Monday, June 11, 2007

Cuba y Puerto Rico son...






I was going to breakfast this morning when I noticed about a dozen Puerto Rican youths, draped from head to toe in their flag, waiting for a New York-bound bus to take them to the Puerto Rican Day Parade, now in its 50th edition. I confess that I got a lump in my throat not only because the Puerto Rican flag, the twin of our flag, and consecrated to that fraternal people by José Martí, stirs in me almost the same powerful emotions as does the Cuban flag, but also because I was touched by their simple patriotism. When it comes to patriotism, simplicity is its highest expression.

I am sure that none of them knows anything about Puerto Rico; most may not even speak Spanish and those that do would probably surprise us with their innovations to the language. Few, if any, have visited the island, which would have allowed the senses to absorb everything that one can find in books. And yet, wonderful miracle of Nature and nurture, they feel Puerto Rican: it is what they are and what defines them in a great and notoriously absorbing city and nation.

This is instinctive patriotism, which flows in the veins and to the heart, bypassing all other internal organs (including the brain). It used to be that music, at least, bound them to Borinquén, but now hip-hop has replaced el punto. I suppose that their grandmothers still cook arroz con gandules and they eat it, but that is probably their only tangible connection to an island 3, 4 or more generations removed from their personal experience. And, still, there is their flag, with which they adorn themselves not just on this special day, but every day of the year. Their flag is beautiful, modelled as it is on our own. But there must be some other explanation for their love of it and identification with it; there must be, but, try as I might, I can't uncover it.

Which leaves us with the flag itself as the repository of history, culture and civics, not just the emblem of the nation but the palpable thing itself. Those who burn the flag, any flag, understand this, and those who support their right to do so do not understand it. If they did understand the real significance of the flag they would never support that so-called right.

The history of the Puerto Rican people is relatively uncomplicated as compared to ours. Our star sits in a triangle of blood; theirs in a serene sea of blue. On the island their historians have studied the Grito de Lares, which lasted all of one day, as thoroughly as our historians have the Grito de Yara, which lasted ten years. Every fact of their history and culture is explored and re-explored, and they revere all their prohombres whatever their political stamp, whether separatists, autonomists or annexationists (to Spain or the U.S.). Confronted as they are every day by the beauty of their country it is no wonder they love it; but I believe that they don't love it any more than those youths waiting for the bus yesterday.

God grant that, if nothing else, Cuban exiles have been able to inculcate that same love of country in their progeny born in this country or raised here; for we are in greater need of that instinctive patriotism than our Puerto Rican brothers (with Dominicans, the only brothers we have in this world). For in Cuba, there are vast numbers who hate our flag, who hate our country, who hate Martí. Not just those who have profaned our flag for 48 years but even their victims who react against the symbols which the enemies of our country have appropriated and used to cover their worst crimes. It is my hope and should be the hope of us all that this is a temporary delusion which will be dispelled as soon as our flag again flies over a free country. If it is not dispelled the future will not bode well for our unhappy country.

In any case, all will not be lost if Cuban youth, raised or born here, espouse that instinctive patriotism, always beautiful, but never more beautiful than when witnessed in the young.

24 comments:

Fantomas said...
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Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fantomas:

I am more than sure. I have known hundreds if not thousands of transplanted Puerto Ricans in my life and the only ones who actually knew something about the island were those born and raised there. Even when I tried to engage the others on the subject their minds were a blank and I ended up teaching them about their country.

I have a Cuban friend who has spent his entire life reciting Lola's famous poem to New York Puerto Ricans who had never heard of the poet or the poem (which every Cuban knows by heart).

[Incidentally, for our non-Hispanic readers:

"Cuba and Puerto Rico share
A bird's wings and cannot part:
Flowers and bullets they bear
Upon the very same heart."

Lola Rodríguez de Tió].

The trauma to which you refer does not occupy the young who have absolutely no problem adapting to dual identities, though in such a compromise the Puerto Rican side usually gets short shift).

