Saturday, April 26, 2008

Notable & Naive: No, Monica, We Are All "Cuban Nationals"

"Some of the artists [at the exhibit] are exiles, others are nationals." -- Monica, "Unbroken Ties: Dialogues in Cuban Art," Babalú, April 25, 2008

Babalú's youngest contributing writer, Monica, is always a source of amusement. Young people never draw my anger. I am glad that they have any interest in Cuba, let alone devote any part of their lives to her behalf. What if they do use the spurious names that Castro has given to Cuba's provinces? The fact that Cuba is a tabula rasa to them, at best known second-hand, covers a lot of territory, or, rather, excuses any number of errors that they might commit in an honest effort to understand our country. Cuba is, of course, their country, too.

The Constitution of 1940, still Cuba's only de jure fundamental law, grants the children of Cuban parents citizenship, and those children, having claimed Cuban citizenship, can pass it on to their foreign-born children, and so, unto all future generations born in exile. Which is to say, that not only the children of Cubans are Cubans, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the last generation are Cubans too. This should be a comfort to all of us: Fidel Castro has not been able to rob us of our nationality nor our descendents of their patrimony (or matrimony, since under the 1940 Constitution the children of Cuban mothers born outside the national territory enjoy the same citizenship rights as the children of Cuban fathers, which was a rare concession for those patriarchal times).

That much said, and in the spirit of instruction rather than chastisement, let me say that Monica has made the biggest "boo boo" in Babalú's history (as Henry once dubbed his own monumental gaffes). There is no distinction between Cuban exiles and Cuban nationals. Cuban exiles are Cuban nationals no less than Cubans who reside on the island. If the art exhibit which Monica reviews has as its object to highlight the "unbroken ties" that bind us, then that is the firmest tie of all: our shared nationality.

I oppose alike Cubans in exile that do not regard Cubans on the island as "real Cubans" and Cubans on the island that refuse to see exiled Cubans as "real Cubans."

We are one people. Any deviation from that concept is treason.


Alex Hernandez said...

Cuban-American youth Aaahh, yea we're still learning our roots.It’s a very good article. We need to be taught Without the critical criticism.Your Blog is a important source of information for people like myself.without the unnecessary disturbance of course.

Alex Hernandez said...

When the facts are known, then our opinions are valid and worth hearing.

john longfellow aka lou dobbs said...

mat said: we are all cuban nationals.

Actually mat, i met many Cubans in miami, who denied being Cubans. Rather they insisted that they denounced being Cuban, and instead they were American.

Im not saying whether they were right or wrong. I am just saying that there are some Cubans who reject calling themselves Cuban or Cuban-American. Rather, they just preferred being called American.

Fantomas said...

Manuel Tellechea speaking about Alex Hernandez , NY a wanabe " national" at any price

No pasara

Fantomas feb 26, 2008

Young people never draw my anger. I am glad that they have any interest in Cuba, let alone devote any part of their lives to her behalf. What if they do use the spurious names that Castro has given to Cuba's provinces? The fact that Cuba is a tabula rasa to them, at best known second-hand, covers a lot of territory,

Thanks Mat I am glad you pointed him out

to alex: If you really want to learn more about the culture of your parents please go to Cuba Nostalgia May 16-18 , Miami florida

Mojitos on me

Vana said...

Treason indeed! is comforting to know that on the day Cuba becomes free, my children and their children, will be able to claim their citizenship from the land that saw my husband and I take our first breath.

Fantomas said...

Mat check this out

mira la importancia de no tener enemigos solo amingos en esto de los blogs y la importancia que los blogs estan obteniendo en el mundo entero

jorge said...

I feel the same way way about my Americanism, Manuel.

Do you feel as strongly about being an American?

Anonymous said...

Remember, M.A.T., that according to Mr. Prieto, there are "Cubans", like himself, and "Cubans of the Pressure Cooker", like the "Nationals". I hope it's all clear now.

CorgiGuy said...

ah!! the abusrdities of group identity. i rather value each other as unique individuals that have a common heritage.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Quite right. According to Val Prieto there are Cubans who are cooks (himself) and Cubans who should be cooked (those on the island).

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


We live on planet earth, where the world is divided into nations and the only ones who preach world government are precisely the ones least suited to institute it.

