The Anguish of a Cuban American Blogger

Sometimes you read somethng and know, instantly, that it couldnt have been said any better. The following was written by Babalu contributor Ruth at Ninety Miles Away:

From the moment a Cuban American sits down to start a blog, he knows the task ahead is overwhelming, that he is a lone figure on the shore with a mouth full of pebbles trying to be heard above the waves. There is no hope of ever overcoming the roar of the ocean, only maybe for an instant, that moment between crests when the thin tones of his voice can be heard.
Then comes the daily work of writing, which sometimes comes easily, others not. And after a while, it’s really the same story in a thousand different guises: the latest lipstick-besmirched pig trotted out by the regime, the ever present chorus of willing media voices informing the world of the trotting out of the beauteous pig, and the truth that it really is a porker behind the grease paint. I am impressed by those who have carried on year after year. It can be disheartening.
It is no more disheartening than to see the world of blogs devoted to Cuba where there is often too little exchange of ideas and too much clash of personalities, where one-upmanship often takes the place of enlightenment, where some prefer to assert their own superiority rather than instruct their more information challenged confreres. It is a world rife with mine fields, where the most innocent of comments or even lack of commentary can start a verbal conflagration. Who needs it?
Things in Cuba are changing, the media tells us. Tourist apartheid is ending, we are to believe. Cuba experts are running around calling Raul “a pragmatist.” It is Cuban Americans who are being vilified, incredibly as far the websites of mainstream media, as “dead-end,” “hard-line, intransigent exiles.” Even a Castro favorite “the Miami Mafia” is flung around by former government officials and/or Cuba experts. A scurrilous cartoon depicting the forced deportation of that uppity bunch of Cuban Americans, allegedly former Batistianos, a group which, gasp, has the audacity to vote like millions of other Americans appears on the website of one of the most distinguished papers of record in the country. Why not just disappear, melt into the great American conglomerate where we function so easily?
On the Cuban front, things are not much better. Pockets of resistance are just that, little groups of dissidents pictured in front of a bed sheet, emblazoned with whatever organizational affiliation in spray paint. Either the overwhelming majority of Cubans are with the regime (not true), or they have been cowed by fear into the political equivalent of battered-wife syndrome. Not that I even begin to criticize. I, personally, cannot know what it is to live with fear, latent terror as a way of life. Rather my admiration for those who raise their voices is immense. On this side of the Atlantic, some would have it that we are out of touch with those on the island, that we and our efforts are resented. Why bother?
But then sometimes, reading reports from the island, comes the impassioned plea from some group or other to publicize their plight. And it becomes apparent that blogging has some effect. Just when you feel like Cassandra, a post or two makes its way to other American venues, and you remember the mission. It is not about bringing the regime down, would that blogging could. It is not about being liked or even agreeing with each other. Because somewhere along the line, while we were sleeping it seems, the worm turned. Might became right, and the victims became the villains. It’s as if we woke one morning to hear the epithets and arguments of a brutal dictatorship coming not from the island but from politicians, experts, academics, and even, most alarmingly, large swaths of the American public. Our parents, grandparents, newer arrivals, all faced the language barrier. We have no such obstacle. With our God-given talents, whatever they are, and all the advantages paid for by earlier generations, we can do no less than tell the truth to our fellow citizens. No one else is going to do it.
Literary Critic Lionel Trilling once wrote that at the heart of any great work of literature was the difference between appearance and reality, that the reader wants to rail at Oedipus “…can’t you see? Can’t you see?” It is an observation that has meaning in this context. It is the mission of the Cuban American blogger to demand of the country and the world, “Can’t you see? It’s just a foul-smelling, bespattered, gussied up pig.” Because in the end, nothing matters, not power, or personality, or even Pope. Nothing matters but the lives and freedom of those left behind. And Cuban Americans like their pigs on the table with a little mojito, not at the helm of government.

