Monday April 17, 2006

A tale of two t-shirts

Right off, you’re probably wondering, ‘who IS that good looking fella?’ Nevermind for a minute though, I’ll get to that. I have a story to tell first.

I was born in what is now the Czech Republic, and immigrated to Miami in 1980. Lived here ever since. Even though I was a little kid at the time, I’m a bona fide first-generation immigrant from a communist country. Look: I get to refer to fidel castro without capitalising his name! Seriously, though, my parents take this stuff very seriously, and do not appreciate anything with a taint of pro-communism, however tongue-in-cheek. When I came back from a trip to New Orleans (half a decade ago) with a Che Guevera shirt (can you read it? it says “art critic”), I got an earful about it.

Some research revealed the truth. The Communist revolutionaries, in the Americas as in the rest of the world, may have started out meaning well, but they soon allowed their ideas to overtake their humanity. Any system, if it is to be truly strong, must allow itself to be criticized from within. Che and Fidel are two in a very long, and very global, line of leaders who’s good intentions will forever be overshadowed by their ultimate inhumanity. Many people suffered and died, and many continue to suffer and die, and that’s why wearing shirts with Che is not cool.

OK, but so anyway, since I’ve been doing CM, I’ve been on pretty good terms with the local Cuban-American bloggers. I exchanged a couple of e-mails with Henry, of Cuban-American Pundits and Trenblindado, told him a version of this story, and he declared me an ‘honorary member’ of the Miami Mafia and sent me the other groovy shirt (the only one I wear out anymore), which, by the way, thanks, Henry (it’s a nice shirt – you can get yourself one (and catch up on some truth) at the Trenblindado site). By the way, “Miami Mafia” is a disparaging term used toward the Miami Cuban exhile community by the Castro regime. Communist leaders are known for their lack of irony.

So, all this happened a couple of months ago, and I should have probably posted about it at the time, to save this from being a hideously long post. But I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately, what with the immigration protests all over the country, and especially the mention of some protesters wearing Che shirts. Now, I’m on record as being of the opinion that anyone who wants to live in the US should be allowed to, regardless of where they’re from. I have no issue with those who live in the country and want to criticize some of its policies. But I, like many others, was initially surprised that the protests in Miami were so much smaller than in other cities.

On reflection, I think the Herald article comes closest to the truth. While conditions in Haiti, and even much of Mexico, are more than any human should have to tolerate, there really is a difference between these countries and Cuba. Taking nothing from the other immigrants living in the US, but their experience of America and their relationship to their home land is something quite different. Fair or crooked, these countries have at the very least had elections, and had a chance for improvement. Meanwhile, Cuba has been in the control of a Communist dictator for close to 50 years, and that really is something qualitatively different. It’s a very profound type of exile; one which I personally experienced from 1980 to 1989.

To my Cuban friends, I can say that there is a better future, but they already know that. My parents are today living back in the Czech Republic, and just as that country struggled loose from Communism, so shall Cuba. One day, I’d like to visit Cuba, but unlike some Americans, I won’t consider it until it’s libre.

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  1. Sol & Sal    Mon Apr 17, 11:42 PM #  

    Dere’s some people I want you to know what think that “Miami Mafia” shirt ain’t quite as funny as you do. Maybe you want some cement shoes goes with it. Capiche?



  2. John    Tue Apr 18, 12:02 AM #  

    How strange.



  3. noneya    Tue Apr 18, 12:03 AM #  

    oh, alesh…
    what a hotty!

    the thing with that guevara image is that besides its communist innuendos, the never-ending hype of the image accentuates all that is wrong with mass dissemination and schmaltzy capitalism; so powerful is the media that it dilutes any historical context, celebrating the popular disengagement from the past; most who wear it, probably think he’s cuban or something motorcycle diaries….

    AND if you don’t wear it you probably shouldn’t post it, right?



  4. Robert    Tue Apr 18, 07:04 AM #  

    Nice post Alesh. The Czechs are one of the few enlightened people out there who understand what’s really going on in Cuba and other Communist dictatorships. Of course, it took them having to go through it to understand it’s true nature.

    I have no problem with you posting your picture wearing the Che t-shirt. We all have done things that we look back at and wonder what the hell we were thinking, and you took the time to explain how your greater understanding of Che changed your perceptions.



