[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Jackie Bueno Sousa's Cuban Problem

Monday, July 13, 2009

Jackie Bueno Sousa's Cuban Problem

Been catching up to the latest musings of our favorite Miami Herald columnists, and not one, but two of Jackie Bueno Sousa's columns perked my interest. The first one, back on June 28th, served as a good reminder not to draw conclusions about minorities based on the actions of some. The second one, written exactly one week later, implores us to admit that Cuban-Americans have a knack for looking the other way when some of their own scam the government or other big business, whether it's Medicare, the mortgage/real estate industry, or anything else.

If you would have told me that Sousa wrote the first column and Carl Hiaasen the second, I wouldn't have batted an eye. The fact that Sousa wrote both is puzzling, not to mention amazingly contradictory, for a major newspaper columnist to pen exactly one week apart. Oh, and that Sousa is Cuban-American.

Somehow, the Cuban-bashers that wrote to Sousa in the wake of her first column made an impression on her. She basically admits as much. These folks apparently managed to convince Sousa in the span of one week that there is more than just a kernel of truth in the perception that Cuban-Americans as a whole have a bad tendency to "accept" dishonesty and fraud.

Good Jackie circa June 28th, 2009:
Certainly many Cubans have been involved in the recent strings of Medicare fraud arrests, and I wouldn't even be surprised if, as some believe, the Cuban government were benefiting from a scam that totals hundreds of millions of dollars. But the notion that Cubans are primarily responsible for such a popular criminal scheme highlights a myopic mentality in vogue these days.
Not-so-good Jackie circa July 6th, 2009:
While the overwhelming majority of Miami's Cuban community consists of honest, hard-working people, there's a certain passivity and acceptance in how we react to those who do engage in such fraudulent acts.
Yes, there are Cuban-Americans that take advantage of the system and commit all sorts of fraud, major and minor. I know some. Is it enough to categorize as a broad "acceptance" issue for Cuban-Americans as a whole? Of course not. A columnist with basic smarts and common-sense principles such as Sousa should know that. If I'm wrong or just simply naive, prove it to me (and no, distant relatives in Cuba don't count as broad anecdotal evidence).

Whenever Cubans pound their chest and proclaim that they turned Miami from a small meaningless town in the swamp to a major metropolis, I cringe. Whenever non-Cubans blame Cubans for South Florida's problems, I cringe. Whenever one generalizes the bad of their own group, I cringe.

I play no favorites here. If our local history has taught us something, it's that each and every ethnic group that has set up camp in South Florida has its share of successes and downfalls that we can point to. Just like the rest of the world. In the end, we all put our pants on the same way and have to deal in the real world with both good and not-so-good individuals.

The main underlying problem we DO have as a community is this: we have a tendency to see the worst in our neighbors, especially if they're from "somewhere else" (which they almost inevitably are). It's largely because we don't see ourselves as being from Miami, but from "somewhere else", with the invariable "where I'm from, we don't do things this way" attitude that comes attached with the misplaced sense of ethnic/regional/national pride. It's therefore no surprise that Sousa got the type of letters she did in response to her spot-on first column (why her knees turned to jelly afterward remains a mystery). With all of our diverse groups serving as experts in pointing out each other's flaws, you would think our problems would have been resolved a long time ago, right? Yeah.


Blogger La Ventanita said...

Simply I think this whole notion that one side needs to apologize for the other is ridiculous. When does it stop?

As a Cuban American, I need to condemn Cubans for defrauding Medicare.

As a Conservative I need to condemn when other conservatives misbehave.

As a Latina I need to condemn Latino gangs and crime rate.

As an American I need to condemn when another American acts improperly.

What's next? As a Caucasian condem the next caucasian crime?

These are not my actions, nor the actions of my community. These are the actions of others and they are responsible for them not me.

No one faction of a group apologized for the action of a few of their group.

9:35 AM, July 14, 2009  
Blogger Robert said...

You just put your finger on it, LV. If we're going to go down the "blame the ethnic group" route, why stop at Cubans? Are we the only ones that's it's OK to pick on, even by those within our own group? (not the desired outcome, obviously, but merely echoing your comment on how ridiculous this whole thing can be).

1:18 PM, July 14, 2009  

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