So long as this remains the case -- and it will remain the case forever -- we will all be bound to the nations of our birth or the nations of our selection.

The last time there were no nations unon the earth was before the advent of history and civilization.

Anonymous said...

That is just dumb. If Spain applied the same logic, my children could claim Spanish citizenship, even though my grandparents never set foot on the continent. It dilutes the significance of citizenship.

I can see being able to claim citizenship if you are the son/daughter of a naturalborn Cuban, but going beyond that is just ludicrous.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I am an American because I was born on the continent of America and for no other reason.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


We are our roots and whatever foliage we manage to grow ourselves.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


You will be surprised to learn that Spain passed just such a law last year. The grandchildren of Spanish citizens born abroad are now entitled to claim Spanish nationality. Under this law about 30 percent of Cubans are entitled to claim Spanish citizenship also.

Nothing "dumb" about this law and very convenient at the present.

CorgiGuy said...

mat you say

We live on planet earth, where the world is divided into nations and the only ones who preach world government are precisely the ones least suited to institute it.

Ok, one world goverment? not sure you got there. what does that have to do with indviduality vs group identity?

To let group identity define who you are seems absurd and meaningless to me.

Where i was born does not define who i am, is just part my story.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


We are obviously speaking past each other. Let us see if can align our thoughts (without losing our individuality).

Nationality defines us as much as anything else. You are not surely arguing that it does not. Perhaps you are arguing that it should not; but that is and will always be a moot point unless mankind some day manages to re-enter pre-history.

Nationality does not preclude individualism. A group -- unless it is the wrong type of group -- does not cancel out the individual.

Someone who, for example, hates his country is not on that account more individualistic than one who does not.

Nor, certainly, is one who desires the fusion of all mankind into one greater nation, whether politically or of the spirit, necessarily more individualistic than one who is content with the present arrangement of the world.

One fact is incontrovertible, however. As Martí observed, animals travel in herds and men in nations.

This is just the way it is.

CorgiGuy said...

mat, perhaps we are talking about 2 different things perhaps not.

I was addressing the subject of the thread "we are all cuban nationals" and the subject of cuban americans vs americans cubans vs cuban nationals.

The idea of defining oneself by a cuban american or american cuban identity is absurd to me, because it leads to a cultural clash a disharmony an incongruity that always results in one feeling out of place. Sort of like a hat in a refrigerator, totally out a place in a cold and indifferent place.

For me it makes more sense to view myself as a unique individual with a heritage and culture that i share with others.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


Well, we are getting closer to consensus anyway.

As I see it, there are 3 possible identifications for someone of Cuban heritage living here:

1). Cuban exile

2). Cuban-American

3). American-Cuban

The Cuban exile is simply a Cuban who resides in exile. Cuban is all that he knows how to be and all that he wishes to be.

The Cuban-American is an assimilated Cuban, who belongs already to America's hyphenated nation: proud of his ancestry, but identifying himself as an American.

The American-Cuban (a term coined by Henry Gómez to identify himself) is a yankófilo, which is what Martí called someone who admires excessively the U.S. while looking down on the Cuban people.

CorgiGuy said...

Ok, i would add 4th category called an individual of cuban heritage, this is someone that lives outside of the group yet cherishes is heritage.

The further you live away from your roots the more meaningless this labels/identity become. Just Try assert yourself as a cuban american in Pocatello Idaho, you will find yourself out of place.

KillCastro said...

This is one of those cases when I am going to disagree with Mr. T, and the cause of disagreement is not based to the fact that the 1940 constitution generously gave automatic citizenship to any child born of mother or father who where Cuban citizens.

The basic flaw in this system is that since that truly forward thinking law (in fact just in recent years Spain has done much to reclaim to its bosom anyone with a Spaniard heritage ) so yes in 1940 we looked to the future and gave those children the honor to be Cuban citizens. I am assuming that one of the advantages of the law was that children of Cuban parents would have a very easy way of getting to know the country which had granted them citizenship. Learn from our customs, our cultures. Feel embraced by the warmth of our sun and seduced by the caress of our beaches and while this love affair began , they would RIGHT there be able to claim THIS IS MY CUNTRY.
But .. 1959 came along and a huge fragmentation of families, ideals, agendas. The 1940 contitution was thrown in the garbage by both the KaSStrits hordes and many of its enemies. Cubans” embraced an endless stream of CUBANISMO, whatever was convenient at the time, for a particular purpose. And from that fragmentation many different Cubas were born . Whatever Cuba the parents conjured in their minds was passed to the children and Cuba stopped being a land and became an endless contradiction of political stances, personal whim and misdirected loyalty.