If I were a Puerto Rican, I would be an advocate of independence. Even not being a Puerto Rican I am still an advocate of independence for the island. To be anything else would be to betray the legacy of Betances, Hostos, and, yes, Martí, who founded the Cuban Revolutionarty Party to obtain the independence of both islands.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fantomas:

Yes, only 3 percent and the wrong 3 percent (for the most part). Nevertheless, it the duty of every Cuban to support independence for Puerto Rico. To do otherwise would be to betray the memory of all the heroes and martyrs we share in common. A great deal of Puerto Rican blood was shed for Cuba's independence, too, and Cubans will never be indifferent to that fact or fail to repay that obligation. Also, without Puerto Rican independence, we can never hope to form the Confederation of the Greater Antilles which was the most cherished hope of Betances, Hostos, Martí and Luperón.

Being true to ourselves means being true to history.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

P.S.:

I agree with you this far: Any Cuban residing in Puerto Rico who votes in favor of annexation to the U.S. in a plebiscite is a traitor to both our countries. To vote for independence or to abstain from voting are the only options open to Cuban residents in Puerto Rico.

Vana said...

Manuel:
There is a song by Portabales, that cries (I have to do it in Spanish, maybe you can translate it, I'm not very good at it)

Mi Puerto Rico querido
como sufre tu isla hermana
el pajaro ha sido herido
y hoy sangra una de sus alas.

I don't have to tell you, that I cry every time I listen to it.

Through the years Cubans have always sung their love, to la Isla del Encanto, there are numerous songs I have heard, no doubt we are brothers.

Fantomas said...

it the duty of every Cuban to support independence for Puerto Rico

Wrong... 1000 times. Most cubans are pro american and would not support independence.. Repito NO SOMOS NOSOTROS QUIENES VOTAREMOS. EN UN REFEREMDUN SOLO LOS PUERTORRIQUEÑOS DEBEN HACERLO.CUBANS NEED TO GET THEIR HANDS OFF THIS ISSUE

Any Cuban residing in Puerto Rico who votes in favor of annexation to the U.S. in a plebiscite is a traitor to both our countries.

BROTHER AHORA SI PIENSO QUE ERES UN GRADUADO CON HONORES DE MAZORRA CON ESE COMENTARIO. dIME EN QUE AÑO TE DIERON EL DIPLOMA

Manuel I observed you a long time ago at Corrals blog...when I used to go there signing as Pee Wee herman ..Remember? I never liked you since back then ... With the above comments you made I like you even less..now

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fantomas:

Here's a FLASH for you: I am not in a popularity contest. Whether you like me or not, like me a little or not at all, doesn't concern me.

And, yes, I remember Pee-Wee. You are at least less radical now than you were on Oscar's blog.

It is always good to see improvement, though I am afraid you may have gone too far and turned into a neo-annexationist.

!Ya No Mas! said...

Manuel:

I agree with you 100%.I'm Cuban/American born and raised here in New York City. I have numerous of Puerto Rican/American acquitances who cannot speak proper spanish. they crack the code of white America, they're fluent in “standard” English, but when it comes to Spanish, they're left struggling to express themselves. I can understand a great deal, though with some effort, but I can speak spanish fairly well.Usually, I’m too ashamed at my lack of skill to even attempt to speak Spanish to latino strangers. My mother was indeed raising me to be fluent in white America’s language, both the spoken language and the body language, because to her, that was the key to my success. And was she wrong? Probably not.The Puerto Rican youth here are entwined deeply in a different culture, saddly, but true..they don't know anything about puerto rico. Two different society upbringing U.S.A and Puerto Rico, of course the youth in Puerto Rico are more focus about their culture but not the Puerto ricans youth here.All this comes with a price: a distance, a disconnection, insecurities, and being perceived as “too white” and “not Puerto Rican or Cuban enough” by other latinos. The Nuyorican here like many cuban/americans we have in fact lost a little of ourselves, our authenticity, our connection to our people.but in another, sad way, because of a certain trade off that can exist between cracking the code and preserving your ties to your culture and your people, it’s true.
Be my guess,Fantomas ask any puerto rican youth here about what the United States did to Puerto Rico in 1898 and since.the lies of Operation Bootstrap and the uniformed experimentation with birth control pills on Puerto Rican women and Agent Orange in El Yunque. About Vieques and the atrocious history of the military including El Massacre de Ponce.I wondered why the parade did not reflect these historical realities as well as the contemporary struggles that dominated their daily lives. Why didn’t The Parade pay homage to the many nationalist heroes and heroes that came out of the colonial relationship created by the United States? So,stop being a hypocrite...

