Sep 27, 2007

Un día "atravesao"

Really tough day.
And it started to turn into it since last night, when my Mom told me a dear friend and longtime neighbor was just diagnosed as HIV positive.

"Not a big deal with today's medicine investigations", any "open-minded" person would say. But it's not so easy: my friend and loyal neighbor is in Cuba, and the news is still breaking my heart.

So far, the only thing I've been able to do is giving him my sympathies, my support with everything he needs (and I bet you that he WILL) and the promise to take proper care of his health. Through an email; because the @#$% phone calls to Cuba are so @##$# expensive!
(Now I am sad and pissed off at the same time).

I'm being told that HIV positive and Aids patients are not being confined in Los Cocos anymore; at least as massively as they used to be while I was still living in Cuba. But I can't help worrying about him, his well being and most importantly, his future.

Although is a tough battle to fight, in the US and other developed countries, HIV patients have greater chances to survive around 20 years with proper treatment. I am not sure in Cuba the survival rate is that high. My friend was put into treatment and special diet right away, but there are no guarantees that he'll always have the medication, the diet he needs to follow nor even the access to cutting edge treatments that could prolong and increase his chances of survival, while keeping on the hope that a cure is gonna be found.

Right now, I just feel helpless.
I wish I could do thousand things to help my neighbor, but I just don't have the slightest idea where to start.

The second KO of they day arrived pretty early in the morning.
Cubans from Loveland left the Rocky Mountains front range and went back to Miami. Good for them!

Bad for us that now are feeling like if a dear family member went on a mission in a far away kingdom and we don't know when are we going to see them again.

Good bye frijoles negros acabados de hacer on my way home, good bye juego de dominó los fines de semana. Good bye and buen viaje for them. I just hope we can get together again, pretty soon.

Now that I have vented my misery, I'm just dusting off all this from my shoulders, because the show must go on.

Sep 26, 2007

I do... but I don't

I do remember it was good to see and listen some classic Cuban boleros, el lechón asado en la caja china, the boy practicing baseball, the references to Pedro Pan, and even better the asere. Seeing Néstor Carbonell again is always a good relief for any woman's set of eyes, considering the good memories you can revive if you have seen "The Lost City".

"Cane"'s premiere last night gave me a quick feeling that Cubans and Cuban-Americans actually exist in this country's society.
But then, in a matter of seconds, I started having second thoughts.

With so many excellent Cuban and Cuban-Americans actors out there, why did CBS chose actors whose best accent does not remotely sounds like the Cuban-Americans? No offense; I like their performances and I believe they are very good actors. But I just can't buy it. Did anybody in CBS ever though about Andy García, for example? (And I bet here the ratings and the money wouldn't be an issue)

Then, my seconds thoughts started to disturbing me with more complex issues: I know is a soap-opera, and a business that is meant to make money.

But the media is also the mirror that societies use to get other's images. And I definitively don't like the mirror that CBS decided to use with "Cane", at least in the first show.

I don't want this country's society --who is already chronically ill with a lot of misconceptions about Cuba and Cubans-- to start thinking that all Cubans that came in rafts in 1994 are murderers or gangsters that see committing crimes as a form of "resolver".
Do we really need to repeat the Mariel story?

Back then, it's true that Castro's government blackmailed Cubans already living in the US when they went to get their relatives out of that hell. It's true that, in order to have the government releasing their families to come in their boats, they were forced to accept an excessive number of additional passengers, most of them taken out directly from prisons and psychiatric hospitals.

But it is not true that all Cubans that came to the US in the Mariel were criminals or crazy. Most of them were hard-working individuals looking for freedom, that later helped to shape Miami as the city that is today, and not the monte y potrero that used to be in those years.

And going back to my second thougths with "Cane", neither is true that all Cubans that came in the 1994 boat lift are criminals or pandilleros. For Christ sake! there are not even pandillas in Cuba, in the same way we see them here or in other Latin American countries! (At least until 2001, when I left).

