Pride is a powerful thing. We instill it in our offsprings as a must – as a must we need to have. “Be proud of yourself; be proud of your family; be proud of your country; we are a proud people”, we are taught.
And thus proud we are. Some peoples more than others.
Certainly we Cubans are proud – very proud. We are disproportionately influential. We’ve impacted history more than nations ten times our size. Our numbers in entertainment and sports are impressive indeed.
We are – in our eyes – the center of the universe. We – those of us in exile – are a unique subset of the Cuban people.
And, the Miami-NJ Cubans are generally a subset – and a majority – of the exile subset. The prominent Miami-NJ Cuban exile politically correct, self censored line is: “We are the best. The ones that have seen the light. The ones that risked it all. The ones that have become more Americans than Americans. The descendents of the Havana socialite ladies that paid for Martha Washington’s Inaugural Ball dress (look it up!) The ones that made Baseball great. The ones that saved Coca Cola from bankruptcy (look it up!) The ones that one day will return to Cuba to right a very long wrong…” And so think so many exiles. (And, if you think different you are a rabid Communist not to be welcomed anywhere near Versailles!)
Thus, this proud logic continues: “It is justifiable and commonsensical we Cubans are given special immigration status. After all, we have our own version of Manifest Destiny and Cuban Exceptionalism. We are the Jews of Latin America!” … Until now.
Now we have a President of the U.S. on his way out who is telling us, in essence, we Cubans are no different from Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, or Mexicans. The exile’s response seems to be: “Gasp! How can you say that?!? We ARE different! We made you in 2012 and we broke you in 2016 with our votes in Florida! We are powerful! Don’t mess with us – you will regret it!”
(Never mind that most exiled Cubans have been saying that the Cubans coming over in recent decades are all economic migrants, no different from others from any other country. But hey, WE can say that. But, don’t you non-Cuban dare tell us!)
Our pride has been shaken. Our dirty little family secret in being aired in public.
Maybe our pride needs shaking. Maybe it is our pride that has gotten in the way of resolving this decades long mess we are in. Maybe it is our pride we need to check to move forward and make Cuba not great again, but simply a place where dignity, self-determination, respect, civility, and personal choices are embedded in the cultural norm.
I know the hurt is deep. I know the personal and family irreparable damage that has been done. I know forgiving is too much to ask.
Yet, maybe a strong dash of humility will change the course of the discourse. Maybe if we put our pride aside and accept not only that we are no better than Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, or Mexicans, accept – indeed – that we are not even better than the Cubans in the island!
Maybe we exiles feel we have been enlightened by our six decades of exposure to commercialization, consumerism and too infinite information… But maybe – just maybe – the people in the island have been enlightened by the inventiveness required to survive in poverty, deprivation and the absence of information.
Equality is a tough virtue to embrace. But maybe – just maybe – dealing with others as equals rather than from a warped sense of superiority and a false sense of pride will lead to authentic mutually beneficial future… Maybe – just maybe – justice will come through a diplomatic, engaging process rather than from a ‘you-are-all-evil-we-are-all-good’ intractable position.
Maybe, just maybe, Obama is on to something… Let’s see what Trump says – and does.
Mr. Obama has put Mr. Trump in quite a pickle. How will Trump justify reinstating a policy (the wet-foot-dry-foot policy) that in essence gives Cubans a distinct clear advantage over all other immigrants? How will Trump be able to talk of building a wall in the Mexican border while espousing opening the dam in the Florida Straits?!?… Quite a pickle indeed.