By José Manuel Pallí, Esq.
Miami used to be the capital of the Cuban exile community. But lately it has turned into a hive for exiles from many other countries in our hemisphere as well.
Curiously, most of these other exile communities appear to crave for the advice and for the blueprint of the Cuban exile community when seeking a return to a freed homeland. And I say curiously because, normally — I know, “normally” and “Miami” seldom match —, when you hire a consultant, you first look at his or her record. Following the footsteps of a community that has gallantly but futilely sought to free its homeland for over 50 years without making even a dent on the status quo requires an unreal dose of optimism or a staunch belief in wishful thinking, its faithful companion.
These new exile communities among us have even developed the same rationalizations that we Cubans have for years resorted to: They claim it is the Cuban intelligence services that have undermined democracy in their homelands forcing them to flee to Miami, and that their present governments are actually run from Havana. And I do not mean to say Cuba does not try to subvert other societies or support their allies in them; it probably does. But by turning Cuba into “the” only source of a given country’s many problems and magnifying its influence to the point of believing it is insurmountable, the “solution” becomes “no (Chávez/Evo/Correa, you name it), no problem.” And barring the dreamy hopes for a U.S. intervention, this means the biological “solution” we Cuban-Americans are foolishly counting on …
They also claim that it is only by the grace of the Cuban propaganda machine, able to dupe mankind as a whole, that those governing their respective homelands are not perceived as the despots and bandits they truly are. So they demonize the OAS and its Secretary General, the vast majority of countries in the hemisphere, and even the U.S. government for not doing what should be done, while parading through Miami-based institutes and academic forums a number of politicians from back home who will restore the exiles’ dreamland, even if not a single one of them has been able to garner the support of 10 percent of the voters behind him or her in any recent election.
A few days ago, while traveling abroad, I found myself speaking highly of my congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in front of a group of people that included an official from the Cuban Ministry of Justice. He shot back this question, to the delight of other members of the group: “How can you speak so highly of ‘the fierce she-wolf’?” (la loba feroz, I learned, is how they refer to her in Cuba, and this brought to mind how one of Chavismo’s brightest opponents, Teodoro Petkoff, once referred to my congresswoman: Una gorila impresentable). I explained to the whole group, my fellow Cuban included, how simplifying a very bright, noble and effective politician like my congresswoman by characterizing her in those absurd terms was self-defeating for those who saw her as their enemy. How she has helped not just Cubans but Hispanics at large from a seat in Congress that once belonged to Claude Pepper (another sensitive and sensible politician), and how valuable her seniority in the U.S. House of Representatives is for all of us who she represents.
But upon my return to Miami and after reading my congresswoman’s “reactions” to those wanting to remove Cuba from the State Department’s terrorist countries list, and to the talks — on postal and immigration matters — the United States and Cuba are newly engaged in, I was reminded that it is not any Cuban propaganda machine’s prowess that keeps our USA and our Cuban exile cause in the doghouse as far as many people in Latin America are concerned. It is our own self-defeating freedom-fighting blueprint, the one other exile communities want to copy, that keeps us there. If we stick to that kind of discourse not even the most resourceful among our “Madmen” will be able to free us from that doghouse.
Some of the most outstanding members of those new exile communities living among us carry résumés proudly showing they served in past governments — not always democratically elected — in their homelands, and yet, they seem not to think they share any responsibility for the present state of their countries’ affairs. It is all Cuba’s fault.
And this type of rationalization is perpetuated by all kinds of institutes, think tanks and lobbies, all of them the natural habitats for our many “experts” on this or that. Washington D.C. is still the epicenter of this sort of “expertise,” but Miami is catching up fast, specially when it comes to “explaining” Latin America to the rest of the nation.
But our Miamian explanations remain rooted in a stale world view — that which prevailed during the Cold War and lives on in our Cuban American freedom-fighting blueprint — that few can still take seriously, which is why we remain as isolated (from the rest of the world and from reality itself) and misunderstood as we are.
The world is changing at an ever-faster pace — Brazil, Turkey, Chile, Egypt are in turmoil this week, and it is anyone’s guess who may be next — but we in Miami have an abundance of “experts” with an explanation ready for it all, at a time when most sensible people in the world have abandoned the old political science tracts and have only questions about what is going on.
And our “experts’ ” explanations are based on the same variety of one-size-fits-all arguments that can be found in our freedom-fighting blueprint: Protesters are all pot-smoking fools (unless they protest against those governments we fled from, in which case they are freedom fighters), communists mostly, who cannot see the virtue in the creative-destructive capitalism a fellow “expert”, Mr. Schumpeter, lionized. And they claim everything will be solved through a bold dose of the kind ofinstitutionalism yet another “expert”, a Mr. North, prescribes.
There may still be time for our fellow exile nations in Miami to reconsider and try to come up with their own blueprints for freeing their homelands. They may still realize the only way they will be able to do so is working within their homeland. One caveat, though: Stay away from consulting with certain former Undersecretaries of State forLatin America who served under recent Republican presidents (and are now lobbyists) who bask in the light of the ridiculous claims your nemesis governments back home make about their involvement on conspiracies meant to destabilize or overthrow them. These guys are not interested in your countries’ well-being — only in their own well-being, not even their country’s — and serious diplomats tend to see them as ridiculous as they see those conspiracy claims made against these fellows; and as they see our self-defeating Cuban-American blueprint.
The damage being made to the United States’ ability to interact fluidly and fruitfully with is neighbors in the hemisphere by this fixation with Cuba and with obsolete geo-political stances that no one else even understands is ever climbing, as is its toll. It is high time for all Americans to get involved in this issue and put an end to this nonsense by demanding a review of U.S. policies towards Cuba and the region as a whole.
José Manuel Pallí, who was born in Cuba and studied law in Argentina, is president of Miami-based World Wide Title. He can be reached a firstname.lastname@example.org.