[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: January 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Hello From Daytona

I'm up the coast in Daytona Beach at a conference this week, therefore the limited posting activity. Everything is fine here except for the high speed internet in my room which I can't access for who knows what reason, and of course the chilly weather right on the beach.

I haven't had the chance to check out any posts from my fellow bloggers. I guess I have a lot of catching up to do.

I'll be back in town Friday just in time to avoid all of the Super Bowl hysteria. Nothing like a bunch of midwesterners drinking way too many Buds riding around town.

Just saw the report and pictures of fidel. Tough bastard!

Interesting comment thread on the Beck post. It's too easy to categorize people with strong views like Beck and Limbaugh as racist. Once you sit down and analyze things, I think its obvious they're not. PC, maybe not. But these days, being non-PC and being called a racist seem to go hand in hand.

Anyway, just wanted to check in to let you all know I'm OK! ;)

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Conservative Media Bias?

Since ABC hired conservative radio and CNN talk host Glenn Beck as a commentator on Good Morning America, some liberal bloggers have been up in arms in concern that the network is brushing liberals aside.

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters for America, is one of these concerned individuals.

Boehlert's post, linked above, alleges that ABC and it's news political director, Mark Halperin, are exhibiting obvious conservative bias. He notes that Halperin has "endorsed conservative conspiracy theories" that mainstream journalists are "overwhelmingly liberal", "hate the military" and are "blind to their bias".

It's not a conspiracy theory to believe that mainstream journalists tend to be liberal, just ask Bernie Goldberg. There's no dark conspiracy out there, it's widely believed to be a fact. I don't know that they hate the military, that's a big stretch in my opinion. But that they are blind to their bias is like saying that the sky is blue. It's my opinion, of course, but one that's shared by many.

Eric Boehlert also makes strong accusations against new ABC employee Glenn Beck. Beck is predictably a frequent target of liberals due to his admitted conservative leanings. As a regular viewer of Beck's show on CNN Headline News, I can say that he openly admits that he's a conservative in order to leave no doubt as to where he's coming from when he presents his topics. In the article, Boehlert accuses Beck of saying that Katrina survivors are "scumbags", calling Hillary Clinton the antichrist, comparing Al Gore to Hitler, and supporting U.S. military torture of prisoners. Follow the links to video and audio from Beck that supposedly supports these allegations. You'll see that it is quite a stretch to conclude that Beck actually believes these things. Being familiar with Beck's style, he can be quite sarcastic and very un-PC, and I believe Boehlert is simply misinterpreting the clips. Watch his show for a few days and you'll see what I mean.

Another accusation Boehlert makes is that Beck is anti-Muslim. Again, another easy generalization to make until you actually read between the lines. Beck, who aired the popular documentary Exposed: The Extremist Agenda last summer, isn't anti-Muslim. He's anti-extremists, thus the title of the documentary. He frequently brings Arab and Muslim guests to his program to talk about the concern over the spread of fundamentalist Islam. He has called out moderate Muslims for not speaking out enough against the terrorist factions of Islam, but that is far from being anti-Muslim or anti-Arab, don't you think? Although Beck at times teeters on the edge of being an alarmist, the fact that he's trying to bring to light the intentions of the extremists in the Middle East is quite refreshing, and frankly, necessary.

One accusation Boehlert makes that is accurate is that Beck is pro-war. Of course, Boehlert describes Beck's pro-war stance as "cheerleading". Give me a U! Give me an S! Give me an A! What's that spell?

In the end, Boehlert is exhibiting his own liberal bias in expressing his concern over Beck's hiring at ABC. I have no problem with that, I'm expressing my own bias in this post. However, as someone familiar with Glenn Beck, I believe I should at the very least present the other side of the argument which refutes much of Boehlert's concerns.

My only question to Boehlert would be, when will ABC cancel The View?

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Seeing Through Different Lens

Val and Henry have already posted about the screening of the Alberto Korda documentary at FIU last night. Please read their posts linked above for the details.

As Henry noted, all three of us showed up with t-shirts showing pictures from the revolution that Korda didn't take. In the back was a list of the people executed by Che. When Val handed me the t-shirt outside the building, I was so anxious about the event that I forgot to check the list to see if my distant cousins were on it.