One of my first one to one communication with Henry Gomez came about because of his interest of the myth of “El tren blindado” . I was quite taken by this young man who did not know Cuba, had never been in Cuba but yet something tugged at his heart strings and wanted to know more and extract the truth. Indeed I was very proud that those who inherited the citizenship were as adamant as to Cuba’s liberty as those who suffered its darkest hours in the flesh. Soon I would find that you can not just be Cuban by decree. Henry Gomez , began dictating CUBANISMO and clearly his CUBANISMO was very specific to his agenda. Everything was filtered an often tainted by the parents who gave the child the honor.
Now, one thing is to argue with a foreigner about your country and put them in their right place , another much more difficult thing is to argue with someone who claims the same nationality you have but who has no clue as to what it is they are talking about.

Some parents have done an amazing job of bestowing true CUBANISMO on their children, with no separation of “dirty laundry” and rose petals . THAT gets Cuba in your veins. Not a whimsical, made up Cuba that revolves around whatever experiences the parents had (or felt they had , like the “TUVOS” “You Tuve esto y lo otro) what is passed to the child is a compilation of falsehoods , conveniently leaving out whatever that was displeasing to them so at any given moment thousands of “Cubas” came to be .

You and I once argued why I insisted in calling KaSStro Cuba “KUBA” That was whimsical that was MY spin. That was my way to separate the Cuba of 1958 to the hell of 1959. You gave me then many valid arguments as to the folly of my caprice. But to me the Cuba that saw me be born and the Cuba I left were two different countries one driven by hopes, dreams, achievements and the other was a prison. I had to make that difference.
So when you inherent the citizenship which one do you inherit ? The CUBAN or the KUBAN? Are you really Cuban when you impose starvation on those who NOW live in the land you call home? . When you have no friends, noone who may give you a truer vision of what Cuba was than that given by your parents , who because circumstances have usurped a Country laid claim to whatever they felt entitle to and topped it off by building a chasm between those IN the Island and those outside . At that point, I rather set some provisos for the claim of Cuban nationality.

Time and time again I see second and third generation Cubans who do not speak Spanish, who talk about Cuba as they would a favorite baseball team, It is a fanatical cultish aura , but PATRIOTISM ? People who use their Cubanhood as a hobby or an exotic badge of courage. A badge which has not a god damn thing with the real Cuba. A fake, tainted, rusty , misshapen badge , but they pull it over and over again, and claim themselves PUNDITS. Of what?

Where the basics of what made Cuba great passed down to these men & women or was it the unfulfilled dreams of their parents? Blaming a Communist system for not having 9,000 cabellerias de tierra, when in fact their livelihood in Cuba was that of a simple clerk?

What Cuban hood are these people inheriting?, and HOW in the name of god dare they look south and feel superior to those there ?

A lot of parents have driven TRUE Cuban hood to the very core of children and grandchildren. You speak to them and their vision is clear, their Spanish the same Spanish you hear in any barrio in La Habana or Santiago. They know the history, they know the truths. But you find that the opposite it is indeed so appalling it makes your skin crawl. The Spanglish used by many (and these may actually be recent arrivals) makes my skin crawl and insults MY Cubanismo “La Trucka” “Estoy Ready” FUCK YOU, SPEAK SPANISH GOD DAMN IT

We have a language. A Spanish language enriched by traces of all of those who HAD to fight to get a Cuban citizenship, but here in the USA is utterly disrespected.

If you can not complete a conversation in Cuban Spanish without interjecting some utterance in English, I must doubt your nationality. Legal or inherited.

