Margarita Alarcón Perea
Last week President Barack Obama gave Telemundo´s Jose Diaz Balart (yes, he is related to the other ones) an interview at the White House. The conversation revolved on the issues related to immigration reform, and gun control for the next four years in the presidency. Of course, being a Diaz Balart and working for Telemundo, Cuba was a hot topic. This was a given, what was not was the President’s response to the questions at hand.
The president didn’t have much new to say, and it wasn’t his actual wording that caught my attention, it was everything that you can read between the lines. He didn’t ramble on about how Cuba had to do this or that, and ended his comment. He didn’t offer a quick quip on Cuba’s human rights record (soooo yesterday’s news) or one independent blogger or another. He said things like: “I think we can have progress over the next four years. I’m happy to engage it.”, and he mentioned that it had to be “a two way street.” Before any of this he of course, mentions having to do something about “basic freedoms of the press and assembly” , but then he says “we don’t expect every country to operate the way we do”.
This, of course, the fact that he spoke so candidly about this topic, struck a nerve with Cuban Officials and prompted a quick response from Cuba´s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, by way of the Head of the Department that deals with US Cuba relations, Josefina Vidal. Ms Vidal calls attention to President Obama’s need to stop listening to some of the people he has around him and to start looking and paying attention to the changes that are taking place in Cuba and the many more to come. It was a brilliant game of Wimbledon Tennis at its best, a pleasurable serve was sent back with a blissful back hand.
It’s a slow game we are watching in play. It will take longer than a normal Grand Slam game of tennis. But the important thing is it is in play.
Now, what we mustn’t forget is that when Ms. Vidal mentions “those who surround you” she is not naming names but she is very much on track of the reality that encompasses Barack Obama regarding Cuba. The fact that he picked Richard Blanco, a Cuban American poet of no specific political background, whose parents are nowhere to be found anywhere in the mesh that is the Cuban American community in Miami or New Jersey, nor do they appear to have political ties to anyone in particular, was very significant to many. Even more than when Mrs. Obama chose a Cuban American designer for her first inaugural attire.
Richard Blanco is now the target of anti Cuban rhetoric, but not the specific political one that we are all used to, nope. He is now being lashed out against together with the President for not being all sorts of things that I refuse to rewrite about here but rather remit the reader to a brilliant piece appearing in the Huffington Post today:
A Supposedly Gay-Friendly Cuban Writer Questions Richard Blanco’s Manliness
It was inevitable that Richard Blanco’s selection as President Obama’s second inaugural poet would provoke a response from a predictably vocal segment of the Cuban exile community. But I was surprised at the shoddy screed Zoe Valdes, a writer of distinction, posted recently on the right-wing website, Babalu Blog. This assault on Blanco is digressive, self-contradictory and based on false premises. It warrants attention, however, as an admonition against allowing ideologically-driven emotion to overtake stylistic rigor and sound judgment.
Read entire piece here.
The time to act is so very much in the making that some of these people are just simply loosing it! President Obama has a window, he is obviously pulling the shades and is looking out; let’s help him wipe off the mugginess that is interfering with clear vision.
In the words of Richard Blanco: ”(according to the Cuban exile community) Castro…destroyed the paradise that was Cuba. Yet my high school history teacher portrayed pre-revolutionary Cuba as a destitute country full of corruption, and praised Castro for his social reforms, quoting statistics in support of dramatic improvements in health care, literacy, and education; and many intellectuals I met in college glorified post-revolutionary Cuba as a model society. Who was telling the truth? Which was the “real” Cuba? Who got the story “right?”