On my way home after the film, I checked. Sure enough, there they were, a little past halfway down the first column:

Raul Clausell
Angel Clausell
Demetrio Clausell
Jose Clausell

Although I never met them, there's obviously a connection. As I understand it, their only "crime" was that they were members of the national police force. As they were understandably loyal to their previous employer (Batista), they were executed in the very early days of the revolution.

It's in this context that I approach the subject of Che, fidel and post-revolution Cuba. The film was in essence a glorification of the revolution. The first 30 minutes, in particular, were almost pure propaganda. As tough as it was to sit through that, Henry and I managed to do it. I feel for Val because I know he gave it his best shot but just couldn't do it. I don't blame him.

Imagine how tough it must be for someone who has lost a close relative to the hands of Che's firing squads to face this. Imagine how tough it must be for someone like that to face and hear the taunts and chants of Viva Fidel. Imagine how tough it must be to hold one's emotions in check.

This is something our community fails to realize: our individual beliefs and actions are determined by our life experiences. We can disagree, but we also must try to understand where the other person is coming from. More than likely, they traveled a much different road than you did. Every time a controversial issue arises in the Cuban-American community, this is what goes though my mind.

For us second-generation Cuban-Americans, it's more complicated. We haven't lived through our elders' pain, but we feel it nevertheless, even if diluted. We also understand how others might react to our pain and emotions. Often, it is tough to reconcile these conflicting emotions.

This is why I whispered to Henry during the film that as hard as it is to sit through something that goes totally against your belief system, sometimes you have to do it in order to see what the other side is thinking and saying. One can gain a better perspective by doing this.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Yes to Strong Mayor

To the 86% of eligible voters in Miami-Dade County who didn't vote yesterday:

Don't come whinin' and complainin' to us about the state of affairs in the community. You had a chance to make your voice heard.


The 14% that did vote.



Sign seen earlier today being held up by a man at the exit ramp off the Florida Turnpike in Kendall:

I Won't Lie - Need A Beer

Based on the physique the man was sporting, I'm sure he's not lying.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Here are some random thoughts on choices that bounce around in my head from time to time:

- Escalation or redeployment
- Strong mayor or bully pulpit
- Giada or Rachael
- Pollo Tropical or Chicken Kitchen
- Firefox or IE
- A Mano Limpia or O'Reilly Factor
- Cereal or oatmeal
- Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts
- Maduros or tostones
- Hair Metal or Nu-Metal
- Music or Talk Radio
- Sports Talk or News Talk

Feel free to share your own "choices".


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Follow the Leader

In light of the fracas at Friday's pro-Posada rally in Little Havana, a discussion at new blog Mambi Watch is demanding that the Cuban-American leadership in Miami condemn the actions of Vigilia Mambisa.

I'm not going to discuss the actions of Vigilia Mambisa here. I stated my views in this thread, as well as in the above-linked thread at Mambi Watch.

This post is really about something else.

Quite often, you'll hear people refer to the "Cuban-American leadership". I have always been puzzled by that title, because frankly I can't think of anyone who fits that description. Perhaps I'm seeing it wrong or my definition of leader is too narrow.

To me, a leader is (or should be) someone who leads or guides a group of people. Applying this definition, a leader of the Cuban-American community should be someone who has been widely accepted by said community to be their guide. Note that I put widely accepted in bold. Leaders of small factions or groups don't count. Also keep in mind the size and diversity of the Cuban-American community, and I don't think it's unreasonable to think that there really isn't a well-defined "leader".

Can anyone name the leader of the Black community in Miami? The Colombian community? The white non-Hispanic community? I can't either.

Enough rambling on my part.

Now I will kindly ask my South Florida readers for a favor. Can you tell me exactly who you think the Cuban-American leadership in Miami is? Give me your opinions, drop as many names as possible. I might be missing something, so please leave a comment. Thanks.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Strong Mayor

Folks, sorry for the light posting this week. Work and family issues have prevented me from spending much time at the ol' puter.

Been trying to keep up with the goings on, and I can say that in light of fidel's recent diagnosis and prognosis, I know much more about the human intestine than I would have ever wanted to know.