Here I know I am being harsh, because it is really not the fault of the children, but the nature of the circumstances and the reluctance of the parents to face any type of racism so the fastest you learn American Football, the better. The Spanish names were changed to the ridiculous “Jason Cabrera” or “Kimberly Rodriguez”,

I know someone who changed his last name to Hernn so his child would not be a Hernandez. But noone in the family spoke a word of English , although they would claim they were German!.
Does Cuban citizenship still apply? How, when you choose to divest yourself from its most basic elements. Circumstances I know but circumstances can and often do change the best of intentions.
I am sure Vana’s children will make any Cuban proud, Alex somehow could not have received a more Cuban education. No superiority complexes there, those down “there” are his brothers. How many of the younger generation can say the same?.

I have friends who after 28 years still forbid their children to mix Spanish and English. I know friends whose daughter celebrate their Quince and are not influenced by their American friend’s “liberty” or libertinage. ”TU ERES CUBANA, COMPORTATE COMO CUBANA”

In other words it was not a god given right it was a privilege, honor it.

To those 2nd , 3rd generation who have embraced your PATRIA not as a hobby or as a means to a goal I apologize . To those who have played at being Cuban because it serves a purpose I am hoping that the next constitution will not allow Cuban citizenship until you pass a citizenship test and embrace those Cubans left behind as TRUE countrymen. And if at ANY time your stance towards Cubans was to starve them to death , not only you are NOT Cuban , but spend so much needed time in prison with some of the Commies you professed to fight! When that moment comes , How do you think Mr. T that TREASON will be judged ?

CorgiGuy said...

KC, man that was great post! I read it several times!

Man PATRIOTISM, lots a crazy things are done and many innocent suffer in the name of PATRIOTISM. Reminds me of the poem Dolce et decorum est

Anonymous said...

Hi Killcastro,

I've been visiting and reading your site with interest for about 2 years now. I've been intrigued by your stance on issues. I almost started seeing your point of view on things kuban. I just didn't realize I was stringing my own noose in doing so!

I'm glad I stuck around long enough to read your essay. I finally figured out what it was all about. I finally confirmed I have absolutely NOTHING in common with you - and never will!

Thanks for opening my eyes and reminding me that we have completely different agendas.

If I don't speak kuban perfectly and use Spanglish I am unworthy. (check)

If I don't share all your life experiences I am unworthy. (check)

If I feel a permanent loyalty to the country that nurtured me for 97% of my life I am unworthy. (check)

You know what? This is liberating! All my life I've been unable to look away when Kuba was mentioned. I've shared my viewpoints with more compatriots (Americans) thyan I can remember. Silly me. It was probably hurting your cause! Who would have thunk?

No more. You've lifted a HUGE weight off my shoulders. From now on, I know where I stand. Right HERE. A land of people that did NOT think like you do. The land that accepted me if I accepted her.

I am finally an American. Like my children and my children's children, and so on.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


I believe that the only 2nd and 3rd generation Cubans who will avail themselves of their constitutional right to Cuban citizenship will be those who truly love Cuba in their hearts though they have never seen her with their eyes. The rest will visit as tourists and be content with that as 2nd and 3rd generation Italian-Americans or Irish-Americans are who visit the old country.

I see no danger from even the least "cubanized" of these potential Cuban citizens. Especially not from them. A Cuban who can't speak Spanish fluently and knows nothing about Cuban history or culture will not go far in a future democratic Cuba if his intentions are dishonorable. Cubans on the island are not dupes. Their eyes are more open now to frauds than at any other time in our history. You may be able to do anything to a Cuban in the future except fool him.

My reaction to Henry in the beginning was identical to yours. Although he was a grown man, in relation to Cuba, he was still very much a kid. Still, I was impressed by what seemed to me his spontaneous love for Cuba, and that, in itself, made all the rest irrelevant. Well, it was not irrelevant, as I was later to realize. His love was for the island but not for its people.

Of course, you know as well as I that Henrys are, thankfully, few. Still, I would not deny even him Cuban citizenship, again, because I trust in the judgment of the Cuban people, but, above all else, in Henry's own future irrelevance. He is only a danger now. A future free Cuba will render him harmless, or more than harmless -- a joke.

