Sunday, June 29, 2008

Are Cubans "Resentful" & "Unforgiving?" Carlos Alberto Montaner Thinks So

The future is unknown. The present lasts 24 hours. It is only the past which is always with us.

In his latest column in El Nuevo Herald ("El rencor y la historia," July 29), Carlos Alberto Montaner calls into question the wisdom of holding unto the past because he believes that doing so makes Cubans (and others) "resentful" and "unforgiving" of historical wrongs committed against them, which leaves them "aplastados por el pasado (crushed by the past)." Generalizations of this kind are always wrong, and though intended to show that the author is an incisive and impartial judge of history, what it really shows is that he is hypercritical and uninformed. The matter becomes even worse when Montaner maintains that Americans are mercifully free of such historical revanchism. Living in Spain, obviously, has not saved him from the yankofilia (Martí's word) which afflicts so many Cuban exiles here. I would not personally find anything offensive about an exaggerated opinion of this country if it were not always accompanied by the disposition to denigrate ours.

The specific case which Montaner cites as proof of Cuba's "cultura rencorosa" is our reaction to Spain's execution in 1871 of eight Cuban medical students during the height of the Ten Years' War. The eight Havana University students were falsely accused of desecrating the tomb of a pro-Spanish newspaper editor by scratching the glass plate on his crypt. Martí's best friend, Fermín Valdés Domínguez, also a medical student, proved that the glass plate had been scratched in the factory in Spain where it was manufactured and the dead man's own son confirmed it.

How did these "resentful" and "unforgiving" Cubans, men like Valdés Domínguez and Martí, react to this great injustice? As rational men would react: vindicating the memory of the dead by freeing their countrymen from the arbitrary authority that threatened the lives of all. Because revenge would not bring back the dead they were not interested in revenge. Because they could not hope to obtain justice from Spain, they did not seek it from Spain. They knew that only by ending Spanish tyranny in our country would justice prevail and they consecrated their lives to the great work of national redemption.

When Cuba achieved her independence no retribution was undertaken against those who had participated in the crime of November 21, 1871 or in crimes even more sanguinary committed by Spaniards against the Cuban people. Not a single Spaniard, and there were a million in Cuba at the time, was called to account for the murder of 300,000 Cuban civilians in campos de reconcentración during the war. Not a single Spaniard, not even former soldiers of the Crown (like Fidel's own father), was deported to Spain after the war. Not a single real of Spanish assets on the island was confiscated by the new Republic though Spain had confiscated the assets of all Cuban rebels and distributed them to its supporters. But that was not all: Spaniards were invited to immigrate to Cuba, whose population was depleted precisely because of their policy of extermination during the war. Over the life of the Cuban Republic (1902-1958), 1.2 million Spaniards settled in Cuba, which had a population of 3.8 million at the end of the Spanish-American War (1898). Cuba saved more than a half-million Spaniards, both Nationalists and Loyalists, from immolation in the Spanish Civil War.

Where, then, shall we find this "culture of resentment" which supposedly holds Cubans in its thrall? You are not going to believe this: in the fact that Cubans still "remember and commemorate with tears and fiery addresses that act of barbarity." Wow, we really are resentful, aren't we? 136 years after the execution of the medical students we still insist on remembering and commemorating their sacrifice! If Cubans were prone to bear grudges against Spaniards, as Montaner contends, there would be other and more recent reasons to do so.

Montaner contends also that Americans are not as resentful of historical wrongs as Cubans. Well, Americans have not really been the victims of many historical wrongs. They have inflicted historical wrongs on others but rarely had them inflicted on them. Montaner cites slavery, which was a self-inflicted wrong, and celebrates the fact that blacks have been able to transcend the fact that it was Democrats who supported slavery and Republicans who ended it. African-Americans may have switched party allegiances -- and parties do evolve over time, after all -- but they have not let go of their resentment about slavery and for many it still informs their conception of this country and of their place in it, Obama or no Obama.

Montaner does not compare slavery in Cuba to slavery in the U.S. and neither shall we. Instead, a better comparison of historical revanchism in both countries is the aftermath of their respective wars of independence. We have already seen that Cubans wreaked no vengeance on the Spanish or their local allies for their opposition to Cuba's independence. It was otherwise in the United States. At the conclusion of the American Revolution, colonists who had remained loyal to the king were deported en masse to Canada; their property was confiscated without compensation; many were tarred and feathered, others lynched and all forced on long marches where many thousands died of cold or starvation, including women and children. Before Americans practiced genocide on the Indians, they inflicted it on their own brothers.

Before 1959, there was no "cultura rencorosa" in Cuba. Not even in the wake of our bloodiest revolution (that would be the Revolution of 1933) did Cubans institutionalize barbarity in our country. No machadista was ever executed by the provisional government and the few that were imprisoned were released in 1936 when Congress approved a General Amnesty law. Three years for the wounds of a revolution to heal shows a remarkable political maturity as well as the total absence of the spirit of revanchism in our people. Cubans knew how to forgive those who had wronged them, whether foreigners or their own brothers.

