Cuba-the paradisiacal island 90 miles south of Key West-is ravaged by the U.S. blockade, despite all of its citizens being literate and having healthcare. Breathtakingly beautiful Havana, the birthplace of Che Guevara, is considered to be an iconic image. And the worst part is that some of you believe that.
Those who do are the same people who wear those trendy Che Guevara T-shirts denouncing all U.S. policies towards Cuba. Che was idealistic and, by the way, a murderer. A native of Argentina, he had some noble beliefs but was fond of neither fair trials nor juries. By some accounts, he was just an adventure seeker. I agree that the U.S. should limit the embargo, though for different reasons than most. While it does hurt the Cuban people, it also provides an excuse for what really hurts the Cuban people-the Cuban government. However, if you’ve worn a Che shirt before, you’ve probably heard this before, too.
Perhaps revolution idolizers haven’t read Granma. It is the state newspaper of Cuba. A recent headline read, “Police spied on Bush opponents.” It claimed that before the 2004 presidential election, George Bush had police spy on his opposition. Interestingly, it doesn’t reference where it learned the story, besides a brief and false reference to The New York Times. The story does not provide details, nor back up its accusations. That’s quite a leap of faith, considering it would be akin to a modern-day Watergate. In the U.S., that is not considered journalism. The allure of Che (and his friends) is the “revolutionary spirit.” Cuba’s revolution has fallen short of that spirit.
This history lesson often falls on deaf ears. Dissatisfaction and boredom with the U.S. government arouse sympathy for those socialists to the south. The fact that thousands have died thanks to the Castros (many without trials) is overlooked. Passionate Cubans seem overbearing, leading some to take a position opposite to theirs. The regime does not even allow Cubans to see the lifestyle of the tourists, a lifestyle deemed too free for Cuba’s citizens, but this does not seem to enter the mind of Fidel apologists. Some say that Cubans are educated without mentioning that, in Cuba, prostitutes are held in higher regard than the educated (because the prostitutes earn more money). Some argue that it’s just leftists versus rightists and that Cuba is a measuring stick of where one stands. It’s actually Fidelists versus the rest. Castro doesn’t lead a republic; he leads a dictatorship. Political ideology cannot overcome that. The argument goes back and forth, but if you’ve already made up your mind, nothing can change it.
Cubans may be the most successful Hispanic immigrants, but Cubans don’t want that title. They would rather be successful exiles and reform their homeland. People’s misconceptions persist, and Cubans persevere. They remain passionate. Unfortunately, their passion is often perceived as obnoxious, causing some of you to react against them and their cause.
Of course this irony would be hilarious, if it wasn’t so tragic.
Anthony Vega is a sophomore majoring in finance and English. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.