Fantomas said...

makes my skin crawl and insults MY Cubanismo “La Trucka” “Estoy Ready” FUCK YOU, SPEAK SPANISH GOD DAMN IT

Kill take for example Alex Hernandez from NY , an idiot who is tryinfg to be Cuban regardless

what would you say about someone like him who was born in this country

A real American cuban Alex hernandex is

Habla kill, te escucho consorte

Fantomas said...

oye kill vamos a a hablar cubano asere monina , oistes , te digo estas palabras porque ellas son 99% foreign to -alex

This guy goes from blog to blog trying to undermine the work that we do denouncing the regime

Sincerely Kill I have no idea what you have against me since I do the same thing you do

Con un estilo diferente , me entiendes consorte

Asi que vamos a dejar las pendejadas y vamos a seguir en lo de nosotros que es denunciar por el medio de estos blogs todas las hijaeputadas que se comenten alli

oye esto se habla asi , crudo a lo cubano sin miedo y sin translator


Anonymous said...

mat said about henry; His love was for the island but not for its people.

I am not sure about that. Henry, like Val demands an American invasion. One that would leave the Cuban landscape littered with unexpolded munitions, landmines never to be discovered, depeleted uranium from American tank shells. All of which would forever cause much of the Cuban landscape to be unusable for the Cuban population.

You cant love a land, if you wish to inflict this upon the beautiful Cuban landscape. The devil would, however.

Fulano de Cal said...

A very good topic, and one that crosses my mind daily when looking at my small kids, who were born in this country and whose mother, my wife, is an English-only American. Hell, even I can't keep myself from using "OK" when speaking Spanish to my family. At times I am sad that my kids will probably shy away from speaking Spanish, and that since we don't live in a close Cuban community they will have a funny accent. Some tolerance is in order for the spanglish of 1st & 2nd generation exiles because Castro is the the real cause behind their/our "dilution." Multiple generations of children, who should have been born in Cuba are losing their heritage because their families and country have been fractured and ruined. Anyway, this post does make a younger exile like me feel a bit better about some of his Americanization, and feel closer to his compatriots around this country.

MaT - good job on the Yale Daily News.

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

fulano de cal:

The "good news" -- or, rather, bad news -- is that the same dilution has been going on in Cuba for 49 years. Cuban youth have been badly taught our history and culture, even our language. This has not been done casually by the regime, but intentionally. In fact, diluting the idiosyncratic Cuban character has always been its principal mission, second in importance only to destroying the Cuban family.

So do not fear. Your children will be able to communicate very well with their cousins in Cuba and both will profit immensely from this association.

Cubanidad is in the heart first. If it is there, then everything else can be added to it. If it is not, then nothing else will avail us.

Vana said...


Yes my children are Cuban to the core, I don't know if because both my husband and I are Cuban, or because of my fierce Cubanidad that they feel that way, I'll go further my daughter married an Italian-American, he has adopted our ways, he cooks Cuban, he listens to Cuban music, he cannot wait for Cuba to be free, I'm very proud of them.

All you have to do is gaze upon La Tierra Mas Bella, and those 2nd 3rd or 4th generation Cubans will fall in love with her, I have never forgotten her, and instill my love of her on all I love.

Esteban Colvert said...

M A T,

My parents came to the United States from Cuba in 1955 of their own volition. I was born in the USA and got to visit Cuba about twice a year until about 1961. I consider myself an American of Cuban descent/heritage/parentage you can pick the word. They instilled in me a great love for Cuba that I still have til this day. What I don't like (or get)is people impugning me for my choices or my feelings. Jose Marti's parents were Spanish. If he would have been forced to think that way he would have probably said hey even though I was born here I have to owe allegiance to Spain! In no way can I compare myself to him but what's the difference?

Manuel A.Tellechea said...


It is only natural that you should identify with the United States as your country because it is. As with all children born in this country of Cuban parents or raised here from a very young age, you have known no other country. Of course you should love it and be grateful that it has given you what Cuba could not.

It is your choice, and the choice of everyone in your position, to decide for yourself what role, if any, Cuba will play in your life. Whatever decision you make will be the right for you.

If you decide to regard Cuba as your own country too that would be alright with me. If you decide to consider it the mother country that would also be alright with me. If you decide to consider it nothing at all to you (which would be your loss) that also would be alright with me.

Freedom and self-determination for all Cubans (and non-Cubans too) is all that I want for you, for me and for everybody.

Anonymous said...

¿Couldn't faux pax via babalublog be considered "bu-bu" versus boo-boo?

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