Anyway...on to a topic of interest to the locals.

Next Tuesday, Miami-Dade County residents will get to vote on a strong mayor proposal that would give the county mayor position some much-needed teeth. This is something that has interested me since Carlos Alvarez began talking about it in 2005. In fact, one of the first posts in this blog addressed this.

In the last couple of weeks, I've read interesting and thoughful analysis and opinions from Critical Miami, as well as this Herald editorial and this letter to the editor from former County Manager Merritt Stierheim.

I will vote in favor of the strong mayor system, but not without some doubt. Stierheim makes a good case against the proposal, and the Herald while in favor of the strong mayor, raises some concerns.

To me, it boils down to accountability. I would rather have one screw up who we can fire in a few years than a handful of powerful but incompetent commissioners who have no term limits. Perhaps the strong mayor gives one person too much power. As many people have noted, we're not as worried about Alvarez as we are about his replacements. However, there is something we the voters can do to stop incompetent people from gaining power: not vote for them! Also, there will be enough checks and balances in place to avoid the disaster scenario of an out of control power freak.

In addition, anything we can do to reduce the amount of bureaucracy in county government, even if its only by a little, is beneficial. Thirteen commissioners with their own little areas is just way too much red tape to deal with.

As the Herald notes, the proposal is flawed. I understand Stierheim's concern about a professional administrator losing some power. These are things that, as negative as they seem, are an improvement over what we have now. More importantly, the strong mayor proposal is something that local leaders can use as a base on which to build future modifications to county government that with time can perfect the system.

Too bad that voter turnout is forecast to be somewhere in the 15% range. That's just terrible if it pans out.

Miami-Dade residents, vote YES on Tuesday, but please vote regardless. If not, don't complain about the state of our county afterwards.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Miami: America or Third World?

I was really hoping to not have to hear again from Tom Tancredo and his Miami Third-World bashing, but there he was in yesterday's Herald, spouting off his reasons as to why Miami isn't part of America. Fortunately, his editorial was part of a Pro-Con feature with an opposing view from FIU's Dario Moreno, someone who knows plenty about our community and our politics.

I thought that instead of posting each person's column separately, I would put them together in a sort of simulated debate between Tancredo and Moreno. In other words, take parts of each column and piece them together in debate style. I also thought I would throw my two cents worth into the conversation (surprise, surprise!). Yes, it's two-against-one, but I can't think of anyone better than Tancredo to be in the minority in a debate about Miami and its attributes.

Here we go.

Tancredo: Although I believe I have made more controversial statements in my political life, I don't recall any that sparked more interest and response than my reference to Miami as a ''Third World country.'' Interestingly, most of the response -- especially from Floridians -- has been quite positive. Even the polls I have seen from the area indicate I have said something most people believe to be true, but few politicians or media outlets are willing to utter.

Forbes magazine reports that in the five years since 2002, a net of 151,000 Miami residents, most of them middle class, have left Miami, and 238,000 new residents have arrived from other nations, mostly Central and South America. Miami-Dade County now has a foreign-born population of 51.4 percent, the highest in the country for a large city.

Moreno: Miami is not foreign. It is, fundamentally, part of the American experience. As President John F. Kennedy put it, ''We are a nation of immigrants.'' Each wave of immigrants instills unique values and experiences within a larger national mosaic that is essentially the backbone to the idea ``that all Men are created equally.''

Robert: Exactly what polls are you referring to, Mr. Tancredo? I'm not surprised so many Floridians agree with you. After all, many left Miami for the same xenophobic reasons you state, "too many foreigners". By the way, a good portion of those 200,000-plus new residents from Latin America are highly-educated people who easily fit into the middle and upper classes here.

T: "When any area of the country experiences a massive influx of both legal and illegal immigrants, as Miami has in a relatively short time, there are societal ramifications. Some are positive; some are not. Among the latter are dramatic increases in crime and corruption.

Florida taxpayers had to fork over $120 million in 2004 alone to pay for the cost of incarcerating criminal aliens.

In 2003, violent crimes in Miami were 3.14 times the national rate and triple the rate of some larger cities like Denver.

The murder rate in Miami in 2003 was 2.53 times the national rate and double the rate of another large city in the region, Charlotte-Mecklenburg.

