catsro dies after bush leaves office” is absurd, inane and insulting and spoken like a true liberal partisan.

  25. Val

    Let’s drink some gurapo, it’s must be getting hot there in south florida. You are calling me a liberal partisan democrat. Now how did you arrive at that conclusion? I’m neither democrat or republican. If you like label then call me a libertarian.

    Now regarding my bush prayer. Do you really want to trust the future of your beloved island with this set fumbling fools. These are the guys that can’t fix New Orleans, can’t protect our borders, mismanaged the war in iraq, mismanaged the war in afghan. You really want trust this guys with Cuba, now that’s inanne and absurd!!!



  26. ray,

    Youll have to excuse me, but by youre whining about President Bush I naturally assumed you were another BDS affected liberal from the west coast.

    That’s neither here nor there, though, because I do not advocate US involvement in the politics or future of a free Cuba.

    As for your comments on present events, all I can say is that you really need to get your information from sources with much less spin.

  27. val

    I get myinfo on present events from the same sources you get them ( Fox News, CNN, Internet ). By the way i voted for the Bushies in both elections.

    Are you trying to tell me that this administration is doing a great job in Protecting our Borders, IRAQ, Katrina ( “You are doing a heck of job Brownie” ). Ok I got it Let’s send Brownie to Cuba, he’ll do a heck of job! What do you think?


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