But that's the image that "Cane" threw into the air, with the subliminal message that all media products always carry on.

The image of Cubans only being good for making lechón asado en caja china, being hot-Latin-lovers all day long, and the images of us saying phrases we don't even say, but that's not important... right CBS and "Cane"creators and producers?

It looks like they thought: "they all speak Spanish, they all speak English with strong accent, they are all immigrants, they are all working to make Miami another third world city (rings the bell, Mr. Tancredo?), what the heck!, we can just go ahead and threw them all in the same pot, because they are all the same."

But we are not.
And allow me to make something clear: this is not a discriminatory statement; it's just a matter of historical responsibility.

Yes, being cultural and historically responsible should be include in the code of ethics of the US mainstream media, even when we are talking of soap operas.

But I guess that money always rule. That's a cold fact.
And there isn't much that this cubanita in the Midwest can do about it.

Around here, I'll need to continue explaining --using as much politeness and I can gather-- that we are refugees, not immigrants; that yes, my first language is Spanish but I can't tell you from what part of México I am because I am from Cuba; that I do speak English but in my house we speak Spanish and my son is being raised to be bilingual (and trilingual if possible); that I do dance salsa pretty damn well, but I also hold degrees from two universities, in Cuba and in the US; that indeed my husband tried to make here in a home-made raft five times, but that does not make him a criminal or a scum and list goes on, and on, and on.

And we'll all need to keep on going with those explanations until the American mainstream media decides to hold its professional ethics a little bit higher. Trust me, CBS, just a little bit higher would make a huge difference.

FYI: Since I never act they same way the government I escaped from, I always give people the benefit of the doubt. (Again, it's that law school's seed still alive in me).
I'll try to keep watching the show to see how the story unfolds. But I also want to do it because in the future, when I talk about it, I want to have all the facts to support my views. It's the only way that I can avoid using the same lousy shortcut of stereotypes, like CBS is doing with "Cane".

Sep 21, 2007

ABC, Cuba and a sad truth

It was good start. Finally, somebody got under his (or her) pants what is required to say in the American mainstream media, the reality about Cuba.
20/20 kicked the ball with a small segment at the end of the show, two weeks ago. (I even wrote to the show to congratulate them for that first step)

But, reality struck us again, and something happened that the topic was not mentioned in the following show. Nothing about the footage they have taken in Cuban hospitals and health facilities, without the government authorization. Finito. Zip. Borrón y cuenta nueva.

What happened?
I read somewhere that the ABC's bureau in Cuba was called to an "urgent meeting" with government officials...

Sad but true: it was just a first step. That's was all is was about.
Some body's balls got cut. One more time.

Wait a minute, why am I being surprised by this?
I've seen this movie before.

You know the drill; la felicidad en casa del pobre dura poco.
But, since la esperanza es lo último que se pierde, truth will prevail and some day, those footages will see the light.
And those Moore-sapiens out there will need to stick their tongue right there... where the sunshine does not reach their bodies.

Backstage in "Havana Ink"

Away from my original topic for this blog, again.
But it's just impossible to let go and don't comment on the brutality and atrocities of the Cuban government against those who dare to think or express themselves against the regimen.

Desperate measures have been taken; tattoos have become a form of freedom of expression, but the punishments are unbelievable.
Cross-posted from Uncommon Sense, this is the story of a young Black Cuban with Aids, the choice he made to protest against the government, and the price he paid: hot irons to try to remove the tattoos in his forehead reading " USA".
Dr. Darsi Ferrer, a Cuban physician and independent journalist in the island, is who denounced how the government secret police has tried to removed tattoos from people's skin, because the message is not convenient. And everything happened just last week.

You can read his original story, in Spanish, here.
Did I hear something about the Cuban paradise and its wonderful health care system and great treatment for HIV/Aids patients? Or were they just SICKO thoughts coming out of my crazy brain?

Sep 18, 2007

Going after... the pursue of (our) happiness

I already gave the sneak-preview: we are Americans. Officially.
MDH and I took our naturalization test and interview last week, on Tuesday to be more exact. And yes, it was September 11th and the 6th anniversary of the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center that changed this nation forever.