Late last year, the U.S. Department of Justice called South Florida the ''public corruption capital of the nation.'' In the 10-year period 1996-2005, 576 individuals were prosecuted on public corruption charges in South Florida.

There has always been some corruption in every large city, but the difference is that in a Third World country, corruption is a way of life. It is a routine way of doing business. In America by contrast, when payoffs and kickbacks are uncovered it is a scandal and someone is thrown out of office. Is corruption becoming a way of life in Miami?

M: Your description of Miami as a ''Third World country'' is a crude stereotype. I understand your frustration with Miami's lively political and social atmosphere. After all, I did call the city a ''banana republic'' on national television following the fraudulent 1997 Miami mayoral election. But both characterizations of Miami are wrong and simple-minded. Miami is not a ''Third World country'' or a ''banana republic'' but instead a developing urban center with all the opportunities and problems associated with urban America.

Cities in the United States have always attracted new Americans -- immigrants who help build and populate them. In doing so, immigrants not only transform the city but their own culture and customs. This process of dual-assimilation is rarely neat. The histories of Boston, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago are personified by conflict between new Americans and the cities' established residents.

Immigrants carry with them the culture, politics and values of their homeland, which often conflict with the norms of their adopted homes. This tension between new immigrants and the establishment creates a framework for a political synthesis that is unique to those cities.

R: Are you saying, Mr. Tancredo, that Miami has a relatively high crime rate because of immigrants? If that's indeed the case, then what do you make of cities such as Atlanta, St. Louis, Detroit, even Florida cities such as Orlando and Tampa (I love how you cherry-picked Charlotte as your comparison city, BTW) which have similar if not higher crime rates? Is mass immigration to blame in those cities, too, or is there something - or someone - else in play?

Yes, corruption is a problem here. However, Mr. Tancredo, you've surely heard of the history of the cities Mr. Moreno mentioned. Also, much of the corruption in Miami has been perpetrated by non-immigrants. We're an equal-opportunity "corruptor" (sic). And, yes, stories of corruption in Miami are typically met with feature stories in the local media and wide indignation from our residents (i.e. the latest low-income housing scandal). It is NOT accepted here as a part of what life should be like.

Mr. Moreno, I remember your "Banana Republic" remark back in 1997. I forgive you for saying it.

T: Far greater than the price we pay for crime and corruption is the cost to the culture when so many people who call Miami home have chosen not to assimilate. That the current mayor of Miami, Manny Diaz, was once the director of an organization that explicitly rejects the melting pot concept of assimilation is disconcerting, as is the statement of a local university professor who told Time magazine he loves Miami because ``there is no pressure to be an American.''

It is widely accepted that life can be lived quite easily in Miami as a monolingual Spanish speaker. This phenomenon indicates a disturbing trend on the part of immigrants who seem to have lost, or never had, the desire to fully assimilate. It is exacerbated by the official acceptance of this attitude on the part of community leaders who pride themselves on their ''celebration of diversity,'' as Gov. Jeb Bush put it in his letter of admonishment to me. As I told him in my response, celebrating diversity is admirable; making it into a state-sponsored religion is catastrophic.

If you want to see a nation that has a 200-year experience with bilingualism and its consequences, look at our neighbor to the north, Canada. I do not think we want to follow that path and experience those consequences.

My concerns about bilingualism have nothing whatever to do with race, but it does have something to do with our ability to reason together about the future of our communities. The eminent sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset warned that, ''The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension and tragedy.'' He is right. America is fast approaching the crossroads where we must choose greater assimilation -- or greater fragmentation.

M: Dual-assimilation is as American as apple pie, or better said, as pizza pie, corned beef and cabbage, and hot dogs. As a new city, Miami is at the forefront of this process. This is exactly what makes Miami exciting and a place where politics is, more often than not, passionate and heartfelt. Miami as a developing urban area attracts new Americans from all over the world. Miami is no longer the destination for Cuban exiles alone but is increasingly attracting people from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, France and Germany.

