Over 10 months ago, several Cuban-American bloggers including myself posted
on a group of Cuban-American college students who started a group called Raices de Esperanza
. Their goal is to bring greater awareness of the grave human rights situation in Cuba, provide support to dissidents on the island and to unite the Cuban exile community in its pursuit of freedom for Cuba.
The Miami Herald finally caught wind of this group and wrote an article
in today's paper, authored by Oscar Corral. I was expecting a solid article which steers clear of divisive rhetoric and focuses solely on the group's noble mission. For the most part, the article fulfilled my expectations.
However...Corral decided to throw in some divisive comments with regards to the Cuban exile community. After all, it wouldn't be an Oscar Corral piece unless there is some controversy or dissent thrown in, even where it's not appropriate.
Before I continue, let me stress that I do not object to criticism of the Cuban exile community. We are not perfect and, like everyone else, are prone to making mistakes. In other words, we're living, breathing humans. This criticism should and does have it's time and place.
bother me is when articles such as Corral's go out of their way
to bring up certain perceived faults of the exile community. His opening remarks state that this group of students became "disenfranchised" from the Cuba talk that "dominates Miami".
Four years ago, a few Cuban-American students from Harvard, Georgetown, and the University of Florida, feeling disenfranchised from the Cuba discourse that dominates Miami, started a youth group to focus on the island's future.
What exactly is that "Cuba discourse that dominates Miami"? If you ask me, it's about making people more aware of the situation in Cuba. It's about encouraging and expediting democracy and freedom in Cuba and supporting the dissident movement inside the island. It's about engaging in politics, a necessary evil, to accomplish this task.
How does this match up with Raices' mission, you ask?See for yourself
To establish a plan of action for the youth's role in a pluralistic and democratic transition in Cuba.
To unite the Cuban community in exile and within the Island across generational, ideological and economic divides, in the pursuit of a pluralistic and democratic Cuban society.
The only part of this vision that would rub some
exiles the wrong way is the unity across ideological divides. Is this what Corral is trying to get at? If so, it's like the proverbial finding a needle in the haystack. It's impossible for everyone to agree on everything, and our community isn't this monolithic monster that swallows any dissent. It's the big picture that counts, and you would be hard-pressed to find a Cuban-American in Miami who wouldn't support Raices' mission and vision (well...maybe
Politics are a big part of this, of course, and that's a necessary evil in order to fulfill the desired goals. One would be naive to pretend that politics shouldn't exist here. Raices itself doesn't steer clear of politics. Corral even had to admit, after his opening shot, that there really aren't any big differences between Raices and general Miami Cuban-American sentiment:
Not that Raices' message is much different from that of their elders. They want freedom and democracy in Cuba. They want to focus on Cuba's human-rights abuses. And they criticize the communist government.
In fact, one of Raices' motivators for starting the group wasn't disenchantment with loud-mouthed hard-liners, but apathy.
Hard to believe, right?
Apathy about Cuba was one of the main reasons the students decided to get involved in late 2002. It started small, as an e-mail network of friends and contacts, Gonzalez said. Most of the members today are full-time students or have graduated and have day jobs.
What do you think motivates the Cuban-American bloggers listed in my blogroll?
Nowhere on their site will you see any hint of division with the exile community. In fact, a look at their link page
lists groups such as the Cuban American National Foundation and Cubanet, which are undeniably big components of the traditional Miami exile community. They also reach out to more "moderate" groups such as the Cuba Study Group, and that's perfectly fine in my book.
You see, it's about inclusiveness, not exclusiveness. That's what Raices is all about, and that's what most of us here in Miami want as well. Despite Corral's attempts to exclude and divide right from the get-go, the truth eventually comes out in the article.
Corral and others are more than welcome to write constructive and critical articles on differences in the exile community. But when it's included in articles about what is supposed to be a united
effort amongst different exile groups, it defeats the purpose and only serves to perpetuate misperceptions.