  5. Val Prieto    Tue Apr 18, 07:31 AM #  

    Gracias, Alesh.



  6. Vic Tim O'Violence    Tue Apr 18, 08:29 AM #  

    When I first saw your picture on Greener Miami it explained why you have so much time to blog. l felt sorry for you. Thanks for getting rid of that. Czechoslovakia ain’t Cuba and you don’t know shit. My uncle was killed by the Miami Mafia that doesn’t exist. Maybe you will have friends in the real world now. Schedule a meeting with the Miami Herald and show them your blog. They may hire you. Wipe the poop off your lips.



  7. Val Prieto    Tue Apr 18, 08:42 AM #  

    See, Alesh, that’s what happens when you publicly state that you do not condone nor support the government of fidel castro.

    Notice the brilliance of Vic Tim’s comment:

    “Czech and Cuba arent the same and you dont know shit.” No evidence or data to back up the statement.

    “Uncle was killed by Miami mafia”. Again, no uncle’s name, no data to support such a scurrilous claim, no links to news stories. Nada.

    Welcome, Alesh. You are now a Made man in the Miami Mafia.



  8. Alberto Quiroga    Tue Apr 18, 09:03 AM #  

    Wouldn’t worry about Vic Tim O’Violence’s opinionated allegations – where’s the beef? Maybe he/she/it should relax, watch “Darby O’Gill and The Little People,” quaff a Guinness…

    My childhood buddy, whose parents were ostracized until they were able to leave Cuba in ‘66, for his father’s “crime” of working with the minister of finance under Batista, tells me one of the few decent people they had as a neighbor was a female Czech technician, who gave them extra food when the shortages began. As she put it to them, “I pretend to be a communist – but am just a realist.” A decent human being indeed, obviously not tainted by “cheshitism.”



  9. Franklin    Tue Apr 18, 09:18 AM #  

    I endorse your right to wear whatever t-shirt you choose, but heartily condemn your confusion over “than” and “then.”

    Than is comparative: “But I, like many others, was initially surprised that the protests in Miami were so much smaller THAN in other cities.” Then describes time: “We had drinks, went for a walk, and THEN some nutjob punched me in the head for wearing a Che t-shirt.”



  10. alesh    Tue Apr 18, 10:43 AM #  

    fixed ‘em. If then/than is the worst grammar mistake I make, it could be worse. (ps i understand the distinction, just sometimes i get sloppy (same thing with its/it’s)).

    Thanks to everyone else, esp. “victim.” Hope you’ll decide to share more of your story.



  11. Roger    Tue Apr 18, 11:09 AM #  

    Alesh,

    thought it was you…we used to rock churchill’s together back in the olden days…don’t let Elise fuck with you too much though that’s unlikely to happen given she’s in a permanent K-hole…hope you still have that mutt drumset you used to rock. I quite liked playing it.

    I agree about Che Guevara shirts…I see idiots in NYC wearing them all the time and I get slightly sick in the mouth. However, that Miami Mafia shirt would be pretty darn cool if it wasn’t a ‘ringer’ T.



  12. KH    Tue Apr 18, 11:16 AM #  

    The Che image also had weird copyright issues—the original photographer, being a communist had no copyight, while others made big bucks off the image. I think that regardless of wether or not you agree with the photog’s beliefs/political alleigance, his intent should have been respected; dude totally needed a creative commons license. I understand that he mostly didn’t care, but doesn’t capitalism have a moral posture? Or does it boil down to bootleg capitalists being bad and multinational capitalists being good? Will there ever be an inalienable copyight?

    I mean, we believe in human rights even for those under communist regimes, but though we hold the product of one’s work to be crucial to one’s ability to earn a living, we’ll jack some communist guy’s image to earn a buck? If copyright is that much of a conveniece why do we respect the copyright of people who don’t pay taxes? What if corporations who indulge in offshore tax shelters had thier copyrights rescinded? Or what if corporations with subsidiaries operating in Cuba no longer had intelletual property rights because of it?