Historically, each wave of new immigrants is greeted with suspicion and skepticism about whether they were authentic Americans. In the 19th Century Irish-Catholics were suspect because of their religion. Immigrants from southern Europe were viewed as incapable of adopting democratic values because of the long history of absolutism in their homeland. Jewish immigrants from Russia and Germany were similarly rejected because they were not Christians. Thus, it is not surprising that some, like Tancredo, are skeptical of Latin American and Caribbean immigrants and their ability to assimilate.

The historic record shows that his concerns are baseless. Each wave of American immigrants has shown a remarkable capacity to accept and embrace the essence of the American experience. John Adams said it best when discussing the qualifications to be an American. He argued that there were only two, ''That you are people, and that you are here.'' The wisdom of Adams' remarks resonates within each wave of new Americans.

R: Studies have shown that Hispanics are assimilating at similar rates to 19th and early 20th century immigrants. Many second and third-generation Hispanics in Miami are losing the ability to properly communicate in Spanish, and this has created a lack of local professionals who can properly communicate in English AND Spanish. This has forced many local companies to go to Latin American to recruit new employees. I see this as a huge and glaring negative, as I am an advocate of bilingualism (meaning fluency in BOTH English and Spanish, not one over the other). However, this is part of the natural cycle of assimilation which has been repeated throughout history. The comparisons to Canada regarding bilingualism are easy to make at the surface, but flawed once you sit down and think about it. Canada's issues with Quebec go way back and are rooted in the history of French Quebec compared to the rest of Anglo Canada, not a result of recent immigrants demanding to secede from Canada.

Now for the closing remarks:

T: If immigrants are permitted to continue to form their own independent cultural, political and linguistic enclaves -- and if we fail to instill in new arrivals the language, culture and values that bind America together as a nation -- we will soon cease to have a nation. At best, we will be little more than an economy. And at worst, the ''melting pot'' will have been replaced with a "pressure cooker.''

I mentioned earlier that our office has been deluged with responses to my comment. It has also been interesting to us that a large number of the supportive calls, e-mails and letters we have received are from folks with Hispanic surnames. These communications are encouraging because they give me hope that the battle for assimilation and the melting pot is not lost.

I am well aware of the fact that there are those on both sides of this debate who are motivated by the ugliest of emotions. Believe me, I hear from them also. But for the voices of bigotry and hate to lose volume, the voices of those who hope to see a truly integrated society have to be heard.

M: Miami, despite its shortcomings, reflects the strength and attractiveness of the American Idea. New immigrants are compelled to learn and speak English; they participate in elections in greater numbers than native-born Americans; they believe fervently in and are willing to defend the American free enterprise system; and they are willing to die for their adopted homeland.

The Miami experience is not unique as Tancredo contends. It is following the trajectory of other great American cities -- a process that is often spewed with conflict. But the story of urban America and its ethnic populations is a legitimate part of our national experience. Miami and its ethnically diverse population is as authentically American as the ranchers and farmers that make up the sixth district of Colorado.

R: Mr. Tancredo, your fear of a nation divided along linguistic and cultural lines is rooted in lack of knowledge and sensitivity to immigrants' struggles. Even in Miami, it is widely accepted that a lack of proper English-speaking skills gives you a much smaller chance to become successful. Can it be done without speaking any English? Yes, but the odds are stacked against you. I am a product of immigrants, people who left behind everything to start a new life in this country. I am proud that I can communicate and interact in two cultures, yet feel 100% American at the same time. Is that what you want to take away from us? Do you want us to forget where we came from? Do you realize how hard it is for newly-arrived immigrants to learn English while working multiple jobs?

Mr. Tancredo, next time your in Miami, take a look around town. Notice all of the local businesses created and run by immigrants. Notice all of the doctors, lawyers, architects, politicians, etc., who are either immigrants or sons of immigrants. Visit with those Hispanic immigrants who have proudly served their adopted country. They are part of the Americans success story which continues to repeat itself despite the origin of its inhabitants.

Mr. Tancredo, open your eyes. Open your mind. Welcome to Miami, the new America.

Same as the old America. Thank God for that.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Discover the Redland

Jonathan's post below on the Aerojet ruins outside Florida City mentioned some other places down on the way to Everglades National Park that are work checking out, such as Robert Is Here (no really, he is) and the Schnebly Winery. Some of these places can also be checked out on self-guided "ecotours" of the Redland, Metro Miami's farming district, situated just north of Homestead and Florida City, or as us locals call it - South Dade.

