Miami Ideology: A Short History
Those of us who are Americans of Cuban descent or birth are often passionate about the situation in Cuba. Because it is personal, natural-born U.S. citizens should not expect us to tolerate a typically positive and lofty view on a revolution that has made it intolerable to live in the country they still love.
Often, voting in Miami comes down to this: Which candidate supports the embargo, and which candidate will come out stronger in favor of freedom and democracy in Cuba?
Imposing democracy is not a bad thing as long as it is democracy that we’re imposing and not some other form of government. This view of the world may have to do with Cubans’ history of volatile politics and their still unachieved dream for complete freedom of the people who live on the island. In essence, the dream of José Martí is still unachieved and must live on.
The reason why Miami Cubans come off as so radical is because they still possess the 1959 mentality of fighting for freedom. Few groups of people did so much to try to undermine a totalitarian government like that of Cuba’s as those men and women who now live in Miami.
Most importantly, they seem radical because they lived through the radical and radically changing years after the revolution that changed their country for the worse and in ways they could not imagine. Most Cubans in Miami never supported dictator Fulgencio Batista, despite popular belief. They actually believed in the revolution to replace Batista with a democratic government, as Fidel Castro originally promised.
When Cuban exiles say, however, that they lived better under Batista, that they at least had economic freedom although they had little political freedom, they get called right-wing extremists. It is not true that they are and it is not true that they supported Batista. The reason why the revolution was so successful was because Batista was so unpopular, so crooked, and so corrupt.
Furthermore, the opinion that Che Guevara is a murderer and oppressor is nearly universal because the story of Che is synonymous with the communism that persists in Cuba.
In essence, Cubans look not at what Che Guevara may have said or may have inspired, but instead what Che supported and helped implement in their own country. It was – in fact – the Cuban people, not others, who saw their humble homes confiscated and their families made to do forced labor for the revolution. It was Che Guevara who inspired and implemented these things in Cuba. There is no doubt that other Hispanics in Miami have heard their personal stories and are influenced by them to have negative opinions of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, too.
The opinion that elite Hispanics all immigrate to Miami is false. You need not be elite to have negative opinions of individuals like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Many Venezuelans who live in Miami are also eligible to vote in Venezuela’s elections and do so from Miami, mostly against Chavez.
They do this because they have come to know the freedoms of the U.S. and believe, having taken advantage of them, that they are valuable and indispensible. They want the poor to be empowered in their country, but they do not believe that the empowerment of the poor has to come at the price of losing essential freedoms.
They learn a lot from their Cuban neighbors and do not want to fall into the same path into which Cuba has fallen. Venezuelans have become increasingly visible in anti-Chavez protests; they support tough measures to salvage the rights of their fellow Venezuelans.
Hondurans believe, as Venezuelans do, that the rights they have experienced in the USA cannot be sacrificed for empowering the poor. The Congress and Supreme Court of Honduras standing up to Manuel Zelaya’s attempts to consolidate presidential power, and follow the footsteps of Castro and Chavez, were mostly welcomed by Hondurans in Miami. Their experience with knowing the Cuban and Venezuelan stories – stories that are all too real in Miami – causes them to stand up the way they do.
Perhaps defenders of freedom may come across as strong and radical to those who have never had to defend their freedoms, but immigrants in Miami are well aware of the sacrifices of defending that freedom. They had to live in a time where freedoms were stripped of nations in their entirety, and the natural result of the time was to fight vigorously and endlessly.
The stories of these freedom fighters still resonate among later generations because they are so well known and talked about in Miami. Sometimes leaving Miami, and realizing how unique these stories are, may be the only way to appreciate their true value.
To Cubans and Venezuelans and other Hispanics in Miami, government handouts are the equivalent of intrusive government policies that closely resemble those of the communist, pro-communist, and despotic governments they left behind. Many believe that the programs naturally make people feel entitled, resulting in the perpetual and unstoppable growth of government which they have experienced for themselves. They don't trust it from experience and this, too, shapes the Miami Ideology.