Perhaps that is where we erred. We were always too prone to forgive and far to prone to forget, and this weakness, if it is a weakness, would one day be our undoing.

22 comments:

KKK said...

Racial slurs targeting Barack Obama were discovered spray painted Saturday night on dozens of city vehicles in Orlando. The vandalism happened in a City of Orlando parking lot on the corner of South and Orange.

Phrases including "Oboma smoks crack" and other phrases with racial slurs were written in blue spraypaint on the white city cars and trucks. Other vehicles appeared to have had their gas tanks tampered with.

STRANGE PHOTOS


VIEW 99 PICS capturing a variety of strange news.
Along with the paint, hundreds of business cards were left on windshields. The cards contain criticism of Obama on one side and support for Hillary Clinton and her family on the other side. The same cards were left on Channel 9 vehicles in Daytona Beach several weeks ago.

The vandalism happened the same night the Obama campaign kicked off its Florida organization with parties across the state.

Local representatives with the Obama campaign told Channel 9 they weren't aware of any similar incidents.

Anonymous said...

kkk,

If the graffiti reads "Obama smoks [sic] crack," then it is very likely that Obama's own supporters were responsible for the vandalism.

0 comments said...

Mat you are an asshole ... According to this post

We've had our far share of pretenders as well, from people that disagree with the travel restrictions policy that we for the most part support because they cant go see their ailing grandmothers only to later find pictures on the net of them in Cuba having a blast with jineteras and exploiting their own. There are other pretenders as well, mostly all of them have come here with ulterior motives or simply wanting to either discredit the work done here or just to stir the shit. And of course there are other detractors that are detractors simply because, well, theyre assholes.

Thank you.

Posted by Val Prieto at 11:22 AM | Habla (0) | Leenkaso (0)

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

"0" comments:

I am not an amateur detractor.

I am a professional detractor.

Val's comments have nothing to do with me.

rin tin tin said...

Mat you are a professional Asshole

Sorry Mat

How about Fantomas is he professional or amateur?

Vana said...

Every country on earth commemorates their falling heroes, and those unjustly killed, why is it that the finger always gets pointed at us? and by a Cuban no less.

Anonymous said...

Vana nosotros los cubanos estamos condenados

que habremos hecho en nuestro pasado para habernos merecido la tirania castrista

Algo muy malo tuvo que haber sido

Mamey said...

MAT: Montaner has been babbling incoherencies for a while now. I use to like his early books, not because they were that great, but because they were clear condemnations of the Castro regime. Please send him your comments...he needs a history lesson pero ya!!!

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

Dear Friends:

If you don't hear from me in a couple of days, it means that I've probably died of a heart attack induced by uncontrollable laughter at reading Val's latest humble paean to himself.

And to think that I am responsible for provoking him to write it. The irony!

Manuel A.Tellechea said...

anonymous:

Fantomas will always be an amateur at anything he does. Don't be surprised if you spot him in the Olympics.

BABALU INSTITUTION MAL PARIDA said...

BabaluBlog is as important to me as my daily coffee in the morning. (Anyone who knows me knows what how serious my love of coffee is.) This blog is a part of who I am and what I believe in; it is a venue where, for better or worse, I am allowed to express opinions that, on occasion, are a little harsh; it is a venue where my identity as an American -- a proud flag-waving, Stars-and-stripes-forever-whistling American -- born in Cuba, can read and write about the greatness of both cultures and be thankful to God for the opportunities afforded me. BabaluBlog is no longer a little blog, it's an institution. I am proud to be a small part of it. Thanks, Val.

Posted by George L. Moneo at June 30, 2008 11:59 AM

No Jorge , you are a BIG PART OF IT . YOU ARE THE BIGGEST LOSER. ES DECIR THE BIGGEST PROFESSIONAL ASSHOLE@ BABALU . EL VERDUGO QUE APAGA LA LUZ , QUE NO MEA NI CAGA PERO SE TIENE QUE SUBIR EN UNA SILLA PARA LLEGAR AL TOPE

pobre diablillo

Anonymous said...

Manuel in what olympic sport do you think Fantoma can obtain at least a bronze medal?

Anonymous said...

And to think that I am responsible for provoking him to write it. The irony!

Mat that post was directed at you. You have your work cut for the rest of the week

Keep the good work

keep them honest , my dear friend


Do not abandon us now

Babalu readers need you now more than ever

Anonymous said...

No heart attack please

not that

we will miss you

Get well soon

rick said...

16 cadres, he should get at least 16 comments on that thread

we are on alert mode just watching

Anonymous said...