    [Note: I neither support nor condone communist dictatorships; above remarks are musings upon image owership, capitalism and intent vs use]



  13. John    Tue Apr 18, 12:52 PM #  

    Here is a sprawling comment-

    I totally agree with Vic on everything but the picture part. Ad hominem attacks are not called for. I have had victims of the Miami Mafia in my family and I and my family have been victimized by our “free” government. I really can’t say more. I feel like, fuck it, at least I know the limit and can deal realistically with my environment. But to pretend that there hasn’t been either a “Miami Mafia” of hardcore ex-Batista henchmen or a certain culture of graft and corruption that came to Miami with that lot- just lost your credibility with me. As for the political / thug violence that wrought havoc in Miami, shit dude, you’re delusional. I dare you to say it didn’t exist with a straight face… Good and bad people are everywhere. As for the difference between oligarchal families in Central America, puppet regimes that wrought havoc (and continue to)by mass killings and a lack of any real political freedom throughout the Third World and (nevermind the US’s role in this)- again, you lost all credibility with me.

    I, like many Cuban Americans, visit Cuba quite frequently (as well as other parts of the world). Every time I travel through a charter or a third country it is like Cuban American reunion day. I also never fail to run into lots of Cubans who have live in the Yuma back in Cuba. I have serious gripes with Cuba but it isn’t any worse than what goes on in so much of the world unfortunately. (While there is a streak of extremism in the Cuban character there may be a stronger streak of pragmatism.) Again that’s where I agree with Vic.

    I could make pretty good arguments on a number of scores here but I’ve learned it’s useless.

    But yeah, Vic seems right on point. And in a post billed as an alleged introduction it came across as blatant campaigning and pandering.

    That said, I still admire the ton of work you put into your blog and efforts to get the Miami blogging community together. Maybe I’ll do an introduction too but it has to be edited.

    PS- I’m a Jose Marti, Simon Bolivar, Ruben Dario, Carlos Guido y Spano, Pedro Albizu Campos, Antonio Maceo, Juan Domingo Peron, Pancho Villa and yes Che Guevara loving (note who was absent); Pan Hispano-America bleeding; believer in the building of Latin American institutions without American domination; colonial legacy hating; Latinos in the US uniting for our cultural patrimony and rightful legacy as La Raza Cosmica
    LATIN AMERICAN AND CUBAN who will read you the history of my region as part of a continent and why there isn’t as Vic said, anything in common with our struggles and the Czech republic.



  14. riley-o    Tue Apr 18, 01:18 PM #  

    John,I get it, you read. Big shit. I hope your not shopping in the dollar stores on the island…

    There are no innocents, just people on the wrong side of something. It is up to the individual to decide what side and cowboy up to the consequences.

    As for capitalism appropriating che’s image? harr harr, isn’t that funny?

    Vic, where’s your proof? I mean, yes, the “mafia” exists… paleolithic putz-thinkers who monopolize the airwaves and the corridors of power… whether they believe their own bullshit beyond its commercial application is another matter. still nobody can tell you what to think here, only make it difficult to think it. that’s the cross the righteous bear. deal with it.



  15. manola b    Tue Apr 18, 01:58 PM #  

    Holy Che Moly! Alesh, you opened a can of gusanos!*

    Mafia or not, what of the number of Cuban comedic artists on TV who regularly mock fc, che and whole lot? Are they profiting or simply making the best of a bad situation through humor? Miami exile Cubans do have a VERY funny side, you know. If you speak Spanish, watch El Pible on Seguro Que Yes.

    I’m with the usually level-headed well-balanced Robert on this one. Nothing wrong with posting that photo, acknowledging your moral boo-boos of the past and keeping things real.

    That being said, I think it’s a ridiculous fashion and political statement to wear anyone’s face on your chest, unless your chest is naked. Ideology up your sleeve, not on it.

    We live in an age when our minds and eyes are so saturated with images, that often images lose their power, and children specifically who haven’t heard both sides of the che story, just take it for granted. But for many of us the face of che IS powerful in the sense that it reminds of a bloody history not so long ago, which is still ongoing.

    Alesh, lookin’ good, chico! Let’s all meet in Cuba when the beast dies and enjoy a rum and coke. While I respect the decisions of folks like John who travel to the island, I will never set foot there until you know what happens—out of respect for my parents.

    *gusano means worm and it’s the term commies in Cuba use to describe non-commies



  16. Susan Houdek    Tue Apr 18, 03:15 PM #  

    How trustworthy article Alesh.
    I worked with many Cubans.
    From Prague,
    Your mom



  17. John    Tue Apr 18, 06:37 PM #  

    Okay, If anyone wants to talk about this with me I’m sure on a very, very slow business day. Or maybe I’ll just scrawl something down and do a temp post on my blog. this should actually answer any questions.

