Venezuelans and Cubans Need to Stand Together

Categories: Pepe Billete

Pepe-1.jpg
Photo by Stian Roenning
Pepe Billete.

I've always hated the use of the word Latino in American mass media, because it's a blanket term that describes a myriad of different cultures. It promotes generalities and dilutes many different cultures into one big stereotype, in the minds of non-Latinos and to me. There is nothing I am more honored to describe myself as than a Cuban-American from the 305. However, I can honestly say I feel an equal sense of pride when we Latinos use the term among ourselves to show solidarity and support for one another.

I first felt that pride when I went to San Antonio last year to support the Heat in the finals, and my Mexican people not only welcomed me with open arms, but had my back when the AT&T Center banned me from Game 4 and we stood together yelling "¡Libertad!" in front of the arena -- until arena security let me into Game 5.

I went to San Antonio alone and expecting the worst after seeing reports of Heat fans getting attacked and almost killed for simply wearing Heat colors. Yet, there I was, dressed in Heat gear from eye to ass, standing with a big group of Mexican Spurs fans, who knew I was going in there to sit courtside and yell shit at their team, but who still fought for me until they let me into the game. When I asked one of them why they showed el tio so much love, the answer I got was as profoundly meaningful as it was simple, "You're a Latino, we're brothers." I will cherish that memory forever.

See also: What the Hell Is Going on in Venezuela? A Guide To Understanding the Chaos in Caracas

The sense of pride and unity I felt that day is the one I channel today in support of the Venezuelan protesters who have literally taken to the streets, ready to die for their freedom. As a Cuban-American bred from hardline Cuban exiles, my hate for communism and oppression runs deep, so it's only natural that I wholeheartedly support their uprising. I know that those Cuban Americans in Miami who are cut from the same cloth as me feel the same way, but there have been recent images of Venezuelan protestors burning Cuban flags that have upset many in our community and caused some backlash. I'm proud to say that the majority of people that I have seen react to these images have understood that the gesture is completely directed towards the obscene presence of Cuban infiltrados in Venezuela's government, but understandably some here in Miami have taken the gesture as a slap to the face.

Because our sense of cultural pride is so deeply ingrained into our identity, it's natural to react with anger at images of our flag being burned, but it's important to keep in mind that this is yet another example of the damage Castro's regime has done to our cultural identity. The two-and-a-half generations the Castros have been in power has not only given rise to a population that has been forced to accept la maraña and defrauding the government as a way of life, but they purposefully associated their revolution with the revolt for Cuban independence from Spain and inadvertently hijacked a sacred symbol of our culture and traditions to represent their corrupt and oppressive regime.

Unfortunately, it's one of the most effective ways protesters opposed to Cuban communism and Castro's omnipotent control of the Venezuelan government can convey the message of anti-cuba to the international community at a moment's glance. The symbolic meaning of the Cuban flag lives in a limbo of duality. To Cubans in Miami, it represents the beauty of our culture, our heritage, and our continued opposition to a dictator who has been hell bent on destroying our identity for 50 years. To everyone else in the world, it's the flag of a nation run by communists. Even more tragic is the fact that its this kind of ambiguity and blurred line of interpretation that the Castros have exploited countless times to segment the American popular opinion from the views of the exile community responsible for perpetuating the Castro opposition long after the end of the cold war. They did it with Elian, they did it with Los Hermanos al Rescate, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if it was revealed that they staged these kinds of images as well to prevent Cuban Americans here from supporting Venezuelan protesters.

After all, Venezuela is Cuba's golden goose and it is in the Castros best interest that we as Cuban Americans deviate our attention from the uprising. What better way to do that than to use our deep-rooted cultural pride against us? A strong, unified opposition to Castro in Miami, among all its inhabitants, is a death sentence to the Castro regime. This is the most important reason why we as a Cuban community need to look beyond these flag burnings and support our Venezuelan brothers and sisters as they bleed for the freedom of their country.

The Cuban exile community in Miami is one of the most powerful allies the Venezuelan protesters can have in their struggle. While we may be small in numbers, the power of our community is one of the strongest of all the minority groups in America. Our full-fledged support for their cause could likely tip the balance in favor of the protesters and lead to a Venezuela free of communist oppression and, eventually, a Castro-free Cuba. We have the wealth, the politicians, and a powerful voice to support their cause, all we need now is that spark to ignite the indomitable passion that has gotten us so far in this country despite the odds.


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43 comments
Leo de Guzman
Leo de Guzman

How can you not be offended by the burning of the Cuban flag. What if they started burning Venezuelan flags or American flags.