The Miami Herald highlights one such tour, the Redland Riot, in a story published today.

The Redland has always been one of my favorite spots in South Florida, and by far the most underrated attraction in our area. It's pace and scenery are the antithesis of South Beach, which is never a bad thing in my book, and one can really get to appreciate the diversity of our area. Tours such as the Redland Riot and others are springing up.

Ever wonder where much of the country's winter vegetables come from? Yep, you got it.

If you're sojourns in South Florida are mostly confined to the hot spots such as South Beach, you're really missing out by not checking out the Redland and its environs. It's only less than an
hour's drive from downtown Miami, traffic permitting.

Grab some fresh fruit and delicious shakes and places such as Knaus Berry Farm (excellent!) and Burr's Berry Farm. Take a drive down Krome Avenue to downtown Homestead, where a lot of the city's original buildings have been restored (a remarkable feat considering the destruction from Hurricane Andrew 14 years ago).


Thursday, January 11, 2007

It's Not Easy

No es fácil.

Ask a group of Cuban-Americans about the U.S. travel restrictions on Cuba, and you're likely to get many diverse and impassioned answers. Of all the issues revolving around U.S. - Cuba relations, this is the one that has C-As the most divided.

Case in point: This post at Babalu, and make sure to check out the comments as well (the thread was excellent until a "nospinzone1" character showed up).

Another case in point: This Herald article which manages to present different views on the issue despite the author's attempts to steer it in a anti-restriction direction.

Despite the difference in opinions, Cuban-Americans move forward and live their lives, most with a deep understanding of both sides of the issue.

If this doesn't show that Cuban-Americans are indeed capable of "disagreeing agreeably" with each other, then I don't know what this.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

CODEPINK Cares About Cuba

Unfortunately, not the Cuba I'd like to see them care about.

A couple of days ago, Ziva warned us about CODEPINK's upcoming visit to Cuba to protest the treatment of the prisoners in Guantanamo.

Well, it looks like they have landed in Cuba, with none other than Cindy Sheehan to lead the charge.

In previous posts during the last year or so, I have been critical of CODEPINK's for their lack of concern regarding political prisoners and dissidents in Cuba. It appears that their main concern is to bash the United States and its policies, which on its own is their right.

What bothers me isn't their criticism of U.S. policy, as much as I don't agree with it, but their hypocritical stance regarding the lack of human rights in Cuba. CODEPINK is supposed to stand for social justice, yet where is their denouncement of the human rights violations in Cuba?

Perhaps they care more about being against U.S. policy than for human rights. Alas, they're not the only ones.


New Times in Cuba (UPDATED)

Not literally. I'm referring to that erstwhile South Florida weekly.

Alex from Stuck on the Palmetto points us to the first part of a series which the Miami New Times is running on Cuba. Keeping in mind the New Times' reputation as a left-leaning rag, my first reaction was...OK, when do the "Miami Mafia" and embargo bashings begin?

Much to my surprise, the first article in the series focused solely on the troubles of life in Cuba, and even takes shots at tourists (including Americans). We'll see what the rest of the series is like, but if the first part is any indication, it will be worth reading...even if they do end up taking some shots at us back home in Miami.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE 7:05 PM: Davie blogger El Gusano at La Contra Revolución also blogged on the New Times piece back on Wednesday and is hopeful that these type of articles is the beginning of a trend.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Cubans in Hollywood

A very interesting article from Hispanic Business appeared in my inbox a few days ago courtesy of Echuta. It deals with Cuban and Cuban-American actors in Hollywood, and how they fit - and don't fit - into the Hispanic mold that Hollywood so desperately seeks to create.

More specifically, it tackles the larger issue of skin color and how our culture tries to erroneously lump Hispanics, regardless of national origin, into the same group.
Fortunately, the United States has been good to Cubans, and by absorbing so many immigrant groups over the years, we see the heavily used metaphor of the melting pot in motion. The problem is that so many immigrants do not want their cultures to "melt." Mexico has such a different culture from Puerto Rico, and likewise from Cuba; these groups do not want to be meshed together as one single culture that is viewed by others as "Hispanic" or "brown." In fact, that right there is the origin of the problems that have followed: "being Hispanic" is not a culture; it is many cultures, and now it has become a surrogate culture that stands in for all the others. Americans will differentiate between a European and a Hungarian, but not between a Hispanic and a Mexican.

