Well, it’s over. The Congressional Black Caucus wrapped up its junket down in Havana with statements ranging from “We’ve been led to believe that the Cuban people are not free, and they are repressed by a vicious dictator, and I saw nothing to match what we’ve been told” (U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver) – to, “In my household I told Castro he is known as the ultimate survivor” (U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush). While Mr. Rush and Mr. Cleaver were busy coming to those conclusions at the protocol house where they met ailing former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, family members of mine living less than 20 miles away were struggling to earn enough money through black market dealings to feed their loved ones. When bringing home the bacon in a nation with an economy entirely controlled by one man means a paltry 18 dollars per month – you do what you’ve got to do. Today, only 24 hours after this carnival of fools departed from the airport in Rancho Boyeros, those same family members will be visiting a small cemetery to commemorate the extrajudicial, summary execution of a family member many years ago by that man Mr. Cleaver seems to believe is anything but a “vicious dictator.” Thanks, Mr. Cleaver.
Let me be perfectly clear: the narcissistic propaganda campaign mounted in Cuba by members of the Congressional Black Caucus was akin to spitting on the memory of every noble man and woman who dared to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge back in 1965. Did you get that, Mr. Cleaver? How about you, Mr. Rush? For the members of the CBC, slavery in Cuba, where all profits are diverted to the overseers Fidel and Raul is A-OK. God forbid that same treatment should befall an African-American however. What I saw transpire in Havana over the past 48 hours was nothing short of unadulterated bigotry and prejudice on the part of the CBC, disguised to appear as a humanitarian effort.
I am absolutely convinced of the theory a rather eloquent Cuban author once put to me – ladies and gentleman: the Cuban people are perceived by much of the world as nothing more than a “bunch of spics.” And being “spics,” we are completely incapable of forging our own destiny or exercising our own sovereignty – we need a strong-arm dictator to keep the plantation slaves in line and literally force the bread down our throats. That’s where the mentality of your average fidelista comes from – it’s just that simple.
I am not opposed to truly honest and humane efforts to engage in dialogue with the Cuban regime from a stance of pushing for the release of political prisoners and allowing the formation of opposition political parties. If that had been the goal of the CBC in Cuba, it would have brought tears of joy to my eyes. What I saw instead was an effort to convince the world that my family members and yours – are able to enjoy the fruits of a benevolent leader who offers top-notch hospital care, free universal education and the ability to speak one’s mind without fear of reprisals. The members of the Congressional Black Caucus are anything but stupid. They know these so-called “facts” to be complete fabrication on the part of the Cuban dictatorship. And so, the only conclusion I can come to is that which I stated above: Emanuel Cleaver to the people of Cuba: “ Your spics. You can’t take care of yourselves so be thankful you’ve got Fidel – it’s the best you’ll ever do.”
I would kindly advise Mr. Cleaver and his colleagues to extract their heads from a part of the human anatomy normally reserved for the expelling of waste.
Many of Babalu’s readers and contributors go through life with an incredibly strong yearning to return to the land they will always call home. Yet the vast majority will never do so out of a firm conviction that until the dictatorship falls, not one penny should be plopped into the Castro piggy bank by any man or woman who so suffered under his rule. I have been lucky enough to work in Cuba as a journalist. And in that capacity, I continue to bear witness to the enduring hardships experienced by my beloved family. Fifty years into this nightmare dubbed the Cuban Revolution, I continue to see their tears fall when reflecting on their murdered loved ones, their inability to pursue higher education due to non-affiliation with the PCC, and a myriad of other humiliations Cubans have suffered in one way or another, each and every day for the past 18,000 days.
And so I declare the Congressional Black Caucus guilty of forgetting every injustice their own constituents, leaders and supporters have suffered over the years in the United States. They have forgotten the lessons learned during the march from Selma to Montgomery. They have turned their backs on the memory of all those who perished to bring an end to apartheid in South Africa. Yes, CBC members: you’ve sold out – completely and utterly.
The world doesn’t give a damn about human rights in Cuba. What the world gives a damn about is the sexy dream of what Fidel Castro was attempting to portray during his march from Santiago to Havana on January 1-8, 1959. Yet dreams do not erase reality and we are left with the realization that “we’re in this alone.”
Due to the efforts of groups the likes of the CBC, change will never come to Cuba through dialogue or any other peaceful effort. Change, unfortunately, will only come to Cuba through the spilling of blood. If all the official delegations that regularly travel to Cuba made a concerted effort to force the regime to listen to its slaves – er people – the dictatorship would fall. As it stands now, due to the free pass the regime gets and the fact that delegations like the CBC’s routinely arrive in Havana and fail to utter a single word about human rights – Cuba is damned to change through violence. And so I find myself in a similar situation to that of my family on the island – feeling the tears stream down my cheeks on yet another day as I anguish over their unconscionable bondage.