    As deeply as some folks feel about the bearded dude, I grew up (but I think I’m more mature now) hating the people who blew up La Claridad offices killing a family member, who hounded my family to no end, and the folks that did a lot of other shit… Nope, I’m still full of hate about that.
    it’s crazy how near the surface some things can be.

    Anyway, let me deal with something further back. As my readers know, my family originally came over here prior to the Revolution (fleeing like Desi Arnaz!) That ugly corrupt, evil torturous, misery spreading, filthy gang that called itself a government forced my family away. I used to wish I could kill every goddamn one of the type.

    I also grew up with a pantheon of Latin American heroes that I metioned earlier (as a point of political reference, not a book list). It shaped my identtity though I’ve drifted away through the years…

    But after many years of growing up and being one thing, I found that my family history wasn’t quite so clean. What would make anyone of my blood serve that evil henchmen and bloodthirsty pimp and imperialist lackey? There is a story of understanding there that we all are strange animals, mundanely evil in our own ways. We join armies and walk over the starving and sick. We take what we can get as long as it is condoned within some sort of structure and sometimes when it’s not.

    Later I found out that a few members of my family were in the Miami world of graft and vice that typifies exile politics. Yep, I even have a River Cop, part of that ring of thieves, coke dealers and murderers.And so what? It’s a big, rough world.

    I’m going to refer you to a book that is easy to obtain and is by an author who worked and STILL works for the CANF. She is MORE than flattering to right wing Cuban Americans, is staunchly anti-Castro and actually is a repeated recipient of National Endowment for Democracy (the government fund for destablizing undesirable foreign government) money. And she is still on the dole which means she HAS EVERY REASON to be Anti Castro and pro-hardliners. Anna Louise Bardach’s “Cuba Confidential” which is a rehashing of stories any Miami resident without his head in his ass knows. Shit, all of her book is simply a tie up of Miami New Times reports ostensibly around Little Alien. After that you can start following the figures and reading some real scandalous shit. Miami is the fucking wild west for exiles, or at least it was. Some of the Cuban Americas that spoke out got killed and maimed including commentators Peruyero, Milian…
    http://cuban-exile.com/doc_051-075/doc0073.html another right wing site should help you out too. (This will explain to you new Miamians why over 600,000 White / Anglo Dade residents left in a decade.)

    There is the story of a precocious Cuban exile from the Mariel Boat lift starting the largest gang in America, starting in Miami, to traffic Miami Mafia drugs. Don’t get me started on the drug thing. Cuz I won’t.

    Recently the government actually came down on “The Corporation” or the Cuban Mob proper, made up of old Batista henchmen who started Alpha 66 and a few like minded anti castro militant federal charity cases with explosives. bilking the government for millions is the American way, but carting drugs using “anti-Castro missions” as cover is just sleezy. Okay,the shit was ingenious and in informal talk makes me even prouder to be Cuban.

    You might also try a book called Los Macheteros byh Ronald Fernandez to see some incidental news on the La Claridad bombing and…Fuck it. go do the research. You’d have to be deaf dumb and blind not to know these things and live here.

    Speaking about corruption and cronyism among Cuban American politiciams in Miami, the city’s first Hispanic mayor, Maurice Ferre(who is Puerto Rican) said, “As far as bringing corruption and cronyism as practiced in pre-revolutionary Cuba…you’ve heard the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree, well they brought over the whole damn tree!” My answer to that of course, is “you do what you have to”.



  18. alesh    Tue Apr 18, 08:51 PM #  

    John~

    I agree with you 100%: there are bad people everywhere, including, I’m sure, in the Miami Cuban population. I’m also sure there was much that was fucked up with the pre-Castro regime in Cuba. So what? Does that justify the evils committed by the Communists during or after the revolution?

    I also understand that, in many ways, europeans fucked up south america before communists came along, and that US (and/or WB/IMF) meddling on the continent continues to contribute to many problems. While that may justify the initial appeal of a communist overthrow, it never justifies brutality in the name of such an overthrow, nor totalitarianism after the fact. And the fact that communism is just plain a bad idea should have been obvious to anyone for many decades.