My husband though it was not a good day to make the test. A friend told us that good things also need to happen on 9/11. And I thought that, maybe, that was just the perfect date to become and American citizen.

However, it was QUITE a day!

We left home around 5 a.m., planning to arrive at the office with enough time to calm ourselves... Didn't happened.

We are that type of persons (and that type of Cubans) that usually reach our goals and dreams but, boy! with a lot of struggle all the way! I swear, we try the best we can, but sometimes I think it is just our karma.
Maybe that's the reason why we don't take anything for granted; because whatever we have accomplished so far, as individuals and as a family, is the result of a huge perseverance and mucho sacrificio.

Anyway, first was the train.
Yep. We live en un campito, remember? And there he was, completely stopped, with no intentions to move. At all.
"@#$%?!", I said.
Something even worse was yelled at the pile of metal by my dear husband.
He: face turning dangerously red.
Me (thinking): is he going to have a patatú, right now?

Then came the efforts to get a shortcut in a city that we don't know very well; alas, getting lost is the norm. MDH ate his pride and asked for directions. The face kept turning red and me (thinking): is he really going to have a patatú today, right now, right here?

To tell the story in a short version, we were in the opposite side of the city, only by a few 120 blocks. We jumped in the highway again, rush hour in the morning in a industrial area. Oh my!, I love the clear county roads in my campito.

Asked for new directions in a gas station, new directions were wrong.
Tried to ask a state patrol; they guy didn't see us (really?) and ran away like if he was being chased by the devil.

Asked for directions, one more time. Ended up in a residential neighborhood. Husband jumped out of the car like crazy to ask a man; luckily he explained us how to get to the USCIS office.
And he was right.

On a quick note, along all these events, I never quit trying to call the customer service toll free number in our papers. No luck. Too many people with appointment were lost in the US streets. After 35 minutes on hold, I quit.
I have to. The gal answered when we were parking the car in front of the building where we were supposed to be almost an hour earlier.

Then, I realized there is always someone up there, watching over us. We were lucky to be interviewed by a nice immigration officer that understood our ordeal, sneaked us between other appointments that didn't show off and, at the end of the afternoon, extended his arm to congratulate us and may be, even said the traditional phrase: "Welcome to America".

MDH: De he really said it?
Me: I don't remember? Everything was so blurred in that moment. I think even my strong accent did pretty good.
MDH: We did it.
Me: Yes, we did it. What did he asked you? Tell me! Tell me all the details?
MDH: (silence) (mute)
Me, shaking his arm: C'Mom, tell me!
MDH: I don't remember. I am still trying trying to breath. I just can not believe it.

Heavy sight. Both of us.

Cellphones started ringing like crazy. Sisters in laws and friends calling from Miami. Aunt and cousin calling from Spain. Suegra calling from Holland. More relatives calling from Germany.
Friends from neighboring town getting ready the barbecue.

See it?
Noise, craziness, comelatas, a lot of work and huges sacrifices are the backbone of our lives.

Sep 13, 2007

My To Do's (write) list

OK. I admitted. I've been pretty busy, and most of the time, exhausted. (For Christ's sake, that boy doesn't sleep!)Hence, the writing and the blog always ended up in the last place of my list.

But, I haven't forget about it.
I am the kind of gal that makes lists, and actually follow them --most of the time.
So, here is my list of pending posts:

  • We. Are. Americans. Excuse my falta de modestia, but we, the Cubans in Greeley, Colorado, deserve to congratulate ourselves. We took our naturalization test and interview this Tuesday (Yep, indeed, it was Sept. 11th). Please, roll the red carpet all the way from the Rocky Mountains; it was a very hard day, but we MADE IT!By the way, we are still celebrating and planning to continue the comelatas for a few days.
  • My impression on the Cuban health care system segment on ABC's 20/20 last week. Great first step! Wrote to the show. I had to. You know the drill: once a reporter, always a reporter.
  • While sorting the obstacles to finally get to our citizenship test (quite hard ones, but that's a story for another post) I couldn't help but remembering the 9/11 of 2001, and how we woke up that day in Miami Beach, and everything that happened after.
  • Abuela from Holland is here. Nicolás face when she arrived? Serious, pretty damn serious for a kiddo that smiles almost 23 and half hours of the day. But things were better by this morning: a huge plush bear y su pomo de leche can work wonders.
  • The boy is obsessed with the computer. Got to see him standing, barely in tip toes, to reach the keyboard. Maybe, the birthday fairy should start making plans to get one of those toy-computers-for-baby's. (Hopefully, that was NOT made in China). Pics from the computer savvy will come soon.

Sep 7, 2007

Starting my day with a SICKO vomit

I know, I know Nicolás probably would hate me if he could read this blog now and see that I can't help going over and over the same topic... but I just have to tell the world that this morning, I started my day with a SICKO vomit.

Taking a look at the sneak-peak of ABC's 20/20 show on Cuba's health care system, scheduled to be aired tonight, I almost throw up when I saw Michael Moore saying that he asked to be given the same treatment that a regular Cuban would receive.

(When he took the 9/11 rescue workers to be treated in Cuba... in the Amejeiras's Hospital!!)

Give. Me. A. Break.
Anyone that has lived in Cuba knows that regular Cubans DON'T even cross the main door of that hospital.
I think this guy goes WAY beyond being naive... or is he just plainly stupid? Or both? Or something even worse?

Ay, Dios mío, yo no puedo con él! Y pensar que los panaderos se levantan todos los días a las 5 de la mañana...

My question to Moore and the thousands that thinks like him is a no-brainer:
If you are so sure that things in Cuba are so good, what the hell are you doing here? Why don't you just go to live there?

(By the way, not as an American in the privileged Cuba, but as regular Cuban citizen, without dollars, without family abroad sending dollars, without working in the tourism and without being in the highest classes of the government and the military).

That's why I do have some expectations from this show.
I do really hope that the American mainstream media, at least once, would have done a good job with their investigative reporting.

I can't help it... I still have faith in the journalism's ethics.
Somewhere, deep down in some part of this great country, somebody should have the moral obligation -- and the required balls-- to say the truth about Cuba.

Will 20/20 fill those expectations?
Let's see the show tonight, and we can talk later...

PS: if you don't trust me and need a second opinion, please, take a look at this testimony from a doctor currently living in Cuba, cross posted from Babalú.

Not enough? Got more for you: ... a 28 years old political prisoner just died in Cuba without the medical attention and the medicines he needed to control his high blood pressure.
See the independent report here.

Need more? Let me know and I can give you more proves to uncover the "excellent health care system in Cuba". But be aware: you'll need countless hours connected to the Internet.

Sep 5, 2007

The forgotten blue eyes

I remember they were, mostly, living above and beyond the average Cuban family. They had privileges and, some sort of different status. Their houses used to have nice carpets and rugs, sophisticated appliances and so many more things.

I remember my classmates --usually a lovely mix of blacks and Caucasians, sometimes resulting in beautiful mulatas (os) with blue eyes-- went to school with cute shoes I couldn't have.

They were the daughters and the sons of Russian women who emigrated to Cuba, most of them, to follow the love of their lives.

Sadly, that love turned into a whole different picture, as this report from Reuters, cross-posted from Yahoo News and The Real Cuba, shows.

Some of them, like my Dad's first wife, a German OB/GYN doctor, saw the light on time and left soon enough. She suffered in the extinct communist Germany, but even better, she witnessed the fall of the Berlin wall. Ironically, she and my two half-siblings are the ones that have support my family in Cuba in our harshest moments.

The love is gone. And the light in those elder blue eyes is disappearing. More than forty years destroying the dreams of so many people, from all over the world: that's the reality of the Russian, German, Polish, Czech and other Eastern Europe women that fell in love with Cubans.