Alas, as the legacy political exiles of the early years of the Castro Revolution die off, their dreams for a free Cuba and their hopes for a safe return vanishes with them, as do their memories of a prosperous country destroyed by authoritarian socialism and envy; envy that divided the people through methodical class-warfare, promising to take away from the rich to give to the poor, devising safety-nets that included the promise of popular access to a free college education–free education that hinges on manifest support for the government–all measures that bankrupted the nation and reduced everyone to the misery and the dire poverty endemic in Cuba today. Unambiguously, History points to how after all the confiscated wealth was squandered, everyone was left to their very personal and unique form of wretchedness. Under totalitarian, single-party rule, as individuality is systematically crushed under the guise of a collective better tomorrow and progress, a universal production of minions spawned. Minions who, in the process, lost even as much as the desire to create a better life for themselves and their families. Today they’re uniformly reduced to everyone secretly yearning to flee, to escape to foreign shores, where better opportunities drip down from the rich who forge a better life with their wealth, as it trickles down to their communities across the nation with employment opportunities and financial freedom for all who work hard and accept personal responsibility over their future.
Over the last fifty-four years, Miami witnessed unmatched economic growth; initially at the hands of Cuban political exiles with knowledge and expertise who, while hoping someday to return to their native Cuba, identified with the Republican Party over its traditionally conservative political outlook. This group worked hard to create better opportunities for themselves and their families here and in the process, forged a larger community of prosperity and wealth, creating economic activity never seen in this part of the country since George Merrick founded Coral Gables and Henry Flagler laid down his railroad line to Key West. When they arrived in the area, Miami was a sleepy community, mostly boarded up between late April and late October. These able and eager political exiles fostered the diversity and the prosperity that now lures so many new groups into our area.
Today Miami welcomes waves of Cuban immigrants less politically motivated, perhaps more driven by economic reasons, seeking the safety-net they lack in their native country, now destroyed by failed promises and false illusions of hope. This group, naturally not savvy about private enterprise and business matters, tends to show a lesser ability to found private commercial enterprises. They strive less to create jobs and more to be hired by established going concerns. Sadly, some arrive more eyeing the government benefits extended here in the US to the less fortunate than bring with them the vision of commercialism and profit-making that in the past expanded the realm of opportunities for everyone else. Clearly, sweeping generalizations are inaccurate and there are always exceptions.
In essence, today Miami welcomes waves of Cubans less yearning to breathe free and more hoping to receive the government benefits to which they feel entitled as human beings down on their luck. They form part of that personally disliked, politically-correct term modern pundits and profilers use ostensibly in an attempt to bodlerize the now rejected term, wet-back, which slowly morphed into Latino, lumping us all together, as if by a single word anyone could reduce to a neat little package so many cultures, so many languages, so many outlooks, and so many individuals from every country south of the border.
Regrettably, the experiences in Cuba of some recent arrivals in Miami moves them to seek to blend in and to avoid standing out. They long to fade into the American culture, something their predecessors strongly defied out of love for their homeland and respect for their ancestry. The old exiles fought back with every fiber of their might to preserve their language and their heritage despite concurrently also sincerely loving this great land that allowed them to live free and to raise families honorably; people who fought hard to preserve their individuality, carving out a distinctive niche for their own perspective in the US political arena. Many paid the ultimate sacrifice by losing loved ones in multiple US wars along the years. In contrast, the new group seeks to fade away, allowing the melting pot to devour them, wiping away any trace of the distinctiveness handed down by their predecessors.
This mottled group makes up the endlessly evolving face of a Cuban migratory history dating back to 1868 unhindered through our days. Because of their history in Cuba, living under tyranny and never knowing anything but the government version of issues, they fail to differentiate between stirring speeches and earnest attempts to govern, false promises and failed initiatives. This younger group also tends to align itself with the Democratic Party.
As the older generations of Cubans in Miami die off, so goes the area’s former support for conservatism and the GOP of Eisenhower and Reagan, Dirksen and Goldwater. It’s in these newer Miami groups now that carpetbaggers like the newly elected Joe Garcia find their base. It’s perhaps the normal course of social evolution once again facing off; it’s thesis, antithesis and synthesis endlessly in strife. It’s the change taking place.
What a treacherous and hostile world must it have seemed to the very last surviving dinosaur!