My dear fellow Cuban-Americans:
Regarding President Obama’s announcement yesterday about moving towards normalizing US-Cuba diplomatic relations, if in the past 55 years you, or anyone in your family has:
1. Traveled to Cuba – don’t care about your reason(s)
2. Sent packages
3. Sent money
4. Attended performances of visiting Cuban artists to the U.S.
5. Etc., etc., etc….
With all due respect, you don’t get to criticize the President on his actions. Why? Because in case you have not put two and two together, your aggregate cash infusions to Cuba over the past few decades have been key in propping up and sustaining the Castro regime. You were front and center in providing life-support to a dictatorship otherwise doomed to failure.
You see, that has been our dirty little secret. Un secreto a gritos. We too are part of the problem, and not as we like to think of ourselves, the obvious solution. We, the Cuban refugees living in the United States are overall largely responsible for the failure of the U.S. embargo. Whether you realize it or not, that one is on us. We created an underground economy in Cuba that made the embargo ineffectual and a certain failure. With our actions, we in fact violated the very embargo we so passionately have been trying to hold on to.
This is especially true of the period immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moscow was fighting for its own survival and could no longer help Cuba financially. That was the time to tighten the screws from our end. That responsibility did not rest solely on the shoulders of the United States Government. That responsibility was also ours as Cuban-Americans, and we failed the test miserably.
I am not questioning the humanitarian angle of the outreach and interaction of those who chose to visit Cuba and send money and goods to family; family that in many instances proactively chose to stay behind. What I am saying is that you do not get to have it both ways. The right to criticize President Barack Obama’s new policy towards Cuba is strictly reserved for those of us who never indulged or wavered in our steadfast opposition to Fidel Castro and the way he destroyed a thriving nation and decimated families.
I have a lot more to say about this. I’ve been waiting for over 40 years do so. Stay tuned.
Washington, D.C. – Thirteen years ago today we lost my dad José Julio Morales to Alzheimer’s disease. Dad, or Papi as I called him, had no money or wealth yet he was and still is the richest man I’ve ever known.
Dad was a consummate journalist, a seasoned political reporter who if alive today, would be appalled by what passes for journalism. He would be outraged by what so many in the media are deliberately doing to his beloved profession purely for the sake of ratings and $$$$. My father was a professional who knew the difference between news & opinions and he NEVER passed one off as the other. Papi was not afraid to call anyone out, especially politicians – he did so in Cuba and continued the practice in his adopted homeland of the United States when we came here as exiles in 1968. He believed this was his life’s mission and battle to fight: to arm people with straight, unfiltered information that would allow them to form their own opinions and make informed decisions. His weapons of choice – a pen and a typewriter; his armor – truth. Dad did not earn boatloads of money doing this, but he did earn the respect and admiration of just about everyone, including his adversaries.
“Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth; for being correct; for being you. Never apologize for being correct or for being years ahead of your time. If you are right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you a minority of one, the truth is still the truth.” Ghandi. I thought it would be fitting to include this quote as part of this tribute. He lived that credo and followed his true North every day of a long & blessed life. He taught and expected us to do the same; I am indeed my father’s daughter.
Papi enjoyed living life to the fullest and was a man with his priorities straight – family (including extended family) always came first. He handled adversity with dignity & grace and never compromised his principles or sacrificed his family to make or save a buck. He was a man of integrity, substance, honor, and grit. He knew the value of money, but was smart enough to also know money could never replace the power of unconditional love and family. He was a compassionate man who never judged anyone and would be very disappointed if those he loved were to do so; he taught us not to be judgmental. He had an uncanny sense of humor; a delightful personality and a strong sense of community, love of country and more importantly love of God. He lived his life well & was well-loved. He gave of himself when he had nothing material to give and when the end came, that was in fact his greatest gift and legacy.
I miss my Dad terribly, but I know that on October 7, 2001 instead of losing him, I gained a very personal angel – someone to watch over me always. I’m certain he is right beside me, taking care of me the same way he did when he was alive. My father hated sadness and funerals, so tonight instead of tears and mourning, I will raise a glass to celebrate his life and how lucky I am to have had him in my life. Gracias por todo, papi.
Love you dad. Te quiero mucho Papi y te echo de menos cada día más. xoxo