    Che Guevara may have done many good things in his time; unfortunately, they are rightfully overshadowed by the evil things he did. He may be worth studying, but I don’t see how he’s worth celebrating.

    Vic said “Czechoslovakia ain’t Cuba,” which I guess is true. No country is “like” any other, if you want to look at it that way. But the Czechs and the Cubans share at least one thing: a history of being oppressed by Communism. My point was that that oppression has a very particular flavor, and it’s one that I’ve experienced first-hand. I’m not claiming to know anything more about the Cuban experience then that.

    And in a post billed as an alleged introduction it came across as blatant campaigning and pandering.

    I have no idea what any part of that sentence means.

    believer in the building of Latin American institutions without American domination; colonial legacy hating; Latinos in the US uniting for our cultural patrimony and rightful legacy as La Raza Cosmica

    I support that 100%. May you continue to get down with your bad self.



  19. nicfitkid    Tue Apr 18, 09:06 PM #  

    How about Los Caminos del Guerrero by Luis Posada Carriles, does that make the reading list? I wonder if he has a Miami Mafia t-shirt? Or how about selling t-shirts with Posada’s mug in a nice silkscreen? That’d be something.

    Just to add my own contribution to the stew, here’s a quote on exile I’ve always liked:

    “Leaving their native land with concealed anger, with the continual thought of going back to it once on the morrow, men do not move forwards but are continually thrown back upon the past;... Irritation and trivial but exasperated disputes prevent their escaping from the familiar circle of questions, thoughts and memories, which make up an oppressive, binding tradition…

    All emigres, cut off from the living environment to which they have belonged, shut their eyes to avoid seeing bitter truths and grow more and more acclimatized to a closed, fantastic circle consisting of inert memories and hopes that can never be realized.” —Alexander Herzen

  20. noneya    Tue Apr 18, 09:33 PM #  

    W0, WOO, W0000!

    ALESH, THERE IS A SUSAN HOUDEK?

    oh…my… GOD!

    congratulations and wow!

    susan, GOOD LUCK and congrats to you too.

    communism, che imagery all fall in the background of alesh being married, sorry.



  21. alesh    Tue Apr 18, 09:48 PM #  

    John (#17) ~

    I’m sure we could have a great conversation about all this stuff. I’m hearing a lot of pain and anger directed at the Batista regime. I have to say, however, that I don’t find many Cuban-Americans who celebrate Batista. If you equate “Miami Mafia” with a pro-Batista stance, then I could understand your displeasure with me, but I suspect that that perspective is, again, decades out of date.

    No, I do not know as much about Latin American history as you; I’m sure you wouldn’t hold that against me.



  22. alesh    Tue Apr 18, 10:27 PM #  

    OK, Robert’s talking about this post. Maybe Christian is, too??

    Kathleen~

    It’s funny you should bring up the copyright issue; I’m just finishing up Lessig’s Free Culture. If the photog was really a communist true believer, then he would be thrilled that his image has done so much to promote the cause, and any potential benefit to himself would be irrelevant, right? As far as the presumed violation by T-shirt makers, for anything to be done with them, the copyright owner would have to file a claim, which is impossible, so they (somewhat justifiably) go about their business.



  23. Miami Harold    Tue Apr 18, 10:38 PM #  

    Does the boot in your mouth change flavor
    when the foot of its wearer
    is Communist, Democrat, German, Policeman,
    Brother, Turncoat, Student, or Priest?
    The stones thrown and the bullets fired
    by the righteous are equally deadly
    to those hurled in hate by hooligans.
    Can we forgive and move forward?
    Choose carefully.
    Come together.
    Fuck them all.



  24. Manola BBB    Tue Apr 18, 10:43 PM #  

    I don’t believe there is a colonial legacy yet. We are still LIVING colonialism and all its ramifications. It’ll take years, generations before we can start talking about a proper legacy, it being a thing of the past, don’t you think?

    1492 and everything that ensued was practically just yesterday.



  25. noneya    Tue Apr 18, 11:20 PM #  

    manola bbb….you’re stupid; 1492 was a LONG time ago!



  26. Manola BBB    Wed Apr 19, 12:58 AM #  

    Um, Noneya … I meant that figuratively/symbolically/historically/culturally/metaphorically … hello?

