Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Wish for Cuban Youth: Part 7

This post marks the seventh entry for the current Roots of Hope blog prompt: "My Wish for Cuban Youth."

“…Pero tampoco es difícil”

By Mike Riley

At what point will it stop? When will it be over? Has anything changed lately? If so, is it for the better or for the worse? These are questions that a typical Cuban-American will ask himself whenever “El Canal 23” comes on at 6:00pm EST mentioning the word “Cuba”. For years I have grown up, and learned simple rules from family: No one likes Fidel Castro, you’re his enemy, and that communism is bad. Very simple. Stick to those rules and a Cuban-American can be a real Cuban in the United States without being seen as an outcast or “cubano repentido”. As I got older into the teenage years, everything became complicated with the history and our progress as an ethnicity, because lets face it, most Cuban-Americans are born in the United States yet know very little of the history is to why they were born in the United States and not Cuba. What it didn’t complicate was my wish for Cuban youth and the future of Cuba: To live in freedom, and to ensure that the voices of the Cuban people are never silenced again

I do not mean to say that their current efforts are in vain, but they need support. Their voices cannot fall on deaf ears and we, as a community, need to listen at all times. With that in mind, I also believe we, as Cuban-Americans need to educate the rest of the world about what is going on. I have met many people who have demonstrated poor knowledge of the struggles the people of Cuba face today.


I had my moment of clarity.

We need not only to support our Cuban brothers and sisters but also to attempt to educate the world about why change is needed. I can’t help but feel offended when I talk to people who don’t seem to grasp the reality of Cuban life today because, having experienced it, it remains a highly personal issue for me and for most of my family. Incidences life these, however, re-affirm my pride in being a Cuban, and remind me that I should do everything in my power to help. I have family suffering in Cuba to this day, worried about living, eating, and having clothes for themselves. They did not choose this lifestyle and it would be morally unjust to let this continue. I myself am only one of hundreds of thousands of Cuban-Americans with personal stories of their own and how they connect to Cuba.

Recently, the world has watched as the people of Tunisia, Egypt, and currently Libya, have revolted against oppression and dictatorship. Egypt and Tunisia have successfully and peacefully had their voices heard and are now rebuilding their governments respectively. Lives have been lost that should not have been. The people of Egypt and Tunisia, however, have changed their futures forever. With the backing of the international community and networking sites like Facebook/Twitter, they did what I thought was impossible.

The million dollar question now arises: Why can’t we do the same for Cuba?

This is how it all starts. Much like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “Dream”, Cuba’s dream has become a nightmare that she hasn’t woken up from in over 50 years. Although opinions on how to best go about it differ from person to person, the Cuban people cannot be afraid to pursue what they want. Some people say military action is needed, others say peaceful protests, but I say we need everyone involved. The people of Egypt received help from the world because everyone heard their voices and sympathized with them. Yoani Sanchez’s voice needs to be heard by everyone so that everyone will know what really is going on. Ours, and more importantly the voices of the Cuban youth need to be heard so that we can prove to people around the world the following: Our cause is just, and we need to do something now. The world was watching Egypt and now Libya. It’s time to bring focus on the terrors that have been done on our people. So that one day, in our lifetimes, we can truly say what we have wanted to mean: “Viva Cuba Libre!”

I like the idea of having the Cuba Conferences because it brings all of us Cuban-Americans or anyone interested in the future of Cuba together to unite with one another and support ourselves while we discuss with experts and guest panelists on the Cuba situation as well as doing the best we can to support the future of Cuba with their Cell Phones for Cuba program in which they ask for donations of old cell phones not in use, so that the people of Cuba can have them. This is my wish for Cuban youth in 2011: to have the world’s attention finally directed toward them, to let them know that they have an audience, and that their actions will have even greater meaning as people recognize that change can and must occur in Cuba. I titled this essay as such because it is a phrase I hear constantly in Miami and in Havana. People start by saying “No es fácil,” but then they go on to say, “…pero tampoco es difícil,” meaning it’s not easy, but nor is it hard. We know change will not be easy, but as the numbers grow and the voices get louder, perhaps then it won’t be so hard to see the change that is due for Cuba.

Mike Riley was born in Miami, FL to Cuban parents, has visited Cuba several times, and will continue to make the effort to give his family and the people of Cuba hope.

The views expressed by individuals on this forum do not necessarily represent the positions held by Raices de Esperanza.

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