International stars like Gael Garcia Bernal (ed: he's Mexican) have American fan bases, and Univision and Telemundo have become or are part of major corporations. Occasionally, the American industry will fund a film such as "Spanglish" or "Real Women Have Curves," but there is still an image associated with people of Spanish-speaking origin and how they should look. Neither actress Cameron Diaz nor director George A. Romero meet this stereotype, and as a result, that both are half-Cuban is almost never brought up.

Another example is television star JoAnna Garcia. What is interesting about Ms. Garcia is that not only does she resemble the image of the all-American girl, but her roles, such as the teenaged mother or the cheerleader with coprolalia, play off and then satirize this image. Ms. Garcia was willing to speak with me on this issue. When asked about how being Cuban affects her own identity, she responded: "Looking the way I look, having blonde hair and green eyes, has obviously affected the roles I've been offered. I could easily have changed my name altogether, but I just never considered that, because it's my name and who I am."

Tampa native JoAnna Garcia plays Reba McEntire's daughter in the sitcom "Reba", and as the picture above illustrates, looks far from the Hispanic stereotype (if one actually exists). As this post from a while back points out, it's certainly not impossible for someone of Cuban heritage to have fair features, but that's another topic.

While I don't agree 100% with everything in the article, it's refreshing to see a publication that represents all Hispanics not fall into the "Hispanics are all the same" trap that so many pan-Hispanic organizations and entities fall into. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem considering myself a Hispanic, but trying to gloss over the differences that exist should be as disrespectful to proud Mexicans or Colombians as it should be to Cubans and Puerto Ricans.

I strongly recommend reading the entire thing, it's a bit long but worth it. It sums up with this dead-on statement:
The United States is a mixed bag. It is a difficult place to succeed, and there will always be forms of racism and ignorance, as well as what many would call "a history of imperialism in Latin America." But the sheer number of opportunities and individual forms of freedom that each citizen ultimately has is staggering. Forget the American dream: The values of this country are the human dream. It is absolutely true that despite all the flaws of the United States, Cuban Americans have been one of the most fortunate groups. It is amazing what immigrants and their children have been able to achieve in this system. Yes, they are doctors and attorneys, but perhaps most impressive of all, elected officials of the U.S. And they are certainly no longer strangers to Hollywood.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quick Saban Thought

"Stick it...South Florida."
"Two seasons is more than enough".

Either that or Saban's a fan of Ronnie James Dio.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Saban is Gone

I'm not surprised in the least, but as noted on Stuck in the Palmetto a little while ago, Saban really mucked up the whole process with his lack of honesty. He did it to LSU, and now he does it to the Dolphins.

According to this report by ESPN, he didn't even bother to show up at Dolphins HQ to meet with coaches, owner Wayne Huizenga and the media. He called up his coaches via telephone conference.

I wish him luck, but as good of an NFL coach as he may or may not have been had he stayed, this is NOT a devastating loss for the Dolphins. A slap in the face, yes. But Saban is not irreplaceable.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cuba-Related Stories

From Havana comes this:

(AP) -- Communist Cuba on Monday condemned the execution of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and called for the end to the war it said had caused the suffering of millions of innocent Iraqis. Hussein's execution by hanging over the weekend was ''an illegal act in a country that has been driven toward an internal conflict in which millions of citizens have been exiled or lost their lives,'' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official National Information Agency.

The statement acknowledged that Cuba ''has not yet abolished the death penalty because of the brutal war imposed on it by the United States,'' referring to the U.S. government's policy to undermine the communist country, including trade and travel sanctions.

Nevertheless, the island nation ''has a moral duty to express its point of view about the assassination committed by the occupying power,'' the statement said.

The U.S. military had held Hussein since capturing him in December 2003 but turned him over to the Iraqi government for his hanging.

And from the Palm Beach Post comes this story about what a post-fidel aftermath in South Florida may present.

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