Thursday, June 24, 2004

U.S.: Bush policy and Cuban 'exiles'

There has been quite a lot of commentary and news recently regarding the Bush administration’s tightening of restrictions against the island. Critics say Bush is pandering to the Cuban-American vote in Florida. Other critics say the restrictions are dividing the Cuban community. Either of these critiques may be true. To which I submit a hardy SO WHAT?

Every four years, every presidential candidate comes to South Florida with a mouthful of promises and Viva Cuba Libres! Every single president since Kennedy has courted the Cuban-American vote. It’s nothing new. They come down, tell us they are going to fight to take down Castro, then when elected shuffle some papers around and make little adjustments to their Cuban foreign policy. It’s automatic. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

I do however, take exception to certain Cuban-Americans or Cuban “exiles” criticizing the new restrictions. Statements like: “Bush’s priority should first of all be to not keep Cuban families apart” are ridiculous to me. As if now it’s Bush’s fault that they left the island, sought political asylum, and can’t see their families agian. Guess what? That’s what being a political exile is. That is the hard reality of it.

If you could not have lived without your family you should not have left in the first place.

Every Cuban that exiled to the US up until the ‘80’s knew this and accepted it. Freedom isn’t free. You need to earn it. When you left Cuba the only hope of ever seeing the island again was when Castro’s regime was gone. History. The US government didn’t make you leave Cuba, the US government didn’t make you leave your family behind. There’s only two people responsible for that, you and Fidel Castro. Castro made the decision to screw your life up, you made the decision not to accept it so you left. It’s that simple.

This new generation of Cuban refugees are a product of Castro’s revolutionary ideology. Most are completely apolitical. They could care less who is Governor, Senator or President. Unless, of course, the Governor or Senator or President impedes their ability to forward dollars to their family in Cuba or to visit their family in Cuba. Then, all hell breaks loose.

And I feel for these people. I know what it’s like to leave family behind. I know what it’s like to have aunts and uncles die before ever even meeting them as an adult. I am a Cuban exile. I came here not to make money but to be a free human being. My family left Cuba when I was four years old and there is not a day that goes by where I don’t imagine what my life would have been had my family been able to stay.
Read the whole piece. Thanks to Command-Post for running Val Prieto's Yo No Voy - I won't go, which is cross-posted on his Babalu Blog.

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