Clichés

By Yoani Sánchez for El Pais Newspaper, 22 August 2008

Finding an encyclopedia for children, in order to verify its quality I go directly to the entry for “Cuba.”  A short phrase summarizes our lives on, “an island in the Caribbean where the natives plant rice on the slopes of the mountains.”  At first I think I’m in the wrong country, but no, and so they describe us in the stereotypical digital publication.  After the laughter that such a false picture provokes, I start thinking about all the clichés that we Cubans carry.

On our streets, for example, women also walk who do not resemble in any way the mixed-race women of the posters.  Here we have the fullest spectrum of colors that one could imagine.  From languid blondes with red hair and blue eyes, to tones closer to the color of the night.  It’s possible to encounter the full gamut of religious beliefs and political postures, meeting with an impressive diversity on the most varied topics.  I hear those who are liberal, others who are Christian democrats, up to a new wave of anarchists.  I do not see, however, this rainbow of opinions represented in our political scene.  Rather, it is a group infatuated with dying everything a single color.   An island marked by diversity is tied to a monochrome discourse.

I’m fed up with people who think all Cubans play dominoes, that we believe in  Santaria, or that we shout slogans in the plaza; that we are expert dancers and bitter anti-imperialists.  I’m tired of a few deciding who may or may not carry the name of this land.  It is the same ones who claim the right to label “anti-Cuban” those who think differently from the sacrosanct beliefs of the Party.  With an eminently ideological switch, they profess to determine our identity.  Cuba, deep and enduring Cuba, laughs at all these caricatures.

English translation from original Spanish 

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