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    You bring out the Cuban in me, Randy!

    You bring out the Cuban in me, Randy!
    BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO
    fsantiago@miamiherald.com

    Dear Randy,

    What a sweet name for such a nasty character.

    For me, it conjures the infectious loud laugh of a football player I
    knew in high school, a friend during a time when I was still privately
    heartsick over losing country and family but reveling in the adventure
    of becoming an American.

    It’s not every day that you see a committed soldier of the failed Cuban
    Revolution with an American name like Randy, a throwback to the time
    when Cuban culture flirted with Americana, and it was oh, so fabulously
    chic. With that name, Randy Alonso, you’ve had to work overtime to climb
    the Cuban government’s career propagandist ladder to host “Mesa
    Redonda,” the national television talk show used to indoctrinate Cubans
    on what they’re supposed to believe.

    Branding to demean is your signature talent. You’ve dubbed us “the Cuban
    mafia in Miami” and referred to us as gusanos — worms — but never the
    butterflies we became when we began to visit the island laden with gifts
    and began to subsidize families to the tune of hundreds of million of
    dollars a year. It was the Cuban people who nicknamed us the latter,
    their crafty humor intact despite the bitter lies pounded into their psyche.

    And now, suffering from a bout of Olympics sour grapes, you’ve coined a
    new term to diminish exiles, immigrants, defectors and hyphenated Cubans
    around the world: excubano.

    The motive for your trantrum and odious comment? Runner Orlando Ortega,
    who won a silver medal for Spain and, in victory, the Cuban native
    refused to wrap himself in the Cuban flag. Your disdain only grew as
    more Cuban athletes living as far away as Turkey to Azerbaijan won more
    medals for their adopted countries, and they had nothing but praise and
    gratitude for the refuge and acceptance. No win was sweeter than Danell
    Leyva’s two silver medals in gymnastics for the USA — Matanzas’ loss and
    Miami’s gain. I felt double the dose of hometown pride.

    Embracing as our own those who gave us refuge from oppression doesn’t
    make us any less Cuban. Wasn’t the most heralded Cuban of them all, Jose
    Martí, an exile in the United States for many years?

    How little you know us, Randy.

    If being Cuban is measured by succumbing to the subhuman category the
    Cuban government has created for you, then luckily, no, I’m not that
    kind of Cuban. I live in a country where I’m not banned from hotel and
    beaches, as native-born are in Cuba. I live in a city where I can buy a
    ticket to sail along Biscayne Bay on a tour boat full of tourists who
    can’t wait for the stop in front of a Star Island home to scream and
    wave: “Gloria! Gloria!”

    That would be the cubanaza Gloria Estefan who has taken Cuban music all
    the way to Broadway and the Billboard charts. Believe me, she is no
    ex-Cuban.

    You, unfortunately, have to live on an island where foreigners are
    kings. They enjoy your hotels, your tours of those beautiful archipelago
    islets on the Camagüey coast — the ones that not even the Cuban woman
    who sells the tour tickets can visit. You, “real Cuban,” live in a
    national prison where your musicians have to pay tribute to the
    comandante if they want to get top bookings on their own turf. The
    repressive government you defend is master of all things, even the
    culture you’re allowed to consume.

    By supporting a government that demeans Cubans who don’t think like
    them, by trying to paint us as the enemy at a time many Cuban-Americans
    are building even more bridges, you, Randy, are the pauper who serves them.

    When I travel abroad and people ask me where I’m from, I say proudly:
    The Independent Republic of Miami. They always want to know more: Where
    am I really from? I’m Cuban, I say with equal pride.

    But you really want to know how Cuban I am, Randy?

    So Cuban that the other day, I angered some of my people when I said
    that Cuban supporters of Donald Trump suffer from supremacy syndrome —
    and they let me have it. I was treated to one of those hideous things
    you invented on the island, the acto de repudio. The act of repudiation
    against me, however, had something yours lacks: Internet access, zero
    violence and international cachét — the glamour that comes from being
    castigated all the way from Paris. To be worthy of repudiation by the
    author of a classic Cuban novel — a writer I defended when other Cubans
    called her a vulgar Communist — is the ultimate Cuban experience.

    Such is the glory of democracy. It has room for everything, something a
    repressed person like you, who accepts his master without question,
    wouldn’t understand. I’m so damn Cuban that I feel empowered to
    criticize us — without losing an iota of my “Cubanhood” — when we lose
    our way and support an unhinged cretin. And so American that I’m willing
    to die defending their right to disagree with me.

    If I weren’t so Cuban, I would have kept that to myself, written theses
    lines with the intellectual serenity of my American persona.

    But, Randy, you bring out the Cuban in me.

    I’m so Cuban — and I’m surrounded by so much cubanía every day of my
    American life in Miami, capital of Cuban exiles — that sometimes, to
    tell you the truth, it smothers me.

    But to my great fortune, I am Cuban-plus, and like the Olympic athletes,
    I’m free to escape into the embrace of another land I love.

    Fabiola Santiago: fsantiago@miamiherald.com, @fabiolasantiago

    Source: Host of official Cuban television show brands expatriate Olympic
    winner ‘excubano’ – and Cuban-Americans answer: #YoNoSoyExCubano | In
    Cuba Today – www.incubatoday.com/news/article97965777.html

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