11 thoughts on “The Anguish of a Cuban American Blogger”

  1. It’s a never ending struggle my friend – I don’t know how some do it never giving up in the face of daily propaganda from the island and its lovers in the MSM. Just last week in Babalu you guys featured a disgusting piece of crap report by two American women who came back from their “trip” and suddenly these 2 broads are supposed to be freaking Cuba ‘experts” having the temerity to tells us what to think – I mean they even had the cojones to tell us how good the medicine and education (it’s free!)and don’t you know it – the lowest infant mortality rates! all in Cuba – yippe! Cuba is the world’s most amazing utopia! (sarcasm on my part) I wanted to barf!
    I started writing a letter but I got so sick, that I had to stop because this is like the thousandth letter I’ve written in response to some idiot who goes to Cuba and drinks the Kool-Aid, like a whole keg of come mierda cool aid – Cuba’s biggest and most important contribution to the world!

  2. Raul’s initiatives are merely his version of the old Soviet “New Economic Plan” done because he needs some breathing room while further consolidating his rule.

  3. Well said, I guess, but I’m not sure anyone cares with the “anguish” we CA bloggers might or might not feel as we do our thing. If it’s so hard, just do something else. To whine in public like this is just a wasteful self-indulgence and does nothing to serve our cause.
    I don’t begrudge your sentiment, but don’t lose perspective. Whatever anguish or discomfort or frustration you are feeling is nothing — absolutely nothing — like that felt by people, i.e. Cubans on the island, suffering each day because of the dictatorship. Making the story about us, the bloggers, does nothing to help them, the Cuban people.
    We really have no right to complain.

  4. I disagree, Marc. While you are correct in stating that our lives as compared to those Cubans on the island are vastly different and much, much easier, the frustrations we feel are just as real. the pain we feel is just as real. And, I can tell you from my own personal experience that when one of your own – a fellow Cuban exile – states in no uncertain terms that he or she wishes you to be dead, the pain is twofold.
    So youll forgive that, in a blog with 7704 posts primarily highlighting the injustcies that Cubans in Cuba live with on a daily basis, that one post is written to express how we on the fortunate side of the Gulfstream sometimes feel.

  5. Val — I am not denying the pain and frustration are not as real. I have felt plenty of it. But so what? I deal with it and get back to what’s really important.
    I don’t think that’s why readers come here or any other Cuban blog. Our “anguish” may help inspire our work, I just don’t think people don’t want to read about how or why we are torn up personally. I just think it is distracting and as I said above, a bit self-indulgent.

  6. Val – As for the threats that were made against you, I don’t think people come here to read about that either. That’s even more reason to not engage with folks who would do something so vile.

  7. The very last thing I intended was to create diviseness here, nor did I intend it as bellyaching. If that is the way it comes across, I failed in my original intent which was in a roundabout way to plead for more civility among ourselves and a reminder to keep our eyes on the prize.

  8. Civility is fine and in fact, preferred, as long as it is not confused with unquestioned conformity. These are difficult issues we deal with, and there is not always unanimity, nor should there be. Revel in the back and forth, for in the end it makes the debate and its conclusions, stronger.

  9. Great job, rsnlk! Your pig references kept reminding me of that line the spider weaves in Charlotte’s Web…”Some pig”, except the media isn’t half that honest.
    Your reality vs. perception point is right on the money. The sad truth is that no one is blinder than he who will not see (e.g., the left).
    As regards civility, it is of no use being right if one can’t communicate effectively, which civility makes possible.

  10. Below is comment I just left at Ruth’s blog which I want to show here:
    I think you wrote an excellent post which to me did not come across as whining in any way. You said some truths that apply to some whose inflated egos constantly get in the way of what is really important; the plight of the 11 million on the island with very little voice.

  11. This are my two cents left at Ninety Miles Away:
    “I also think you wrote an excellent post, because you can feel it comes from your heart.
    It’s OK to sometimes feel disheartened in this struggle; we’re humans and that does not mean that we do not appreciate the suffering of those we left behind, en la boca del lobo”.
    That’s the reality of life, and the fact that Cubans in Cuba are the ones suffering the most, does not means that we, fortunate enough to be out of Cuba, can not sometimes feel frustrated, even when we know that our frustrations are nothing compared to theirs.

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