Carl Snyder
Carl Snyder

I'm waiting for all you guys to hard back so I can see US flags again in America!

Tony Prieto
Tony Prieto

Hermano, I could not agree with you more! I see these images and think of Cuba in the late 50's. I was not offended at all by them burning the Cuban flag. The only thing that flag represents to them is Fidel, who got Venezuela where it is today. Cuban Special Forces have infiltrated, and are killing protestors. I would grab my rifle and go to Caracas today if our Venezuelan primos were willing to go and fight for freedom!

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

..........................we ITALIAN-AMERICANs were also very lucky to have leadership like LaGuardia available to bring truth and direction on ALL the significant matters affecting our early emegrants and most took it from there

unfortunately MARCO RUBIO is a light-weight ken doll - too bad

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

...............otherwise the CUBANs in AMERICA as compared to ITALIANs did two major things wrong which has typically set AMERICANs interests as different from the non-latino AMERICANs

1) the marielitos were for the most part NOT directly confronted by CUBANs in MIAMI to fight against the real DAMAGE the violent marielitos did to AMERICAN citizens living near or around MIAMI BEACH vs ITALIAN mobsters and gansters who infiltrated AMERICA were under strick orders from ALL ITALIANs not to involve the general public especially law enforcenment and judiciary in violence = period

2) the CUBANs and hispanics in general take spanish as their primary language HERE in AMERICA where the language is ENGLISH = period = whereas basically early emigrant ITALIANs shed the italian language and it was an honor and source of great pride to speak ENGLISH 

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

....................the REAL problem is one cannot serve TWO masters

way before and especially during WWII many ITALIANs emigrated to AMERICA and took the vow to "protect against ANY and ALL threat to the US constitution, both DOMESTIC and foreign"

in my own family my ITALIAN relatives were forbidden to speak italian with the ONLY excpetion being the elderly whose time had passed to learn a new way

ONE of EVERY FOUR serving in the military during WWII were from ITALIAN ancestry - and many many fighting directly against FACIST ITALY

cubans and venezualens alike must PICK a country and take the same vow SERIOUSLY ................. otherwise do NOT simply use AMERICA for a floor mat entry way to your other country's problems = period

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

........................okay yes BUT do they have to STAND here in MIAMI ?

Emmett Conrecode
Emmett Conrecode

Most American don't speak or read Spanish, If you want to get traction with this story it needs a English narration. I always support people fighting for their Freedom, just proposing a expanded appeal. Here is an example of how an English Spoken appeal gets traction. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hvds2AIiWLA

Orlymia
Orlymia

I have been following the news from Venezuela for weeks now and also following local Miami news. Im really disturbed with the way local news and some outspoken Venezuelan/ americans are portraying the cuban/ american and cubans in cuba stand on all that is going on. It seems to me that the media is portraying cubans as the enemy. Do you really think that the cuban people are not sympathetic to you cause? Do you think that because the Castro regime is sending thug communist troops to Venezuela that the Cuban community there and here are not with you in your struggle for freedom? Nothing can be further from the truth! I am in constant contact with friends and family in cuba and all i can say is that they are all in solidarity with you! They honor your courage and struggle. Many say "what we should have done years ago". Most importantly they pray for a free Venezuela because they are aware that and end to Venezuelas dictator will in so many ways hurt and injure the CASTRO REGIME and bring Cuba a step closer to its own freedom. So all i ask from my venezuelan brothers and sisters is to not allow media and ignorance to cloud your judgement on who the real enemy is. If we both focus on that perhaps change will come fast for both countries. We fight for the same thing, lets fight together!

Manny Trejo
Manny Trejo

Hence Cuba "HAD" tabacco, sugar, and money. A country that only survives on stealing and Regatiando is not normal. La Habana Vieja doesn't even have sewage facilities. You're warned of flying bags of shit out of people's windows because they're too lazy to go outside and bury their feces.

Steve Klare
Steve Klare

IN Issues and Ideas in the Herald today...Commentary from Jim Wyss no mention of Cuba's influence ( their stooges running key parts of the govt in Venezuela) Why??? Cuba's Dictators and gov't still evil still bad....

Ed Carlos Ferreira
Ed Carlos Ferreira

GOOD BUSINESS, INVESTING, PAINT CAR IN BRAZIL, WE KNOW SOMEONE WANTS TO INVEST HERE.. mail oreiaseca1seca1@yahoo.com.br

Miami123
Miami123

I only read half of this horse-shit article.  As a Cuban-American also from Miami, I'll wait for Castro to come in and help those mutts. I do not stand with those people.  Neither does the US.  THAT'S why there's no coverage in the media.  Let that dump burn.  Enjoy Maduro.