    Plus, girl, boy aint married. SUSAN HOUDEK is his mom!

    Alesh, I love your ‘vogueing’ poses … gotta say. You got the moves!



  27. KH    Wed Apr 19, 11:04 AM #  

    I think the che T-shirt actually promotes the capitalistic idea that revolution is possible if only you shop in the right stores like maybe Urban Outfitters, or some little indy boutique in your local college town.



  28. cubitabella    Wed Apr 19, 01:43 PM #  

    Alesh:

    It makes me proud that non-Cubans write the things you wrote here. I am sick of telling people why they shouldn’t wear Che’s shirts.
    And for the stupid that said that Czech are not Cuban, they might not be, but let me tell you a story. In my father’s town there were tons of Czech and Polish families before 59 that had escaped from their countries because fo Communism. When Fidel got to power they started packing their belongings that same night, and made sure they told everybody they appreciated(including my family): “Run away while you can, this is Communism, what is coming is not good, go, go away”. All of them left within days.
    Communism is the worst thing that can ever happen to a person. We are all segregated because of it. I have family spread practicly in the 5 continents right now because of it. If that is not sad, I don’t know what is.
    thanks so much for you post and please keep writing.
    from NY
    Y



  29. noneya    Wed Apr 19, 07:29 PM #  

    should have known alesh wasn’ the marrying type.

    also, manola: i got what you were saying but it’s ludicrous to say. that’s all. times are hardly colonial now, some lessons have been learned though many still evade us all.



  30. Jonathan    Wed Apr 19, 09:03 PM #  

    The current Czech government has stood out among Euros for taking seriously the depredations of the Cuban communists. Vaclav Havel, when he spoke at FIU, condemned the Castro regime. Too bad more Americans, not to mention all those Canadians and other vacationers, don’t see things the same way.



  31. Manola BBB    Wed Apr 19, 09:43 PM #  

    Noneya … ay chica … I know what you mean, but here’s why I made that observation.

    1492 was the fateful day that started it all …
    We are STILL living the after-effects of the first Spaniard to set foot on San Salvador (although no real archeological evidence to support that Columbus actually landed there … pretty certain though that the first European settlement was at La Navidad in today’s Hispaniola, Domincan Republic side).

    Many countries that weren’t even ‘countries’ not long ago in the Americas and the Caribbean are still trying to figure out who and what they are as a unit and not a satellite colony that kowtowed to the mother colonizing nation and later on, communist and/or corrupt leaders or as commonwealth states. In the literary/academic/political world, the tension is rife. People, authors still holding a grudge against old Columbus, the fact that ‘they’ killed the native and started the whole commerce/slavery thing, which is still a ‘slavery’ thing economically, considering that the Caribbean relies on tourism as it main industry and in some ways a form of sugar cane cutting.

    Of course, we wouldn’t be here without the old dude, would we?

    I am no politics expert beyond this and pass the buck of opinion here to others.

    This is a can of worms way beyond Miami, although Miami is part of it.

    Cheers and relax and thank you for stimulating the discussion.

    M



  32. Greetings    Wed Apr 19, 10:26 PM #  

    Greetings from yet-another-miami-blog!

    http://www.miamiandthebeaches.com

    t



  33. alesh    Thu Apr 20, 08:36 AM #  

    You’re right, Johathan. Look at this (via Balabu ). Pretty cool.

    Thanks, cubitabella.

    You make good points, Manola. I suspect we’d be here, Columbus or not, and probably the story would have played out more or less the same way regardless of who/when made the first trip over the atlantic. See Guns, Germs, and Steel, a great book.



  34. machete    Thu Apr 20, 08:16 PM #  

    It’s very refreshing to see somone other than Cubans not only understand the evil that was Che, but vow to not visit Cuba until castro is gone. Thanks for helping spread the word.