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

ya no más!:

With many Puerto Ricans and Cuban-Americans born or raised in this country, it really is a question of the right or left hand. They can do the job with either hand but naturally prefer the right (if they are right-handed) because it allows them the greatest dexterity. Anyone who has had an accident and found himself having to use the non-dominant hand all the time knows the frustration inherent in it. So it is with Spanish and English. The two languages, however, are not mutually-exclusive and it is possible to be proficient in both. The important thing is for parents to teach their children both languages from the cradle. If children learn both languages together there will never be a disconnect between them. The Cuban-way is to teach the baby Spanish first and let him pick up English in school, and that seems to work too for most intents and purposes.

Fantomas said...
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Fantomas said...

Review of Review of Cuban American Blogs..

Primer Review... just testing

Just testing.... Bonita bandera..Se parece mucho a la cubana

!Ya No Mas! said...

I agree with you, Manuel teaching our kids from the start.

CorgiGuy said...

Manuel assimilation is not betrayal of home country, but mere survival in the pursuit of happiness.

The idea of Patriotism and Identity seem to be at odds in most immigrants. Being detached from your roots and having to melt to into the pot is a challenge we all face. The process of "growing up American" ranges from smooth acceptance to traumatic confrontation, depending on your individual make up and the social context that receives you. The love of your birth country, traditions, value, historical heroes, gives way to the every day reality of putting food in the table, paying the bills, moving on up the social lather.

For some of us assimilating into the American society is the key to a comfortable life. Some of us trade partriotism for individualism and realize that our identity is derived from our unique set of experiences and that makes all the difference.

Is Hard to swallow Patriotism on empty stomach.

!Ya No Mas! said...
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!Ya No Mas! said...

Wow!fantomas:

Some people just can carry that load.Fantomas you can't handle a debate?Why don't you come and debate us if you think you're so good. If a blogger can't handle the rough stuff, they need to simply find another hobby. Maybe,pursuit stamp collecting.

Fantomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fantomas:

The authors of the comments exercised their discretion to delete them. Usually this is done because the author has re-written the comment. I myself, of course, do not delete comments.

Fantomas said...

Bueno dime de que quieres hablar ahora?

Alguna noticia de fifo o del chaburro?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fantomas:

As a resident of Puerto Rico, you are entitled by law to vote in any future plebiscite on the status of the island regardless of whether you were actually born there. Whether fair or not this disposition is supported by the U.S. Constitution and can't be altered.

So how would you vote, fantomas? Or would you?

Nationhood, annexation or commonwealth.

Fantomas said...
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Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fantomas:

You have left me speechless, though I appreciate your honesty. Only 90 days? Even we managed to survive for 50 years.

Fantomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fantomas:

That's right. Puerto Ricans are not Cubans. They've never killed their own.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

The following comment was made by the late tocororo_frikki on June 11, 2007 at 8:29 PM and subsequently deleted by the author. Since it is surely one of his last comments before his heroic death last year, we have retrieved it and are re-posting it in his memory. His views are controversial and thought-provoking, but so was the man himself:

Well, I strongly disagree!
with some things and I strongly agreed with others views. The young Puerto Ricans in the metro area are not too white at all

I think the main problem with the youngs Ricans is that they identify themselves with the Afro-American community in all aspects, they think, dress, act, eat, sleep and fuck like a Afro- Americans. Gansta life at his finest.

At least we rockers play music for fun, get loaded and of course pussy... unlike the rappers that kill each others, big macho man with a fucking gun!

Just listen to their lovely lyrics, and too think that people say that metal is satan music... yeah we all know that!

I also have great friends from Puerto Rico, born and raised in the island and totally different Puerto Ricans, so tellechea has a very good point.


6/11/2007 8:29 PM