Edward Delatorre
Edward Delatorre

Shouldn't the headline be, venezuelans of a certain idealogy should get support from cubans of the same idealogy. There's a whole half of the country that is down with Maduro. Are they not Venezuelans too? Wether I personally agree with them or not?

Heather Rogerson
Heather Rogerson

Juan Carlos are you aware Cuba offers free medical school then exchanges doctors with South America ( Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil....)for oil and other goods?

Jose Arpajon
Jose Arpajon

To prevent misunderstanding I suggest Venezuelns not burn the Cuban flags but rather burn pictures of Fidel or Raul instead. WIth that said, ofcourse the majority of Cubans and Cuban Americans like myself will back up the Venezuelan exiles. Its time to extinguish these commie cockroaches!!!

Jon Achaval
Jon Achaval

Paternity suits? Tio Pepe you dog you!

Cary Campria
Cary Campria

I support everything except the burning of the Cuban flag.

jfbg84
jfbg84

Pepe, I am a fan since escoria films when you made the cover of the rock video before pepe billete but as a grandson of cuban exiles from Santiago that grew up in Venezuela and had my family harassed by the government until my mother left her home country (again), I got to say thanks for this post pipo.

And to @Juan Carlos eres tremendo comep*nga. Venezuela gives Cuba about 1.9 Billion dollars worth of oil every year (53,000 barrels a day) in exchange for "doctors" and other professionals advising (pura paja and G-2) that serve in our country.  Cuba is dependent on that injection of oil/energy to keep running la factoria de miseria that they have on the island.


I don't know how much caña you think the "voluntarios" cut and take to the zafrsa, but I am sure it is not in the billions of dollars. And if they did, who is going to drink all that guarapo? Nicaragua?  Se le caen los dientes a todos. 


Te recomiendo una cosa llamada Google, para que te ilustres y dejes de hablar tanta mierda. 

A little venezuelan expression for what you are doing here: La estas cagando. 




Juan Carlos
Juan Carlos

So stop acting like a jealous bitch and respect people who are smarter than you better than you with more class than you. Talking all that shit and you don't even know what the hell you're talking about.

Juan Carlos
Juan Carlos

You people need to learn your history. Havana was the first civilized city in the New World. Way before the US was even a thought. Cuba was already a happening place. Everywhere else was just a bunch of Indians.

Juan Carlos
Juan Carlos

Roberto. You don't know shit. Cuba does not need oil from Ven. You got it backwards. Venezuela is learning how to be communist like Cuba. And Fidel Castro taught them everything they know. Cuba never needed anything from any country. Since the beginning they had plenty of money from sugar and tobacco so I don't know what you're talking about.

Juan Carlos
Juan Carlos

What do we need to take lessons on Mr Ortega?

Juan Carlos
Juan Carlos

Boy you people are stupid. You don't even understand what's going on. The reason for talking about Cuba and Venezuela sticking together is because the same thing that happened in Cuba is happening in Venezuela today.

Osmin Head Morales
Osmin Head Morales

Humanity needs to stand together, who cares where anybody is from.....

Christopher Yamamoto
Christopher Yamamoto

That's stupid. Humans should support humans. The f@ck is nationalism anyway? Ppl always generalize ppl based on where they're from. Ridiculous.

Roberto Alba-Bustamante
Roberto Alba-Bustamante

We should care because Venezuela supports Cuba with oil and economic aid. Remove that and the regime is in dire straits.

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

..............................as to the CRIME,  basically ITALIAN neighborhoods in NYC and North End Boston were the safest in those cities whereas MIAMI BEACH became and was a sewer from the worst marielito CUBANs with no MIAMI CUBANs responding

..............................on the LANGUAGE issue, it is somewhat of a self correcting situation as naturally the youngest CUBANs are very much adept at speaking ENGLISH now and do so without hesitation or obligations their parents may have as reservations of loyalty and over time this will no longer be devisive

pingaso
pingaso

I'm assuming you're referring to the story in general, correct? Not this particular column. 

Exiliado
Exiliado topcommenter

This article is written in English!!!


Did you bother to read it?

pingaso
pingaso

pipo, the kind of unity ur talking has to existed everywhere in human culture since the beginning of time. Its called a sense of community. You cant expect to think global, if you overlook local. 


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