Voy a almorzar regreso pronto

llevatelo Mat

rick said...

by Benyamin Solomon
Bigotry toward Cuban-Americans
June 30, 2008 10:00 AM EST

Why is that anything they say about Cuba can't be true just because they are those "crazy Cubans?'' They are one of the most shunned people in the United States. They get accused of being people connected to Batista and/or people who exploit the poor. One of the classmates at my school, said to me that they fled cause they couldn't have "slaves" anymore. Someone, who I argue about politics a lot, asked me that why is it that people tell the Cuban-Americans to take their flags with them when they leave. He wasn't acting like it was bigoted but as something against that community. Though he did say that people there have to learnSpanish. Thoughhe also told me that they voted Republican and voted George Bush in and blamed them on the war on Iraq. He said that not a single one of the Cuban-Americans die in the war on Iraq.

People complain about their lobbying and that they count as part of the vote. Do you know what? They have a right to vote? They are citizens of a democracy and deserve the full rights of one. Many people falsely blame the Cuban-American community for the horrible economy in Cuba cause they supposedly cause the US embargo, which is supposedly causing Cuba to be economically bankrupt.

Imagine if they were saying the same things about Indian-American for campaigning against their dictatorship [India is a democracy but that was used as my example]. You'd be outraged. But that thing is going on with the Cuban-American community.

Why are they demonized?

As you can see, I already said why in the last two sentences. But I will explore further deeper into the reason. The Cuban-Americans have experienced first hand castro's horror. The people killed in the firing squads and sent to prison, gulags and labor camps are not only people who were connected to Batista but also people who disagree with Castro. Armando Valladares, a Cuban poet, was one of Castro's political prisoners. He was released in the early 1980's cause of international pressure, which according to him, it was his wife who pressured the world who pressured Castro to release him. "I had the luck, Mr. Chairman, of having people who was fighting for my freedom, and of having my wife who went from country to country, knocking on every door and on every conscience, on people and governments, pressuring them for my freedom. But the majority of those who suffer the violation of their human rights have one sole hope the international community. Against all hope, they only think of you, they only hope in you," Armando told the UN Human rights Commission. He was appointed to lead the human rights commission under Ronald Reagan. He addressed the UN human rights commission against Cuba. The text appears in Capitalism Magazine under the title Torture in Castro's Cuba. That was one factual example.

The pro-Castro propagandists know they can't refute the arguments of the Cuban-Americans head on. Only a handful of the Cuban-Americans were connected to Batista. the ones who fled were rich [them being rich under Batista did not mean they exploit the poor people nor does it mean they were connected to Batista], Middle-class Cubans and poor Cubans, who experienced first-hand Castro's tyranny. While Castro has much of his people killed and locked up in gulags, labor camps and prisons for disagreeing with him, he still wants to have good PR.

That's why he made Cuba seem great to tourists while neglecting the horrible economy he created for the Cuban people. "I never lived in Cuba myself. My father was not born into a rich family by any definition. He was actually born in a poor family and worked his way into a decent living before Castro and Che showed up and destroyed the entire economy of the island. He was the kind of person that the "revolution" was fighting for. And many more like him would escape that island gulag," said Rm06c, a member of Youtube in one of his comments under the Youtube video of Glenn Beck's interview with Cuban-American Humberto Fontova.

There were some users there who did make racist comments against Cuban-Americans. The Cuban-American community fled cause of the economy destroyed by Castro and/or cause of his human rights violations. Many Cuban-Americans lost their relatives and/or friends to the Castro regime. The Cuban-American community wants to free their country and tell the truth. Their determination to tell the truth are a threat to Castro's PR. That's why they're demonized by him and his supporters as well as the useful idiots who wear Che Guevara t-shirts. Many people believe these false racist arguments. Some just say,''Och, it's those crazy cubans again. We can't believe anything they say.'' They have no evidence that they're lying or that counter their arguments. So since you don't have the evidence to refute them, then that must be why they're demonized. If the Cuban revolution is so great, why won't Castro have a free election? The answer is cause Castro knows he'll lose the election and the truth will be revealed. If che fought for the oppressed people of Latin America, then why not help to turn Cuba back into a democracy instead of serving in a regime [he served in it until dismissed by Castro in 1965 to start other revolutions] that is far worse than Batista.

Ms Calabaza said...

Vana,

I totally agree with you. Remember the Maine; Remember the Alamo; Remember 911 . . . these pesky Americans never forget? Hold grudges? Everyone does.

Louis said...

Ah, El Machadato. We need another one. Where is the ABC when you need it?

Anonymous said...

At what sport would fantomas win a bronze medal at the Olympics?

Synchronized swimming.

Anonymous said...

Synchronized swimming.

lol lol lol lol

Can't stop laughing

Fulano de Cal said...

Montaner's column about Obama printed in the last issue of La Voz Libre (one of our Cuban papers in Los Angeles) also smells of yankofilia, although he does not disparage Cubans (only spaniards). But saying Cubans are inherently resentful and unforgiving - hahaha. My grandmother married one of those spaniards fleeing their civil war. There was no resentment.