  35. Cuba59    Fri Apr 21, 05:17 PM #  

    guys,
    its interesting to read all the diff. meanings about the systems and cuba itself.
    i think i know cuba sometimes better than cuban-yumas who left the country 20y. ago.
    i was born in a so called “socialist” country an we were reunited in 89’. everbody now knows where it was. so i know all the systems from its good and bad sides. 12y. ago i had my first chance to go to cuba and visit the island in his worst periode -> there was nothing, really nothing what i could compare with my country. but now after tons of visits over the last years the peoples mind are changed infact of the influence of tourism. in my opinion the worst thing could ever happend.
    this island were so unique in his roots and his people and has developed over the last 40y. such a unique life so that it shouldn’t being overun by capitalists.
    no country or government can exist without trading with others. the matter in the human kind is, nobody does something for nothing (nada) so never would be exist the real existing cummunism in its own form. the socialism hasn’t worked too…

    cuba could still alive only with his big deals with the former soviet union as you have seen in the early 90.

    for the che shirt: the meaning to wear the shirt some decades ago were to protest in west germany against the government(maybe you heard about the 68er). and today some people are proud to wear it because they share the spirit to rebel against the old.
    che has murdered cuban people too but if you know his history so you will understand it better. the real murder is FC. he has send cienfuegos and others who were not willing to follow him in his direction to dead.

    i’am happy to get known cubas it was as a unique island in the today fast pacing and all about money world.
    everyone who hasn’t done it yet should hurry up to see it before the real capitalism is taking it over.

    ps: think about a analogy in protect our animal and nature refuges. why we shouldn’t protect countries itself in this way??



  36. gansibele    Mon Apr 24, 08:21 PM #  

    Nice blog Alesh. Very balanced.

    I wouldn’t wear a Che T-shirt. But neither would I wear a Miami Mafia one. Both have painful connotations for people in both sides of the Cuban issue. And it’s not just Castro who calls the extremists in Miami that, their victims do as well. I know the author of the shirt has the best intentions, but to me it’s just like wearing the Union flag and pretending it’s because of your heritage. Or sporting a swastika armband and saying it’s just an obscure Egyptian symbol and it’s not your fault the Nazis appropiated it.

    To deny the crimes of Castro is criminal acquiescence. To turn a blind eye to the well-documented murders, terrorism, graft and corruption that many (not just some) Cubans in Miami have engaged for years is just as folly. I have the utmost respect for those who pick a gun and go fight in Cuba. There is pain on both sides and until we all learn to respect that, there will be division.



  37. not bitter    Tue Apr 25, 02:47 AM #  

    Instead of being a cynic, make a positive difference Alesh.



  38. Daniel M. Perez    Thu Apr 27, 04:46 PM #  

    Hello from a new reader.
    I was going through older posts and came across this one, and as I was reading and getting towards the end, when you mention about not traveling to Cuba until it’s free, “unlike some Americans,” I found it really funny that the link you have was the very same one that first came to my mind, the Rick Steves Radio show on travel to Cuba.

    I think it’s a very pretty thought the one they espouse on the show, basically that we should travel in order to topple the regime via exposure to the freedoms of the world (or something similar), but that doesn’t work outside the realm of idealism. As a Puerto Rican married to a 1st-gen Cuban-American with immigrant parents, Fidel is not just some dude sticking it up to the US, and Cuba is not just another beautiful Caribbean island to explore (for that, go to Puerto Rico). Support of the regime in any way, especially with tourism dollars, is wrong, and though in the end it is the people who truly suffer, it has to be done. I don’t necessarily agree with the embargo (at least with the implementation, especially when we then go ahead and do business with China), but I also don’t agree with illegal travel to the island.

    I don’t like the govt. telling me that I can’t go there any more than the people interviewed on the show. I want to go to Cuba, I do! But I want to go to a Cuba that is free, a Cuba that will take my tourism dollars and use them to power an economy, not to line the dictator’s pockets and pay enforcers and goons who strangle liberty as easy as you and I drink a Coke.

    It will happen, one day.



  39. alesh    Thu Apr 27, 05:20 PM #  

    Thanks, Daniel. Yeah, I was bummed they didn’t have a specific page on their site for their Cuba show. Ah, well.

    Nice blog, BTW. Added to the list of links.



  40. Cuba59    Thu May 11, 03:25 PM #  

    @mr. perez,

    but “It will happen, one day” than it will be the same like puerto rico.
    anyway if you like to see how “nice” can be a country without big signs on streets with sales propaganda so enjoy it today.
    btw. the way they design the revolution propaganda isn’t so bad in comparision to sales propaganda :) (i like this design more its more artless)

    otherwise i don’t forget to think to the cuban people in their economic situation – i have familly there.