Pepe Billete's Open Letter to Elian Gonzalez
I'm writing to offer you a bit of the wisdom that was passed down to me by my Cuban abuelos, because after reading your comments in the interview you recently gave on the heels of your trip to Ecuador, I think it's the least I can do for you, short of actually flying to Ecuador y regalandote una buena pata por culo. It comes in the form of an old Spanish proverb that reads:
"Calladito, te ves más bonito."
Like most insightful things in life, the beauty of that statement lies in its simplicity. It's a lesson I was taught early in my life, but remains just as valid now as when I first heard it at 5 years old. It's also one that you seem to have been denied in your 20 years of life.
I've seen the pictures of you in your military dress uniform, and read your comments praising the Cuban revolution with the same amount of emotion I feel cuando se me va un peo. As a matter of fact I, like most of Miami's exile community, wrote it off as yet another inevitable tragedy resulting from your deportation to a country only interested in using you as a pawn to further its cause. You were still innocent in my eyes. I couldn't hold you accountable for what you were saying. After all, you can't expect to get chicken salad from chicken shit.
But as I read on, something you said in the middle of all that propagandist nonsense stuck out and hit me harder than una pata en los huevos. Something you said showed me everything I ever needed to know about your character, and spoke more about your worth and integrity as a man than anything you could ever consciously concoct. Once again, like most insightful things in life, the beauty was in its simplicity. It was when you said:
"I don't profess to have any religion, but if I did, my God would be Fidel Castro. He is like a ship that knew to take his crew on the right path."
The psychology behind a statement like that does a great job of stripping you of the childish innocence and naivete you've been afforded throughout the years. It's not because I'm some hard-line member of the exile community that believes any talk of political softening on the island is akin to blasphemy. In all honesty, yo no soy politico ni un carajo, and I identify myself as an American with Cuba representing the root of my cultural heritage. But I have such admiration and appreciation for the struggle my parents, mis abuelos and the rest of la vieja guardia fought to overcome, que me quedo calladito when passionate topics concerning the island arise, even if something they're saying seems outdated to me and in spite of the fact que ya yo tengo bastante pelo en el culo pa poder decir lo que me de la gana. I still hold my tongue. That comes from knowing my place and recognizing que yo no pase lo que ellos sufrieron, and it's because of their struggle that I get to live such a comfortable life. It's called respect.
Respect is the foundation character and integrity are built on. Respect reveals humility, and showing respect conveys to the world that you are indeed worthy of receiving it. When you said that Fidel Castro would be your god if you were religious, you went so far beyond your duty as either a good communist or un descarado greasing the political wheels to maintain the amenities bestowed upon you by the party that you managed to make yourself unworthy of the respect of even those to whom you were pandering. Such a bombastic and weighty statement gained you no extra food rations or improved living quarters. You weren't given any extra Internet privileges, money, or access to restricted areas. In fact, those rules never really applied to you to begin with.